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Installer's Dilemma - Solar Power Systems as a Commodity or Hi-Quality Item?

08/12/10

  06:04:49 pm, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 458 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Solar Economics

Installer's Dilemma - Solar Power Systems as a Commodity or Hi-Quality Item?

A recent survey looked into the question of whether solar power systems are now being viewed as a commodity item - that is, pretty much one system/component/installer is as good as another so the only point of differentiation is cost - with the lowest cost being the winner.  The evidence from the survey was pretty mixed with a slight leaning amongst all respondents toward solar being a commodity, while the installers who responded felt that there were other, more important points of distinction.  Of course, that might just mean that the installer community is fooling itself, that solar is a commodity and customers really do not care about anything other than price.

The Run on Sun philosophy is a bit more complicated and considerably less cynical.  We are committed to providing the best-performing solar power systems on the market.  That is reflected in our preference for Sanyo solar panels for residential systems and our adoption of Enphase micro-inverters to overcome shading issues.  We are also committed to having the most professional installers in the industry - and that is reflected by our pursuing and achieving NABCEP Certification for all three principals of the company.  Taken together, we are designing and installing systems that produce more energy than their rebated rating would predict.  We are proud of these systems and we are equally proud of the great comments we get from our customers.

And yet, it is hard to get past the notion that we might not be connecting with the broader customer base that wants to add solar, but is daunted by the price. To serve that customer group we need to provide a system design that maintains our exacting standards yet can be priced at a more attractive level. That is a real challenge, but we are now in a position to make such an offering using the new Conergy P-series solar panels. Conergy is the world’s largest distributor of solar power products - and these new panels are built to Conergy’s demanding specifications in China, providing substantially lower cost without sacrificing quality.

The addition of these panels to the Run on Sun line of products will allow us to offer lower-cost systems where space and shading constraints permit. Combined with our long-standing reliance on SMA inverters, these new panels will allow us to provide high quality but much lower priced systems that will help make solar more affordable than ever before.  For those settings where space or shading requires a more sophisticated approach, we will still be offering our top-of-the-line Sanyo/Enphase systems that allow homeowners to wring every Watt available from their location.

We are very excited about these new panels and we hope that they will help even more folks add solar so that they too can Run on Sun.

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Jim Jenal is the Founder & CEO of Run on Sun, Pasadena's premier installer and integrator of top-of-the-line solar power installations.
Run on Sun also offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities, and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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