Three weeks ago the Run on Sun team took San Francisco by storm for the annual Intersolar events and exhibition. In the solar industry products are changing incredibly fast. Intersolar and Solar Power International (September 14-17th) are the two most important events for industry experts to come together and be able to put our hands on the latest and greatest products while establishing relationships with potential partners around the world.
As we mentioned in our Intersolar 2015 Preview blog, we were really on the prowl in the exhibition hall. Number one on our list was to find viable storage options as our client-base is quickly shifting to time-of-use rates and smart storage will be a huge asset to enable more local consumption of energy at the right time, as well as to reduce those high demand spikes for commercial clients.
Enphase Energy, of microinverter fame, actually had their own booth at IS this year, a first for them, and their emphasis was on their modular storage solution - which they call the AC Battery - made possible by their next generation, S-Series microinverter - which is bi-directional. Since the system sits on the AC side of a solar installation, it is compatible with any solar system whether it uses Enphase microinverters or not.
Enphase readily acknowledges that the economic proposition for local consumption is not really present in the U.S. yet, which is why they are first rolling the product out in Australia. However, as the present discussions before the CPUC demonstrate, net metering is changing and soon. When it does, the economic case for systems like the AC Battery will become compelling.
Second task on our list was to find out what panels LG would be offering and when we could start getting them on rooftops. Since LG didn’t have a booth at IS, hints toward panels with higher efficiency and higher output were verified by a meeting with our distributor, Baywa r.e. (formerly known as Focused Energy).We are now looking at 310 and 315 Watt panels available in September. This is up from the 305’s currently available and 260’s which were available this time just one year ago!
Our last mission as we weaved through the multitude of flashy products on display was to find better options for racking. While we have no intention of finding an alternative for our pitched roof racking company, Everest, our ballasted flat roof racking experience has left something to be desired by our installers. And the growing interest in solar carport systems means we need a good partner we can rely on to develop beautiful high-quality structures. We looked at several new products and talked to some great people on this front. We will be vetting these companies and discussing the applicability of their options with our clients over the next few months.
Any good industry gathering has GREAT parties, and the solar community definitely delivers in this department. The Run on Sun team enjoyed rubbing elbows with solar celebrities, new and old friends at various social events throughout the week. Laurel ate breakfast and discussed gender-specific solar challenges with WISE (Women in Solar Energy). The lunch hour Tweetup hosted by @SolarFred and put on by our friends at @Enphase, @RECSolar and @Grid was a blast. Of course the Solar Summerfest put on by CALSEIA and the Solar Battle of the Bands were not to be missed either. Who knew solar companies had such amazing musical talent?! The battle of the bands was more packed than we’ve ever seen, the only painful side to an ever expanding industry. Laurel’s favorite, the awesome funk band from Sungevity rocked the house and took home the winning title. If you attended either event you probably spotted Run on Sun’s Jim, Laurel and Josh making full use of the dance floor! No one on the RoS team will deny…we DO like to have fun.
The Run on Sun team cutting a rug at Solar Summerfest!
Thanks Kendra Hubbard for the pics!
Its hard to believe that in just over a month we will be boarding a local train to Anaheim for Solar Power International, “North America’s largest solar trade show". Beyond what we saw at Intersolar, our distributor Baywa r.e will have a presence as well as our favorite solar panel manufacturer: Life’s Good Electronics. We’re looking forward to more exciting product announcements and connecting with friends once again! Hope to see you there!
Solar Power World, which recently quoted Run on Sun Founder & CEO Jim Jenal at length in a news article, has just announced their annual listing of the Top 250 Solar Contractors in the United States and Run on Sun made the list, coming in at number 234.
From Solar Power World’s editorial announcing the list:
These companies have the vision to succeed in an industry dismissed by so many around the world. These companies — these visionaries — are poised to take full advantage of the near-term solar boom that none other than researcher Shayle Kann has predicted for the U.S. industry.
It is these businesses that have fueled the three-year growth of this industry of 227%. The Solar Power World’s Top 250 employ 73,068 people and installed 3 GW in 2012 alone. They have installed 7.8 GW overall. They represent the best across all three segments — utility, commercial and residential — that make this industry so vibrant. In an industry now valued at $11.5 billion, these are the companies that have built it.
For a small, regional company like Run on Sun, it is a great honor to be listed among the biggest and best known solar companies in the country. We are proud of our role in building this industry, and proud to be a voice for making the industry live up to its vision. After all, you cannot claim to be part of building a sustainable future if you engage in shoddy business practices or stoop to unsavory marketing tricks.
So congrats to all our colleagues who made the list - here’s to continuing to grow an industry we all love!
We have written at some length about Enphase micro-inverters in the past, but today Enphase returned the favor. Here was the lead story in their Summer 2012 Newsletter that just went out this morning:
That is Run on Sun Founder & CEO, Jim Jenal, posing amidst our solar installation at the Westridge School for Girls here in Pasadena. The article quoted Jim and provided a link back to our video highlighting the Westridge installation. Pretty cool.
Even cooler, however, was the meeting that we had this week with Mark Abrams, the Director of Product Management for Enphase. We met with Mark to provide him with feedback about their existing products and to offer our insights about their next generation product that is still in prototype. This was a great exchange - we told Mark what we loved about their products - but also important ways in which the product could be improved, at least in the eyes of an installer! Mark listened intently, took notes, and promised to see what he could do to incorporate our feedback.
It is hard to over estimate the value of such interactions between manufacturers and installers, yet it doesn’t seem to happen as often as it should. So here’s a note to the rest of the manufacturers out there - if you really want to improve your products, start spending (more) time with installers, and I don’t mean your sales people. (Trust me, we already get more than enough contact from your sales reps.) You might not like everything that you hear, but learning first hand what our problems are is the best way to build a long-lasting relationship with the folks who are the most important to your long-term success.
After all, that might be Jim’s face that you see in that photo, but it’s Enphase’s products that made that project a reality.
UPDATE AS OF 3:20 p.m.: We Made IT!!! Thanks to your overwhelming support, we garnered 250 votes in just 7 days! Thanks to everyone who voted and especially those who urged others to vote - you folks really rocked the house for us and we really appreciate it!
UPDATE: Here we are one week later and we have made great progress! As of 6:30 a.m. on June 14, we are up to 235 votes! So who will put us over the top? Maybe YOU!!! Please follow the directions below and Vote! Thanks so much!
As a general rule, we try to avoid blatant self-promotion in this blog - preferring instead to help educate folks about the solar industry. But this post is different - this post is a naked appeal to you, our dear reader, to help us grow our business in a most dramatic way!
Run on Sun is participating in a competition sponsored by Chase Bank and LivingSocial and your vote is key! Here’s the deal - the sponsors are kicking in up to $3 million to award grants of $250,000 each to as many as twelve small businesses. Each competing small business submits an application that explains who they are, why they are awesome, and how they will make use of the grant should they be lucky enough to be chosen. But to even be considered, each small business must demonstrate their community support by getting 250 people to vote for them.
And that’s where YOU come in!
If you click on the enormous blue button above, you will be taken to the program website. Once there, please click on the “Log in & Support” link on the bottom right. That will log you in via your Facebook account and take you to the search page.
In the search box you can either enter “Run on Sun” or select Pasadena, California to see all of the companies from Pasadena that are competing (there’s a lot!). Either way, when you get to the Run on Sun entry, please vote for us. That’s all there is to it!
To even be considered for the grant, we need to garner at least 250 votes and we need to do this before July 1. So please, click right NOW!
And as always, thanks so much for your support!
Run on Sun has an opening for an extremely well-motivated salesperson to assist us in outside sales of top-of-the-line solar power systems for commercial customers. This commission-only position requires someone who is smart, eager to learn, loves talking with people, is impossible to deter, technologically savvy and looking to earn a good income without being tied to an office.
We provide the training and the leads. You provide enormous energy and enthusiasm and the demonstrated ability to get past gate keepers and connect with decision makers.
If you are interested, please send a resume in confidence to:
resumes @ runonsun .com (spacing to deter spammers).
Pasadena area residents preferred.
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