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Why does a Solar Client Choose Enphase?

04/04/18

  02:08:00 pm, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 793 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Residential Solar, Ranting

Why does a Solar Client Choose Enphase?

Our friends over at Enphase Energy just completed their most recent survey of solar clients who chose Enphase for their PV system.  Since all of our clients for years now have benefitted from having an Enphase system installed, the insights that Enphase gleaned are pretty relevant to understanding our clients here at Run on Sun.  So what did they find out?

Enphase identified three goals for their survey: Determine how homeowners decided to go solar and choose their installer; assess the role of brand name products in the purchasing decision; and see what, if any, questions remained unanswered.  Let’s take those one at a time.

How Enphase Customers Chose Their Installer

Solar companies employ a variety of strategies for finding new clients, from door-to-door canvassing or cold calling leads, to print, radio, or TV advertising, as well as word of mouth.  Of course, all but that last avenue can be trod simply by throwing money at the problem. Hence the very high cost of acquisition that we see for some of the national chains, in some cases upwards of $3,000/client! 

How did Enphase customers choose their installer?  The results are quite interesting:

How did Enphase customers find their installer?

Now that is interesting - over two-thirds of Enphase customers found their installer either by referrals or from doing their own Internet research!  This tracks very closely with our own experience: we don’t purchase leads, we don’t cold-call people, and we don’t go knocking on their doors.  We do devote a lot of energy to having a quality Internet presence (via both our website and this blog), and a significant percentage of our new clients are referrals from our earlier ones.  It looks like we are meeting Enphase customer where they are looking!

It is interesting to see that third result - “My installer found me” - clearly represents all of those things we don’t do!  So that explains why you are still getting dozens of calls and knocks on your door asking you to go solar – for 1 in 5 customers that approach works, at least when it comes to signing on the line that is dotted!  (Actually, we use a solid line, but that’s an issue for another post!)

Oh, and those other forms of advertising?  Looks pretty much like money down the drain – ouch!

The Importance of Product Branding

So now we know how these Enphase customers found installers to consider, but how did they make their purchase decision?  Survey says:

What was your purchase process like?

Not surprisingly, the installer’s reputation was the most important factor, cited by nearly half of all respondents – which dovetails nicely with choosing the installer based on referrals.  

At roughly 30% each, the brand name of the solar panel, and the inverter was important in the decision.  This is interesting to me, and consistent with our experience.  Maybe one client in three has a strong view on either the panel or the inverter when we first speak with them.  Of course, that means LG and Enphase because that is all that we install.   I suspect if you were to look at this question five years ago, the number of respondents saying brand was important to them would have been much smaller.

Oh, and again, the survey shows that we are missing out on one in five potential clients since their installer offered a variety of products from which to choose.  In our view that is something of an abdication of our responsibility as pros.  Our clients want to rely upon our expertise to guide them to the right choice – how are they supposed to know what it the best inverter or solar panel out there?

Questions, questions!

An important part of the installation process is to manage client expectations, and a key component of that is to answer their questions.  So how good a job are installers doing at answering those questions?  Survey says:

Answering client questions

The overwhelming number of Enphase installers are answering their clients questions – good job!  But interestingly, about one in five clients are being left in the dark about questions that they had regarding their systems.  (I wonder if this is the same one in five who had the installer find them?)

For folks who have questions, what is it that they most want to know?  Again, these open questions reflect on the need to manage expectations:

questions about new solar projects

Not surprisingly, the number one question, asked by a 60% of respondents, is how does the production from the solar system relate to their electric bill!  This is an extremely common concern – leading to that famous complaint: I’ve got solar, why is my bill so high?  I think the evidence is overwhelming that solar installers need to do a better job of explaining how these systems will work in real life.  

Are you a recent solar consumer?  How do these results match up with your experience?  We would love to hear your thoughts/experiences in the comments!

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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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