We are very excited to release a brand-new online tool for the solar industry: the EnergySage Buyer’s Guide – a first of its kind tool to allow consumers to research, compare and evaluate the price and quality of solar panels, inverters and batteries. To introduce you to our new product, I would like to give you some context for why we built the Buyer’s Guide and describe how we anticipate solar shoppers and industry stakeholders alike to use it.
Why the Buyer’s Guide? To bring solar into the eCommerce future
With 2 million households having installed solar, and with millions more actively interested in going solar, solar has joined the mainstream. At this stage, consumers are looking for a familiar eCommerce shopping experience for solar.
Solar equipment is the critical component of any solar panel installation: it typically accounts for one-third of the price of solar, and provides electricity for decades. Installing solar without researching, comparing and evaluating the equipment is similar to buying a car (or an appliance like a refrigerator) without doing any research first, but rather just going with what the dealership recommends you buy.
While the EnergySage Marketplace has allowed solar shoppers to compare custom solar quotes since 2013, solar shoppers have told us that they are interested in accessing the same level of details while shopping for solar that they currently have for any other products, such as cars, appliances, electronics, etc.
Given that solar is almost always a first-time purchase, most solar shoppers are looking at solar equipment for the first time, and lack both a familiarity with equipment brands and a reference point for comparing equipment quality, performance and price.
To bridge this gap in information between solar shoppers, manufacturers and installers, we built the EnergySage Buyer’s Guide with data and analysis from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) as a first-of-its-kind guide for comparing all solar equipment–including panels, inverters and batteries/energy storage systems–available on the market today.
The Buyer’s Guide is ideal for researching, comparing and evaluating solar equipment for solar shoppers and industry alike
While we primarily built the Buyer’s Guide to help educate and inform solar shoppers, we believe other industry stakeholders – from installers and manufacturers to researchers and policymakers – will also find this resource useful and informative.
We anticipate solar shoppers using the tool in two key ways:
They start their solar shopping journey by finding and evaluating equipment, narrowing down their option(s) and then proactively seeking quotes for a specific equipment package. Solar shoppers would familiarize themselves with the key players in the industry, with the general quality and performance characteristics of different equipment manufacturers, and with industry-specific lingo before actively engaging with solar installers.
Use it as a research tool to perform an in-depth comparison of equipment they’ve been quoted by installers both on and off the EnergySage Marketplace. It will allow shoppers to ensure that they are selecting the right quality equipment that fits their particular needs and that they are paying a fair price for it. The Buyer’s Guide is one more way to bridge the information gap between manufacturers, solar companies and end consumers, contributing to more informed and engaged solar shoppers.
We see the Buyer’s Guide as a helpful resource for industry stakeholders in addition to consumers. Installers can lean on the Buyer’s Guide to help educate consumers about their various solar equipment options. What’s more, solar companies are consumers as well, and they’ll use the Buyer’s Guide to research and compare the equipment available to them, thus helping to better plan for future inventory stocking.
Additionally, the Buyer’s Guide would be a resource for solar equipment brands and manufacturers to differentiate their products from their competitors’, all the while building brand awareness. We look forward to using the Buyer’s Guide to help industry stakeholders to better understand consumer preferences and use the knowledge as an input to their product development strategy. In doing so, we are advancing the EnergySage mission of making solar more accessible, affordable, and transparent for all stakeholders.
Check out the new Buyer’s Guide and let us know how you can use it
I would personally welcome your feedback, ideas and suggestions you have for how to improve upon the Buyer’s Guide and continue to make this product even more useful.