Large, long-term solar customer survey shows value in old, cold leads

solar installer survey

SolarReviews and UC Berkeley’s BEACN consulting group analyzed findings from more than 400,000 U.S. homeowners who submitted a request for a quote from between 2016 and 2020 and released their findings in celebration of Earth Week 2021. The Solar Consumer Insights Report relays quantifiable insight into the key drivers and barriers that influenced U.S. homeowners’ decision to install rooftop solar, including questions about financing choice, permitting, and battery storage.

The survey was then used to identify which factors affect the adoption of residential solar, including bottlenecks in the installation process, customer perceptions of the process, and customer knowledge of financial and non-financial benefits. Choosing such a long period of time to analyze reveals an especially important tidbit on the potential value of old, cold leads.

“As solar energy costs continue to plummet, and the need for disaster resiliency becomes more urgent, homeowners are increasingly looking at rooftop solar as a proven solution,” said Andy Sendy, Founder and President of SolarReviews. “This report uncovers valuable insight into the installation process, and identifies potential opportunities and barriers to deploying solar power across the country. We’re excited to share these findings with the solar industry and continue to help homeowners save money while transitioning to clean energy.”

Key report findings include:

  • The primary motivation for installing solar was potential savings on electricity bills, followed by disaster resilience and reduced emissions.
  • Interest in battery storage, specifically for the purpose of energy resilience during natural disasters, is increasing.
  • Of the respondents that have solar, just 11.5% also have a battery storage system installed – but this percentage is expected to increase following a confirmed year-over-year growth since 2016, with 60% of battery installations in the last five years taking place in 2020.
  • The upfront cost of solar is the most significant barrier to install solar, with 72.5% of respondents rating it with a score of “important” or higher.
  • Increased home value was rated as “Important” or higher by 59.8% of respondents.
  • The federal tax credit was the single-most important financial incentive to respondents, followed by net metering.
  • Three months is the most common lead-to-installation timeline. Yet, people who received solar quotes in 2016 were installing solar panels into 2020, debunking the claim that homeowner leads can only convert within a few weeks or months.

The results of the survey are examined in five case studies that highlight trending developments in residential solar, including findings in storage and energy resilience, effects of homeowner awareness of financial incentives, and other areas. 

For example, one of the most interesting findings of the report shows that leads surveyed from the earliest time period (January 2016) were still getting solar installed nearly 5 years later, at the end of 2020. 68% of survey respondents who had not yet installed solar indicated that they were still interested in installing a solar system in the future. These results debunk the claim that homeowners only install solar within a few weeks or months of receiving a quote, and offer exciting possibilities for installers looking to enhance their long-term marketing strategies and business models. 

Another case study found that the upfront costs of solar installation is the most significant barrier to installing solar, followed by lack of financing. Yet only 52% of survey respondents were aware of at least one financial incentive for installing solar. Resources like that provide easy to understand, streamlined information on financing, permitting and other consumer information will be critical to accelerating the adoption of home solar.

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