This Cyber Monday, shoppers can add solar energy to the list of items they can casually browse for and buy online.
Geostellar has made many announcements over the last three and a half years about new ways solar installers and decision makers can use its extensive collection of easy-to-access data about solar resources, utility rates and the roof position of individual buildings to assess the feasibility and best positioning of solar panels.
Today, however, marks the start of a new consumer database that’s easy for anyone to access when they’re browsing the Web and casually wondering if solar could work for them.
“We feel that developing a sustainable lifestyle should be just as simple, affordable and convenient as online searching, sharing and shopping,” reads Geostellar’s website.
There’s no requirement to input personal information and consumers don’t have to wait for an installer to call and explain options. They can simply type in their address and average electric bill to see how much installing solar would cost and how much they could save if they bought a system outright, with a loan or through a solar leasing program.
Home and business owners can even compare different providers in their area and click to buy.
It brings the same simplicity third-party sites like Expedia and Orbitz introduced to buying plane tickets to the rather intimidating solar marketplace.
Major players in the solar installation and finance industries, including NRG, SolarCity, Admirals Bank, Conenergy, Roof Diagnostics and Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority have signed on to market their products through Geostellar.
Geostellar CEO David Levine told Reuters that he tried to get his solar customers to use his data to build a consumer website. When none of them did it, he decided to tackle it himself and now says Geostellar will shift from merely selling data to solar installers to being a primary customer acquisition agent for solar providers, claiming a commission for every solar array sold through the website.
Solar installers and financing companies that have signed up so far say they hope the new website will drive down the cost of customer acquisition, which will help to reduce one of the solar industry’s so-called soft costs.
Solar soft costs have been a major focus of the U.S. Department of Energy and solar industry leaders who see potential for solar energy to reach grid parity. The price of solar panels has plummeted nearly 70 percent over the last three years. Now, marketing, permitting and installation account for more than two-thirds of the cost of most solar installations.
Easy online shopping and convenient customer acquisition could help to reduce these costs.