The residential solar market adapts to a year of change
It’s officially been one full year since the country shut down due to COVID-19. The thing I remember most from those first days and weeks was how quickly everything happened. The morning of March 10, 2020, our office decided to cancel our upcoming St. Patrick’s Day potluck to avoid spreading germs. That same evening, our CEO told us we would all start working from home immediately. On March 9, Ohio Gov. Mike Dewine announced three Ohioans had COVID. Then the health director told us there was evidence of community spread, meaning 1% of the state’s population (around 117,000 people) was carrying the virus.
I still feel lucky to be able to do my job at home throughout this whirlwind of a year. I know many of our solar readers were not as fortunate and had to deal with furloughs or layoffs. Although all solar sectors were affected by the pandemic, residential installers bore the brunt of the impact. The door-to-door personal interactions that define the resi sales process were halted during the height of it, and although people learned to live with the new reality, face-to-face (or mask-to-mask) sales still aren’t what they used to be. Even when I get food delivered to my house now, I ask the kind delivery workers to just drop it on the porch.
Still, residential installers found a way to keep business alive despite the rapidly changing and continuously uncertain year. Contractors tried new software solutions to allow teams to work from home when possible and came up with measures to ensure both homeowners and installers stayed safe during installation. Now past the hardest point in the COVID saga, installers in the Amicus Solar Cooperative told SPW they saw unprecedented residential demand at the start of 2021.
In this issue, we dive into all things residential. We look at the business practices that carried contractors through this tough time and the technological innovations making rooftop installations simpler and sleeker. We dive into the ways residential installations now inspire more neighborhood envy than eyesore complaints, including all-black modules and mounting solutions that blend into the roofline. We also write about the state policy that’s helping some installers overcome HOA roadblocks in tandem with the increasingly attractive aesthetics of solar installations.
Residential installations are the foundation of solar acceptance on a community scale. This issue goes out to all the companies working these smaller projects and growing the solar fan base in the United States — even in the face of the toughest of obstacles.