Will Solar Become A Standard Offering In Construction? – Irvine Real Estate – Irvine Homes for Sale

by Robert Mack on February 3, 2011

in Buyers, Latest News, Sellers

Enphase Energy Inc., a fast-growing supplier of solar equipment, is betting that solar will become a standard offering in the construction business.

Enphase Energy Inc.

Enphase just signed a deal whereby Siemens AG will buy the start-up’s microinverters, co-brand them, and sell them to electrical contractors aiming to move into the solar business. Since it began shipping its products in July 2008, Enphase has shipped more than a half million microinverters, which are attached to individual solar panels to improve their performance.

But electrical contractors, rather than specially trained solar installers, are the fastest growing sales channel for the company, Enphase Chief Executive Paul Nahi said. There are between 5,000 and 10,000 solar installers in the U.S., and at least 10 times that number of electrical contractors, he said.

“What the Siemens deal represents is the fundamental shift occurring in solar away from a specialty item that requires a lot of unique expertise into more of a standard product offering by any of the construction trades,” said Nahi, adding that it’s “a wholesale shift in the way that solar will be deployed sold and installed worldwide.”

Enphase is manufacturing the microinverters specifically for Siemens, with the products carrying both of the brand names. It is also adjusting its software and other service systems to the electrical contractor market, said Nahi. “Could it be a very significant part of our business within a couple of years? Absolutely. We fully expect it to be,” he said.

Solar is becoming a default option on some new home construction, Barry Cinnamon, CEO of Westinghouse Solar, an installer, wrote in an email. But new homes are still a small portion of the country’s roofs, especially in the current economy.

“I don’t agree that solar retrofits are as yet part of the general construction business,” wrote Cinnnamon, in response to a general question of whether the industry is moving in that direction.

Nahi says that his product is opening up solar installation to contractors with little solar experience. “If we can make this no harder to install than putting in a new outlet, then there’s no reason why the growth in this channel shouldn’t be explosive,” said Nahi.

By attaching to each individual solar panel, and avoiding the purchase of a larger central inverter, microinverters are also making the decision to go solar, a smaller decision, Nahi said. “It becomes more like an appliance, an easier decision,” he said.

But Cinnamon points out that the cost of solar installations is still significant. In terms of a consumer decision to purchase it’s “perhaps analogous to a kitchen upgrade (albeit one with a well-defined payback),” Cinnamon wrote.

I don’t think that the new home builders in Irvine have this in mind – at least not yet……but something to think about for future homes being build over the next several years…

Posted on Irvine Orange County Real Estate Market News

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