I compared the cost per watt to install a standard pole mount, such as a DPW, and found it cost the same as putting up a standard tracker. And of course by tracking you get the additional power.
Rich Nicol | AllEarth Renewables
For several years, I had focused my successful solar installation business on standard roof and ground-mounted systems. I was doing well. Then one day I was asked for a quote by a customer interested in a new system. Both I and another local installer came up with the same number. To our surprise, both of us were out-priced by the relatively new to the area dual axis AllSun Tracker.
For the power production, it was a phenomenal deal. And there was no way we could compete.
So what did I do? I went down to see the manufacturer, AllEarth Renewables. I didn’t anticipate how much my business would change from there.
When I came to understand that AllEarth was looking for dealers for their product, I’ll admit that at first I wasn’t convinced that the numbers on the AllSun Tracker would work for my business. But as I dug in a little further, I found I was wrong.
I compared the cost per watt to install a standard pole mount, such as a DPW, and found it cost the same as putting up a standard tracker. And of course by tracking you get the additional power. It was a no brainer. I soon found additional benefits I had initially not understood.
In just a few short months after partnering with AllEarth, I grew my business by 25 percent by bringing on the tracker. We’ve piggy-backed on their brand and can do more jobs with the time we have.
And while the price is a little higher for a tracker initially, you can demonstrate to a customer that the increased output means an increased return on investment. It works. This resonates so well with the customers. They get it.
Here in the northeast, we are also concerned about how snow and snow shedding impacts production. I’ve found the AllEarth tracker is so much better at shedding snow than roof or other fixed systems.
One of the best things about the AllSun Tracker is the time I save doing a job—from proposing a project through energizing the job.
First, the nice thing about a tracker is that it’s predictable when we go onsite. There are two AllSun Trackers models and for both, the installation is exactly the same. I know exactly what’s coming and I know the exact price. It just makes it easy. My time writing proposals is shortened up considerably.
Second, from an installation and liability perspective, with a pole mounted system like the tracker, you’re not up on a customer’s roof and putting holes in it. As an industry, we spend an awful lot of effort ensuring those holes don’t leak. With the AllSun Tracker you don’t even need to go on or in the house. We stay out of their space. There’s no working off ladders, setting up scaffolding, or working around windows.
And most of all, in more cases than I can count, roof mounted systems don’t work since you need a relatively new roof and reasonably good orientation. Those are two major factors that dictate whether you’ve got a viable job or not. With a tracker, you put it where you want and then it takes care of its own orientation. It’s nice expanding the options we have so we don’t need to walk away from as many potential solar jobs.
Last, I save time putting the final project together. With the AllSun Tracker it all comes in a box and the whole system is here together on time.
When I had to do a custom design, I would have to come up with all the individual parts, often from multiple suppliers. I’d get steel from local supplier, the inverter, the racking, a base, modules, and then line up the concrete to be on site. I’d be seeking prices and products for a system and managing different suppliers. Meanwhile, I’d be trying to put the whole thing together on time.
With each installation now, I save 6-8 hours on each job in desk time. I’m no longer ordering and sourcing materials. That’s 6-8 hours I can devote to another job. When you are running a small business every minute is precious. This gives me more time to devote to my customers and installation jobs. If we can save time in our schedule then we can spend more time with customers who are the bottom line in this business.
Now, I call up Will at AllEarth, ask for a Series 20 or 24, give him the Purchase Order and it ships the next day. It’s simple one stop shopping.
While the price is a little higher for a tracker initially, you can demonstrate that the increased output means an increased return on investment. It works. This resonates so well with the customers. They get it.
And for me and my business, I got it!
About AllEarth Renewables
AllEarth Renewables specializes in the design and manufacture of grid-connected solar renewable energy systems that lessen dependence on nuclear and fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The company's goal is to provide turnkey products that harness the power of the sun for homes and businesses while creating sustainable, well-paying jobs. AllEarth Renewables is an Inc. 500 company for fastest growing businesses nationwide, and has been designated one of the 2013 Best Places to Work in Vermont. Its ground-mounted solar PV AllSun Tracker was named a "2012 Green Product of the Year" by BuildingGreen magazine.
The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AltEnergyMag
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