Online-only home solar seller bags $23M, pledging ‘dramatically lower prices’ – TechCrunch

Project Solar doesn’t make solar panels or employ crews to throw them on rooftops, but the startup argues that it can disrupt the residential solar business by stepping away from salespeople and automating parts of the ordering, design, and installation process .

Backed by $23 million in new Series A funding led by Left Lane Capital, Project Solar says it is on track to install 30 megawatts of solar power this year, primarily in California and Texas, while it appears to undercut some of its competitors in price. In 2023, the startup wants to surpass its 2022 installation number fivefold.

But first, some context: Tesla knocked on the door ages ago, only to see its market share plummet. Sunrun, on the other hand, has more than 100 sales vacancies on its website and is the leading residential solar brand by market share. So why should cutting salespeople do it for Project Solar, which isn’t currently nearly as active as the industry leader?

For homeowners, the sale mainly depends on the price. The startup says it charges an average of $2.20 per watt for installs, down from just $1.63 after government incentives. That’s about 25% cheaper than the national average of $2.94 per watt (before tax credits) in 2021, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. Whether it qualifies as “dramatically lower,” as the startup characterizes it, is more a matter of opinion . For folks who are extra handy, Project Solar also has cheaper DIY options.

Project Solar’s revenue comes from increasing device prices, for which it receives volume discounts. The company says cutting out salespeople saves up to a dollar per watt, and from there it relies on its internal software to reduce the time it takes for things like system design, approval, and coordination of contractors. For each sale, “there is approximately 40…man hours involved in the backend process (not including the physical labor of installation, which typically takes a crew of 3-4 people eight hours),” CEO Trevor Hiltbrand told TechCrunch. He added that the company’s software “includes a tool that has reduced engineering/CAD time from three hours to 30 minutes.”

Project Solar plans to expand with the Series A in the Midwest and South and continue to work on its software. Beyond Left Lane Capital, Project Solar declined to disclose who was involved in the funding round, calling it “strategies within the industry.” Online-only home solar seller bags $23M, pledging ‘dramatically lower prices’ – TechCrunch

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