Solar SpeedRack is known for its hybrid racking system HRS160, which limits roof penetrations by using a SpeedFoot weight distribution block in between anchor spots. But the racking manufacturer enters new territory next month with its release of OneClickSolar, an online marketplace meant to help homeowners go solar.
Michael Salvati, vice president of Solar SpeedRack and OneClickSolar, explained the new website as a place where homeowners can enter minimal information, trace their roof outlines and order cost-effective solar packages. The automated system designates an installer near the homeowner’s location. The website will be available to California residents starting in July 2017.
OneClickSolar allows homeowners to “design their own solar system without pressure from annoying solar salesmen.” It also lets owners apply for financing and set up their own installation times.
“Looking at the market and how things are done by the installers, the main complaint from the customer is always the salesman,” said CEO Shane Shamloo. “Most people don’t want to deal with that. Because more people are computer savvy, we decided that we could develop a consumer portal where you can put in your address and the system would generate a layout based on your usage. From that, we generate packages that have different panels, different inverters, different racking and then move on to financing or paying with cash, then scheduling an appointment for the inspection.”
Why would a mounting manufacturer set up an online marketplace? Shamloo said the thought behind OneClickSolar was a little selfish for Solar SpeedRack. Many distributors wouldn’t consider carrying Solar SpeedRack products because they were already satisfied with tried-and-true mounting names that had large guaranteed volumes. If OneClickSolar brought in a steady line of customers that demanded Solar SpeedRack products, distributors would take notice.
But the company changed its plans. The OneClickSolar marketplace will first offer those tried-and-true names (like Unirac and IronRidge) because distributors do already have those in stock. Eventually, OneClickSolar will bring in Solar SpeedRack to its offerings.
“Eventually we’ll switch to our own racking,” Shamloo said. “Then we have the volume that we could dictate to the distributors.”
OneClickSolar differs from other marketplaces like EnergySage and Pick My Solar on the side of the installer. Once a customer signs up, other marketplaces then put all the responsibility in the installers’ hands. With OneClickSolar, the installer is just hired for the installation. OneClickSolar handles financing, permitting, interconnection, etc.
Installation partners fill out an application online and, if approved, are given a territory of OneClickSolar customers. If multiple installers apply in the same territory, the OneClickSolar system will rotate installers and customers based on their open schedules.
“We’re not requiring the installers to be exclusive to OneClick,” Salvati said. “This is added business they otherwise would not have. It’s an incentive since they don’t have to worry about acquiring a permit or interconnection.”
OneClickSolar should be attractive to solar customers because they hold all the power. No contact information is needed to use the website. Customers can design their system and play around with choices before ever having to put in their names. They choose when to install, what products to install and how to pay for it.
“Our target audience is the Amazon shopper, those familiar with online systems,” Salvati said. “Also, people who have been looking at solar for a while, are much more sophisticated, who actually pull the spec sheets and want the LG module and the SolarEdge inverter. We want to allow for both those sets of customer bases. We want to give the customer the flexibility to choose.”
OneClickSolar will be available only to California residents next month. If all goes well, the marketplace will expand into other states, as long as installation partners line up.