Archive for April, 2011

Bring on Spring! Bring on the Solar Lights!

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

We have had some false starts but the cherry blossoms finally bloomed in the Nation’s Capital and spring has finally arrived, and so has the surge of interest in and orders for solar powered lights. Most of our customers who are interested in solar lights are newbies to solar energy, and indeed there is no better wait to start down the road to solar energy with some solar lights. You don’t need a solar farm to get into the solar business. You can start with some simple, inexpensive solar lights. And springtime has brought the customers to SolarTown who want to see solar technology in action.

Enphase Steps up to the Plate on Warranty Claim

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

The blog that we posted on the warranty claim with Enphase received some attention—from Enphase. The director of customer support read the SolarTown blog on the warranty claim on the Enphase Envoy and wrote to us directly: “It sounds like someone may still have an unresolved issue, which I would personally like the opportunity to escalate to resolution… I would be happy to intervene and fix the situation.” And true to his word, Enphase replaced the Envoy that wasn’t working. Issue resolved and our hours on the phone were behind us. Enphase will need to continue to support its customer relations folks if it wants to hold onto its leadership role in the inverter market. Enphase is also reportedly considering offering a longer warranty than the current 15 years that it currently offers. That would assure consumers that the microinverters will work reliably for almost as long as the 20-25 years that the solar modules are expected to generate electricity. The warranty is only as good as the company that is standing behind its products. We hope that the intervention in the warranty claim that we had better represents the company’s customer service approach than what we experienced initially. That could keep Enphase in the leadership position for some time to come.

SolarTown Customer Loves His SRECs

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Our solar energy system certified in Pennsylvania and Maryland. We are now already over 8 MWh total generation, so we’re expecting to see 1-2 SRECs for each of the summer months. Through the generation and SREC sales alone, we’ve already generated about $2,700; and factoring in the tax credits for this year, we’ve already paid off over $10,500 for the installed system. At this rate, with our conservation efforts, in the summer months we may get to the point where we’re actually generating a credit.

Are All Solar Modules the Same?: New Factors Distinguish Panels

Monday, April 11th, 2011

The debate continues whether solar modules are essentially fungible commodities or whether they are subject to differentiation. We at SolarTown come down firmly on the side of differentiation among solar panels, but we recognize that there is another side of the story. We have heard from many installation companies who tell us that cost is the primary driver in their decision to purchase solar panels for installation. We have started to hear from manufacturers who are betting that consumers will pay more for home solar panels for an improved product. You may be able to get a superior solar module for less than a 10% premium—now seeing that you may have these solar panels on your home for 25 years, we think that this premium is a price worth paying.