Internet-only Home Solar Vendor Raises $23M, Promises to ‘Dramatically Cut Prices’

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Project Solar doesn’t make solar panels or hire crews to install them on rooftops, but the startup says it can shake up the residential solar business by avoiding sales reps and automating parts of the ordering, design and installation process.

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Project Solar, which has received $23 million in new Series A funding led by Left Lane Capital, says it is looking to install 30 megawatts of solar power this year, mostly in California and Texas, clearly underpriced by some of its competitors. The startup aims to surpass the install rate in 2022 by five times by 2023.

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But first, some context: Tesla knocking on the door years ago, only to see its market share plummet. Meanwhile, Sunrun has over 100 jobs in sales listed on his website and is top residential solar brand by market share. So why fire salespeople to work for Project Solar, which is currently not so active as an industry leader?

For homeowners, selling mostly comes down to price. The startup says it charges $2.20 per watt per install on average, and just $1.63 after federal incentives. This is about 25% cheaper than the national average in 2021. $2.94 per watt (before taxes), according to the Solar Energy Manufacturers Association. Whether it qualifies as “significantly inferior” as the startup characterizes it is more of a matter of opinion. For people who are especially comfortable, Project Solar also offers cheaper DIY options.

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Project Solar’s revenue comes from higher prices for equipment for which the company receives volume discounts. The company says that reducing the number of vendors saves up to a dollar per watt, and so it is relying on in-house software to reduce the time it takes for things like system design, permits, and contractor coordination. For each sale, “the server process involves about 40 man-hours (not including the physical labor of installation, which typically takes 8 hours for a team of 3-4 people),” CEO Trevor Hiltbrand told TechCrunch. He added that the firm’s software includes “a tool that has reduced design/CAD time from 3 hours to 30 minutes.”

Project Solar plans to use the A-series for expansion in the Midwest and South, as well as continuing to work on its software. Other than Left Lane Capital, Project Solar declined to say who was involved in the funding round, calling them “industry strategists.”


Credit: techcrunch.com /

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