Project Solar doesn’t make solar panels, nor does it employ staff to pop them onto rooftops, but the startup claims it can shake up the residential solar industry by keeping vendors out and sharing the ordering, design and installation process. to automate.
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 this year, primarily in California and Texas, while apparently building some of its undercut competitors on price. The startup aims to exceed the installation figure for 2022 by a factor of five by 2023.
But first some context: Tesla knocked on the door ages ago, only to see its market share drop. Sunrun, meanwhile, has more than 100 sales vacancies on its site and is the top residential solar brand in terms of market share. So why would the loss of salespeople work for Project Solar, which is currently nowhere near as active as the industry leader?
For homeowners, sales mostly come down to price. The startup says it charges an average of $2.20 per watt for installations, and just $1.63 after federal incentives. That’s about 25% cheaper than the 2021 national average of $2.94 per watt (before tax credits), according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. Whether it qualifies as “dramatically lower” as the startup characterizes it is more of a matter of opinion. For those who are particularly handy, Project Solar also offers cheaper DIY options.
Project Solar’s revenue comes from increasing equipment prices, for which it receives volume discounts. The company says cutting vendors saves it as much as a dollar a watt, and from there it leans on its in-house software to cut the time needed for things like system design, permitting and contractor coordination. For each sale, “about 40 man-hours of work are involved in the backend process (not including the physical labor of the installation, which usually takes a 3-4 person crew 8 hours),” CEO Trevor Hiltbrand told BestFitnessBands. He added that the company’s software includes “a tool that has reduced engineering/CAD time from 3 hours to 30 minutes.”
Project Solar plans to use Series A to expand into the Midwest and South, and continue work on the software. Beyond Left Lane Capital, Project Solar declined to share who contributed to the funding round, calling them “industry strategies.”