Las Vegas solar market primed for take-off

What is happening in the Las Vegas solar market is generating such fervor and excitement, the details simply cannot stay in Vegas.

After months of being left out in the cold, thanks to measures by the Public Utilities Commission to lower the credit for excess electricity generated by rooftop solar systems, solar companies reentered the scene in the middle of 2017. Now, it’s an all-out battle to recover lost ground. And as often happens in battle, some sides are playing fair and others are… questionable.

“It’s very competitive,” says Shaun Shelton, area manager for Legend Solar in Las Vegas.

With 6.4 sun hours per day, homeowners in Las Vegas are in an ideal position to take advantage of solar.

That fact is not necessarily surprising, but it is one of several factors that sets the Las Vegas market apart from other solar markets. With three SunPower dealers in the area — of which Legend Solar is one — and six or seven “extremely active solar dealers,” it is not uncommon for five companies to be bidding the same project all in the same week.

What is surprising to Shelton is the sometimes “under-handed” methods some other solar sales teams are willing to use to get the job, and the amount of re-educating Legend Solar has to do in order to help customers fully grasp the reality of what a solar array can do for their home.

One example is the truth about the length of the Las Vegas “solar day.”

How much power can you create? 

Every state is different, but with 6.4 solar hours per day, Nevada is the highest in the nation, making it ideal for using solar panels. However, some companies allege an 8-hour solar day, and when they run the numbers for customers, it makes it appear that their solar panels will produce more. But when those numbers inevitably fall short, the customer is left with a bad taste in their mouth for the solar industry, and it’s up to Legend Solar to re-educate the customer as to what their panels can actually do.

Factors that have to be considered, whether in the Las Vegas market or anywhere, include the direction the roof of the home is facing, the pitch of the roof, any potential foliage or other things that might inhibit direct sunlight from hitting the panels. Legend Solar has engineers specifically trained to determine just how much power can be generated from each customer’s specific solar array. But by the time they receive the official guaranteed power production from Legend Solar — even though it only takes a couple of days to produce — that customer may have heard from another company who promises higher numbers that ultimately cannot be delivered.

“Most people don’t understand the difference between the warranty on their solar panels and the power production guarantee,” Shelton says. “We take meticulous time to make sure what we get to the customer is right.”

What makes Las Vegas such a big deal? 

In general, there are several key factors that make the Las Vegas solar market unique. Depending on how you address each factor, these unique traits can make for a very positive outcome in the Las Vegas solar industry, or they can prove to be a stumbling block.

1. Competitive field. As mentioned earlier, the fact that there are so many solar companies trying to lock down customers in Las Vegas can be a challenge. However, it also gives the opportunity for Legend Solar to stand out against the crowd by offering a power production guarantee, top of the line solar panels and incredible customer service.

2. Buyer skepticism. After solar companies were forced to pull out of the Las Vegas market, and because some companies are failing to make good on their hasty sales pitches, some customers are hesitant to get back in the game.

“They were left at the altar,” Shelton says. “It takes a lot of education to get them to trust a solar company again.”

Fortunately, Legend Solar has a proven track record of living up to its guarantees and is highly capable of meeting and exceeding customers’ needs.

3. Diverse customer pool. Because of the diverse nature of the Las Vegas population, solar companies need to be prepared to interact with people from around the world who have moved to the Las Vegas area. Maintaining cultural sensitivity, finding a way to reach people from a variety of socioeconomic classes, as well as overcoming various language barriers, are all areas emphasized when training members of the Legend Solar sales teams.

4. Permit process. Las Vegas codes and ordinances have made it extremely difficult to go door-to-door to offer customers the opportunity to purchase a solar array. Even in areas where such contact is permitted, there is significant cost and a lot of red tape to cut through in order to get sales teams on the streets. Add to that the fact that roughly half of the communities in Las Vegas are gated, and it is clear door-to-door pitches cannot be the only method of procuring the sale. Legend Solar has worked steadily within these parameters and continues to find some success in door knocking. However, they have also implemented a telephonic outreach center where they are able to educate potential customers, answer questions and schedule appointments.

Reaping the rewards

Even with all the competition, Legend Solar is not backing away, in fact, Shelton says he is inspired by the challenge.

“Our team sets sales goals and the outcome can actually be double or triple the goal,” Shelton says.

On a personal note, Shelton says he has always enjoyed stepping into a challenging market, making promises and then delivering on those promises.

“That’s personally rewarding,” Shelton says, “to be able to go out on a sales call and educate people and empower them to make a decision that’s right for them.”

With only a few months back in the Las Vegas game, Shane Perkins, co-owner of Legend Solar, is pleased with the way things are progressing.

“They’ve sold really well,” Perkins says. “At the end of the day we know the Las Vegas market will be an absolute giant in our business… I think it will be our biggest market in the future.”

Lisa Larson is a freelance writer covering a wide range of topics. Read more from her at www.lisaglarson.com and follow her on Twitter @LisaGLarson or www.facebook.com/larsonlisa

Category: How does solar power work?, Industry News, Residential Projects

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