SunPower is #1: Higher Quality Beats Lowest Price

EnergySage just confirmed what we have been telling you: When it comes to solar panels, higher quality beats lowest price! In the latest Solar Marketplace Intel Report by EnergySage, SunPower ranks #1 on the list of “Most Frequently Chosen Solar Panels” in 2017.

Ever since EnergySage, an online comparison-shopping marketplace for solar, started inviting consumers to sell through their solar Marketplace in 2013, some solar installers have voiced concerns about what they call a race to the bottom. According to EnergySage, “Their reasoning sounds something like this: If consumers have easy access to multiple competing bids with transparent pricing, installers will be forced to undercut their competitors’ prices in order to win more business. To deliver these low prices, installers will then be forced to offer cheap, low-quality equipment in order to close sales, leading to an unwinnable race to the bottom for the solar industry.”

However, EnergySage has observed the exact opposite to be true. “Over the five years we’ve been in business, we have actually found the exact opposite occurring: High-quality equipment sells best on EnergySage, and the majority of consumers do not select the lowest-priced offer available to them. The much-anticipated race never got started. For installers, this should be good news: You don’t have to sacrifice quality for price.”


EnergySage Solar Marketplace Intel Report

The latest Solar Marketplace Intel Report by EnergySage, provides complete visibility into exactly what type of equipment wins the most customers on their platform. The quotes that are most likely to be chosen all include high-quality products, made by reputable manufacturers. SunPower is at the top of the list of Most Frequently Chosen Solar Panels” in 2017, beating brands like LG and Panasonic.

This chart shows the top 10 panels, by brand and series, most likely to be selected by a consumer on EnergySage in 2017. Source: Greentech Media.


National Renewable Energy Laboratory extensively studied the value of transparency that competitive bidding platforms provide, uncovering a similar truth:

“Some installers interviewed for this study stated that overemphasis on low prices may drive installers to compete by offering lower-quality equipment on quote platforms. However, we find that only about one in three quote aggregation customers select the lowest-priced quote and that customers are more likely to select quotes with premium (high-efficiency) panels. The data indicate that at least some customers evaluate offers based on multiple dimensions, including product quality, and that high-quality products can compete on quote aggregation platforms.”

What this means for the US Solar Industry

As more and more homeowners are choosing to purchase a solar panel system outright, they’re employing similar shopping behaviors to when they’ve made other large purchases. This means that customers rely on traditional indicators of product quality. They value the brand’s reputation, evaluate warranty offerings and use independent review websites.

“With today’s residential solar consumers shopping around more than ever, installers shouldn’t be afraid to quote high-quality products. Yes, consumers want to be sure they’re getting a good deal for the right equipment, but in most cases that doesn’t result in them selecting the cheapest option. Consumers are prioritizing long-term value over cost minimization, creating an opportunity for installers to compete without fear over a race to the bottom,” writes Vikram Aggarwal is the CEO and founder of EnergySage.