Solar Soft Costs: 4 Ways to Reduce or Eliminate Them

Remember that movie and its subsequent remake—where a great white shark named “Jaws” was devouring every swimmer in sight?

When it comes to your solar installation projects, you’re faced with some pretty serious attacks—from soft costs. And when you’re a solar contractor trying to keep your company’s profits afloat, soft costs are no movie.

Here are 4 budget-friendly ways to reduce or eliminate your soft costs.

The Truth About Solar Installations

Many of your customers think adding solar is a simple process. They sign your contract, you bolt solar panels onto their roofs, you’re done, and they go green and get their clean energy flowing. End of story.

Little do they know that the process isn’t that simple. Not only is there the cost of the solar panels, but there’s something else that’s the expensive part of the installation process: solar soft costs.

What are Your Solar Soft Costs?

Your soft costs are those unavoidable non-hardware costs of your solar projects, and they’re eating into your profits. They’re seriously problematic since they now make up some 67% of every job. They make up areas permitting and interconnection, but are not limited to these challenges to your PV solar installations. While some soft costs remained unchanged in their flexibility and high costs, others are beginning to show a trend in both reduced costs and time required to obtain.

Permits

Permits are among the most problematic of solar soft costs. Depending on the jurisdiction involved—and there are 18,000 of them throughout the U.S.—the permitting processing can take anywhere from two to eight weeks.

Many states and jurisdictions are now offering expedited or streamlined application processes for small solar installations—less than 10 kW to 15 kW, depending on the area—where the permit submittals are processed over the counter or within one business day. In addition, other solar-friendly local governments are waiving permit fees.

Installation labor costs

This one is something of a double-edged sword.

As of 2018, America had over 242,000 solar workers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. However, many labor installer jobs have gone unfilled. There are numbers of highly skilled workers, which can drive up labor costs. While these costs may seem prohibitive, you may spend less in the long run if you hire experienced workers rather than inexperienced ones. You’ll have far less problems with project redos because of errors on project site.

Inspections

Once the system is completed, the city or county is required to do a final inspection before the system is connected to the grid. This process can take anywhere from one to four weeks, depending on the backlog, the time of year, and how well the local government handles the process.

Interconnection

Interconnection is another time-eating part of solar soft costs. It can take weeks from application to final connection. It has generally taken 67 days on average to process applications. That said, some utilities have cut their application times to as little as five days. Unfortunately, with some of the 3,000 U.S. utilities, the wait time can be as long as 177 days to connect the system to the grid.

According to EQ Research, there are several ways to standardize the solar interconnection process. These include:

  • having an online submission system
  • consolidating approvals
  • offering no time limit on PTO reviews
  • offering faster interconnection time for applications without errors that could take only minutes to fix
  • providing adequate staffing or offering assembly line-like review processes to cut PTO waiting periods

Sales tax

Sales tax varies from state to state but may be waived in some cases based on a state’s solar adoption. Right now, there are 25 states that waive their sales tax, but this is growing. In other instances, paying the tax is non-negotiable.

Design services

Solar design and engineering services can be expensive. Their work is multi-faceted in that they plan, design, and implement solar energy projects. They begin with a customer consultation, a site assessment as well as a financial assessment. Based on the information, they will design, oversee, and/or manage implementation of the plan. They will also ensure regulatory compliance, inspect installation sites, and write technical reports.

4 Ways to Reduce or Eliminate Your Solar Soft Costs

Finding ways to reduce or eliminate your soft costs is challenging. You hope that the various jurisdictions and utilities can develop some forms of expedited application processes for your customers, but in many cases, these still have a long way to go.

To battle these issues, you need a knowledgeable partner with industry insights that walk you through its selection of high-quality hardware as well as its free design and permit services that will save you money.

When you’re swimming in rising solar soft costs, Solerus Energy provides you with affordable, full-service service when soft costs are affecting your business. They have a wide range of hardware at discounted prices and bundled design services, line diagrams, and permit packages. Along with these come their support team services not offered elsewhere. All of these save you time and money from having to do everything yourself.

Full design and permit package

Solerus Energy supplies a free full design and permit package and solar single line diagram with any residential system from 1 kW to 25 kW or $0.01-$0.05/W. They give you everything to pull a permit with along with a BOM for your order for any residential or commercial system. The package includes:

  • Cover page
  • Site plan
  • Array layout and attachment details
  • Single line diagram

They offer full system layout and shading analysis that’s free with a full system order or $250 without a component order. The package also provides battery back-up and off-grid solar installations for small and large commercial installations.

Their technical staff is NACEP-certified, so your drawings are high quality. The staff provides a range of design and drawing services for permitting, construction and commissioning needs for systems from 2 kW to 500 kW.

Permit package

If you need just the documents to pull a permit, Solerus Energy can prepare everything for that process:

  • Single line diagram
  • System mechanical layout
  • Installation plan
  • Product dataset

They can supply you with a single line diagram and shading analysis only.

They also offer Electrical and Structural PE stamps for all 50 states.

Premium equipment

Equipment from Solerus Energy is premium-quality, industry-tested from well-established manufacturers that have the required certifications. You receive discounted hardware for every aspect of your installation:

  • Solar panels
  • Inverters and accessories
  • Monitoring equipment
  • Mounts and racking
  • Balance of system components
  • Off-grid and backup systems

With discounted products comes reduced sales tax, further offsetting your solar soft costs.

Support services

Solerus Energy partners project engineers for planning and design. Their NABCEP-certified staff will travel to site and inspect system. This way you won’t need to hire a different third party for inspection. They will provide a complete commissioning report to you or the financing company They also assist you in completing your Bill of Materials.

In addition, Solerus Energy’s technical staff offers free support before, during, AND after every installation.

Eliminate or Reduce Your Soft Costs with Solerus Energy

When it comes to reducing or eliminating solar soft costs, it can be a huge challenge. You want your projects to go smoothly so there are no headaches. With its premium hardware and bundled services, Solerus Energy is the knowledgeable go-to partner with affordable solutions when it comes to your solar installations.

Ready to learn more about how to reduce or eliminate your solar soft costs through our discounted equipment and free services? Speak with one of our knowledgeable solar equipment experts and get a free custom quote and more!