Project Solar neither manufactures solar panels nor employs crews to install solar on rooftops, but instead manages to bypass multiple sales steps and leverage the residential solar business by automating the ordering, design and installation process. The startup just closed a $23 million Series A round of funding led by Left Lane Capital.
Project Solar says it expects to install 30 megawatts of solar in the U.S. market, mainly in California and Texas, this year and aims to increase the size of installations fivefold next year. The company’s killer app is a more affordable price.
For homeowners, sales depend largely on price. The startup says the average installation cost is $2.20 per watt, down to $1.63 after federal incentives. That’s about 25 percent cheaper than the national average of $2.94 per watt (before tax credits) in 2021, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. Whether it qualifies as a “significant reduction” as described by the startup is more of a matter of opinion. Project Solar also offers a cheaper DIY option for those who are particularly handy.
Project Solar’s revenue comes from raising the price of its devices and getting volume discounts as a result. The company says laying off salespeople saves a dollar per watt, and from there it relies on its in-house software to reduce the time it takes to do things like design, license and coordinate contractors for the system.
CEO Trevor Hiltbrand says “the back-end process involves about 40 …… hours of work (not including the physical labor of installation, which typically takes a 3-4 person crew 8 hours), and the company offers a tool that reduces engineering/CAD time from 3 hours to 30 minutes”.