Listen Up: Running A Successful Solar Business With Pamela Cargill

Running a solar installation business isn’t easy. Whether it’s a small local installer working on one system a week on neighborhood homes, or a large installer working on 500 systems a week in multiple states, the logistics, engineering, financing, customer relations and project management are daunting. In reality, it’s much easier to sell solar than it is to run a profitable, sustainable solar business.

Customers and installers have benefitted greatly from a decline in equipment costs over the past five years. Plus there are software tools and services to help with critical functions in a solar business, such as rooftop system design, proposal software, and project management services. But lower equipment costs and better management tools do not always translate into installer profitability – especially as installed system prices continue to decline and customer acquisition costs increase.

My guest on this week’s show is Pamella Cargill, principal at Chaolysti. Pam’s company specializes in process and operational improvements for the residential solar industry. Basically, she’s a guru at helping solar companies understand the products, tools and services that can help improve their profitability. I have learned a lot from Pam’s research and insights, so please Listen up to this week’s Energy Show on Renewable Energy World.

About The Energy Show

As energy costs consume more and more of our hard-earned dollars, we as consumers really start to pay attention. But we don't have to resign ourselves to $5/gallon gas prices, $200/month electric bills and $500 heating bills. There are literally hundreds of products, tricks and techniques that we can use to dramatically reduce these costs — very affordably.

The Energy Show on Renewable Energy World is a weekly 20-minute podcast that provides tips and advice to reduce your home and business energy consumption. Every week we'll cover topics that will help cut your energy bill, explain new products and technologies in plain English, and cut through the hype so that you can make smart and cost-effective energy choices. 

About Your Host

Barry Cinnamon is a long-time advocate of renewable energy and is a widely recognized solar power expert. In 2001 he founded Akeena Solar — which grew to become the largest national residential solar installer by the middle of the last decade with over 10,000 rooftop customers coast to coast. He partnered with Westinghouse to create Westinghouse Solar in 2010, and sold the company in 2012.

His pioneering work on reducing costs of rooftop solar power systems include Andalay, the first solar panel with integrated racking, grounding and wiring; the first UL listed AC solar panel; and the first fully “plug and play” AC solar panel. His current efforts are focused on reducing the soft costs for solar power systems, which cause system prices in the U.S. to be double those of Germany.

Although Barry may be known for his outspoken work in the solar industry, he has hands-on experience with a wide range of energy saving technologies.  He's been doing residential energy audits since the punch card days, developed one of the first ground-source heat pumps in the early ‘80s, and always abides by the Laws of Thermodynamics.

Lead image: Green microphone via Shutterstock

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