OpenSolar, a free solar sales platform designed to make selling solar more streamlined for retailers and installers and more transparent for consumers, has now successfully integrated the consumer lending services of Plenti — a finance provider offering competitive loans.
Since launching in May 2019, OpenSolar’s digital toolkit for generating professional, installer-branded quotes that detail solar system size, optimal orientation and design, and savings on current bills, has attracted 3,500 industry users.
Damien Zwiersen a director for the SEM Group of solar installers was involved in beta testing of the app with his two teams of installers in South Australia, and says OpenSolar has acted on his suggestion that having a loans facility would further enhance the utility of the app for industry operators.
“We’re not here to sell the finance,” Zwiersen told pv magazine Australia, “We’re here to sell solar.”
Until today, he says solar installers were frequently required to transfer customer and quote details to a finance portal in order to smooth the path for clients who wanted or needed a loan to complete their solar purchase.
Integration of Plenti services, means the OpenSolar app now generates loan terms based on the system options provided by installers: “The customer gets the quote, selects which solar system they want to look at in detail, whether it’s, say, 6.6 kW or 10.56 kW and then they can click for terms, whether that’s an upfront payment, or various finance options,” explains Zwiersen.
Loan terms and repayments are shown in the context of savings the customer will make on their energy bills by reducing their reliance on the grid, and they can click through to the Plenti portal if they want to proceed with a loan application.
Louis Edwards, Head of Renewable Energy Finance at Plenti, said in a statement today, “This partnership goes a long way to removing the barriers many Aussie families have with investing in green energy for their home.”
That is, it provides all the data they need to make an informed decision.
Plenti of solar action
In January this year Plenti reported that 2020 fourth-quarter lending for renewable energy systems (commercial and residential) was up 19% on the previous quarter, indicating strong demand for PV and for financing.
The fintech’s renewable lending business has funded more than 11,000 loans for solar-power purchases since its inception at the end of 2014.
Plenti is also a delivery partner for the South Australian government’s $100 million battery scheme, and is working with the NSW Government on its Empowering Homes Program, which provides zero interest loans of up to $14,000 for households to install rooftop solar and battery storage.
Time-saving technology at their fingertips
The OpenSolar platform works with several partners to deliver on its promise of streamlining solar rollout, including premium solar panel, battery and inverter manufacturers; Solar Outlet online wholesaler; Solar Analytics advanced solar metering equipment, and NearMap, which provides current and historical aerial imagery to assist in designing and visualising solar systems for clients.
One of the first capabilities to be integrated with the OpenSolar app, NearMap allows solar installers to provide customers with clear bird’s-eye and oblique views of their rooftop and surrounding shade, incorporating superimposed representations of an optimised solar array, or more than one option.
This “prospecting” tool, allows installers to generate quotes, supported with visuals, from a smartphone, tablet or internet-connected laptop, or from home without even visiting a client’s site — a bonus when working through Covid-19 restrictions.
“It definitely saves us time,” says Zwiersen, who is about to roll out OpenSolar to SEM solar teams in Queensland and the Northern Territory.
He adds, “It’s very quick to do panel arrays. We use the free imagery software before it goes across to the customer. It keeps costs down.”
The shared goal of all OpenSolar participants is to accelerate the uptake of rooftop solar, by supporting the solar industry and reliably informing consumers.
Zwiersen says the Plenti integration with OpenSolar represents “one less thing for sales reps to be worried about”, allowing them to focus more on the customer and perhaps “close a couple more deals because they have more time”.
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I looked at their pricing. Assuming there are no setup or admin fees for the client, they are charging 16% p.a interest. But add any fees to that and it gets high – credit card high.
Clients need to make an informed decision
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