John Bringenberg, CEO of SunTalk Solar, explains how adding solar as a standard offering for new homes is boosting market share for new home builders in the Denver metro area.
Enphase: Tell us about yourself and your company.
John: I’m the President and CEO of SunTalk Solar. SunTalk began in 2008 as a branch of HomeTalk, my company that installs home technology (things like security, audio, video, data etc.) into new homes. We have relationships with homebuilders, and we frequently meet with homeowners to help them get these types of systems installed. We view solar as another technology that we integrate. For this reason our solar installations have mainly been within the residential market.
Enphase: How does solar differ from your other technology integrations?
John: It is not often in business that you get a sense of social contribution in what you do, but solar is one of those rare things. Most people in this industry feel very good about it and that certainly applies to myself and our people here. We don’t believe solar is a fad. We feel strongly that it’s going to be vital to our energy future and that it’s a job-creating industry.
Enphase: How has your experience been working with Enphase products?
John: We basically started out in solar with Enphase and got excited about it from day one. It’s become our standard offering. I would say the primary advantage is that it gives us a lot of engineering freedom and flexibility. We seem to be successful in communicating the value that Enphase’s better monitoring and longer warranty brings to our customers.
Enphase: Tell us about an interesting recent Enphase installation.
John: In Colorado, one very important new home construction company we work with is New Town Builders. They’re a regional builder that has local ownership. The company has made a very strong committment to enhance energy efficiency in the homes they build with various technologies. As part of that charter, about two years ago they began to put solar on every new home as a standard offering. We worked closely with them to develop a design that was replicable on a variety of types of homes with different roof elevations and orientations, including townhomes.
Enphase: What were the biggest challenges with these projects?
John: There’s a unique type of “row home” New Town builds. These are two story homes above a first level garage in groupings of six that share a common roof. It presented interesting challenges because the way the roofs are designed, only about 50 percent faces south and the remaining are oriented in a way that isn’t conducive to traditional solar arrays. What we have to do is engineer those systems with two or three arrays on a six-plex. We’re convinced it couldn’t be done without Enphase microinverters: putting up 40+ modules and dividing between six homeowners.
Enphase: How have the standard solar offerings worked for SunTalk and New Town Builders?
John: Sales of New Town homes from 2010 to 2011 are up about 60 percent. As the first production builder in the state that offered solar as a standard, they’ve been able to take a leadership position. The fact that they are outselling their competition has caught attention, and now we’re starting to see other builders replicate standard solar.
Enphase: Any other benefits that you’re seeing from Enphase systems?
John: The homebuyers get exposed to the Enlighten monitoring system and that’s their touch point to the system. For the row homes, this is how they can relate to their piece of the shared array. That’s a big differentiating factor that has helped increase sales for us. The longer Enphase warranty has also been an important selling point. Our feeling is that the warranty makes our pitch much more comfortable and adds a lot of value to the buyer as well.
To find out more about SunTalk Solar, visit http://www.suntalksolar.com.