The following article was published recently on Solar Choice and gives insight into their experience with SunWiz's software, PVsell


Let’s say that, like most Australians, you live in a grid-connected home. You’re thinking about installing batteries for your solar PV system, but aren’t clear about how much storage capacity you need. While you may have preferences and goals that go beyond simply saving money, you’ll still probably want to choose a battery system with a decent return on investment. We’ve taken a look at the numbers using PVSell and determined that a smaller battery bank is probably a better investment than a larger one (at least for now).

Making batteries make financial sense

Although solar PV systems are quite affordable on their own, battery storage is still on the pricey side. For virtually any battery product with a 10-year warranty, you’re looking to pay in the range of $2,000 per every kilowatt-hour (kWh) of storage capacity. These costs are likely to fall sharply in the near future (especially for lithium batteries), but are unlikely to move much during the remainder of 2016.

Let’s say you want batteries now, but in addition to the many other reasons a battery bank might already be attractive, you also want to ensure that they’re a solid investment. Fortunately, there are a few situations in which batteries already tick both of these boxes; in the case of a grid-connected solar system, the key is keeping it small.

Read more: Solar Choice Using PVsell - Size matters: Why Aussie homes may be better off with smaller battery...

Could this tool double your profitability?

We recently posted an article on the  . We established the importance of cutting soft costs to ensure a profitable business operation, and introduced PVsell as a tool that helps you cut soft costs and improve profitability. In this article, we’re going to share some survey results that illustrate the plight of the average PV retailer when it comes to commercial PV. Along the way, we’re going to demonstrate how PVsell can increase business profitability by as much as 50%.

In mid April, SunWiz surveyed its readers on their Commercial PV retailing experience. The results were very interesting:

  • The success rate of the typical solar retailer when it comes to commercial PV sales is 20%. This means 4 out of 5 pitches for commercial PV sales are unsuccessful. If you’re doing better than this, pat yourself on the back – 25% of companies reported a success rate of 33% or higher, and 25% reported a success rate of 10% or lower.
  • The typical solar retailer spends 6 hours on each proposal they put together for commercial PV. (PVsell can cut this to 5 minutes). Interestingly, 25% of respondents spent 3 hours or less, and 25% spent 10 hours or more. The typical solar business is therefore spending a lot of time preparing proposals that are mostly unsuccessful.
  • Now, when they are successful, the typical business has a 22% Gross Profit Margin – and 50% of businesses have a GP in the range of 20%-25%.
  • The typical business pays its commercial salespeople $70,000, through some combination of salary and commission, though again there is a large variation in the amount paid.

Read more: Cutting Soft Costs – double profitability of commercial PV sales

Dear solar colleagues, 

I'm writing with great news: your voice has been heard by the CEC board. At the most recent CEC AGM, the solar industry voted in record numbers, but managed to secure only one of the five seats up for re-election. Apparently the vote was very close and I narrowly missed out on being voted in. 

Since then, a casual vacancy arose on the CEC board when Douglas Smith resigned from the Mark Group. In these circumstances the remaining Board members decide who should fill the casual vacancy, as per the CEC constitution. Today, in recognition of your voice, I have been appointed a director of the board of the Clean Energy Council.

I wouldn't be on the board without the record number of solar companies that voted in the CEC AGM - thank you sincerely! I am honoured to represent you and the entire solar sector on the CEC board. I promise to ensure the needs of the solar industry are heard at the board level of the Clean Energy Council, so that it continues to be a strong voice for all renewable energy technologies. I will to continue to represent you on the CEC's PV Leadership Committee and within my activities at other solar organisations including the APVI, the ASC, and Solar Citizens

Because I am filling a casual vacancy, I will be up for re-election at the next AGM (instead of the usual two-year term). I hope I can count on your support at this time, as we together strive to ensure a vibrant and competitive solar industry can continue to thrive.

Sunniest regards,

Warwick Johnston


One of the biggest questions we at SunWiz get asked by solar business owners is this: How can I lift my business to the next level, so I can succeed with commercial solar?

The truth is, most solar businesses have done some commercial solar installations. But the vast majority of solar businesses wish that they could do more with commercial. We all know that residential solar is good business. The trouble is it's a market segment which is in decline. Commercial is where the growth is and if you're not focused on ensuring you have a solid commercial strategy then your business will not last long.

So what does it take to succeed in commercial solar?

Is it better sales staff, lower pricing, more professional presentations or maybe a bigger marketing budget?

It's true: these things will all add some benefit to your business and some of them will probably help your commercial solar sales success. But if we just take a moment to think what really makes the difference between a company which sells many MWs of commercial solar each year and a company who only sells a few hundred kWs, we can get to the bottom of the problem.

There are 2 things which will make the biggest difference to your success with commercial solar:

  1. Being well-informed about the market: This will help to ensure that you aren't trying to sell ice to eskimos. Knowing what's happening makes your targeting more efficient and more effective. For example, if you knew that 3 out of 4 car yards in a single town had just bought a 60kW solar system, would you go and target supermarkets, or would you first do everything you possibly could do to sell a 60kW system to that fourth car yard?
  2. Having an intelligent strategic approach: Without this, you're effectively blind. Companies who work out a strategic (and intelligent) approach to their targeting are the same companies who have vast success in the commercial sector. A solar company without an intelligent strategic approach to tackle commercial cannot expect to get more than a few commercial jobs every year. 

When you have these 2 key things for commercial success, your business is thousands of times more likely to secure MORE commercial sales at HIGHER profits per job.

Our Commercial Success Report goes through how ANY solar business can succeed in commercial by giving you the 2 crucial things described above and teaching you how to use them.

Australian PV Installations hit the 5GW mark. 

It's official, there is now 5GW of solar power installed in Australia.
Five gigawatts: 5,000,000,000 Watts of solar power - its a number that's hard to fathom. Indeed, solar power's 5GW now represents 9% of Australia's total electricity generation capacity of 56GW.   
Statistics of this sort are often translated into more humanly-graspable figures by converting into the number of Australian households that could be powered by solar energy (1.25 million). Wow, pretty big figures! In fact, SunWiz recently calculated that there are over 23 million solar panels installed in Australia - a solar panel for every man woman and child.
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