Skip to content

May 20, 2024

How Commercial Solar Drives Residential Demand: Part 2—Spurring Growth for Your Solar Business

With interest rates rising and demand flagging, high-quality lead generation has never been more important for solar installers.

By: Emily Silverman

solar panels

Marketing directly to homeowners has always been the most effective way to generate residential solar leads, but new research from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory suggests there might be another avenue.

According to the research, non-residential solar installations can spur residential demand in a given area. Researchers describe this phenomenon as the “PV influence effect.” All types of commercial installations can initiate an effect, but installations on non-profit organizations like schools are hypothetically more influential.

In Part One of this series, we dove into the research. Now, we explain how you can use strategic marketing tactics to generate leads for non-profit installations in your service area and use them to drive residential business.

Step One: Initiating the PV Influence Effect

The first step is to land your initial non-profit solar client. The ideal client is a non-profit organization with an engaged community, like a school, house of worship, or values-based organization (such as a youth group or an animal shelter).

With a cohesive digital marketing strategy, you can strategically target non-profits in your service area. There are several tactics you can incorporate into your strategy—here are some of the most effective.

Optimize Your Website

The first step is making sure non-profit solar is well represented on your website. This is crucial for visibility and credibility.

  • Create a dedicated landing page for non-profit solar
  • Add a section showcasing non-profit solar to your homepage
  • Add images of successful installations to your gallery page as you close non-profit jobs
  • Publish case studies and/or produce case study videos highlighting successful installations on non-profit organizations
  • Solicit written and/or video testimonials from happy non-profit clients

Educate About Incentives

Non-profits have been historically excluded from the world of commercial solar incentives since they don’t pay taxes. But when the Inflation Reduction Act was signed into law, a new direct-pay tax credit became available to non-profits. Most non-profits don’t know about the direct pay tax credit since it’s so new. Promoting the direct-pay tax credit in your content marketing and social media advertising campaigns will get the word out and help generate interest and leads for non-profit installations.

Build Trust with Community-Centric Branding

Non-profit organizations tend to be embedded in their local communities and more willing to trust a contractor that is similarly invested in the community. Demonstrating this mission alignment by incorporating local, community-focused messaging into your marketing is a great way to build trust with non-profit leads.

Step Two: Amplifying the PV Influence Effect

Installing solar panels on a non-profit organization is only one step of the process. The visual presence of these panels can passively influence onlookers, but it’s active engagement that truly amplifies the PV influence effect. While the payoff won’t be immediate, amplifying the PV influence effect can have a lasting impact on your lead growth in the long run.

Engage the Community & Provide Resources

Non-profit organizations are ideal for spurring growth because they have a community that trusts them. You can leverage that trust by hosting solar education events at the facility’s venue. This event doesn’t have to be complex—it’s essentially a dressed-up sales pitch that educates an already engaged community about the benefits of solar while using the community tie to position yourself as a knowledgeable and trustworthy partner.

Encourage Action with Promotions

Promotions are powerful motivators. To encourage the organization’s members to go solar, consider offering a promotion that includes a discount for the homeowner and a donation to the organization. Then, put a time limit on the deal to create a sense of urgency.

Tell Success Stories

You don’t necessarily have to engage directly with the community to amplify the influence effect. You can also use your digital marketing efforts to promote the initial installation and create active influence. There are many ways to do this:

  • Publish case studies and testimonials that highlight the installations you complete for non-profit organizations.
  • Run a social media campaign that revolves around one specific installation and target users living in the surrounding area.
  • Feature completed installations in your newsletter or send an email blast to your customer list when you finish a new installation.
  • Help the organization get the word out to their online community by providing resources like a pre-written blog post, images of the completed installation, or drone footage that they can share on their website and social media channels.

This article was originally published in the Energy Circle blog and is republished with permission.

Emily Silverman
Energy Circle Content Strategist

Emily has many years of experience as a content writer and strategist in the better building industry. She joined the Energy Circle team in 2020 after spending some time working as a freelance writer while traveling through Southeast Asia. She's now living in Florida and is a remote member of the EC team. She's passionate about clean energy and hopes to live in a fully solar-powered home one day. When she's not writing about energy efficiency and renewable energy, you can find her at the thrift store digging for funky home decor and vintage clothing.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Stay Updated

Sign up for our mailing list to stay updated on all things home and building performance.

"*" indicates required fields

1Contact Details
2Your Organization
3Email Preferences

Contact Details


By submitting this form, I understand I am subscribing to an email list to receive ongoing communication from BPA.