3 Proactive Opportunities in Electrical Services

These emerging technologies offer residential integrators the chance to get creative and pursue new revenue sources.

3 Proactive Opportunities in Electrical Services
Solar panels are an increasingly popular investment for consumers. (Photo courtesy of joncallas/Flickr)
Aaron Stern · January 24, 2013

The residential market remains sluggish, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways that residential integrators can be proactive in building new revenue streams.

Emerging technologies that enhance energy efficiency and are tied into local and national initiatives to increase the use of renewable sources of energy offer could be significant sources of business in the near and distant future. In particular, solar panel installation, EV charging stations and whole home automation are all emerging markets with high ceilings for growth that could offer reliable sources of income to integrators for years to come.

Solar Installations: Solyndra jokes aside, the market for solar power has high potential for growth, especially as the national political dialog continues to drive national energy policy toward sustainable and renewable energies. There is a range of incentives offered by states and municipalities to consumers who wish to install solar panels on their homes, and those benefits come in addition to a federal tax credit. Such incentives can drive the net cost for consumers down to almost nothing while increasing demand — and opportunities for integrators to add a new line of work to their portfolio.

EV Charging Systems: Sales of the Chevy Volt tripled in 2012 over 2011, jumping from just over 7,000 to more than 23,000. Those aren’t huge numbers in comparison to gasoline-powered car sales, but it is proof that as the technology improves and price points lower, electronic vehicles are becoming increasingly feasible modes of transportation for the average consumer. If that trend continues, the need for in-home charging stations will rise. That presents integrators with the opportunity to provide assessments of a home’s electrical capacity, upgrade those capacities and then, of course, install the charging stations.

Vampire Power Mitigation: Home automation isn’t new, even if the mainstream media tends to think otherwise. But these technologies are becoming increasingly mainstream, especially as utility companies push toward demand pricing and implement smart metering technologies that help homeowners track how and when they are using energy in their homes. Automated systems can help homeowners control their lights, HVAC and other systems and devices, but may not address the lost electricity appliances and devices continue to suck up while turned off but still plugged into outlets (often called vampire, or phantom, power). The obvious opportunity for integrators is to sell and install automation solutions, but an additional opportunity is to pitch and install switches that can kill phantom power to individual outlets — or a switch at the front door that can cut off phantom power throughout the house.

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