May 11, 2023

Solar Estimate vs. Quote: What's the Difference?

Consumers shopping for residential clean energy products like solar expect self-guided online experiences. Tailoring the online experience to a homeowner’s level of intent is critical to an effective conversion strategy. One important aspect of this process is understanding the differences between a solar estimate and a solar quote, and developing the right approaches to optimize operations for each stage of the sales process.

A solar estimate is a quick and easy way to provide ballpark pricing and serve as a conversation starter with potential customers. An estimate should be generated instantly without the need for human support and represents a ballpark idea of what the project might cost, making discussion less overwhelming when a homeowner is speaking with a salesperson. 

A solar quote on the other hand is a more formal and detailed proposal for a solar project. It’s typically only used with committed buyers and can take more time to prepare because it includes more detailed information that is specific to the individual project, such as an exact cost using an engineered design, a roof-specific shade report with values like solar access value (SAV) and total solar resource fraction (TSRF), and an outline of the process for finalizing payment and signing contracts. 

Capturing a homeowner’s initial interest in solar to build eventual buying intent is work better suited toward a faster and more inexpensive estimate. Homeowners shopping around at the top of the sales funnel are generally not committed enough to warrant a full quote. Only after a homeowner has indicated enough interest in solar, such as booking an appointment or sharing their utility bill, should a solar company spend the time and resources necessary to engineer a design and build a final quote. 

It’s important for residential solar installers to understand the key differences between a solar estimate and a solar quote, and to implement the strategies to optimize their operations for each stage of the sales funnel. By using estimates at the top of the funnel, and reserving quotes only for committed potential buyers, installers can provide a better overall experience for their customers while maintaining an efficient, low-overhead solar sales organization.