Sungevity, a solar panel installer that uses satellite technology to determine size and placement of rooftop systems, has brought in $6 million and hired several new executives to fortify its business for the battle ahead. With more solar installers entering the field, each offering appealing financing and leasing plans for homeowners and businesses — SunRun, SolarCity and Borrego Solar, among them — the competition is heating up.Incidentally, one of Sungevity’s new hires, Charles Ferer — to take the post of chief financial officer — served the same role at SolarCity, a company that will install rooftop sollar panels for a customer for free as long as the company maintains ownership and the right to sell the electricity generated to the residents.
Each of these companies offers something unique. SunRun makes solar equipment as well as installs it, for example. Borrego contracts third-party manufacturers to make systems tailored to the needs of its customers. Berkeley, Calif.-based Sungevity, on the other hand, touts its satellite technology as the premiere way for any homeowner to install rooftop solar panels. All a prospective client has to do is go on Sungevity’s web site and input their address. The service will produce satellite imagery of the house in question, allowing it to measure the roof and determine the most advantageous place for the solar panels. This saves the company and the customer a pricey visit from a contractor to investigate the site and provide a quote for the project.
In addition to aiding with install, Sungevity’s Web 2.0 platform also tells customers what their solar array might look like, how much energy it will produce per month, and even how much it will save them on their energy bills. This ups Sungevity’s chances of receiving an immediate contract. And to keep costs low on its end, the company contracts local construction workers and electricians to do the actual installation.
The recent round of funding was led by new investor Greener Capital. Previously, Sungevity raised $2.5 million from Isolventures and Solon — both solar companies in Germany where government subsidies have turned the country into a photovoltaic watershed — as well as angel investors, notably including actress Cate Blanchett. It reportedly brings in $2.5 million in annual revenue, according to the San Mateo Times, and it recently started selling its satellite-based software to other solar installers, which should also help.
Ferer is joined by new chief operating officer Daphne Li, who worked at both Apple and DoveBid, and new vice president of engineering Ariel Tseitlin, former founder and CEO of software consultancy CTOWorks.