How to start a solar power installer business in South Africa

Find out what you need to know about starting a solar installer business in South Africa.


How can you start a solar power installation business in South Africa?

The ongoing loadshedding has caused the solar power industry to explode. So, this has got a lot of entrepreneurs thinking about starting a solar installation company. But how do you begin?

We chatted with Jeannie, the owner of EU Solar, about her solar power installation business.

Now, let what Jeannie said about starting his business inspire you.

What made you want to start your own business?

"I always dreamed of being my own boss, running my own company. Also, working my own hours to reap the benefits of my efforts and have pride in my accomplishment.

"Also, I wanted to start something that would last for years, not affecting the environment or the health of humans and animals, hence going green.

"This was also a great way to help people. South Africans are constantly experiencing loadshedding, which adversely affects their daily lives, and companies lose out on production time and profits. So, I decided that the best way to solve the issue is to go solar. Then, one is not dependent on the government or a service provider as the sun is free.

"I did hundreds of hours of research online. I spoke to a few solar installers who encouraged me to move forward and offered to part with knowledge when needed.

"My first step was to register my business, and everybody in my team needed to have the relevant qualifications. Then came the marketing through which I could express the best way to reach out to the clients in my own words.

"I have since completed many installations with many happy clients, recommending my services to their families and friends."

What personal qualities do you need to start your own business?

"First, one needs perseverance and dedication.

"Second, you must be able to put in a lot of long hours to build the company to a point where its services speak for themselves, and word of mouth and recommendations bring in sales."

What challenges did you experience when starting your business?

"My challenge was being a female entering into a male-dominated field. Specific male-dominated fields are not supposed to have a female enter 'it’s too macho for a woman' in some men’s minds, but in my mind, 'if you can do it, so can I. So maybe I can do a better job of making it successful.'

What challenges do you currently have with your solar installer business?

"The main challenge is the influx of inexperienced solar installers, under-quotation for a system and then disappearing with no after-installing service to the clients.

"We do an onsite assessment, offering the client a package that best suits his household or business needs. Also, we provide ongoing customer service."

What are the benefits of having your own business?

"The benefits of having a small business are:

  • "You can be your own boss. 

  • "Feel pride in your achievements. 

  • "Do what you love.

  • "Set your own working hours. 

  • "Build your self-confidence.

  • "You can decide your own profit shares after each job or at the end of the year. 

  • "You have total control of your workload. 

  • "You have the choice to choose your holidays." 

What advice do you have for starting a solar installer business in South Africa?

  • "Study the market.

  • "Do a lot of research.

  • "Learn about the different products

  • "Know the difference between cheaper and pricier products.

  • "Make sure that your team are all qualified.

  • "Do an onsite assessment.

  • Meet your clients before they accept your quote.

  • "Offer your clients advice for their needs before the installation."

How did you fund your business at the start?

"I did not start with an upfront capital. Instead, I paid for my CIPC registration, and my marketing brought the business."

Find out more about small business funding

Read more about business loans or other lending options.

What makes South Africa great for starting a business?

"The diversity in our beautiful country allows many to create various business ideas that can grow into massive companies."

Is it worth it to have your own small business in South Africa?

"I would most certainly say that South Africa is the best place to start a small business.

"People are always looking for something different, something new. Suppose one can take a new or existing idea that would suit every ethnic group across the country. In that case, it will most certainly be a success."

Jeannie was most helpful with the insights and experiences she shared as a small business owner.

Do you have any questions? Feel free to contact Jeannie ([email protected]) and read on to learn more now.

Learn more about starting a solar power installer business

Do you want to start your own solar installer business? Find out more about getting started.

Requirements to become an installer

There are no legal requirements currently. However, the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA) has developed the SAPVIA GreenCard Assessment, which accredits solar power installers. This can be beneficial for your business.

Get accredited

No one can start any job straightaway and be an expert. Lay a foundation to your career as a solar power installer by receiving the right training and completing the PV GreenCard Assessment.

Why is accreditation necessary?

Clients want to know that your service complies with international and national standards. This particularly applies when applying for tenders.

Even financial institutions such as banks won't lend to any solar installer. Besides the PV GreenCard Assessment, Green Solar Academy also provides accreditation.

Electricians must sign off 

Electricians must attend to all AC installations. Even though the accreditation for solar power installers is currently voluntary, electricians must follow regulations such as SANS10142-1, and sign a Certificate of Compliance (CoC) for the entire installation.

Solar training

Training can be done at reputable training centres, like the Super Solar School.

After training, get accredited by the SAPVIA GreenCard Assessment. The Assessment lasts 2 days and tests your theoretical and practical knowledge of solar installations. After that, join SAPVIA’s database as an accredited solar installer.

Belong to a network

It is vital after your accreditation to share in a professional network, where you can learn from other installers. Part of the network consists of wholesalers and the other of fellow installers.

GREENetwork management holds frequent zoom meetings and training sessions, besides networking with their WhatsApp and Facebook groups.

Get to know the products

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the products out there – which one should you choose?

Take baby steps and avoid selecting products from the top range, preferably from a reputable manufacturer with a good warranty and excellent technical support.

The Manual provides all such details - make it a habit always to consult it.

Training on the use of products

It will greatly benefit you to attend solar training sessions held by Victron and Sinetech, who will show you how to use their products. This is also an ideal opportunity to cement great relationships with the industry.  

Find a niche

Avoid a shotgun approach to the marketplace but choose a unique spot where you can specialise and market yourself.

For example, you may have chosen to do solar installations for small businesses. Focus on what type of customers you want to target in your local market and expand from there.

Learn more about starting a business

Are you curious to know more? Find out more about starting a business now.

Yoco helps small businesses grow 

Are you an existing Yoco merchant? If you need an advance to start your business, find out more about Yoco Capital.  For managing your new business, use our Yoco Portal, a free business management software, and the free Yoco app.

If you’re wondering how your customers will pay you, check out our range of affordable card machines, and use the Yoco Gateway to accept payments on your online shop if you have a website selling solar equipment. Yoco's other online payment solutions could also help you get paid.

The sun may set today, but it will rise again tomorrow. You can make your dream business a reality.

Why not join the Yoco family and share in our experience to help grow 250 000 businesses? Please contact us for more information.

Source: How to become a solar installer in South Africa

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