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How to start a solar panel business

The solar panel industry is a lucrative and growing sector, with solar panel installation increasing in popularity year after year. So, if you're looking for a career change, read our guide on how to start a solar panel business.

We are becoming increasingly aware of the negative effects we have on the environment. As a result, the renewable energy sector stands at the forefront of innovation and change.

Installing solar panels is one of the easiest ways to access sustainable energy in homes and businesses. It’s no surprise then that the demand for solar panels has skyrocketed. In turn, presenting a golden opportunity for entrepreneurs looking to start a solar panel business.

In this post, we’ll guide you through the process of starting a solar panel business, from insurance to market research.

Homeowners are searching for solar panel experts on Checkatrade

In 2022, we saw a 462% increase in searches for solar panel installation. This shows just how popular this service is.

There is a growing demand for solar panels, and you could tap into this.

Solar panel installation cost planning

First steps for starting a solar panel business

Starting a solar panel business doesn’t need to be a complex, confusing journey.

This article is designed to guide you through how to start a solar panel installation business. From creating a business plan to qualifications and training, accessing support, and a whole lot more.

1.    Create a solar panel business plan

Having a bulletproof business plan is the foundation of a successful company and should be the very first thing you do.

A business plan will help you understand the ins and outs of setting up a solar panel business and running it. It will outline your goals, the steps needed to achieve them, and help your business stay on track.

Download our free business plan template below:

2.  Getting MCS accreditation

An MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme) accreditation helps demonstrate that you offer reliable, high quality solar panel installation. It’s a great option for anyone wondering how to start a solar panel business.

MCS accreditation serves as a mark of credibility for your new solar panel business. It assures customers, stakeholders, and regulatory bodies that you’re adhering to quality and performance standards.

Beyond regulatory compliance, MCS accreditation instils confidence in future clients. It ensures your installations meet industry benchmarks for safety, efficiency, and environmental impact.

Solar panel installation near me

3.  Skills and attributes

Qualifications and experience are a fundamental part of starting any new business. But what ‘soft skills’ and attributes are important for setting up a solar panel business?

  • Knowledge of the industry
  • Attention to detail and highly organised
  • Interpersonal skills and great customer service
  • The ability to lead and manage and have conviction in your decisions
  • Patience, fairness, integrity, and self-awareness
  • Enthusiasm and endurance

Find out more about what it takes to start your own business with our guide to becoming your own boss.

How to start a solar panel installation business – step by step

With the first steps in setting up your solar panel business sorted, it’s time to consider some practicalities.

1.    Research the market and find your USP

Taking time to research the solar panel industry can go a long way towards helping set up your business.

Look at what your competitors are offering and how you can stand out to your customers. You may choose to offer a unique service or even a different type of solar panel.

You already know there’s demand on Checkatrade for solar panel installation. After all, 2022 saw a 462% increase in homeowners searching for solar panel installation.

Get your solar panel business off to the right start

Join the UK's #1 trade directory and you'll get all the leads you need

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2.  Come up with a catchy company name

Having a catchy name for your new solar panel business can really help you to attract new customers. Make sure your business name is professional but also memorable and unique.

Solar panel installers near me

3.  Register your business

Once you’ve generated a name for your business, you’ll need to legally register it.

You’ll need to decide whether your business will be recognised as a sole trader or a limited company. If the latter, you’ll need to register your business with Companies House.

Each business structure comes with different taxes and regulations. You should take the time to weigh up the pros and cons of each before making a decision.

You’ll also need to contact HMRC to apply for the necessary tax and national insurance documents. An accountant can provide support in this area.

Find out more about how to register a business name.

4.  Apply for licenses and permits

Every business needs to consider UK legalities to stay above board.

When it comes to setting up a solar panel business, you’ll need to have your MCS certification. Being a member of a CPS for microgeneration technology, such as NICEIC is worthwhile too.

5.  Get the right insurance

You’ll need business insurance to cover your solar panel installation business. It’ll protect your business, your livelihood, and any third parties from losses or damages caused by unexpected events.

Public Liability Insurance is key and employers’ liability insurance is a legal requirement if you employ others.

You should also consider insurance to cover your tools, materials, and equipment. As well as your work van and your income should you be unable to work.

6. Finances

When you start a solar panel installation business, you may need funding to cover your start-up costs.

For example, you’ll need to budget for insurance, tools, and equipment. You’ll also need funds for the solar panels themselves and a van to transport everything from job to job.

  • You should also think about covering ongoing costs and ensuring you charge enough for your services
  • Don’t forget you’ll also need to pay taxes
  • Many tradespeople choose to hire an accountant (this will save you time and a few headaches)
  • Why not open a business account to keep your company finances separate from your personal accounts?

For more information on your finances, check out our guide to how much solar panel cleaners earn.

7.  Check for government grants

Considering solar panels have such a positive impact on our environment, the government try to encourage more people to switch. For example, the UK government has previously offered grants to those that switch to solar panels.

This is a great way of reaching customers who may not normally have the funds to cover solar panel installation. You should also read up on the Smart Export Guarantee.

The government have also introduced a 0% VAT for the installation of eco-friendly home improvement projects, which includes solar panels.

8.  Marketing your new business

Marketing is essential when starting a solar panel business. It will help you reach customers and build your business.

But first, consider the type of customer you’ll target. This will help you to figure out which marketing tactics would be most lucrative.

Some traditional marketing methods include:

Checkatrade members can feature in our leading trade directory, which is delivered to homeowners around the country. 

Save money and time marketing your business

There’s so much to do when getting your solar panel business started. But becoming a Checkatrade member can really help to increase your chance of success.

Checkatrade is the UK’s leading trade directory.

When you become a Checkatrade member, you’ll have your own profile page. Here, you can showcase customer reviews and photos of your work.

In addition, we’ll help customers in your area find your company on Google. You can even display the trusted Checkatrade logo. This will show your clients that you’re committed to providing an excellent service.

Plus, we offer a range of membership options to best suit your needs as a company.

Make it easier to take your career in a new direction

Receive help, support, advice and a heap of money-saving discounts for your new business

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Useful checklist for starting a solar panel business

  • Start by looking for a gap in the market in your local area. You could offer a different type of service, target different customers, or offer promotions to get your business started
  • Create a detailed business plan that you can refer back to time and time again. This way you can be sure your company is growing in the right direction
  • Don’t be afraid to contact other tradespeople for advice. Or join our members community for support and tips
  • You can become a solar panel installer by taking a course or an apprenticeship. You could even train with a local company
  • Insurance is essential for all businesses to protect your company legally and financially

Solar panel installation

FAQs

What is the renewable energy consumer code?

The Renewable Energy Consumer Code covers a set of standards for solar panel sellers and installers.

You’ll need to be approved by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute and ensure your company reaches the high standards required.

What qualifications do I need to be a solar PV installer?

There are no mandatory qualifications needed to be a solar panel installer.

However, to run a credible solar panel installation business, you’ll need to be registered with the MSC. You could also look at qualifications in electrical installation to set you on the right path.

What insurance will I need?

When starting any business, there are a few types of insurance that we’d recommend signing up for. These include:

  • Public liability
  • Tool insurance
  • Van insurance
  • Employers liability insurance if you plan to take on employees

Concerned about the cost of business insurance? Don’t worry, as a Checkatrade member, you’ll have access to trade discounts on essentials like tools, materials, and insurance.

Get your solar panel business off to the right start

Join the UK's #1 trade directory and you'll get all the leads you need

Become a member today

Content disclaimer: This content has been created for general information purposes and should not be taken as formal advice. Read our full disclaimer here.

**Claims are sourced from a survey conducted by Deep Blue Thinking on a nationally representative UK sample in November 2021.
****Year runs from April 21’ to March 22’. Saving calculation based on average spend across 12,505 members in 2020/2021/2022. Discounts differ depending on the partner. Products range from low value items to high value items. Some exclusions will apply on products.

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