The OnGrid Tool is an Excel-based application (a very substantial one - click here to Sign Up or for the Free Trial to see for yourself) that allows you to gather your customer’s utility and site information quickly & efficiently. It calculates optimum system size, electric bill savings, system incentives, and system net cost. It then calculates various economic benefit factors and produces a variety of proposal, quotes and documents incorporating all of the above. The Tool is kept up to date with automatic updates (when the user is online). Click here to see a Video Demo.
Benefits of using the OnGrid Tool:
It’s a portable (Excel-based) solution
It’s a fast tool to use (because of the speed of Excel) – no web latency to deal with
It’s private (offline – your data is only accessible and seen by you)
Accurate – Industry leading experts, National instructor on solar economics
Universal – All customer types, all system sizes, all incentives, rates, locations (in the U.S.)
Customizable – Create your own unique proposals, documents and letters
Up-to-date: Automatic updating when the user is online
Low cost – Simple pricing
No-risk – Money Back Guarantee
More Detail on What the OnGrid Tool Does:
The OnGrid Tool is a complete solar photovoltaic (PV) design and sales toolkit:
It helps identify and screen leads quickly and organizes your client information
It’s a design tool that sizes your PV systems optimally
It calculates PV system incentives and net cost
It proves the economic payback 6 ways
It calculates & shows environmental benefits
It automatically creates quotes and a variety of unique and customizable proposals
It automatically prepares contract documents, customer letters, and in some locations other project documents
The OnGrid Tool is an excellent tool for quickly phone screening potential clients. It very quickly helps you gather key information, and provide a ballpark estimate, so that you can determine whether they are serious about solar, have the budget, and know what they can expect (read more)
The OnGrid Tool was originally designed by a solar salesperson (Andy Black) during 5 years of phone screens and site visits, with sales-person time-efficiency in mind. It helps a salesperson gather just the right info from a hot prospect, enter it quickly, and come up with an initial ballpark system size and price within a couple of minutes or less. As this info is being captured during a phone-screen or at your booth, you are starting to build the customer’s proposal, so it doesn’t need to be entered again later, but can easily be refined as needed during future conversations and the site visit.
This quick call screen system saves countless hours by visiting only those clients who know the system is going to cost maybe $10K or more, and helps you avoid the ones who expect it to cost under $3,000 and payback in less than 6 months.
A Design Tool & Savings Calculator:
The OnGrid Tool factors in all the system performance factors to accurately estimate system performance and up-to-date electric utility rate schedules in 50 U.S. states, Puerto Rico, Guam, Ontario, and Mexico to allow the designer to correctly size the system for the customer’s needs, situation, and desired savings. (read more)
The OnGrid Tool factors in all the system performance factors to accurately estimate system performance such as shading, tilt, orientation, dust & dirt, wiring losses, module mismatch, manufacturer production tolerance, TMY2 insolation data for 239 sites in the United States, microclimate insolation adjustment factor, and adjustment for local temperature and module mounting style temperature adjustment factors. All the above factors are user adjustable. Shading data is easily uploaded from the Solmetric SuneyeTM or the Solar Pathfinder AssistantTM shading output files.
The Tool also factors in over 700 actively tracked utility electric rates for commercial, residential, industrial, and agricultural customers in 50 U.S. states, Puerto Rico, Guam, Ontario, and Mexico plus 150 average rates for residential commercial and industrial customers in each of the 50 U.S. states. Many of these rates include Time-of-Use characteristics, and some include demand charges. The OnGrid Tool combines the above hourly and seasonal performance data to accurately predict the savings that will be produced by the proposed solar system. In some locations, customers can benefit from the switch from one utility rate schedule before going solar to another schedule once the solar system is installed. The OnGrid Tool will calculate the net monthly and annual financial benefit of this arrangement.
OnGrid can model any scenario using our User Defined features to cover any situation: Commercial, Residential, Government, & Non-Profit; any size system 0-1000MW; any electric rate structure; any incentive: FIT, Rebate, PBI, REC, Tax Credits & Depreciation; and any sunlight insolation location.
Calculates PV System Incentives and Net Cost:
The OnGrid Tool calculates the value and net benefit from all types of incentives anywhere in the U.S. and helps you calculate system pricing using OnGrid’s customizable pricing worksheet. It then combines these to show net cost in a twenty-five year analysis (read more)
The OnGrid Tool also actively tracks and calculates the benefit from incentives at the federal level and in 16 states. These benefits include the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC), Depreciation, Rebates, State Tax Credits, SRECs, Feed-In-Tariffs, Performance Based Incentives.
The OnGrid Tool also has a variety of methods of assisting in calculating system top-line price (the price you wish to charge before incentives are applied). These include: a line item list of parts, labor, markup or margin; a ‘base cost plus adders’ methodology; or you can override these with the price per watt or total system price with or without discounts, markups, etc.
Both the incentives and cost information are then incorporated into a 25-year timeline to allow the customer to see their cash position over time (since some incentives are received over time).
Proves the Economics:
The OnGrid Tool proves the economic payback 6 ways: IRR, Lifecycle Payback, Cash Flow, Simple Payback, NPV, and Property Resale Value Increase, and displays these results graphically and numerically into ready-made proposals and are available to be inserted into proposals you can fully customize (read more)
The OnGrid Tool was initially created because Andy Black was tired of the industry having a weak answer to the “What’s the Payback On Solar” question. While carefully listening to clients, industry experts, and watching how other industries do their sales, it became clear that many clients were buying based on the economics, because the economics of solar had become attractive once all the factors were considered (bill savings, incentives, SRECs, etc).
Because the Simple Payback for solar is typically 7 to 17 years, many clients dismiss solar because they either think that it isn’t attractive, or that they won’t be there that long. But Payback is a terrible way to evaluate long-term investments for a variety or reasons. Interest rate based ‘Rate of Return’ is a much better way to compare two investments, so the OnGrid Tool performs the Internal Rate or Return (IRR) calculation for easy comparison of solar with other investments. For sophisticated commercial customers, OnGrid also produces the Net Present Value (NPV) based on the discount rate your client can provide to you for the calculation.
Because many clients are concerned about leaving their home before “Payback” has occurred, resale value is also of concern, and is calculated, displayed, and discussed in OnGrid ready-to-use proposals. While this measure isn’t yet provide in the real estate market, the logic showing why a home should add $20,000 to it’s resale value for every $1,000 that are saved per year in energy operating costs is clear and easy to understand (please see: http://www.ongrid.net/papers/PaybackOnSolarSERG.pdf for details).
Where customer credit is available, the customer may be interested in replacing one monthly expense (part of their electric bill) with a lower finance expense by using a Line-of-Credit loan to pay for the system. In many cases the loan is less expensive than the savings on the electric bill. The OnGrid Tool provides you a variety of ways to work with this Cash Flow information.
Finally, if your customer insists on looking at Payback, you can show them both Total Lifecycle Payback, as well as Simple Payback. That way they can see the total savings over 25 years in addition to the number of years to payback.
Calculates & Shows Environmental Benefits:
The OnGrid Tool calculates a variety of environmental benefits including: Pounds of CO2, NOx, SOx, Particulates; Equivalent Miles not driven; Cars taken off the road; and Acres of tree equivalents planted. These results are available graphically and numerically in the ready-made proposals and are available to be inserted into proposals you can fully customize.
Creates Quotes & Proposals:
The OnGrid Tool automatically creates your choice of over 140 ready-to-use professional quality quote and proposal pages that can be combined into tailored proposal templates (collections of proposal pages of your choosing). You can also fully customize each of these pages or create your own. We provide free training and support to assist with these customizations (read more & sample proposals)
The ready-to-use quote & proposal templates in the OnGrid Tool allow you to click the print button seconds after you have installed the Tool and have a variety of professional proposal templates to choose from, each filled in with your client's information and analysis. No set-up or customization is required to get you started immediately.
You have your choice of our ready-made “Short”, “Medium” or “Long” proposal templates (at least 2 varieties of each) with varying levels of detail and language. We have “Big-Print” proposal templates for older clients, and a new “Preliminary” proposal template that allows you to adjust how precise an initial ball-park proposal you want to give your client after the initial phone-screen (you can tell it to show number ranges, for example from +8% to -5% of system price, so that you have some wiggle room when you do the site visit).
Once you get familiar with the Tool and want to set yourself apart from the competition with a unique proposal, OnGrid allows you complete flexibility and customizability of our existing proposal templates or any new proposal templates you want to create. There are no limits on what you can create or customize in terms of page ordering, logos, contact info, colors, text, graphics, etc. You can make yourself look as different and unique as you’d like. Include your logo, pictures, graphs, charts. Change the style, colors, page order. Emphasize whatever topic you think is best for your customer’s needs: Economics, Environment, Independence, Social Justice, being Chic or Hip, etc.
We offer free training and support for how to modify the existing templates and create new ones with your ideas. You will also have complete privacy to do so, since we never normally see the proposal template designs you create.
Prepares Contracts, Letters, and Other Documents:
The OnGrid Tool automatically prepares contract documents and other project documents (in some locations). It also includes more than 15 customizable customer-oriented letter templates (read more & sample documents)
The OnGrid Tool pre-fills a contract cover page for use with your boiler-plate contract language. The pre-filled cover page contains all the variable parts of the contract based on the specifics of your proposal – who’s buying it, the system size, payment terms, major equipment, construction schedule, etc.
In some locations (California and Colorado for now) we have Utility Interconnection forms and agreements, Net Metering agreements, and Incentive applications. These are pre-filled out with project information so that you can get them printed, signed by the client as applicable, and submitted to the authorities - speeding up your back-office paperwork, saving time and money.
The Tool also include over 15 customizable customer-oriented letter templates for use at all stages of the sale and as follow-up for years afterwards to encourage referral business. It starts with an initial response letter to get back to the customer as soon as the lead comes in. It includes letters thanking them for the site visit, the opportunity to present the proposal, for the sale, and for use during and after construction. It also has follow up letters to ensure the customer is getting good results, helping ensure good performance. The final letter is for the current homeowner to leave behind to a new homebuyer stating whom they can call for service.