According to the New York Times, as of 2010, solar power still accounts for less than 1 percent of the U.S. electricity use. The state with the largest amount of solar power distribution is California. Prices for solar products have dropped and the demand for solar products has increased. The U.S. government is giving tax breaks for home owners who purchase solar panels. In order to become a solar distributor, sign contracts with manufacturers and market your products online or through a retail store outlet.
Learn how solar power systems function. Knowledge of solar equipment and functionality will help you purchase, sell and distribute the solar products.
Create a business plan. Include a business overview, a competitor analysis, financial projections and a marketing plan. Include a detailed description of your target market with information such as their age, income, location and lifestyle interests. Customers looking to purchase solar equipment are generally progressive, wealthier individuals. Also include financial projections for the next three years.
Make a list of the manufacturers or wholesale solar distributors in your area. You can also search online and register with them. Compare the brand, products, quality, durability, warranty, special offers and shipment costs. Choose a manufacturer based on your budget, specialty niche or customer preference.
Negotiate payment terms and shipment. Some companies will have minimum amounts you must purchase, while others will offer wholesale prices based on quantity. A net-30 payment term is very common, and it means you must pay for the merchandise within 30 days of placing the order. Determine who is responsible for shipping costs in the event of returns.
Complete photovoltaics (PV) training if necessary. If you are a licensed electrical or HVAC contractor, this is not necessary. There are basic as well as advanced PV training courses. Check if your manufacturer requires special training to distribute their products.
Register your business with your secretary of state’s office. Most states have sample articles of incorporation to assist you during the filing process, and some states allow you to register your company through their online secretary of state portal. Consult with an attorney about the best type of business structure for your solar distribution business in your area.
Obtain a resale permit from your local county courthouse. This is necessary for taxation purposes. Also, in most states in the U.S., you will need to obtain an electrical contractor license to distribute solar equipment.
Attend any webinars or training that the chosen manufacturer or supplier recommends.
Find and hire solar panel installers, if necessary. Obtain insurance for all your workers.
Market your service. Post advertisements in newspapers, energy-related magazines and journals. "Home Power Magazine" and "Solar Pro" are two leading magazines in the field.
Join industry groups. The American Solar Energy Society and solarindustrymag.com are two organizations that can help you stay current on the latest developments in the solar energy field. Join your local chamber of commerce to network with local businesses and community leaders.
Target your services to consumers in states or areas where there are tax breaks or incentives, since they are more likely to become your customers.