When I was walking the aisles of the International Builders Show in Las Vegas I noticed two things. First, I toured the show in a lot less time than in past years. Secondly, there was one exhibitor product category that was on the rise.
The IBS show was a “mad house” when it was in Orlando a few
years ago. Aisles were jammed. Traffic around the convention center was snarled
and waits of an hour for a shuttle bus was the norm. Not the case in Vegas this
year. Exhibitors and visitors were down significantly. The flashy booths and
mega displays were all but missing. Sure Kohler had huge booth space but it was
merely hundreds of yards of custom drape with the Kohler logo and inside there
were several product displays that were tasteful but it didn’t have the wow
factor of previous years. We all know that the housing market is hurting and
this year’s show was a graphic reminder.
I did notice a growing product category at the show. I kept
running into companies that were now offering solar products. I checked the
Official Exhibit Guide and found 38 companies that were exhibiting solar
products and very few of them were just solar assisted water heaters or pool
heaters. Lennox unveiled the SunSource Home Energy System that not only reduces
the electricity consumed by a heat pump or condensing unit but also uses solar
power to operate other devices in the home like lighting and appliances.
Other unlikely candidates came from the roofing market. Certainteed
introduced EnerGen Photovoltaic Solar Power Roofing System that the company
claims is easily integrated into traditional asphalt-shingle rooftops. Maybe
it’s time to start having coffee with some of your local roofing contractors. Another
potential business partner is in the window market. Velux America also had their
new solar panel on display. Do you know the Velux dealer in your town??
If you read the literature from all of these companies there
is a unifying theme … incentives from utilities along with federal and state
solar tax credits. That’s what is creating the buzz about solar. So does that
mean that the solar market is booming? Yes. Is it here to stay? It is as long
as the utilities and Uncle Sam keep pouring money into it.
It was ironic. The mood of the International Builders show
was gloomy, but the prospects for solar in home building and remodeling looks pretty