OneRoof Energy, a solar services provider, last week announced the launch of a new API it calls the first of its kind in the residential solar market. The company's SunOpps API gives OneRoof Energy partners the ability to perform a variety of functions across the lifecycle of a solar installation through a RESTful web service that supports JSON and XML data formats. For instance, the API can be used to obtain lease pricing and manage the proposal process. Once solar panels have been installed and are producing energy, the SunOpps API can be used by providers of home energy management and automation systems to obtain data about solar production, which they can display in their own applications. Hussein Yahfoufi, OneRoof Energy's vice president of technology and corporate services, says: "There is a lot of room for innovation in the energy space. Our API is an example of how [OneRoof Energy] is looking to innovate in the space, continue building integrations with partners and streamline the sales, design, construction and monitoring processes." Prior to the launch of its API, OneRoof Energy partners used the company's SunOpps web-based portal to perform these functions. The company sees the introduction of API access as an opportunity to further its relationship with existing partners, which include home energy management firms and utilities, as well as create opportunities for new partnerships. To demonstrate the capabilities of its API, OneRoof Energy has developed an iOS and Android app called mORE Power. Homeowners can use the app to monitor and manage their home's energy output.
An API that spans a lifecycle
OneRoof Energy is a good example of a company offering a lifecycle-complete API. While many companies offer APIs focused on one or two core functions, a growing number are finding that they have an opportunity to create a unified API that serves a number of functions across the entire business or customer lifecycle. In the case of the SunOpps API, pre-sales functions, such as pricing estimates, are served, as are post-sales functions, like monitoring. OneRoof Energy partners can use the API resources they need. Some may use just a few resources, others all resources. This arguably provides for a better experience, as partners aren't forced to use a web-based interface for some functions that the API doesn't support. The unified nature of the API also ensures that as a partner relationship evolves, partners don't need to implement new APIs to gain access to the resources they need. Internally, OneRoof Energy is working to make its API the foundation of its SunOpps web interface. "This will ensure that everything we do for OneRoof Energy and SunOpps is available via web service to any partner that wants to work with us," Yahfoufi explains.
Embracing the internet of things
The SunOpps API also provides more evidence that companies are embracing the internet of things and doing so in ways that reject the temptation to create silos. Like thermostat and energy management system supplier Venstar, which recently added a built-in JSON REST API to its newest thermostats, OneRoof Energy is encouraging home energy management and automation providers to use its API to bring its functionality and data into their own applications. According to Yahfoufi, it's all about serving the needs of customers and partners. "If our customers are currently using your platform in addition to ours, there is no reason not to share this data and make our homeowner's experience that much better," he says. And when it comes to partners, "They may want to work with a solar company and add [us] to their offering but don’t necessarily want to lose everything they built. With APIs companies can just add us on to what they currently have."