Solar Pioneer by Conviction

Interview with Felix Steber, Managing Director of ÖKO-Haus GmbH

Öko-Haus Open Field PV Plant
Open field PV systems make up the lion's share of the business; demand continues to rise

The solar industry is a central component of the energy transition. Germany plays an important role in this future market by international comparison. According to Statista, the annual increase in installed capacity reached a low point of just under 1,100 MW between 2014 and 2017; in 2023, the increase rose to over 10,000 MW. ÖKO-Haus GmbH has been convincing for over 25 years with complete solutions that are in harmony with nature and the environment.

Complete solutions in the fields of photovoltaics, storage systems, and energy concepts, supported by comprehensive service – with this claim, ÖKO-Haus has made a name for itself especially in Southern Germany. Nationwide, the company acts as a partner of Baufritz, the leading provider of ecological, design-oriented wooden houses.

Seize opportunities, score with service

Lisa and Gerhard Steber founded the company in 1984 as a furniture carpentry with an attached ecological building materials trade. As early as 1996, company founder Gerhard Steber built the first photovoltaic system – and was among the pioneers in this field. In 1998, the company was renamed ÖKO-Haus and focused on renewable energies.

Felix Steber, Managing Director of ÖKO-Haus GmbH
Felix Steber, Managing Director of ÖKO-Haus GmbH

"We are pioneers and have grown with the PV market," says Felix Steber, who took over the management from his parents in 2017. "We have set up various departments, our own technicians, and place great emphasis on expert service; this sets us apart from the market." When the feed-in tariff dropped sharply in 2012 and led to a market consolidation, ÖKO-Haus mastered this challenging time with flying colors. Although installations declined significantly, the company used the time to set up a service department.

"We seized opportunities, but overall, we were always cautious," says Felix Steber. Corona and the energy crisis have rekindled demand for solar energy in recent years. "Consumers wanted to be energy independent," says Felix Steber. "The market has grown by 200% during this time. Currently, it is a good time to invest in a photovoltaic system; prices are settling down again." Customers who work with ÖKO-Haus appreciate the wide range of products and the service.

Eco-House - PV System on the Private Home
PV system on the private home – more and more consumers want to produce their own green electricity and become independent
Eco-House - Team Building
Just under 50 employees are currently working for the family business, which is managed by the second generation

"Large providers attract on the internet with low prices," says Felix Steber. "We need to compete by offering high-quality products and a reliable, functioning service department. For example, we have excellent warehouse logistics and always have goods in stock for private consumers; employees are continuously trained and further educated, customers are well cared for and advised from beginning to end; we offer emergency services on weekends and monitor systems 365 days a year. Most importantly, we take time for our customers."

Doing good with green electricity

The concept is successful; satisfied customers recommend ÖKO-Haus. The company now employs almost 50 staff members and has full order books for the next six months. The turnover was last 23 million EUR. 50% of the turnover comes from open field systems, 30% from PV systems for single-family homes, and 20% from systems for commercial enterprises.

"Due to the high demand in the open field sector, turnover has doubled in the last year," explains Felix Steber. "Demand is still very high. We work here with a partner who builds the systems for us, we take care of all the sales work and planning. This is the only way we can handle the volume."

ECO-House in Eppishassen
ECO-House in Eppishausen in Allgäu; a company that consistently focuses on renewable energies
Eco-House - PV Systems on Commercial Properties
Save costs, protect the environment – PV systems also impress on commercial properties

In addition to open-field PV systems, which distinguish between Agri-PV and purely open-space systems, ECO-House offers a complete range of systems for private homes and commercial properties as well as wallboxes, battery storage, and charging infrastructure to produce, store, and use green electricity efficiently. "We have found that customers choose a PV system for different reasons," says Felix Steber. "Many want to produce electricity independently, most want to do something good for the environment."

Pioneers setting an example

Even though the demand for PV systems is increasing and it is expected that they will become standard in new buildings, ECO-House likes to think one step ahead. "We are intensively dealing with the issue of digitalization," says Felix Steber. "Internally, many processes are already digitalized, mobile assemblers and service technicians work with tablets, and we have an electronic warehouse. In the future, we will focus more on the use of AI."

In terms of sustainability, ECO-House aims to continue setting standards. The ecological thinking will remain a forefront issue; the company itself has been leading by good example for a long time – this is demonstrated by a PV system on the roof, a storage system, and a rainwater collection for module cleaning. The fleet will gradually be switched to electric vehicles, with the first e-service buses already in operation.