Then and now: Westinghouse develops "plug and play" solar panel installations.
Billed as the “world’s first fully integrated plug-and-play solar panels,” Westinghouse Solar has recently announced their new Instant Connect product line. With this new integrated design, extensive rooftop assembly work is now a thing of the past. The rigid design of these panels eliminates the need for a separate substructure: no racking is required. Grounding is built into the frames, with connecting splices providing grounding panel-to-panel. Wiring has also been simplified with special, patented connectors in the sides of the panels. As can be seen from the above graphic, a small selection of essentials eliminates a jumbo jumble of hardware!
Whether you’re a professional contractor, or a just a professed “DIY” specialist with some basic skills, installation of rooftop solar panels is now easier. Of course, as a homeowner, doing it yourself is going to save the most money, but with the reduced labor requirement, the price of professional installations will also continue to drop. Barry Cinnamon, CEO of Westinghouse Solar, discusses the market forces affecting solar installations below:
There continues to be tremendous pressure to reduce the fully-installed costs of rooftop solar. Manufacturers of solar panels are bending over backwards to squeeze an extra 0.1% efficiency out of their panels, or to reduce their costs by $0.01/watt. But now that high quality solar panels are selling for less than $1/watt, the biggest remaining cost savings opportunity is on the installation itself. With Instant Connect, Westinghouse Solar can reduce direct and indirect installation costs by over $0.25/watt, which has a much greater economic impact on customers than incremental efficiency or cell cost improvements.
Westinghouse Solar Instant Connect solar panels are available for immediate shipment to customers in North America. These panels are “state-of-the-art,” having evolved from the Andelay (DC) panels released in 2007, and the first integrated AC panels released in 2009.
Next time, at My Solar Backup Depot, we will feature more solar panel kits from Westinghouse Solar which can be purchased right from Amazon.com (if you can’t wait until next time to browse or shop, feel free to click the Amazon.com link, and search for “235 watt solar panel complete installation kit”).
About Westinghouse Solar:
Westinghouse Solar is a designer and manufacturer of solar power systems. In 2007, Westinghouse Solar pioneered the concept of integrating the racking, wiring and grounding directly into the solar panel. This revolutionary solar panel, originally branded “Andalay”, quickly won industry acclaim. In 2009, the company again broke new ground with the first integrated AC solar panel, reducing the number of components for a rooftop solar installation by approximately 80 percent and lowering labor costs by approximately 50 percent. This first AC panel, which won the 2009 Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award, has become the industry’s most widely installed AC solar panel. Instant Connect solar panels, available in both AC and DC configurations, are the only panels with integrated racking, grounding and wiring. Award-winning Westinghouse Solar Power Systems provide the best combination of safety, performance and reliability, while backed by the proven quality of the Westinghouse name. For more information on Westinghouse Solar, visit www.westinghousesolar.com.
In honor of Earth Week (April 16 through Earth Day), I thought I would celebrate by helping to promote the Green Business Entrepreneurs Success Summit, featuring 28 visionary speakers, all of which can be heard for free! Here at My Solar Backup Depot, we believe highly in educating our readers about the advantages of earth-friendly solar power, and the inherent wisdom in maintaining a backup power supply. Certainly, this web-based summit will provide plenty of insight to the potential solar system consumer, but if you’ve ever had an entrepreneurial hankering, and an interest in “Green” business, continue reading: your planet is counting on you!
Are you an entrepreneur at heart who believes you can make a positive impact in the world without going broke? Are you a conscious business owner who finds attracting more clients or selling more products an ongoing struggle? Have you always longed to create a purpose-driven business, but you are not quite sure how to do it, or don’t know what you want to sell?
Whether you are an aspiring social entrepreneur or already have a conscious, socially responsible business you want to take to the next level, you will get valuable information just by attending this FREE virtual event series.
The Green Business Entrepreneurs Success Summit
The Green Business Entrepreneurs Success Summit is a FREE virtual, week long, alternative Green MBA, featuring the visionary leaders who are DEFINING the sustainable economy and ethical marketplace, plus marketing gurus who will help you take your conscious business to the next level.
Earthtech Products is currently promoting the above “solar suitcase.” Introducing the Solar e Power Case 450, a product of Wagan Corporation, headquartered in Hayward, California. Weighing just 39.6 lb, this unit can provide a ready source of 450 watts (800 peak) when you’re “on the go.” The metal case has a very rugged look, typical of products designed for industrial field use or camping. Wheels, a sturdy handle and a shoulder strap all make for a truly portable unit. Check out these features:
Designed for Portability – metal suitcase houses all components you need
Powerful Solar Panels – designed with a detachable monocrystalline solar panel
450W Inverter – ample power to supply cell phones, MP3 players, e-readers, tablets & laptops
Superior Battery – stores energy safely in a 26Ah hybrid AGM-gel battery
Multiple Charging Capabilities – recharge via solar panels, AC outlet or 12 volt DC connection
DC Compatibility – has 2 DC outlets with auto-reset, circuit breaker
AC Compatibility – has 2 universal 110 volt AC outlets
LED Display – shows you status of the battery charge
USB Compatibility – 2 USB Power Ports standard
Case dimensions are 34.8cm × 48.8cm × 16.5cm (or in inches, 13.7″ x 19.2″ x 6.5″)
Comes with a 1 Year Manufacturer’s Warranty
The following You Tube video gives a nice presentation of the product:
In viewing the video, I appreciated the versatility of the product: several power input and output options are discussed and demonstrated. I also thought, however, that some may find the collection of input cords, output cords and charging adapters confusing, perhaps not-so-handily stored behind the detachable solar panels. Charging can be accomplished with the unfolded solar panels either attached or detached from the case. (Of course, for faster charging of the batteries, the panels should be placed directly facing the sun.) The supplied monocrystalline solar panels can supply 40 watts, but this capacity can be expanded to a maximum of 75 watts.
Standard battery capacity is 26 amp-hours, but this capacity is also expandable: a second 26 amp-hour AGM battery can be connected to the DC connectors, thereby doubling battery capacity. It is recommended that you use the same type of battery, so you don’t have a problem with uneven charging and discharging of your batteries.
Below, some tips from the supplier illustrate the flexibility of the Solar e Power Case 450 when it comes to charging the battery:
Another one of the great features of the solar case is the versatility in charging methods. You can charge by DC to DC. Plug this to your vehicle cigarette lighter or boat and charge while you’re on the road on those long trips to wherever you’re going. And have a fully charged case when you get there. You can charge by AC and this is not just an AC power supply. This is a battery charger with two stages, a bulk charge and a float charge so you don’t have to worry about keeping it plugged in for too long. And solar charging using the built-in solar panels.
I see this product well-suited for the travelling professional working in the field, or equally so for a recreational camper looking to power various electronic devices. But don’t attempt to power your coffee maker, clothes iron, hair dryer, vacuum cleaner, or any other higher wattage appliance! These appliances, of course, are rated well beyond the capacity of this 450 watt unit. When in doubt, check the “nameplate” wattage on the bottom or back of the appliance or electronic device.
For a limited time, Earthtech Products is offering a promotional discount of 5% (that’s $34.45 in savings on top of their already competitive price of $689 at the time of this writing). Just enter the Coupon/Promotional Code EP450 in your “Shopping Cart” prior to checkout, in the lower left-hand corner of the screen. Don’t forget to click “Apply” to see the calculation of your savings. For current prices or more information, please click on the link or image below.
In this post we will be discussing a tiny “backup system,” meant only for charging mobile devices, such your smart phone or Kindle. Usually, at My Solar Backup Depot, our focus is on solar backup systems capable of powering any appliance up to 1800 watts, but today, I’d like to highlight a new system coming out of Berlin, Germany: Introducing the “Kalhuohfummi” and “Maroshi” from Changers.
The unusual names come from 16th century history in the Maldives, an island nation in the Indian Ocean. Kalhuohfummi was the name of a war ship built to help the Maldivian people defend their island nation against the Portuguese. Maroshi is the name of the island where the sail for that ship was manufactured, and where the vessel was also filled with fresh water for the soldiers. In the system we’re discussing today, however, Maroshi and Kalhuohfummi refer to components of the starter kit: the Maroshi solar panel and Kalhuohfummi battery. What is particularly interesting about Changers, however, is the online community built around the solar charging system. Below, Changers talks about their unique online community:
It’s here that you can share your successes with others, compete with friends with your CO2 savings and energy production, and unlock rewards based on your contributions. Being a part of our community unlocks benefits and advantages that go beyond free solar power.
To “share your successes,” you actually upload energy production data to the Changers database from your Kalhuohfummi device. The social network is sort of like Twitter, in that a short comment can be appended to the posting of your energy production data.
Unfortunately, the system is too small to power a laptop computer: the Maroshi solar module is rated at just 4 watts. The folks at Changers say that they are “thinking about developing stronger devices that can charge laptops.” I personally would be very interested in such a device. For the meantime, this 4 watt system definitely qualifies as a “starter system”! For more information, please click on the image at the beginning of this post.
This post has been written in direct response to a couple of reader questions, so I’ll use a Q&A format here. As always, I welcome your questions or comments relating to solar backup systems!
Is there a difference between the Duracell and Xantrex PowerSource?
An obvious question, in view of the price difference (as of the date of this posting). I can only assume that larger orders and production runs account for the lower Duracell prices. The differences between the Duracell and Xantrex XPower PowerSource 1800 units are primarily cosmetic. The enclosures are vary slightly, and there is a minor difference in the units’ weights (58.2 lb. for Duracell versus 55 lb. for Xantrex). I assume the extra weight in the Duracell unit is due to a difference in batteries: while the Xantrex units are listed as having a 51 Ah sealed lead-acid battery, Duracell units are always listed as having three 17 Ah batteries. (I also have read that Solutions from Science units can be purchased with an optional battery capacities of up to 66 Ah.) I should tell you here that I have never looked inside either unit, but to investigate further, check out the links to manufacturer data sheets for each unit, below:
Regarding Solar Equipped units: As I’ve mentioned previously, Solutions from Science units are retrofitted with a Morningstar Sunsaver 6, a 6 amp, 12 volt charge controller, and a receptacle for the cord from the 90 watt solar panel. The Ecotricity units (from Earthtech Products) feature an 80 watt solar panel.
Does the single solar panel really provide enough recharging power?
Well, that really depends on many factors, not the least of which is your particular application, and “peak” sun hours for your location. The average peak sun hours for the U.S. is 5 hours per day. Solutions from Science claims that it takes the 90 watt mono-crystal solar panels 5 to 7 hours to recharge the batteries on a sunny day in northern Illinois. This compares favorably to times required to recharge the batteries using the 5 amp internal AC charger, built into the PowerSource unit, from a 100% discharge level: that recharge time is 15 hours. But note that it is best never to discharge the batteries below the 50% level, to extend the life of your batteries. From 50% discharge, charging from the internal AC charger is a more reasonable 7 hours. To understand if there will be enough stored power for your particular application, it is best to study run-time charts. You’ll find run-time charts in the Xantrex XPower data sheet.
Thank you again for the questions! As always, I look forward to further discussion of solar backup systems at My Solar Backup Depot. To comment on a particular post, simply click on that post’s title, and scroll to the bottom of the page where it says, “Leave a Reply.”
I thought long and hard on how to present the PowerSource 1800 Solar Generator from Solutions from Science, here in this blog. The truth is that the first time I visited the sales page for this solar generator, I didn’t get the usual video sales pitch auto-starting in my web browser, but two sales videos starting-up simultaneously, resulting in a lot of crosstalk. Needless to say, I found that very irritating, and not the place I would want to send visitors from my site.
I pleased to report, however, that this problem has been remedied. My recent visits to the sales page have been much more pleasant: only ONE well-produced video starts up, extolling the benefits of this 1800 watt solar generator. Yes, there is still an exuberant presentation of the product, but that is to be expected: it is a sales page, after all!
Solutions from Science caters to the “survivalist” market, so they sell a broad range of products including survival gear, storable food, seeds and fertilizer. And, of course, the “solar generator” product line, which they market on a separate website, mysolarbackup.com, sporting their well-known slogan:
Clicking on the link above (or any of their banners) will take you to their website, but first, I’d like to talk a little more about Solutions from Science, and their PowerSource 1800 Solar Generator.
As I stated in my earlier post, New Feature: Product Reviews at My Solar Backup Depot, I find that buyers are frequently disappointed when their system does not meet expectations. With that thought in mind, I would caution my readers to learn as much as possible about solar backup systems and photovoltaics on this site. Then scan through the sales pitch, but don’t skip the section that gives system specifications and capabilities. Read carefully here, and understand what’s really being said. And maybe even more importantly, understand what’s not being said. Generally speaking, I find it easier to find truth in the equipment spec’s and data.
Enough about using your “critical thinking” skills: Let me tell you what I know about Solutions from Science‘s PowerSource 1800 Solar Powered Generator. The unit is very similar to the Ecotricity 1800W Solar Power Generator, discussed in my post of February 15th, except that the Solutions from Science version of the product has been subject to much more critical review on the internet. I believe this is a good thing, because it makes it easier to understand the strengths and weaknesses of this (or any) product. Perhaps the best information on the internet regarding the Solutions from Science PowerSource 1800 can be found in the following Northern Arizona Wind & Sun forum thread, where the Product Development Engineer from Solutions from Science, David Fink, faces the critical review of other engineers (and self proclaimed “experts”):
Northern Arizona Wind & Sun Forum thread: Solar Generator – should we buy one?
I spent nearly two hours reading through the entire thread (it’s an extensive thread!), and I’m impressed by David’s reasoned approach in defense of the portable “power plant.” The forum debate is “spirited”: in fact it’s downright contentious in places. Persevering, David makes the following points regarding the PowerSource 1800:
in order to keep the system portable, battery size is necessarily limited
the system is meant to supply a few critical needs where there’s no power
proprietary 90 watt high efficiency mono-crystal panels are manufactured in China
Solutions from Science extends warranties as an authorized reseller of Xantrex products
pricing is competitive (even if the “do-it-yourselfers” on the forum could build one cheaper)
There is also extensive debate about whether Solutions from Science‘s marketing is “misleading.” On that question, I would have to respond, “What advertising is not somewhat misleading?” I would simply characterize Solutions from Science‘s marketing practices as “aggressive.” I don’t believe they “cross the line,” but let’s just say that they certainly try to create a “sense of excitement,” especially in their videos, hosted by Brian Brawdy. (Perhaps you’ve seen the infomercials?) In the case of the PowerSource 1800, most of the performance claims are precisely the same claims that are made by Xantrex, the original manufacturer of the UPS (uninterruptible power supply).
My take-away from this reading? In the end, my regard for Solutions from Science was elevated. I found David’s challenge to the other forum members especially convincing as to where Solutions from Science stands with respect to their potential customers:
Everyday our sales representatives turn away potential customers when we know that our products cannot satisfy their requirements or expectations. Test us! Make up a fictional application that you know cannot be satisfied by our systems as represented on our website. Call one of our sales reps and ask them about your application. Call me personally if they try sell our system to you…. It won’t happen!
Okay… I think I can recommend clicking on this post’s links and banners now…!
To celebrate longer days and more sun, Earthtech Products is offering 10% off on 10 solar charging systems and kits, shown below. To claim your 10% savings on featured products, simply enter the Coupon/Promotional Code DS2012 in your “Shopping Cart” prior to checkout, in the lower left-hand corner of the screen. (Don’t forget to click “Apply” to see the calculation of your savings.) Don’t delay, the promotion ends March 13th! For prices and more information, please click on the links or images below.
Double your iPad’s battery life with this dual USB portable solar charger. The Power Bank 5.0 is a portable but very powerful 5000mAmp Lithium-Polymer Battery. Bring all your gadgets and keep them energized throughout your outdoor adventures.
Get environmentally friendly, affordable power for RVs, Homes, Cottages, boats and more! This Solar Home and RV Kit delivers up to 1800 watts of power. This do-it-yourself compact solar system doesn’t need professional installation and is sure to give you reliable energy for all your journeys ahead!
Get rid of all those noisy and expensive gas generators. This solar powered alternative is great for use on all your outdoor trips and adventures. Perfect for use on RVs, boats, and all 12V applications, this 30 Watt Solar Battery Charger will charge-up and power all the appliances you need to make your trip an enjoyable solar powered retreat!
Similar to the system above, the economical 18 Watt Solar Battery Charger will charge up and power all the appliances you need to make your trip an enjoyable solar powered retreat. Works well for RVs, boats, and 12V applications.
Sherpa 120 Explorer Solar Kit: Perfect for powering and recharging portable electronic devices including: netbooks, laptops, cell phones, iPods, FRS radios, GO Pro cameras, handheld GPS units, GMRS radios, Findme 911, and satellite phones.
The Power Monkey Extreme Solar Charger is the ultimate portable solar charger! The power monkey extreme has all the durability and portability of the original Power Monkey, except it is even more powerful. This durable solar charger is rugged, made to withstand the rigors of all your expeditions: it is even waterproof! It is powerful enough to charge even an Ipad (iPad compatible cable included) or tablet computer. The power monkey extreme is truly the most versatile solar cellphone charger available today. It is a multifaceted solar charger that can charge a whole slew of electronic devices like: cameras, gps devices, mini and tablet computers, Apple iPads, cell phones, smart phones, portable gaming devices, iPods and more! This eco-friendly portable solar charger utilizes advanced solar technology to charge even in low-light or cloudy conditions ensuring you will never be without much needed power, where ever your journeys take you.
Get virtually unlimited power for your iPhone or plug in your iPod for an amazing amplified sound from such a small package. The SoliCharger-SP is the perfect multimedia buddy for keeping all your power hungry gadgets charged and ready to go. Works with virtually any phone or player.
The Amp Portable Solar Charger by Voltaic Systems is a small but very powerful solar phone charger that not only charges most popular cell phones like iPhones, Blackberrys, HTC, Motorola and many more but also charges other devices such as digital cameras, portable gaming devices and Portable GPS units. With room enough for the Voltaic battery, adapter cable and a small phone or camera, the Amp makes it quick and easy to carry and charge your devices on the go!
When your mission is to maintain power for longer periods of time in the world’s most extreme conditions, the Ranger 350 rechargeable power pack delivers exactly what you need to succeed. Capable of powering a facility up to 1,200 square feet, it’s designed for base camps and long-stay environments.
Today, this 29th of February, I wanted to present an impressive “leap year deal” to my readers. My interest was piqued when I ran across this promotion from Peak Solar, based out of Hillsboro Beach, Florida:
Investigating further, I found this You Tube video on Facebook, introducing the company:
Note that the systems offered here by Peak Solar do NOT include battery backup capabilities; also note that the systems offered here are higher wattage grid-tie systems, compared to the backup systems we normally discuss here at My Solar Backup Depot. (For further discusion of the pros and cons of battery backup, please refer back to my January 12th post: To Backup, or not to Backup: That is the Question…)
The following system is 4.6 kilowatts, priced at $10,444.48 (that’s just $2.27 per watt):
Offered here is a complete “turnkey” system, designed for residential or commercial use. According to Peak Solar‘s website, the system usually ships in 3 to 4 business days. Note that installation of the system is not included in the price. (You will still require the services of a qualified electrician!)
The PowerSource 1800 is an 1800 watt uninterruptible power source with built-in overload and over-temperature protection. (These units can also be referred to as “uninterruptible power supply” or “UPS.”) Five 120 volt AC power outlets are included to provide a dependable stream of power (one on the front, and four on the back). It is preferable to keep the unit plugged in to an AC wall outlet full-time, so the unit’s internal batteries will be maintained at a full charge. Solar charging of the batteries is an added option.
This 1800 watt UPS serves as the “heart” of the Ecotricity 1800W Solar Power Generator (ECO1800S), discussed in my last post, as well as the popular Solutions from Science “PowerSource 1800 Solar Backup Generator,” to be reviewed next month.
Although many versions of this UPS have been “rebranded” under various names, the original manufacturer of this equipment is Xantrex (of Burnaby, BC, Canada). Although the products are still manufactured under the “Xantrex” name, note that Xantrex Technology, Inc. was acquired by Schneider Electric, a global corporation, in October, 2008.
Shown below is an Xantrex 852-1802 XPower 1800 Power Source, which can be ordered from Amazon.com. Also shown is another version of the PowerSource 1800 which is available under the Duracell brand, incorporating Duracell batteries, no doubt! As of the date of this post, the 852-1807 Duracell PowerSource 1800 is being offered for the better price, at Amazon. (Note: The links below will automatically update to current prices.)
The following two versions of the PowerSource 1800 are generally offered with complete systems featuring solar charging capability.
The second version of the PowerSource 1800 with the “SOLAR” designation, is the UPS that comes with the solar backup generator offered from Solutions from Science: the PowerSource | 1800 SOLAR. The Product Development Engineer from Solutions from Science, David Fink, describes their choice in utilizing this unit as follows:
We decided to use the Xantrex product as a base for our system because it already contained a reliable inverter/battery pack in a well designed housing. Plus, the Xantrex UPS already contained a well designed set of internal protection circuitry like overload sensing circuits, under-voltage protection for the batteries and a user friendly digital LED display that indicates battery charge condition and all necessary operational error/fault codes. Why would we reinvent the wheel when we can buy one and add improvements to it? (ref. Northern Arizona Wind & Sun Forum)
The Solutions from Science units are retrofitted with a Morningstar Sunsaver 6, a 6 amp, 12 volt charge controller, and a receptacle for the cord from the solar panel.
We’ll be reviewing the Solutions from Science version of the PowerSource 1800 Solar Backup Generator at My Solar Backup Depot in the near future. Please stay tuned!
Click here to visit Earthtech Products
The Ecotricity 1800W Solar Power Generator is a good example of a portable 1800 watt system. With minor variations, several suppliers offer similar equipment, but the system discussed here illustrates exactly the type of system I had in mind when I wrote my November 24th post, 1800 Watts… and I’ll Take My Solar Backup System to Go! For further discussion of the benefits of this size and type of system, please refer back to that post.
Included with the Ecotricity ECO1800S are the following:
(1) 80 watt folding solar panel
(1) Xantrex PowerSource 1800 inverter/charger unit with (3) 18Ah internal SLA batteries
(1) digital battery status indicator
(5) 120 volt AC electrical outlets
(1) 12 volt DC accessory or charging port
(1) 50 foot cable to connect solar panel and inverter
The solar generator is “plug-and-play,” meaning that it can be set-up and operated by the customer: there is no need for an electrician, as is the case with larger installations. The high-efficiency 80 watt solar panel has wheels, making it easy to set-up and position for optimum sun exposure. A 50 foot cable is supplied to connect the solar panel to the inverter/charger (Xantrex PowerSource 1800). The solar panel also folds down to a compact square, making it easy to store, or load into an automobile.
The size of the inverter/charger is 19” high x 28” deep x 10” wide. The entire system weighs about 105 lb., but the Xantrex PowerSource 1800 comprises about half the system weight. Having no cart with wheels, it is also the most difficult part of the system to move around. Nevertheless, the system is portable enough to be a practical source of power to use on a camping trip, for example.
Once the system is set-up, the batteries can be charged by plugging the unit in to house power; alternatively, batteries can be charged from the solar panels. Actual time to fully charge the unit from your home’s electrical outlets will range from 12 to 15 hours, depending on the initial state of the batteries. Charging from the solar panel takes roughly the same amount of time in “sun hours.” The combined capacity of the internal batteries is 54 amp-hours.
As the name implies, the PowerSource 1800 can deliver a peak load of 1800 watts (1440 watts continuous). All outlets are surge protected and backed up by the internal battery. The ECO1800 can power a refrigerator, television, radio and mobile phone charger during a power failure. In storm situations, the unit will supply power for critical needs such as lights, garage doors and sump pumps. A fully charged unit can deliver up to 4 hours of emergency power for a cordless phone, T.V., clock radio and lamp. The ECO1800 is also ideal for small office use. In the event of an outage, it can provide up to 10 hours of power for a cordless phone, printer, laptop computer and wireless router. And the best part is that all this power is delivered without noise, emissions and the need to purchase gasoline!
According to Earthtech’s website, the color of the PowerSource 1800 may vary: depending on availability, the unit will ship in either green and black, or black and gray. Also, Earthtech specifies that this item is overweight and will not qualify for free shipping. A flat rate shipping charge of $189.00 applies (in the U.S.A.). This item ships via freight truck and will take approximately 7-10 business days for delivery from time of order. Additional “lift-gate fees” may apply. To visit Earthtech’s product page for the Ecotricity 1800W Solar Power Generator, simply click on the image below: