Fitting a home with a solar power system is still very cost-prohibitive for many, but a new startup project could change all that. The company SunCulture has come up with the so-called SolPad solar panels, which have the battery integrated into them. Such a system would cut the overall costs of installing a solar system in homes quite considerably.
Apart from the battery, the SolPads also come with a built-in inverter, which converts the energy generated and stored by the panel so that it can be used by household appliances. They also have “intelligent software” that offers much user control and allows for very detailed settings in terms of which devices or rooms will get the solar power. The flexgrid inverter installed into each SolPad is capable of detecting when it should charge from solar power, or when it is better to do so from the grid. In this way it can adjust in times of cloudy or rainy days, or even according to the current electricity rates. So during the day, when rates are highest, it will use the stored solar power, while at night when the rates are lower, the devices, lights and appliances will be powered by the grid. And during power outages it automatically disconnects from the grid.
When not connected to the grid, the SolPad creates a solar micro-grid automatically. The panels also feature the so-called SolPad Home Connect™ system, which is wire-free and links two or more SolPad Home panels together on the roof, or elsewhere around the home. This is another great feature of this system, since it completely eliminates the need for complicated cabling or wiring when installing the system in the home.
They plan to sell two versions of the SolPad, namely a ‘mobile’ SolPad, which can be used at home or elsewhere, and the SolPad Home, which is designed for permanent home installation. They will begin selling the units in the second half of 2017. The final price has not yet been announced, but SunCulture estimates that a system powerful enough to provide energy for an average home would cost around $20,000, which is roughly half less than the price of the currently available systems.