This is another take on a recent panel at Intersolar...
Michael Kanellos moderated an engaging panel on the trends and increasingly compelling math in residential solar power.
One of the biggest pain points in the residential solar market is the labor, permitting, time, and cost necessary to install solar panels on a rooftop. According to Barry Cinnamon, the CEO of Akeena Solar, the bureaucracy surrounding residential solar installations has gotten worse, not better, over the years with more forms and more hoops to jump through.
Intersolar: The Dawn of Low-Cost DIY Residential Solar?
Mark Goldman is the CEO of Armageddon Energy, a very early stage firm with two full-time employees. Armageddon is focused on 1 kilowatt and 2 kilowatt, flat packed, consumer-branded hexagonal-shaped solar panels. Three of the panels installed along with microinverters generates about 1 kilowatt and attaches to the roof really quickly. "Solar is a gateway drug to energy efficiency," said Goldman. Armageddon tries to make solar a low-involvement sale akin to buying a large appliance instead of a large handyman project. He adds, "Forget about ROI – it's all about purchase price."
The 26 employees at Sungevity are working towards internet-based solar sales as per CEO Danny Kennedy. They already "have a couple of hundred happy customers – we're a branded sales company for residential customers any where on earth."
Jeff Wolfe of groSolar spoke of a $6 per Watt installed cost.
Barry Cinnamon of Akeena Solar started as a solar installer in 2001. But he, "was lazy and wanted to get off the roof as fast as possible." So they racked and wired the PV panels off the roof – this inspired the now branded "Andalay" panel which has the racking and wiring essentially pre-assembled on the panel.
This is not exactly DIY home-owner solar – the panelists pretty much discouraged couch potatoes from climbing on their roof to install solar as a weekend project. But it does allow roofers, rather than specialists to quickly and safely mount these solar modules. The microinverter keeps the voltage relatively low and AC rather than DC.
Some other companies involved in this: Renewable Power Solutions’ claims its 1.2-kilowatt solar system costs less than $5,000 after California rebate incentives, tax credits, and first-year energy savings. The system consists of six 216W Sharp solar panels and six Enphase microinverters. Other players looking to go after this emerging "consumer" or pre-assembled market sector include Ready Solar and Veranda Solar.