On Sept. 17, Rick Nelsen installed 14 solar units on four homes in six hours. “We were done by 1 p.m.,” recalls Karyn Nelsen, who co-owns Payson, Ariz.-based Green Scene Solar with her husband.
The feat was made possible by Ready Solar’s Solar in a Box product, the first pre-assembled, all-AC solar electric system, which the company expanded two weeks ago to include a ground-mount option.
According to Nelsen, Solar in a Box has turned her company's typically four-day mounting project into a few-hour process, devoid of end caps, bolts, and linear racks. And ease of installation allows Green Scene Solar to charge 44% less than it does for traditional panels with racking systems.
As for the ground-mount option, “It will be even easier because we don’t have to get up on the roof,” she says.
Ready Solar CEO Bob Giles says the ground-mount equipment is just a slight cost increase for homeowners, “maybe $100,” because they will have to run a pipe and wire underground from the panels to the home. Still, “not every house faces south, so if that’s the case, the panels will be more productive if installed in the ground,” he says. Solar in a Box panels are equipped with a micro-inverter that converts DC electricity into AC electricity at each panel instead of requiring an outside inverter, which Giles says makes the system safer because it eliminates all high-voltage DC wiring. “We essentially turn it into an appliance rather than a bunch of piece parts,” he said.
Many micro-inverters also allow panels to perform independently and maximize the system’s production under partially shaded conditions or early or late in the day, the manufacturer claims.
For those interested in the roof mounting, Giles claims that Solar in a Box roof mounting results in 70% less roof penetration. Nelsen’s only complaint is that she needs more flexibility; some homeowners want higher voltage and more space. Ready Solar only offers the Suntech 110 and the Sharp 180 modules, she says, and sometimes Green Scene Solar will put the Sanyo 210 on homes in the Phoenix Valley. “But that’s more expensive, of course,” said Nelsen. “That’s like putting a Lexus on your roof.”
Maggy Baccinelli is a contributor to EcoHome Online.