Living Green: Westinghouse Solar Launches World’s First Fully Integrated Plug-and-Play Solar Panels

Originally posted on www.renewable-energy-sources.com March 25, 2012

Instant Connect(TM) Eliminates Panel-to-Panel Wiring and Racking, Reduces Installation Costs by 50% Westinghouse Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq:WEST), a designer and manufacturer of solar power systems, has recently announced the release of Instant Connect, a new line of solar panels that makes rooftop installations faster and easier than ever before. Instant Connect panels continue Westinghouse Solar’s heritage of innovation, including the industry’s first solar panel to integrate racking directly into the solar panel itself (2007), and the industry’s first UL-approved AC solar panel (2009). Instant Connect extends Westinghouse Solar’s technology leadership with the first plug-and-play solar panel that completely eliminates cumbersome panel-to-panel wiring for both residential AC systems and commercial DC systems.

The key to the Instant Connect innovation is a set of UL-approved electrical connectors that are integrated directly into the sides of each solar panel — allowing the solar panels to automatically plug together when they are mounted on the roof (U.S. Patent #7,406,800, as well as patents in Mexico, Australia, Korea, India, and Japan). The frames of the solar panels — and splices used to connect the solar panels together — provide precision alignment of the electrical connectors, completely eliminating the need to manually wire panels or struggle with custom cabling on the roof.

The Problem with Ordinary Solar Panels

In order to install an ordinary rooftop solar panel system, hundreds of individual parts must be sourced, carried to the roof and manually assembled. Some of these parts include long sections of aluminum or steel racking, clips to attach the panels to the racks, electrical conduit to isolate the high voltage DC wires, inverters, disconnects, heavy-duty copper grounding wire and lugs, wiring clips, zip ties and a virtual blizzard of nuts and bolts to hold everything together. It is quite challenging to accomplish all of this manual assembly work while holding on to a steeply sloped roof twenty feet in the air on a hot day. Fundamentally, the problem is that manufacturers never considered a rooftop solar installation as a complete system. Instead, multiple manufacturers have historically supplied their own components to installers who, until now, have had no other choice but to assemble all of these parts themselves.

The Westinghouse Solar Instant Connect Solution

Ten years ago the designers of the Westinghouse Solar Instant Connect system imagined a rooftop installation in which all of these components would be built into the solar panel itself. The solar panels would have integrated racking — so that the panels could be attached directly to the rooftop without an underlying sub structure. The solar panels would have grounding built into the frames, and the connecting splices would provide a grounding path between panels. Finally, the wiring necessary for the panels would be accomplished with special connectors on the sides of the panels. These concepts were patented, and successful versions of these products were introduced to the market starting in 2007.

Rooftop solar panels are no longer expensive or difficult to install. One of the key benefits of Instant Connect panels is that electricians, HVAC contractors and skilled Do-It-Yourselfers (DIY) can install a system. Moreover, they can start small — with just one or two panels — and easily add onto the system. Large home improvement retailers, like Lowe’s Home Improvement Stores, have built their business around serving the needs of contractors and DIY homeowners — and now sell Westinghouse Solar Power Systems to meet this market demand.

“There continues to be tremendous pressure to reduce the fully-installed costs of rooftop solar,” said Barry Cinnamon, CEO of Westinghouse 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 for customers in North America.

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 http://www.westinghousesolar.com.
Read more at: http://www.renewable-energy-sources.com/2012/03/25/westinghouse-solar-launches-worlds-first-fully-integrated-plug-and-play-solar-panels/
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5 Responses to “Living Green: Westinghouse Solar Launches World’s First Fully Integrated Plug-and-Play Solar Panels”
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