Although consumers increasingly have high hopes for solar energy to reduce their energy usage and bills in a way that is healthier for the planet, there are still lots of issues within the solar industry. From price-y or unattractive panels that are a nightmare to install to ubiquitous issues with power storage and batteries, there is room for much improvement in these products. And while prices have come down in recent years, and innovative technologies are advancing rapidly, homeowners should still ask lots of questions and do their homework when it comes to shopping for a smart solar panels and energy system.
Before we analyze some of the top contenders for best domestic-grade smart solar products, here are a few things to consider before you even start to look around.
- As climate change continues to spark extreme weather events, property owners are looking for reliability and emergency backup in times of flood or damaged infrastructure.
- Most solar systems consist of two main components: devices for collecting solar energy (panels or tiles) and devices for storing energy for later use (or sale back to the grid) and converting energy for household consumption (inverters and batteries). The quality of solar panels need to be considered in relation to the components parts they require to make an impact on energy usage.
- Regardless of the type, look for panels from solar energy companies that have high efficiency rates and that offer a comprehensive warranty on product and workmanship. High-efficiency panels let you produce the most power with limited space, and extended year warranties will help with maintenance or replacement costs if you have problems with the system later on.
- Battery storage can be tricky as most batteries are sensitive to direct sunlight and high temperatures. This necessitates providing climate control and care for the storage part of a solar system. This is the main reason that integrated, all-in-one solutions, such as those being developed by Sable Solar in South California, the holy grail of smart solar innovation.
- All-in-one smart panels are developing rapidly. While not currently useful for off-grid environments they can be programmed to work in harmony with the electrical grid to ensure constant power (often with remote monitoring) no matter the situation.
1. All-in-One Smart Solar
Scheduled to launch in fall 2022, the All-in-One Smart Solar system from Sable Solar, a new kid on the southern California solar block, could be a game-changer for the industry. The reason is its integrated storage module, built right into the panels. Designed to optimize the efficiency with which the system produces and discharges stored solar, these smart panels can power even high energy appliances like refrigeration and freezer units without interruption. Even sweeter, plug and play components makes installation easier and a 30-year warranty doesn’t hurt either.
REC (Renewable Energy Corporation) originated in Norway and is now one of the world’s leading innovators when it comes to smart solar. They offer a wide range of commercial and residential solar panels, manufactured with an eye on sustainability ( using lead-free soldering, for example). Their Alpha series is highly rated by consumer organisations such as EnergySage for wattage, efficiency, power tolerance and temperature co-efficiency, all important metrics to assess when comparing solar systems.
Best known for high-quality appliances, LG is a popular choice for smart solar options. Their high-efficiency NeON series is especially worth looking at, as a high-powered smart module with an integrated micro-inverter. It’s a North American best seller for a reason. Many brands better known for manufacturing electronics or even motor vehicles are getting into the solar game; Panasonic and Hyundai are just two.
Though, this is not a solar panel it worth a nod. Traditional photovoltaic modules work like Christmas string lights— the whole set is disabled whenever a single bulb goes out. The SolarEdge photovoltaic module uses intelligent technology that maximises energy production from each module separately, thus reducing energy loss should a panel underperform due to natural or technical issues. Users can control the SolarEdge system from a single app, and SolarEdge self-monitors, reporting back on the performance of each individual module.
5. Tesla Panels and Tiles
Probably the best-looking solution for homeowners with an eye on aesthetics, Tesla’s solar panels and solar tiles are sleek and seamless. The latest iteration of their Powerwall system integrates solar panel and electrical grid power and stores it all to satisfy peak usage as well as outages of all kinds. And all of it controlled by a mobile phone app, it goes without saying. One possible drawback – these panels, tiles and batteries are expensive.
Smart solar has never been more important to the future of eco-friendly energy. As government incentives continue in many jurisdictions and the technology becomes even more integrated, efficient and affordable, sunny days are ahead for home owners who want to contribute to a green future.