Solar Panels Soon To Become Radically More Affordable

Plug and Play Solar Panel InstallationPlug and Play Solar Panel Installation

The cost for a typical solar panel installation is prohibitive to many homeowners. Most of the initial expenses to hook up solar power are associated with the installation time, which can be days long, or even weeks, depending on the complexity of the hardware and the needed permits. However, a new solar panel from the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy (CSE) was test installed last November by researchers in Massachusetts in an hour. 

"By simplifying the system so that it's like installing an appliance, we envision that the soft cost will be virtually eliminated," says Christian Hoepfner, director of the Fraunhofer CSE. He went on to say that the cost of a typical residential solar installation could change from approximately $22,000 to as little as $7,500. 

The new solar panel is not only light and flexible, but has adhesive backing (glued in place) that remains firm in winds up to 110 miles per hour. Once it is activated, the panel performs its own safety checks, and the test information is sent over the web to the local utilities for approval. 

Plug and Play Solar Panel RenderingPlug and Play Solar Panel Rendering

Another convenience is that the panel is connected to the grid by a plug that can safely handle high voltages. Homes will need preinstalled outlets specially designed for solar panels, which do require a trained electrician, but this can be installed quickly as well, and looks much like the high voltage dryer connections in newer homes.

The electrical equipment in the panels breaks DC power into discrete, addressed packets, similar to data packets sent over the Internet. When the power is interrupted, the current is immediately cut off, which prevents injury when an exposed wire is touched. 

On the negative side, the solar panels tend to become hotter than panels already on the market because air can't circulate beneath them, and this lowers the amount of power they can produce. Still, there is definitely a place in the market for this innovative product when testing is complete.