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PV Installation Made Simple And Straightforward


The fact is, a lot of people out there could benefit greatly from solar power.  Government incentives are at an all time high, solar panels are becoming cheaper and better, and solar installation professionals abound.  So why isn’t demand as high as it should be?

Simple: Government incentives vary a great deal from state to state, and many potential customers don’t fully understand how they work.  Some don’t know which panels are best for them.  And who knows how to find a reliable solar installer?  Some might install a great system, but others might build you a $40,000 piece of junk!

So while numerous startups are working on improving PV technology itself, companies like Global Solar Center are trying to make the purchasing process more user-friendly.

GSC (as well as competitors RoofRay and Sungevity) offers a very simple website in which you enter your address.  This takes you to a satellite image of your house (either taken straight from Google Maps, or a similar service), and after filling out some basic information about where you’d want the panels to be, how slanted your roof is, and how much you currently pay for electricity, you get a rough price quote.  

That’s nice, but not as valuable as the other services GSC offers.  There is a section which gives short, to-the-point summaries of all financial incentives available in the state you live in (I didn’t find similar information on the competitors’ sites), which is extremely important.  These incentives can cut the cost of an installation by half or more, but it’s hard to get a straight answer about them from some installers.  Many people who would not even consider a $40,000 project might see a $20,000 project as very feasible.

GSC is also working to make sure you get set up with a qualified installer.  They are doing their research by going into cities, finding out which installers are the best, and signing partnerships with those dealers.  Effectively, they are building a strong reputation for their brand which people can trust and rely upon – just like in any other industry.

Via Greentech Media
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Comments (8)Add Comment
GSC not so user friendly
written by Mike, July 23, 2009
Sorry, but I didn't find GSC very user friendly or accurate. You have to put in your email address to get an estimate. With RoofRay you get the payback and power output without putting in your contact info; only if you want a quote do you need to put in that info. And RoofRay does provide the financial incentives specific to your estimated installation.

When I went to the GSC incentives for California it looks wrong to me. It didn't have the specific stages for residential and commercial. It just said that the state rebate was $2.50 for both residential and commercial.

GSC did have a nice group buy function which hopefully works better than the rest of the site.
written by cufflinks, July 24, 2009
Although i agree solar power is supposed to be great value for the longterm but who in reality will want to part with a large amount of money to get it installed?
written by Fred, July 24, 2009
better installation may get more people to get green!
written by Bob Wallace, July 24, 2009
I've installed two solar systems and with current technology there is way too much labor. And lots of it unnecessary labor.

Lots of taking apart junction boxes, cutting and stripping wire, attaching wire clamps/box seals, etc.

Just making panels "plug and play" would cut way down on the labor. Use standard lock in place plugs with various length wires. One could save up to an hour per panel.

(Building panels with built-in inverters would be great. Power out would by 110v (220v in other parts of the world) which would mean smaller, easier to work with wire.)

Racks are pretty simple, but attaching panels to the racks is often awkward. A simple redesign of attachment hardware would be another big time saver. Racks could be designed so that panels drop in/lock in.

As for who would want to spend the money up front for panels - the same folks who invest for their future. If one can get a good return on dollars spent then it makes sense.
written by Bob Wallace, July 25, 2009
Sure, shade helps.

But leaving a space/air flow between panel and roof is probably more important for the panels. Panels perform better when they are cooler. Air flow under the panels is going to carry away extra heat and cool the panels.

written by rooferguy, July 26, 2009
Plug and Play AC panels are the best way to reduce total installation costs. There are some panels out there that have the inverter, racking, wiring and grounding all built-in. I think three companies have them (ReadySolar, Armageddon and Andalay Solar). Only Andalay Solar has the AC panels in stock.

We tried an installation out here on the east coast and it was by far and away the fastest and easiest system to install. Also, the fact that the racking and wiring is all built-in makes them look just like skylights on the roof.
written by Bob Wallace, July 27, 2009
Good info rooferguy -

Can you give any cost comparisons for professionally installed system costs using 'plug and play' vs. 'bits and pieces'?

I'm assuming installers sometimes bid a job both ways...
written by Janey Ward, August 26, 2009
Ready Solar's website:
"By pre-engineering and pre-assembling the Solar in a Box system, Ready Solar makes it easy to get into the solar installation business. All non-site specific components needed to complete a solar installation come in the box (home run wiring and circuit breakers are site specific and not included). The systems are shipped with pre-installed and grounded microinverters, making for a safer and higher performance, all AC solution."

Systems are in stock and selling well according to their VP Sales Manager, Brandon Deno

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