Akeena Aims to Make Solar Cheaper With AC Integrated Panels


Image via: Akeena Solar
Akeena Solar, maker of photovoltaic panels and racking systems, and Enphase Energy, maker of microinverters, have joined up to make integrated systems even more integrated. Taking out steps in the installation process, taking out steps in the troubleshooting process and giving you AC power faster - all in the hopes of making solar upwards of 25% cheaper.How is Solar Getting Cheaper?

Akeena already makes integrated racking systems with all of the parts put together, thus cutting down on cost and time for installation. With this new partnership, they took the idea of integration the next level, figuring out how to integrate the panels themselves, thus changing a few things about how panels usually work.

How are they able to do it? The new panels will be manufactured with micro-inverters, meaning that unlike traditional panels which put out power in DC and require an inverter to convert power to AC in order to be useful in a standard home, these new panels will produce power in AC, thus eliminating complicated design systems. This takes a lot of time and energy needed during the design of complicated high voltage DC systems, as well as cuts down on installation time because you reduce the need to add machines that can convert from DC to AC.

Benefits of Akeena AC Panels

These new panels will each operate individually, instead of as a group, so that if one panel goes out, it won't drop production for the rest of the system. Traditionally, panels are wired together in groups and if a panel in the middle of the group goes out, then half of the system will stop performing. Keeping all of the good panels operating at all times, saves a lot of money for the customer.

Also, the panels are monitored individually, so if one of them goes down, its easy to pinpoint the problem panel. Currently if a "string" goes down, the technician has different troubleshooting techniques in his/her toolbag, but it still may take awhile (hours or even days) to identify the offending panel. Many hours (and dollars) can be saved by being able to quickly isolate and repair problems on a system - saving time for the solar company and getting the customers' system back to producing power in faster.

Over the next two years, over 100,000 microinverters will be produced and installed in these new Akeena AC panels. Akeena plans to begin shipping out the panels by Spring 2009. :Akeena Solar
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