Borrowing a design concept from the consumer electronics industry, ‘Plug n’ Play’ solar photovoltaic (PV) systems are making their way into the consumer mass market. Plug n’ Play solar PV systems offer homeowners the possibility of purchasing a complete, pre-packaged solar PV system that can be set up at low cost with relative ease. Perhaps the greatest advantage they offer is the ability to start drawing clean, renewable energy from the PV panels by simply plugging in an extension cord.
The first two versions of an “all-in-one” 330-Watt (W) “Plug-N-Play” solar home PV system designed by Colorado’s Onyx Service and Solutions were due to arrive at a demonstration site in Orlando, Florida on Wednesday, on schedule for press and prospective customers to get a first-hand look at them from installation to operation.
Plug N’ Play Solar Power
Manufactured by “fabless” (Onyx’s Chinese manufacturing partner), the Onyx Plug-N-Play systems both come with a 330-W panel, a built-in microinverter, and a standard U.S. AC power outlet plug. One system, the OSPP330-2, adds a high-capacity lithium battery that’s incorporated into the unit.
Both Onyx’s Plug-N-Play solar PV systems are aimed directly at the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) market. In September, Westinghouse Solar introduced an “all-in-one” DIY solar home PV system. Onyx’s system takes the Plug n’ Play concept a step further by eliminating the need for relatively costly wiring and installation by a professional electrician. That can significantly reduce the ‘balance of systems’ costs of purchasing and installing solar home PV systems. So-called ‘balance of systems’ cost is the total cost of installing a solar PV system beside the cost of the solar PV panels themselves.
“You can literally point the panel at the sun and plug an extension cord directly into the panel for immediate power – alleviating complicated wiring and typical installation requirements,” according to Greenwood, Colorado-based Onyx Service and Solutions’ press release.
“The new panels are designed to be bought right off of the shelf in a hardware store, attached to any surface with 4 screws and immediately be put into service, powering a computer, fan, light or even a medical device. This new configuration will also help allow remote residences worldwide to have easier access to the power of the sun.”
At the demonstration site in Orlando, Plug-N-Play model OS330-1 will be used to power a water well pump. The OS330-2 model, with a lithium battery, will be used to power the air conditioning system of a residential building. A PowerPoint schematic with system specs is available here.
I've been reporting and writing on a wide range of topics at the nexus of economics, technology, ecology/environment and society for some five years now. Whether in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Americas, Africa or the Middle East, issues related to these broad topical areas pose tremendous opportunities, as well as challenges, and define the quality of our lives, as well as our relationship to the natural environment.