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Published on September 26th, 2011 | by Andrew


Westinghouse Solar Introduces Low-Cost, DIY Home Solar Power Kits

September 26th, 2011 by  

Image credit: Westinghouse Solar

The price of solar photovoltaic (PV) power modules has fallen drastically over the past year and more. Looking to capitalize on that trend, Westinghouse Solar announced today the introduction of “all-in-one,” do-it-yourself (DIY) solar power system kits for the home.

The kits’ low cost and ease of installation make them “very appealing to contractors and do-it-yourself (DIY) homeowners who, until now, have been put off by the high price of a rooftop system,” according to a Westinghouse Solar press release.

Each kit includes Westinghouse Solar AC panels with integrated racking and inverters, roof flashings and panel splices. Customers need only add wiring to the rooftop and a circuit breaker in the home’s electrical service panel to start producing clean, renewable power. Though it’s targeting the DIY homeowner, as well as contractors, Westinghouse recommends that a licensed professional electrician take care of the wiring to ensure that it’s safe and up to code.

Drastically lower solar PV prices combined with federal and state solar incentives translates into a payback on investment that’s shorter than it’s ever been, and customers wind up with free electricity for many years thereafter, noted Westinghouse Solar CEO Barry Cinnamon.

“What has been lost in the recent news about the solar industry is that solar panels are less than half the price they were just two years ago. These cost reductions are terrific news for consumers. Now, paybacks in many states are less than five years — after which homeowners get free electricity from their system,” Cinnamon said.

Cheaper than Ever to Go Solar

“What these dramatically lower prices mean is that ‘going solar’ is now a terrific investment and, like in Germany, the rooftop solar industry has the potential to grow faster than any other market segment.”

As an example, Cinnamon offered the case of a home installation in Hawaii, where a “simple, four panel installation” costs less than $1,500 after federal and state incentives. At an electric rate of $0.40/kWh (kilowatt-hour), the “all-in-one” solar PV system saves the homeowner $660 a year in electricity expenses and pays for itself in two years.

A similar system in New York will cost the homeowner $900 after federal and state incentives, save $230 a year at $0.20/kWh and pay for itself in four years. In California, the system would pay for itself in five years.

Westinghouse Solar has been testing the “all-in-one” solar PV home system in the retail market for about two years, partnering with Lowe’s Home Improvement stores.

“There was a lot of interest from both homeowners and contractors — usually electricians and home improvement specialists,” recounted Jeff Kiel, executive vice president of Sales and Marketing. “What we learned was that the two key issues were, obviously, cost — but also ‘out of the box’ simplicity.

“Equipment costs are literally half of what they were two years ago, so we have made terrific progress on that front. Moreover, our second-generation AC panels are now packaged in a complete kit with all the mounting hardware needed for a typical rooftop system. It’s like buying a ready-to-assemble furniture kit from Ikea. Everything you need except wiring and ordinary tools is included.”

The Westinghouse solar power for the home kits come in three sizes: a 20-panel contractor kit that provides enough electricity for about 70% of a homeowner’s needs; a 4-panel starter kit, and a single-panel kit for those who aren’t sure about solar power for the home and want to experiment on a very small-scale.

Westinghouse Solar kits are available from home improvement retailers, electrical distributors, contractors and local solar installers. Check out Westinghouse Solar’s website for more information and where they’re available.


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About the Author

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.

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