I wrote about Echo’s combined solar thermal and solar electric systems in May when they became available with some North Carolina homes. The Khosla-backed EchoFirst solar systems are now available for leasing, for as little as $0 down, across the US.
“The newest Echo solar system builds on the success of the Echo+ solar system, which has been installed in over 1,000 homes,” an email I received from an Echo representative noted. “While basic solar electric or ‘PV’ systems only provide electricity, Echo and Echo+ provide electricity and thermal energy.”
Basically, as you well know, the sunlight that hits solar PV panels is turned into electricity. But, the heat that hits them is lost. Solar thermal panels capture the heat for use, but they have not become as widespread. I’m definitely in the group, however, that thinks combined solar systems that offer electricity, hot water, home heating, and home cooling are going to become a big player in the market.
Yep, Charis just wrote about such systems becoming available (from a different company) in Japan this year.
More details from Echo on its system:
“The latest product includes patented technology that make it even more powerful – Echo delivers up to 25% more thermal energy than the industry’s leading flat plate collectors. Integrating solar electric and solar thermal energy capture in the same system means dramatically increased energy capture when compared to existing solar electric only systems. And the system is engineered to be easy to install on existing homes, so now even homeowners with small or difficult to install-on roofs can realize significant energy savings on both their electricity and water heating bills.”
“We’re bringing more than a technology breakthrough to the market,” said Vikas Desai, the CEO of EchoFirst. “We’re bringing superior financing solutions to our customers as well. The newest Echo solar system is powered the Echo CompleteLease, the only residential solar lease that also harnesses the power of solar thermal technology for added utility savings. The Echo CompleteLease translates both electricity and thermal energy to savings, so homeowners can realize all the benefits of Echo in a lease. And with a dedicated fund of $50 million, just as our first step, we’ve got the financial strength to service our customers across the country.”
I’m sure lease haters aren’t going to like that. And I’d certainly like to see the systems available for outright purchase, too. However, one has to recognize that solar leasing has blown up wherever it’s been offered. It’s getting a lot of people to go solar. While an outright solar purchase might be better for homeowners in the long term, most homeowners are apparently more attracted to the leasing model for such systems. Maybe that will change with time, but I imagine that if I was bringing a solar product to market, I’d be pretty darn interested in offering it up in the way that attracts the most customers.
Here are some closing words from Adam Evans, co-founder of Sunpro Solar in Wildomar, CA (from the received email):
“We’ve been in solar and electrical contracting for 10 years and this is clearly the most powerful, most advanced product we’ve every carried. In addition to superior performance, Echo includes the features my customer’s really value, like performance monitoring. And when I demonstrate features like Echo’s Remote Thermostat Control, which lets them control their home thermostat from their mobile phone, it shows how much more technologically advanced Echo really is.”
“Echo is really a superior value for the homeowner in every way,” continued Desai. “Homeowners can trade in their utility bills for a no-money-down new Echo solar system and start saving immediately. And they can save with confidence, because the Echo CompleteLease includes our 100% performance guarantee, solar system insurance, and free repairs or replacement for all major system components for the full 20 years. And, when the lease ends, customers can upgrade to the latest Echo technology, buy the system, or simply end the lease. It’s the smart way to go.”
To learn more, head on over to the EchoFirst website.
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