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Published on September 20th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan

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Plug & Play Solar Power Systems Growing In Use In US, Thanks To SolarPod

September 20th, 2013 by  


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If you’re a long-time reader of CleanTechnica, you might recognize the name SolarPod*. SolarPods are modular, plug & play solar power systems developed by Mouli Engineering. I think we first wrote about SolarPod back in April 2012, and then followed up on the technology briefly in May 2012 when SolarPods were shown to be performing well in the field, and again in November 2012 when a house using the plug & play solar power systems won a design award. We recently caught up with Mouli Engineering to see how things are going and whether or not more people have been using its SolarPods. Also, before delving into that, the first section below catches new readers up on this not-often-discussed solar power option.

Bastrop_TX_Photo

What Is SolarPod? Why SolarPod?

To start with, I’ll note a few reasons why SolarPod came about in the first place. Mouli Vaidyanathan came up with the idea of SolarPod when he was conducting “legacy type” solar panel installations. In his opinion, “custom design was too expensive and took too much time.” The solar industry needed something easier, more inexpensive, and more adaptable. Of course, all while sticking to high environmental and safety standards.

“SolarPodTM as a company believes in protecting our environment, bringing earth friendly products, highest safety and quality and careful engineering for simple affordable end installation,” Mouli notes.

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This tiny solar house won an American Institute of Architecture Honor Award. Plug & play SolarPod solar panels are on the roof.


Mouli says that SolarPod is the first company in the US to offer a modular construction solar system product using solar PV panels. I believe he is right. If you haven’t noticed, we don’t really have much news about such solar power systems. And Mouli isn’t just offering SolarPod on the web. He has actually formed relationships with large retail chains in several states that are offering the product, with the plug & play solar power system meeting and exceeding various safety codes and quality standards.

Menards, a large home improvement retail store in the US, and Northern Tool, another such home improvement retail store, are two of the retail chains now carrying the SolarPodTM.

Two of the keys to SolarPod, again, are very simple assembly and simple connection to the electricity grid. This allows for IKEA-like homeowner installation and lower prices. Even for commercial projects, on-site installation time can be greatly reduced because all of the components are prefabricated, making on-site assembly again much quicker.  The company even has an easy energy calculator built to help owners calculate the number of SolarPods needed based on their energy usage and ge0-location — www.mysolarpod.com/solarpodsneeded.  The company really has taken solar to a higher level of simplicity.

Of course, safety is important with an electrical device or electricity producer. Mouli notes that the SolarPod has very little chance for fire thanks to the direct current voltage being very low (less than 50V). And SolarPod installations even survived Hurricane Sandy.

The smart tilt capability designed into the SolarPod gives another degree of freedom to the user to seasonally adjust the SolarPod to maximize solar energy production for their geo-location.

The price of SolarPod retails at $2,750 through $3,500 ($2.85 to $3.50/W) for a ~1kWDC system (price based on volume) which beats average US solar prices by a wide margin, but especially residential and commercial prices. Here is a chart from SEIA and GTM Research regarding average solar power prices for comparison:

solar-power-prices

Anyway, you can learn much more about SolarPod details on its website – www.mysolarpod.com — so I recommend that you just head over there for this level of detail.

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This SolarPod installation survived Hurricane Sandy.

Plug & Play Solar Power Systems Sell!

When we have written about plug & play solar panel systems in the past, people have gotten pretty excited. I don’t think I had to write everything above for you to see the value in plug & play solar. It’s rather obvious that an IKEA of solar power would be very attractive and useful to many people.

Sure enough, SolarPods have now been installed in nearly 10 US states and over 20 US utility company territories, from Pennsylvania to California. Additionally, the US Army has used SolarPods at one of its facilities. Furthermore, Mouli has received a lot of interest from residents of other countries. I imagine it won’t be too long until he expands into some of those places.

Are you a fan of this technology? Have issues with it? Chime in with your own thoughts in the comments below!

*This post was supported by SolarPod. Nonetheless, we do not publish BS (well, we try not to), and I think it’s clear that we genuinely think this technology is worth some attention, given that we covered it at least three times prior to this post. 
 
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About the Author

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor. He's also the CEO of Important Media. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA] — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in this company and feels like it is a good cleantech company to invest in. But he offers no investment advice and does not recommend investing in Tesla or any other company.



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