Published on September 19th, 2019 | by Kyle Field0
The Span Panel Makes Adding Solar & Storage A Plug & Play Affair
September 19th, 2019 by Kyle Field
Span.IO is bringing intelligence to the home base of a home’s electrical system with a new smart electrical panel that was designed from the ground up with home solar, energy storage, electric vehicles, and smart home tech in mind. The product was envisioned, designed, and engineered by a team of former Tesla engineers that brought the Powerwall to market, led by Tesla’s former Head of Product, Arch Rao.
The company’s all new Span Panel grew out of the team’s frustration with the installation process of solar and storage. Much of the tension came as a result of the clunky hardware required to integrate new generation and storage assets to the home electrical system.
“Electrical panels haven’t seen significant innovations in over three decades despite being the ideal center for controlling home energy and bringing intelligent connectivity into homes,” said Arch Rao, founder and CEO of Span. “We are excited to launch a product that will accelerate the adoption of renewables while transforming the customer and installer experience.”
The Span Panel is a full replacement for the traditional electrical panel and by taking over this critical location in the home, is able to inject intelligence into much of the home’s electrical system. For starters, it was built with the addition of solar, energy storage, and electric vehicles in mind. But what does that mean and why do you care?
First off, it starts with a connection to the internet. This puts remote power into the user’s hands in the form of Span’s mobile app. Span’s app lets customers decide, from anywhere, how they will let the stored energy in their home power network be used in the event of an outage. This is enabled by its integrated communication gateway that replaces what would have been a separate standalone enclosure on the side of the home.
A modern solar plus storage installation in the home includes a significant amount of additional hardware that must be added to the customer home as part of the installation including a communication gateway, an automatic transfer switch to disconnect from the grid if it goes down, a sub panel to connect the solar system to the existing electrical system for the home, and an autotransformer. All of these are consolidated into the Span Panel itself as well as the main electrical panel, adding new functionality to the home energy system at the same time. That lets homeowners install solar without having to add so many new boxes to the side of the home, streamlining the functionality at the same time.
Importantly, it does not include one of the key components in all solar, storage, and electric vehicle charging systems — an inverter. Inverters are very specific to the task at hand and that optimization is best taken on by the EV charging, solar, and energy storage companies themselves much like Solar Edge has done with its integrated Solar + EV charging system.
Span believes that consolidating all of these devices into a single device not only makes the installation look cleaner, it should improve the amount of time required to install a new solar plus storage system. The amount of effort saved varies based on the current setup of the home, the complexity of the new solar system, and the amount of storage being added, so the actual effort savings will understandably vary from home to home. Span expects customers will be able to save money when the Span Panel is installed alongside solar, storage, or an electric vehicle charging system or even a stand-alone upgrade to make it easier to install these other upgrades down the line.
They do not have a public MSRP for the Span Panel yet, so stay tuned for that in the coming weeks as it hits the market. For now, interested customers can head over to Span’s website to express interest and sign up for future updates.
They hope to have the first installations later this year, kicking off with customers in California and Hawaii, where solar and electric vehicles have already taken hold. Span Panels will be pushed out to customers in these early markets through Span’s solar installer partners including Revolusun Smart Home, the top solar plus storage installer in Hawaii. Span plans to ramp up production volumes in early 2020 to support even more installations.