Plug and Play PV

by Richard T. Stuebi

It’s notoriously the case that most photovoltaics installations are custom-tailored — designed, engineered and installed — specifically for each application. This, of course, dramatically increases the cost and hassle factor for a customer to implement PV. For awhile now, PV pundits have stressed that the technology needs to become “plug-and-play” in order to make it much easier and cheaper for customers to buy.

Recently, Cincinnati-based Melink Corporation released a 500 watt ground-mounted PV system with an embedded inverter and a 3-prong electrical cord that plugs into an outside socket, allowing anyone to generate electricity from the sun and use it to help power their house. Called “INGRID” (get it? “In-Grid”), this system costs less than $5000, and can be hooked up virtually immediately without any engineering. All you need (just like a satellite dish) is a clear view of the southern sky.

It’s so simple, basic and obvious that it’s a wonder that Melink was first to market (or at least claims to be first to market) in the year 2008 with such a gizmo. Innovation comes in all sorts of flavors.

Richard T. Stuebi is the BP Fellow for Energy and Environmental Advancement at The Cleveland Foundation, and is also the Founder and President of NextWave Energy, Inc.

2 replies
  1. Jamie
    Jamie says:

    I wonder how Cleantech readers/writers feel about Akeena's "Andalay" panel. While not "plug and play," its integrated wiring and racking supposedly cut significant costs from installation. Halfway to "plug and play"? Or just an incremental improvement not worth much in the scheme of things? Or just part of a residential installation model that's just not economical without big subsidies and upfront cash, and that will fall by the wayside with further technology advances?

  2. Curt S.
    Curt S. says:

    So short, yet so comprehensive article! Sometimes, the state of the art technical knowledge is simply not enough to make a breakthrough to the real market. In such cases, an old fashion advice from older, experienced merchant would have been more than welcome, because of the basic use of common sense of how to sell to the masses?These products simply need to enter Wall-Marts of modern civilization to become common and wide spread.They need to address:- simplicity of use- attractive price- they need to become trendy (fashionable)

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