« Back to Home Page

Veranda Solar – Bringing Solar Power to a Windowsill Near You?

| Wednesday March 11th, 2009 | 13 Comments

veranda%20solar.jpgSolar power. It’s talked about by many, it’s seen on many consumer goods, but as of yet, it’s not seen on many roofs. Not without substantial government subsidies. It’s often difficult and time consuming to install, requiring a team of professionals and reams of paperwork.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Veranda Solar is readying another option. One that requires little more then a screwdriver and a few hours, able to be plugged into a standard home outlet, putting power directly into the system, where duplex plugs are the norm. And it can cost as little as $600.


Begun as a student project at Stanford, Veranda Solar competed in the recent Clean Tech Forum for “Most Promising Investment Opportunity.” I would have to agree, it has clear potential.
Veranda Solar removes all the usual roadblocks to residential solar, and is planning to take a distinctly different route then current residential solar companies: Part of their market is “Networked Youth,” those active online and in social networks, with a higher interest in things green than older generations, and quite influential.
Their income, or lack of it is not of concern, as they would be able to lease them through their utility company. Yes, higher income LOHAS people are among their target market as well, but it’s these trend setting youth that I could see rapidly boosting Veranda’s profile among many segments of the population, their tastes spreading to the broader population, as in iPods.
Speaking of iPods, Veranda is intentionally focusing on the aesthetics of the product, something largely overlooked in this market, except perhaps for roof tile mimicking solar panels. Getting close to the consumer, in environments they’re already in for other purposes, they intend to sell these through home decor, home improvement, and utility clean power programs.
This, combined with a low financial entry point and the ability to easily add on, $450 at a time, could well be the sweet spot to mass solar implementation. The only barriers I see are where there is stricter residential permitting, as these do stand out, literally and figuratively. Even then, Veranda’s flexibility as to where it’s installed will offset most issues that could arise in this area.


▼▼▼      13 Comments     ▼▼▼

Newsletter Signup
  • Dave Shires

    What do you mean it’s “able to be plugged into a standard home outlet, putting power directly into the system” …. how is that possible? you can’t just push power back into your house like that, can you?

  • http://www.greensmithconsulting.com Paul Smith

    @Dave: That’s what I thought too, until I asked on Twitter. Someone answered in Portland that when you have duplex style outlets, power can go both ways. Apparently this is standard in many places. Electricians, can you confirm this?

  • Dave Shires

    Duplex outlets are just normal outlets. There’s no way you can just pump power back into them. Not only that, but solar panels put out DC power. You need an inverter. Maybe this thing could power a radio or something that you plug into an inverter. But I guarantee you can’t just plug it into the wall. You might need to do some extra homework on this one.

  • sturmey

    If you do a bit of research you will find that there are inverters that specialize in pushing power back onto the grid from solar panels. They match the AC waveform and feed current back through you house lines.
    all you do is set up a solar panel or windmill, connect to the invertor and plg the invertor into the wall.

  • Dave Shires

    @sturmey – that’s excellent, thanks! So, that runs your meter backwards, then? I presume this can only work if your utility allows for it right?

  • http://www.greensmithconsulting.com Paul Smith

    @Dave, yes it uses an inverter as part of the install.

  • WK

    Invertor convert AC to DC period. If you have more current than you need coming into your house, it will be bought by your utility company, and your electric meter will run backward, this have nothiung to do with invertors. Nops, match AC? You need a recttifier to convert DC into AC, Match? you don’t know what you are taliking about.

    • Wyle_E

      No, and inverter makes AC from DC; a rectifier converts AC to DC. To drive the grid, your inverter has to synchronize with the grid, not only matching the frequency but running exactly in phase. There are “grid-tie” inverters that can do this automatically, but they aren’t cheap. A grid-tie inverter also has to either shut down or disconnect if the grid fails, to avoid electrocuting some lineman working on a stretch of line that he thinks is dead.

      To be worth the expense of a grid-tie system, you’d need a *lot* more than a window-sized PV array.

  • WK

    Invertor convert AC to DC period. If you have more current than you need coming into your house, it will be bought by your utility company, and your electric meter will run backward, this have nothiung to do with invertors. Nops, match AC? You need a recttifier to convert DC into AC, Match? you don’t know what you are taliking about.

  • Anne Fuller

    Actually, the law does vary by where you live. The utility may be required to approve of certain installations and buy back your power. I’m glad that it’s easy in Portland.
    And folks are doing the work of convincing utility regulators to make it more common that folks can feed power into the grid.
    http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/gainesville-to-launch-solar-feed-in-tariff-5429.html

  • http://www.greensmithconsulting.com Paul Smith

    Nice! Glad this is sparking conversation. I don’t pretend to know it all, and had my skepticism about this as well. Given that, I think anything that can make it easier to get solar, by a little or a lot, is something to be encouraged.
    Got questions about it, want to help make it even better? Write the CEO, capra@verandasolar.com

  • http://www.solarpower4home.net/ solar power for home

    Great blog, this could be the best blog I ever visited this month. Never stop to write something useful dude!

  • http://www.solarpower4home.net/ solar power for home

    Great blog, this could be the best blog I ever visited this month. Never stop to write something useful dude!

  • Pingback: Singapore: A future playground and testing Ground for companies | zhihaochen.com