As the residential market shifts from reliance on the greater electrical grid to self-generating energy sources like solar and storage, additional considerations will be necessary for energy load management. In this special edition of the Contractor’s Corner podcast, we’re joined by Magnus Asbo, senior director of technical marketing in North America for SolarEdge, to discuss the importance of smart energy management systems and the company’s latest offering in that space.
Below is a portion of SolarEdge’s Spotlight podcast with Solar Power World, but be sure to listen to the full episode on your favorite podcast app.
There are a number of factors driving increased demand for solar and storage with homeowners here in the U.S. Can you talk a bit about what you’re seeing in the market today, and some of the opportunities coming out of it for installers and the industry as a whole?
I think that most of us are familiar with a lot of the macro trends that are driving demand for solar. But I think they’re really worth restating, because they have been changing over time. Recently, we’re seeing a lot more uncertainty with cost of fossil fuel for instance. Just look at the uncertainty that was driven from the Russian war in Ukraine and the Texas crisis when they were unable to create energy to keep the lights on — literally. The net result is that people are feeling less certain. We’re also seeing the price of energy going up. The cost of energy is going up and people are certainly aware of that.
You mentioned the importance of approaching residential solar and storage as an integrated ecosystem. What are some of the things installers need to consider as they work with homeowners to build this ecosystems?
The ability for consumption and production to interact with each other intelligently is very important. However, there are some other, very practical things that you’ll have to pay attention to. One of those is that as systems become larger and as homeowners try to add more loads onto their system — let’s say for EVs or for the transition from gas cooking to induction — that there is a higher likelihood that you’re going to have to do significant AC rework. We want to minimize the amount of that rework and the frequency of that rework as we possibly can. In order to do that, we’re really focused on DC-coupled systems. Why? Basically because the way that we see it, batteries are DC systems, PV is a DC source. Over time the expected EVs we’ll move to are DC charging and discharging. Seeing that all of these things are large DC devices, keeping them on the DC side of the inverter and off of the main panel because we’re seeing that the AC panel is getting overloaded.
SolarEdge recently launched SolarEdge Home in North America. Can you share a bit more about what this is and how it differs from other solar and storage solutions that are available?
SolarEdge Home is in many ways what we’re calling that overall holistic ecosystem that I was talking about. It’s really comprised of a lot of different elements that we’ve already built, and it includes some things that are new capabilities that we’re adding now. So, for instance, a big element of SolarEdge Home is the Home Battery. We began shipping that last fall. It is shipping in large volume today, and we’re in the process of releasing a series of smart energy management devices that will allow you to curtail consumption when you’re off-grid and shift the time of consumption when you’re on-grid. Again, the trick here is that these devices will interact with each other.
How is SolarEdge Home helping installers, from the sales process through to installation and management?
As you say, the installer process is end-to-end. It goes from sales all the way through installation and maintenance, and we look at it from a multi-stage approach. The first one is: What is the process of selling to the homeowner? And homeowners really want size and convenience at this point. We want to aid in the process of speaking to them. Really what we’ve seen is PV + storage has moved through the enthusiast realm to the mainstream. Part of the move to the mainstream is that people want things to be designed to the convenience of their lifestyle. That includes being able to do things like run air conditioners when the power is out. If you’re living in Texas, that’s probably high on your list of things that you want.
This podcast is sponsored by SolarEdge