The editorial team at Solar Power World had the great opportunity to mingle with 27,000 friends at this year’s RE+ tradeshow in Anaheim, California. Besides stopping by happy hours and food truck lunches, we filled our time visiting as many booths as possible to check out the newest products on display.
The solar and storage industries have evolved quite a bit since the last major tradeshow in 2019. Solar panels are bigger, trackers are more accommodating and inverters are smarter. There have been many impressive developments in the last few years to make solar and storage easier to deploy. We tried our best to pick a few of our favorites from 2022.
Be sure to visit our online database for an even more extensive list of the top products from 2022.
Truly modular designs make energy storage more powerful, easier to install
As seen in Canadian Solar’s EP Cube
SPW editors have only chosen a battery once in the five previous years of compiling our favorite products. That’s because batteries used in energy storage systems, especially in the residential market, are mostly just gray boxes with nothing exciting on display. The highest capacity available was usually reached by Tesla with its 13.5-kWh Powerwall, but its 5-kW inverter often leads most households to default to two or more units to meet power needs. Tesla’s nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) chemistry works great, but many safety-conscious installers and homeowners are demanding more lithium-iron phosphate (LFP) brands that can easily be installed outdoors.
Enter the truly customizable and modular EP Cube energy storage system from Canadian Solar. The easy-to-expand single unit has a 7.6-kW inverter on top, stackable battery modules in the middle and all the wires condensed in the bottom plate. Each battery module averages about 3.3 kWh, making expandable capacity more affordable when someone needs a bit more than 13.5 kWh but not quite 27 kWh. The LFP-based system can be floor- or wall-mounted, and the entire unit is NEMA 4X rated — the highest outdoor rating we’ve seen for any ESS.
Each 3.3-kWh battery module in the EP Cube weighs around 70 lbs, which is much easier to install than the Powerwall’s 250-lb system. This means fewer installer hands needed to get batteries hooked up and commissioned. It’s still a gray box — but the EP Cube’s metallic tint makes this ESS attractive enough to display outside anyone’s home.
Solar permitting and design software helps installers expand to new regions
As seen in GreenLancer’s permit design and engineering marketplace
One stubborn roadblock for solar installers looking to expand into new geographic areas is the amount of variation in permitting and design requirements in local building departments. It can take time and resources to learn each department’s intricacies — with inevitable delays if there are errors on permitting documents.
Solar software companies continuously attempt to reduce these soft costs that hurt the bottom line of solar installers big and small. One provider has created a marketplace to connect solar companies with design and engineering firms across the country that already have experience with the nuances of local building departments.
“Having design expertise in all of those areas helps the installer to basically jump into it without having to have extensive understanding of that side of it,” said Matt Rea, VP of revenue operations at GreenLancer.
GreenLancer is a platform that allows installers to pay for permit drawings, interconnection applications …….