Written by: Leonard Parker | Solar News | 10th June
Span, as you may know, wants to disrupt the electric panel and become the true hub of the modern, solar + storage-focused, all-electric smart home. It is much more than an electrical distribution box, as we’ve covered several times. It makes the installation of any solar and/or energy storage system a breeze. But, being the Cadillac of smart home electric panels also meant it was a bit bulky and pricey.
That is, until the New Span Panel was announced in May.
“Our biggest focus over the last year was, how do we go from being something that’s just storage attach and is more mainstream?” says Arch Rao, founder and CEO. “That means lowering the price, making it easier to procure, and easier to install.”
Done, done and done. Here’s what’s new about the new Span Panel.
Easier to procure. In addition to being commonly paired with the Tesla Powerwall, SolarEdge’s LG Chem and Panasonic’s EverVolt, among others, Span is now being distributed across 75 CED Greentech national distribution centers. It will be available for all customers by July.
Span is actively engaging with new installers to get them Span-certified in an effort to meet the growing homeowner demand for the product in new markets. Over 100 Span-certified installers are located in 15 states, currently, with Texas showing the most momentum. “We are seeing a continued shortage of availability with home batteries, so we are perfect to help in the interim. Solar installers are leading with the Span install, generating data, building that relationship and then going back for other services. As part of a solar installation, we are seeing a two-man crew goes out, installs the panel and does all of the electrical work done. Then, a different crew goes out to just do the solar. They get a lot of operational cost savings that way.”
A fleet of 100 panels is also being deployed in Vermont as part of a pilot program by Green Mountain Power to generate home energy usage insights and to make it easier for ratepayers to adopt solar and go to all-electric homes.
Easier to install. The second- generation Span Panel is one-third smaller – so, from 3.5 inches to under an inch sticking out from the wall. The entire bottom section was also removed. Those reductions make it 46 percent lighter, meaning a single electrician can install it.
“Solar installers are our first customers and we want them to be delighted to be installing the product,” Rao says. “This can go in a hallway, garage, wherever. It comes with a skirt too, so they can rough in the cut, put the panel in and then putting beading around it to finish it off.”
Inside, though, it’s beefed up: “We’ve increased the current carrying capacity – each circuit can now support 90 amps versus 70 previously,” Rao says. “The panel is still 200 amps coming in, but each circuit can be loaded up – practically no load that can’t be put on this panel. Goal is to make it a no brainer install.”
Lowering the price. The new Span Panel is coming out with a retail price of $3,500, which is a big drop from $5,000. “It’s still a premium product, but you can start doing better economic comparisons,” Rao says, and part of his case is based on the aforementioned load carrying capacity + load-shifting capabilities:
“You can backup your home with two batteries or a single battery and a Span panel,” he posits. “If you want to backup a whole home, you’ll be peaking at 8 kW. In order to meet that, you need at least two batteries to continuously deliver power. But having everything on like that doesn’t ever really happen when I can control when they come on. I can pause the AC while I let you cook, and you’re not exceeding 5 kW.”
The new Span Panel offers visibility and control over every circuit and major appliance in your home and allows you to decide how you power what and when—especially when you are enduring unexpected power outages. It informs you when a water heater or an air conditioner might fail and, more importantly, gives you the option to replace it with an electric appliance without needing to revamp your entire electrical system.
“Even if you have two batteries, you have 20 kWh of energy but you have no insight into how they are being consumed. We see a 1.6 to 1.7x improvement of how much energy you need to give you the same duration of backup … With associated installation costs, you’re less expensive but functionally equal with outage coverage.”
There’s other cool functionality for homeowners that Rao teased in our last interview in terms of gauging the efficiency of appliances and alerting homeowners of potential failures via push notifications rather than digging through system data. That insight could also be useful for solar installers eyeing up long-term / diversified services for all-electric homes.
“We’re getting closer to giving customer info they care about,” Rao says.