solar energy do it yourself
A rendering of how a solar panel might be mounted as an awning over a door or patio.
- System plugs directly into electrical outlet
- Doesn't require professional installation
- System should pay for itself in 4 years
(CNN) - Imagine outfitting your house with small, affordable solar panels that plug into a socket and pump power into your electrical system instead of taking it out.
That's the promise of a Seattle, Washington-based start-up that is working to provide renewable energy options - solar panels and wind turbines - for homes and small businesses. The panels cost as little as $600 and plug directly into a power outlet.
Clarian's president, Chad Maglaque, says the company's product is different from existing micro-inverters, which convert solar panels' power into AC current. Maglaque says his system has built-in circuit protection, doesn't require a dedicated electrical panel and plugs directly into a standard electrical outlet.
CNN talked with Maglaque to find out more about this system. Here's a transcript of our conversation, edited for length and clarity.
CNN: Can you give us some background on Clarian Power?
Maglaque: Clarian's mission is solar and wind power for every home. Renewable energy is completely out of reach for the average homeowner. For example, systems today cost $20, 000 or $30, 000. What we found is that homeowners really want to make a difference; they want to do something green; they want to offset their power bill, but these systems are just too expensive.
So what we've put together is a system where they can go down to their local [home improvement store] or work with their local utilities, if there are programs like that, and bring home two or three solar panels or a wind turbine - if they have wind - and plug that in without the parade of contractors or installers.
What makes your product line unique?
It comes down to simplicity and cost. We're talking the same cost as a home appliance vs. a home-equity loan.
It's also about the simplicity. Our system plugs into your existing wiring and can actually be up and running within an hour or two. So you bring that home from [your home improvement store], plug in the web access point, place the solar panel wherever you would like, whether it's in your home, your patio, or your garden.
You can put it on your roof, but unlike other systems where you have 20 to 30 solar panels and the only option is to put them on your roof, here's a situation where you have two or three and you can put them wherever you like. Once you're done with that you're able to plug them in and generate power from the get-go.
Normally the barrier of entry just to start, to generate a single watt of power, is $20, 000 to $30, 000 and that's just completely out of reach [for most homeowners]. Here's a product that we're looking to have priced between $599 and $799 [for a basic installation].
Currently the biggest problem [for conventional solar systems] is that fixed upfront cost of $5, 000 to $8, 000 worth of installation expenses that ... you have to amortize against the power savings. What we're saying is you can do it yourself or have a handyman help and within an hour you can actually have it up and running.