DIY Solar Power Kits

The price of solar power modules has fallen drastically over the past two years. Looking to capitalize on that trend, Westinghouse Solar announced the introduction of “all-in-one,” do-it-yourself (DIY) solar power system kits for the home.

The low cost and ease of installation of these kits make them “very appealing to contractors and do-it-yourself (DIY) homeowners. Until now the high price of a rooftop system has resulted in limited appeal for these systems.

Each kit includes Westinghouse Solar AC panels with integrated racking, inverters, roof flashings and panel splices. All the customer needs to do is add a circuit breaker to the home’s electrical panel and wiring to the rooftop to start producing clean renewable power. While any contractor or DIY homeowner can do the installation it is still recommended that a licensed electrician take care of the wiring to ensure it’s safe and up to code.

The drastically lower prices for solar panels combined with the latest federal and state solar incentives means that the payback period on these systems are the shortest they have ever been. customers then also are able to generate free electricity for many years thereafter.

“What has been lost in the recent news about the solar industry is that solar panels are less than half the price they were just two years ago. These cost reductions are terrific news for consumers. Now, paybacks in many states are less than five years — after which homeowners get free electricity from their system,” noted Westinghouse Solar CEO Barry Cinnamon.

It’s Cheaper than ever to go Solar

These drastically lower prices mean that “going solar” is now cheaper than ever and proving to be a terrific investment. The rooftop solar industry has the potential to grow faster than any other market segment.

As an example, Cinnamon offered the case of a home installation in Hawaii, where a “simple, four panel installation” costs less than $1,500 after federal and state incentives. At an electric rate of $0.40/kWh (kilowatt-hour), the “all-in-one” solar system saves the homeowner $660 a year in electricity expenses and pays for itself in two years.

A similar system in New York will cost the homeowner $900 after federal and state incentives, save $230 a year at $0.20/kWh and pay for itself in four years. In California, the system would pay for itself in five years.

Westinghouse Solar has partnered with Lowe’s Home Improvement Stores and has been testing out the all-in-one home solar system in the retail market for about two years.

There was a lot of interest from both homeowners and contractors — usually electricians and home improvement specialists,” recounted Jeff Kiel, executive vice president of Sales and Marketing. “What we learned was that the two key issues were, obviously, cost — but also ‘out of the box’ simplicity.

Equipment costs are literally half of what they were two years ago, so we have made terrific progress on that front. Moreover, our second-generation AC panels are now packaged in a complete kit with all the mounting hardware needed for a typical rooftop system. It’s like buying a ready-to-assemble furniture kit from Ikea. Everything you need except wiring and ordinary tools is included.”

The Westinghouse home solar power kits come in three sizes: a 20 panel contractor kit, which provides about 70% of the homeowners electricity needs. A 4 panel starter kit and a single panel kit for those who just want to test out the system.

These kits are available from home improvement retailers, electrical distributors, contractors and local solar installers.

You may also be interested in reading Should You Install Solar Energy For Your Home

Update: 2/20/2012

Bloomberg’s Businsweek announced last Friday, CBD Energy Ltd., an Australian renewable energy company, agreed to buy Westinghouse Solar Inc. in a stock swap.

Initial reports are the merger was done in an effort to help CBD penetrate the U.S. market. Hopefully this will strengthen the company and the market for solar kits on residential home and garage rooftops. Westinghouse lost $1.27 million on $3.3 million in sales last year.