“It’s called SunSnap, because you literally snap the next panel into place,” said Eric Hafter, Sharp Solar senior vice president.
He said the system is designed to be simple and easy to install along with being expandable so people can start with as few as one panel and grow as their budget or needs grow.
Sharp installed its first demonstration of SunSnap on the LivingHomes demo at the TED 2012 Conference in Long Beach, Calif., this week.
The LivingHome is a zero-energy, zero-carbon, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design platinum certified Energy Star home.
It’s meant to illustrate what the future of the housing industry could look like, Hafter said.
But SunSnap isn’t just for people who are going all the way. It’s an easy way to get started, Hafter said.
One of Sharp’s installation partners sold the first system this week. It is a full system that will provide for all of the electricity needs in that household.
“But one of the major selling points is that they can add on if they need to, if their energy needs change,” Hafter said.
He said the SunSnap system isn’t really different from any other rooftop solar photovoltaic array other than the inverter and rack are easier to work with, which makes installing the panels “a snap.”
“We found that there are a lot of people out there who want to go solar, but that initial investment is just too steep, even with financing,” Hafter said.
This option makes it easy to start small and build on a foundation. Getting started is the hardest part for most people, Hafter said.
Later this year, Sharp plans to announce that it will be selling its SunSnap systems in select retailers.
“In the retail market, we plan to really characterize this as an appliance,” Hafter said. “And we’ll call it an appliance because it takes some of the mystery out of solar.”
He said it’s actually easier than a new oven or dishwasher to install.
Until the system shows up in retail stores, however, Hafter said Sharp is rolling it out through traditional channels with its solar installer partners.