What does every smart home builder need to install in a smart home? For starters, a media panel that facilitates a clear Wi-Fi signal. But did you know you should also consider providing solar power?

Solar panels, also known as photovoltaic panels, convert the sun’s rays into electrical power.

About two million homes in the United States use solar panels today. They are now more affordable than ever, and a growing number of consumers are interested in decreasing their environmental footprint, which means solar is only going to grow. Some estimates project growth of an additional million homes per year. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, homes with solar power sell faster, and buyers are willing to pay a premium of $15,000 for a home that includes solar power.

There are two types of solar panel installations: grid-tied and off-grid. With a grid-tied system, your customer’s panels will be connected to their local power grid. They’ll feed the grid when the panels are producing more power than your customer’s house is consuming. Your customer will be paid for the power they add to the grid, but this amount is generally significantly lower than what they pay for power when they draw from the grid.

About two million homes in the United States use solar panels today. Click To Tweet

An off-grid system is more expensive because it includes the installation of expensive batteries and charge controllers. Off-grid systems are typically used in remote locations.

Solar and smart homes

Where does smart home technology fit in? Smart technology can help your customer get the most out of solar and vice versa. Smart thermostats are among the most popular smart home features. Why? Because they help your customers save money. Imagine combining the energy savings of solar with smart technology.

Policy makers and manufacturers of solar panels and smart home systems are exploring the benefits of integrating solar and smart technology.  The U.S. Department of Energy defines an ultra-efficient home as one that combines energy efficient construction with state-of-the-art appliances designed for efficiency and the use of alternative energy systems such as solar.

Solar manufacturer, sonnen, recently announced an energy automation system called ecoLinx that combines photovoltaic panels, solar energy storage, and smart circuits to automate energy optimization. The system includes smart circuit breakers that measure and record power usage. This data can be combined with information on the solar power production to help users make the most out of their solar power.

The Loxone smart home system, which includes smart lighting, heating, security, and entertainment also features an energy management system that can integrate with a number of solar inverters.

With either ecoLinx or Loxone, your customers will use less power in general, and they’ll use more of their solar power to run their house and send less of it to the grid.

The challenges of solar

Getting a permit for solar panels can be a challenge. And solar remains an expensive option. In regions that receive a lot of sunshine, your customers will be able to recover installation costs through savings in their energy bills in less than ten years. In regions such as the Pacific Northwest that receive less sunshine, it could take up to 20 years for your customers to recover their costs.

Solar’s future

The state of California has a policy that requires solar power on many new homes as early as 2020. Single-family dwellings, townhouses, and some low-rise condos and apartments will all have to install solar panels according to standards that were approved earlier this year.

Historically, other states often follow California’s environmental policies so you can expect to see more solar. And David Bywater, CEO for Vivant Solar, in conversation with Verge, predicts that solar will eventually be integrated with smart energy management systems.

[btnsx_social id=”3372″]