By Janice Harris
Here we are, thinking traditional roof-mounted solar panels are still the new, hip way for homeowners to be good stewards of the environment. Boy, were we behind the times!
We met with Von J. Schafer, East Coast Sales Director for Smartflower North America at the 2017 Greenbuild Expo and Conference. With a U.S. base in Boston and roots in Austria, Smartflower is taking the science of solar panels to a whole new level. Although they only launched in the U.S. in early 2017, Smartflower has already worked on 30 separate installations across the country, both residential and commercial.
Naturally, our House Tipster Media Team was curious about the Smartflower. How does it work? Who is the intended audience? And, most importantly, how do we get our hands on one? Von was on-hand to answer these questions and more.
If you’re in the market for a truly unique solar experience, keep Smartflower on your radar.
Should I Get a Smartflower?
Smartflowers are designed for people who want to show the world they care about sustainability. Von explained it like this: “With a Smartflower, individuals and businesses make a statement about sustainability in an aesthetically-pleasing way.”
And it’s not just the look that draws interest in Smartflowers. Another benefit of this product is its inherent portability. The user can literally move the unit from one house to the next. So, if you’ve purchased a second home or you have plans to move in the near future, you don’t have to think twice about installing solar. Unlike roof-mounted solar panels that cannot move once installed, Smartflower is entirely portable and is built to last a whopping 30 years!
Some homeowners are also concerned with the idea of mounting solar on the roof, worrying it may decrease the home’s overall appearance or worse, value. Von believes Smartflower provides a new option for those on the fence about installing a full rack of panels. “If you’re concerned about home value with panels on your roof, then this is the way to go!”
How Does the Smartflower Work?
Smartflower only produces panels in one size: 16-feet-4-inches by 16-feet-4-inches. Yes, it’s definitely large, but it folds up into one streamlined panel when it’s not in use.
What makes Smartflower so technologically-advanced is the way it moves to capture optimal sunlight. The individual panels are mounted using a dual-access tracker, which results in greater efficiency when compared to a standard solar system, Von explained. The unit will open, track the sun with the help of this dual-access tracker, and capture the maximum amount of sun from both north to south and east to west.
As you may know, the amount of sunlight captured by a panel depends entirely on where you live. Of course, the panels produce more energy in climates with more sun, but it’s also a beneficial tool to have in regions with high energy costs, such as in the northeast. Von explained that, on average, a Smartflower installed in the U.S. will produce between 4,000 to 6,000 kwh of power, which is half of what the average home here uses. Homeowners wanting to cover their entire electric usage usually invest in two units. But remember, even one Smartflower can easily cut energy bills significantly.
You can rest assured that even when the wind is howling, your Smartflower will adapt to the surroundings. According to Von, “There are multiple safety positions.” When the wind hits 30 mph, the unit still produces energy but the unit goes completely horizontal as a precaution. However, once wind speeds hit 40 mph or more, the system will completely close and remain that way until the winds calm. Regardless, the system is completely warrantied, which is another stress-saver!
How Can I Lessen the Overall Costs and Get One?
The most a fully installed unit along with a warranty can cost is $30,000, but that overall cost doesn’t take into account tax incentives and credits that chip away at the net cost. Keep in mind the U.S. currently offers a 30% federal tax credit and multiple states offer their own incentives for homeowners who are interested in installing renewable energy units.