PROJECT PROFILE: SafeConnect Solar (Incubator 10)

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Project Title: SafeConnect Solar: Reducing Soft Costs Through Hardware Innovation – Phase 2
Funding Opportunity: SunShot Technology to Market (Incubator 10)
SunShot Subprogram: Technology to Market
Location:  Honolulu, Hawaii
Amount Awarded: $999,893
Awardee Cost Share:  $252,009
Project Investigator: Brian Cunningham

SafeConnect Solar is commercializing electronic balance-of-system componentry that allows safer residential photovoltaic (PV) systems to be installed more quickly. In doing so it dramatically lowers installation costs, making PV more cost-competitive with utility-provided electricity in existing markets and opening up new ones.   

APPROACH

SafeConnect’s SmartBox works to improve safety compliance by comprehensively monitoring over-voltage, over-current, and ground faults. When electrically unsafe conditions exist, the SmartBox shuts down the entire array. During installation, it calculates the number of modules that are connected and prevents the PV system from operating if the maximum safe number is exceeded. SafeConnect’s new technology addresses the concerns that drive installation oversight efforts and that in turn increase the solar industry’s high compliance costs and need for specialized personnel throughout the customer acquisition, design, permitting, and installation processes.

INNOVATION

SafeConnect’s goal is to make PV systems safer, faster, and easier to install, and in doing so transform residential PV installations from a high-cost, custom-engineered system to a standardized assembly. In doing so, SafeConnect will open up new sales channels that lower customer acquisition costs while also accelerating and de-skilling the installation process. The project will bring the SafeConnect’s new technology from lab-tested prototypes to preliminary commercialization.