The ConnectDER device, seen above, sits in between the meter and the meter socket.

Consumers who are planning to go solar can now save hundreds – or even thousands – of dollars in the process, thanks to a new invention that was funded by the SunShot Initiative’s Incubator program. It’s called the ConnectDER, and in addition to its consumer benefits, it soon might appeal to utilities, too.

Typically, after sunlight gathered by solar panels is turned into electricity by an inverter,  it must be connected to a home’s electrical service panel. This can be difficult because panels are often located in hard to reach areas of a home, like basements or attics. For those who live in older homes, electrical service panels may not be built to handle the amount of energy being produced by solar panels and upgrading may be expensive.

The ConnectDER device makes it faster and easier to install a solar array by removing the need to upgrade electrical service panels or run wiring through a home’s interior, meaning solar technicians don’t need to enter your home. The ConnectDER is mounted between a home’s electric meter and meter socket, which is located outside. Cables from the inverter are connected directly to the device instead of being routed through a home. The meter can also handle more voltage than an electrical service panel, easily bearing the burden of routing power into the home.

By removing the need to replace the electrical service panel and run wiring through a house, the ConnectDER device saves consumers between $500 and $3,000 in installation costs. It also saves time, shortening what can be a lengthy process.

With a proven beta product under its belt, ConnectDER is now in the process of finalizing an advanced version of its device.The second-generation SMART ConnectDER has the same configuration, mounted between a home’s electric meter and the meter socket, but it allows utilities to monitor how much solar energy is generated at a given location. Having this insight into supply and demand will allow utilities to ensure grid stability, and help reduce the likelihood of power outages.

Learn more about the projects funded by the SunShot Incubator program.

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) success stories highlight the positive impact of its work with businesses, industry partners, universities, research labs, and other entities.