Akeena (Westinghouse) does things a little differently than the other solar companies.
(Note: Since May of 2010 Akeena has been re-branded as Westinghouse Solar. The company hopes this will increase brand recognition and help solar power move into the mainstream. The company’s Andalay AC solar panels are now called “Instant Connect”. The following information is still applicable to the re-branded panels.)
Some solar installation companies use a variety of solar panel brands depending on cost and availability.
Akeena, on the other hand, uses only their own Andalay solar panels.
This is actually pretty important because Andalay solar panels are a little different than other solar panels.
For one thing, they look pretty sleek. They are all black and they almost look like a skylight on your roof.
Also, due to built-in connectors and grounding and an internal racking system, there are no spaces between the panels.
This looks nice and it also allows you to fit more solar panels on your roof (more panels = more power).
Andalay panels are also often referred to as ‘AC solar panels’ which may require a little bit of explanation.
As you may recall from how solar power works, solar panels absorb sunlight and produce DC electricity.
The electricity then runs to a solar power inverter where it is converted to the AC electricity that powers your home.
Andalay solar panels have a microinverter built right into the panel so they actually produce AC electricity. This means that you don’t need to run wiring from your solar panels to an inverter on the side of your house.
What are the advantages of the Andalay system?
-Attractive, low-profile appearance
-Fast installations due to integrated racking and wiring
-Minimal roof penetrations
-High efficiency monocrystalline panels
-Not dependent on a single inverter
Now let’s take a look at one of the possible disadvantages of the integrated nature of the Andalay system…
Solar panels last a really long time. They can still be producing power thirty years after you install them on your roof.
So what’s the problem?
Solar power inverters don’t last as long as solar panels and usually have a warranty of only ten or fifteen years. This could mean a lot of maintenance to replace the microinverter in each and every solar panel on your roof.
The Andalay system does come with a 25 year limited power warranty to provide you with some peace of mind. Like with any new technology, however, Andalay panels may hold a few surprises so make sure all your questions are answered to your satisfaction.
Solar power is a long term investment and not something you need to rush into. Check out Akeena Solar’s Andalay system and see if it is the technology you need to harness the power of the sun.