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Solar Power for the Do-It-Yourselfer

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By David Shaffer

Two key parts of the SolarPod, the solar panels and control boxes known as inverters, are standard products made by other manufacturers. Vaidyanathan designed a plug-and-play wiring harness to connect them, along with a custom mounting rack.

The wiring harness and rack are made by a contract manufacturer in Minnesota, and the entire package, including solar panels and inverters, is shipped on a single pallet to the customer’s installation site. No part weighs more than 60 pounds, Vaidyanathan said.

The assembled SolarPod is designed to be mounted on the ground or a flat roof, and plugs into a special socket to feed electricity into a home or business. An electrician must install the socket, similar to that for a range, and the wiring to the circuit breaker box.

If the SolarPod owner wants to sell excess power back to the grid, a two-way meter must be installed by the local power company. The system is designed so that multiple SolarPods can be plugged together to increase electrical output. It would take four to eight units to power a home, the company says.

Mouli Engineering also offers a higher-priced SolarPod for off-the-grid use, such as at a remote cabin, that features battery storage. The company’s mid-priced “Heartland” unit is entirely U.S.-made. The basic model has parts from Asia.

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