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Solar Power for the Do-It-Yourselfer

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By David Shaffer

Vaidyanathan spent most of his career in the computer industry after getting his doctorate in metallurgical engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1993. When he lost his job during the depression five years ago, he turned to consulting — and solar energy.

“I love to engineer stuff. I love to fix problems,” he said. “I have two daughters and I want them to breathe clean air, drink clean water. I feel by doing this, I am contributing in my own little way to the choice to make energy more sustainable.”

Founded in early 2011, the company is approaching its 100th installation, Vaidyanathan said, and he expects SolarPod revenue to hit $250,000 this year. He operates as a one-person “virtual company,” with everything else contracted out.

Most sales have been outside the company’s home state because the structure and paperwork requirements for Minnesota solar subsidies often present a barrier to the product, he said.

Vaidyanathan said standard solar arrays cost more than a SolarPod because they are individually designed and installed by contractors. He said many SolarPod purchasers choose to have an electrician assemble and install their system. Even then, he added, labor costs can be lower because the system is quickly put together.

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