Installation requires a SmartFlower Solar™ certified technician. The smartflower is already fully assembled before it reaches the installation location and, thus, is very simple to install. However, placement of the smartflower requires a crane or large forklift, and connection to the building’s distribution requires a licensed electrician. Additionally, to ensure proper setup of the smartflower, it is very important that the initial operational programming be performed by a certified technician. For the warranties to apply we do require that a certified technician handle the installation.
There is no general rule on what, if any, permit or other approval may be needed for installation, as the applicable governmental requirements vary from location to location and site to site.
For most jurisdictions in the United States, it is likely that some form of permit will be required and setback requirements satisfied. Unless the customer wishes to do it themselves, the authorized smartflower reseller will research and obtain any necessary permitting for your location.
In the United States and Canada, most homes consume more electricity in a year than can be produced by one smartflower or the typical rooftop system. And certainly the same is true for most American and Canadian businesses. For most homes and businesses which are already connected to the grid, a solar system serves to reduce, not eliminate, the customer’s reliance on the grid.
For those customers who are focused on entirely meeting meet their electricity requirements from a renewable source they control, the best approach is to use several smartflowers or to pair smartflowers with other renewable energy generators, like a wind turbine, or geothermal, or even rooftop or ground mounted solar panels.
One smartflower may, however, provide more than enough energy to power a cabin, cottage or tiny house. One smartflower may also provide enough electricity to power a remote agricultural watering station, a highway rest stop, an electric bike recharger, or a myriad of other uses that do not have heavy energy needs. For all of these customers, their limited energy requirements can be fully satisfied by the smartflower.
At the moment, energy production is determined by reviewing the information provided by the control box inside the smartflower. Within the next few months, all smartflowers will be upgraded to allow for remote monitoring. That means, using a smartphone/tablet, the owner and/or the dealer may determine the energy production and whether there are any problems from virtually anywhere in the world.
In the early stages of smartflower’s entry into the North American market, it will likely take longer than usual for delivery—up to 90 to 120 days. By fall 2017 we expect that the normal order to delivery cycle will be 60 to 75 days.
The area needed for effective operation will be determined by your installer. They will perform a site assessment that includes a shading analysis, which is key to determining whether nearby trees or buildings might cast shade on the smartflower at some point during the day. Since each site is different, there is no definitive answer, but of course the more unblocked or unshaded access to the sunlight, the better.
At a minimum, for installation and safety, the smartflower must have a clear area of 16 feet around it.
The best measurement of productivity is the kilowatt hour, usually shown as kWh. A smartflower typically produces anywhere from 3,800 to over 6,200 kWh per year, depending on where it is located. Particularly sunny climates, like Arizona desert cities, will produce at the top of the range. More temperate climates with fewer sunny days like in the Midwest or Northeast will most likely produce in the lower half of that range.
SmartFlower North America (SFNA) offers a 5-year limited warranty, provided that maintenance is performed every two years, as specified. For the first 2 years of that limited warranty, SFNA covers parts that need repair or replacement as well as the associated service costs. For the following 3 years, the limited warranty covers the cost of parts that need to be repaired or replaced, but not the associated service costs.
In addition, SFNA passes along to the customer the limited warranties provided by the manufacturers of key components. That includes a 5-year limited warranty on the tracking device, a 10-year limited warranty on the inverter and a 25-year limited performance warranty on the solar panels. The specific terms of these warranties are available upon request.
Heavy wind conditions: In heavy wind conditions, the smartflower is designed to protect itself before there is a problem. If winds reach 29 mph, the smartflower panels automatically move into horizontal position (Safety Position 1) to allow the wind to pass over and under them but the smartflower remains open to continue producing energy. If the winds reach 39 mph or higher the panels automatically fold up and down into secure position (Safety Position 2). So long as the smartflower has been properly installed, it should remain secure in its closed position, even in hurricane force winds.
Hail: The smartflower has been tested under significant hail conditions and easily passed the test.
Heavy Snow: The smartflower’s tracking movement over the course of the day and its self-cleaning function give it the special advantage of automatically removing snow before it builds up. If there is very heavy snow that builds up during the night while the smartflower is closed, it may be necessary to remove the snow in front of the closed unit before the panels begin to open in the morning.
Extreme Temperatures: The smartflower has been tested to confirm full operation at temperatures as hot as 104 degrees Fahrenheit and as cold as -4 degrees Fahrenheit. At extreme temperatures outside of that wide range, the smartflower may have some diminished operation but should not be permanently harmed.
Maintenance is required every two years—this is mandatory to preserve the warranty from SmartFlower North America (SFNA). It typically involves no more than lubrication of certain moving parts, checking to ensure all connections are secure, and upgrading the system software as necessary. The maintenance should be performed by a certified technician.
We are in the process of determining the right inverter and battery combination for the North American market. As a result, we have not yet determined the battery capacity that will be available. Our current plan is to have the smartflower plus ready for sale no later than late fall 2017.
First, the smartflower tracks the sun from dawn to dusk, ensuring that its solar panels are always at a 90-degree angle to the sun, optimizing the radiation it receives, unlike most other solar setups. Smartflower does this through a GPS tracking device aligned to the specific longitude and latitude of the site where it is installed. This precise tracking can increase productivity by as much as 40%.
Second, the smartflower’s unique design allows for natural cooling of its solar panels. Rather than positioning the panels close to a roof or the ground, the smartflower’s panels are elevated and naturally cooled by the air that passes behind each of its panels throughout the day. This natural cooling can increase each panel’s productivity by as much as 10%, depending on the region in which the smartflower is installed.
Third, the smartflower automatically self-cleans its panels every morning and every evening. Each of the panels cleans the panel beneath it each time the smartflower opens or closes, using the long brush on its outer under edge. This allows the smartflower to avoid loss in production that typically occurs with other solar PV devices, which naturally become dirty over time. This automatic cleaning feature improves productivity by another 1-2%.
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