Although solar panels can cut electrical bills, there are drawbacks. They cost a lot to install and are incredibly ugly.
Akeena Solar is trying to get around both those problems with what it says it a better rack. The company has developed a completely integrated system, called Andalay, which includes a solar panel, the frame and the wiring that it says cuts down installation costs by around 50 percent. Integration also reduces the number of individual parts by 70 percent, says CEO Barry Cinnamon, who has been toiling in solar since the 70s.
Although the integrated system costs more than a conventional solar panel, overall costs are reduced by around ten percent, he said. Installation costs, after all, are about half the cost of a solar system.
"And the aesthetics are way better," he asserted. "You get this nice rectangular look. It looks like a skylight."
Suntech Power Holdings, the rapidly growing solar panel maker from China, and Kyocera have both licensed the technology. Akeena makes the rack and then ships it tothem. Both companies then wrap the rack around their solar panels and then ship the finished product back to Akeena. Akeena, however, is also letting Suntech sell the complete system to other solar installers outside of the U.S.