Smartflower Solar Review

smartflower solar review

Smartflower Solar Overview

The innovative and visually striking Smartflower solar units, which mimic the sun-tracking movement of real flowers, are rarely seen in residential settings, largely due to their substantial price point.

Smartflower stands out in the solar energy market with its distinctive design, blending functionality with artistic flair. This innovative product features a large, flower-like structure made of specialized solar panels that unfold like petals at dawn, follow the sun’s path throughout the day for optimal energy absorption, and then close again at dusk.

The concept for Smartflower originated in Vienna in 2014, capturing the attention of James Gordon, a veteran in the energy sector, through an online video showcasing its operation. Intrigued, Gordon traveled to Austria to negotiate with the creators, eventually securing the rights to distribute Smartflower in the Americas. His commitment to the project deepened over time, leading him to acquire the company and relocate its base to Boston.

Gordon was drawn to Smartflower’s unique blend of technology and design, particularly its biomimetic approach that emulates the natural behavior of a sunflower – opening in response to sunlight, orienting towards the sun throughout the day, and closing at night.

Key Points

  • Smartflower units mimic sunflowers with solar panels that track the sun, optimizing energy capture.
  • Despite its high efficiency, Smartflower’s cost is significantly higher than traditional solar solutions.
  • Equipped with self-cleaning panels and a monitoring app, Smartflower offers models for both grid-connected and off-grid setups, including an EV charging option.

Understanding Smartflower Solar

commercial solar smartflower review

Smartflower extends past the realm of ordinary solar projects, presenting itself as a sophisticated solar-powered robot. According to Gordon, this innovative device is capable of producing up to 6,500 kilowatt-hours annually, all while having an aesthetically pleasing design. While Smartflower predominantly caters to commercial and institutional clients, there’s a growing interest among homeowners seeking sustainable energy solutions, whether connected to the electrical grid or in remote, off-grid locations.

Distinguishing Smartflower from Conventional Solar Solutions

At first glance, Smartflower’s artistic form sets it apart from the familiar sight of solar panels on buildings or in fields. What truly differentiates it, however, is its advanced dual-axis tracking system, which enables it to follow the sun’s trajectory, thereby harvesting up to 40% more energy than stationary solar panels, according to Gordon.

Along with its sophisticated appearance and functionality, Smartflower is designed for ease of integration with both grid-connected and off-grid energy systems, simplifying the transition to solar power.

Commercial applications have been a strong suit for Smartflower, with businesses adopting the technology to demonstrate their environmental stewardship. One notable installation is an off-grid application at a whale-watching center in Quebec, showcasing Smartflower’s versatility and appeal in diverse settings.

Benefits of Choosing Smartflower

Smartflower offers an integrated solar solution, comprising solar panels, an inverter, and an optional battery, all within a single, self-contained unit that arrives fully assembled for ground mounting. Its design facilitates an installation process that is as straightforward as possible for a solar system of its scale. With its solar “petals” extended, Smartflower reaches a height of 16 feet. The inverter and optional batteries are located within its base.

smartflower

Investing in Smartflower not only adds a touch of novelty and aesthetic appeal to a property but also provides enhanced efficiency from the solar modules. This efficiency boost is attributed to the system’s dual-axis tracking, which allows it to follow the sun’s path, coupled with the advantage of natural cooling achieved by its elevated position, reducing the heat impact compared to traditional roof-mounted systems.

However, these unique features of Smartflower come at a cost, typically two to three times higher than standard residential solar setups. This makes Smartflower a luxury option in the solar market, suited more for those valuing design and innovation over sheer cost-effectiveness. However, Smartflower does in fact qualify for the federal renewable energy tax credit and potentially other incentives, offering some financial relief to purchasers.

Smartflower’s Solar Solutions and Features

Smartflower’s peak performance reaches 2.5 kilowatts, thanks to its custom-designed panels. A notable feature of these panels is their self-cleaning mechanism, equipped with brushes beneath the panels that activate as the solar “petals” open and close, ensuring cleanliness and optimal efficiency by removing debris such as dirt, pollen, and bird droppings.

The regular cleaning of the panels gives added efficiency. Additionally, the daily opening and closing action of Smartflower helps prevent excessive snow accumulation, which is particularly effective against overnight snowfall. Daytime snow can still pose challenges.

Smartflower’s product line includes the basic grid-connected model, which features the innovative self-cleaning and sun-tracking system. The Smartflower Plus variant enhances the offering with an 11-kilowatt lithium battery, suitable for both grid-connected and off-grid applications, providing a comprehensive energy solution with an included inverter for immediate connectivity.

For electric vehicle owners, Smartflower also provides an “EV” option, incorporating an electric vehicle charging station into the setup.

The inverters used in Smartflower systems are sourced from Fronius or Sunny Boy and have an impressive 96.5% efficiency rating, placing them among the top performers in the inverter market according to Gordon.

Smartflower Monitoring Services

Smartflower provides a comprehensive monitoring app that allows users to track the performance and operation of their solar system in real-time. This app also offers the convenience of remotely controlling the system, with functionalities that include opening, closing, activating the cleaning mode, or adjusting to canopy mode. The Smartflower app is accessible through both the Apple and Google app stores.

Smartflower Warranty Coverage Details

Smartflower provides a 25-year performance warranty for its panels, aligning with industry standards. The inverter comes with a 10-year warranty, while the entire system is covered for two years. Gordon notes that routine lubrication, required every year or so, falls under the system warranty, ensuring no extra maintenance concerns for the owner.

The two-year warranty on the system might seem brief, especially considering Smartflower’s premium pricing. Typically, standard solar installations come with a workmanship warranty of at least 10 years. It is likely that more intricate equipment with numerous moving parts might feature shorter warranty periods due to the potential for mechanical issues.

The limited duration of the system warranty could lead to some Smartflower customers facing out-of-pocket expenses for service calls once the initial two-year period concludes.

Pros and Cons of Smart Flower

Pros

  • Eye-catching design
  • Enhanced efficiency
  • Easy and rapid installation

Cons

  • Higher investment cost
  • Requires adequate installation space
  • Limited warranty period for the system

Does Smartflower Use Subcontractors?

Regarding installation, Smartflower’s setup is notably less complex compared to traditional residential rooftop solar systems, but it requires professional handling due to its significant size and weight—over 1,600 pounds. Installation typically involves the use of a forklift or small crane, conducted by a trained installer. Smartflower collaborates with a nationwide network of dealers and certified installation partners to ensure proper setup.

According to Gordon, the installation process of a Smartflower unit is akin to that of a permanent standby generator, suggesting that it is straightforward for skilled professionals and can be completed within a few hours. While a concrete foundation is not always mandatory for mounting the Smartflower, some customers may opt for it based on personal preference or site requirements.

Smartflower is open to empowering homeowners by offering training to their preferred local electricians or contractors for the installation process. This training is conveniently available remotely, facilitating a seamless and efficient setup experience.

Pricing Details for Smartflower Solar Systems

The standard Smartflower model is priced at $39,950, excluding additional costs for installation and shipping, while the Smartflower Plus model, which includes an integrated battery, is available at $65,500, also before shipping and installation fees. According to Gordon, the installation expenses can vary significantly based on the specific requirements and complexities of each installation site, with prices typically ranging between $3,000 and $7,000.

When comparing these costs to the average price per watt for new solar installations, which typically falls within the $3 to $4 range as of 2023 based on national averages, Smartflower’s pricing is approximately three to four times higher than that of standard rooftop solar systems. This comparison takes into account the enhanced energy output attributed to Smartflower’s advanced dual-axis tracking technology.

It’s important to note that the quoted installation prices do not include potential savings from federal, state, or local solar incentives, which can significantly reduce the overall cost.

Financing Solutions Provided by Smartflower

While many of Smartflower’s clients have the means to pay for their systems outright, the company has introduced an equipment financing option aimed at the commercial sector. Additionally, Smartflower is in the process of developing a financing program tailored for residential customers, expected to roll out within the next 12 to 24 months. Gordon has mentioned that, in certain instances, individual financing arrangements for homeowners might be feasible even at the present time.

Smartflower Availability and Ordering Process

Smartflower’s solar solutions can be installed in virtually all locations across North America. The company is actively expanding its network of certified installers and is committed to securing installation services in areas where it currently lacks a presence.

Smartflower Availability by State

To initiate an order, simply visit Smartflower’s official website and reach out through the contact options provided. Smartflower prides itself on offering a level of customer service that stands out in the solar industry, ensuring a more personalized experience for each customer.

The streamlined and user-friendly nature of Smartflower systems means that the purchase and installation journey is typically straightforward and quick. However, it’s important for customers to remember to verify local permitting requirements and secure the necessary approvals from their utility provider for grid-connected setups.

Is Smartflower the Best Solar Option?

Smartflower may not be the optimal choice for the majority of solar energy enthusiasts, a point that even Gordon from Smartflower acknowledges. However, for those looking to make an architectural statement or inspire curiosity about solar energy, Smartflower presents a unique and visually striking option. Despite not being the most common choice in the industry, Smartflower’s technology is efficient and capable, offering a distinct, high-performance solution that can be easily installed by a qualified electrician within hours. However, it’s essential to bear in mind the premium cost associated with this innovative 1,600-pound solar tracking system, along with its two-year warranty on mechanical components.

For individuals considering a ground-mounted solar setup, Smartflower warrants a closer examination. Its aesthetic appeal and higher efficiency, coupled with a straightforward installation process, make it an attractive alternative to more conventional systems. Moreover, Smartflower’s ability to adjust its orientation towards the sun during key periods of the day may offer energy production benefits, especially in regions with time-of-use utility billing, potentially offsetting higher energy costs in the early evening.

However, the higher cost per watt and the necessity for a supportive base for Smartflower’s installation are significant considerations. Additionally, potential maintenance or repair costs post-warranty should be factored into the long-term financial planning for the system.

Smartflower is particularly suited for individuals who value distinctive design and wish to make a statement with their commitment to renewable energy. If the aesthetic and uniqueness of Smartflower resonate with you, and budgetary constraints are less of a concern, Smartflower offers an unparalleled choice in the market.

Go Solar with 8MSolar

8msolar

If you want to switch to solar, but are finding that the Smartflower isn’t within your budget or isn’t the best option for your situation, consider installing traditional solar panels. At 8MSolar, we are here to help you find the best solar system set up for your specific needs. With over two decades of experience, we can help you with any solar questions you may have. Choose 8MSolar and experience the transformative power of solar energy. Contact us today.

Smartflower Frequently Asked Questions

What is the price of a standard Smartflower solar system?

The standard 2.5 kilowatt Smartflower system is priced at $39,950, excluding the costs for shipping and installation.

What is the cost of the Smartflower Plus model?

The Smartflower Plus, which includes an 11-kilowatt battery, is available for $65,500, not including shipping and installation fees.

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