Sunfish Solar Panels Revolutionizing Residential Solar

If the Sunfish solar panels are the real deal, then the residential solar industry is in for a nice surprise.  The Sunfish is a solar panel that plugs right in to an existing electrical outlet, eliminating need for an expensive inverter or battery system!  The product is slated for released in 2011.  The product is being produced by Clarian Technologies and the Sunfish product specs and features can be found on their website:

  • Portable and plugs into any outlet with power you can use anywhere in your home
  • Unlike existing micro-inverters, the Sunfish has built-in circuit protection and doesn’t require a dedicated electrical panel
  • No contractors, no installers, no additional wiring, and no drywall to tear out - up and running in about an hour
  • Same cost as a household appliance with a payback in 3-4 years or less
  • Web-based tracking and monitoring with onboard Wi-Fi, upload data directly into Google PowerMeter

One thing I find interesting is that Clarian Technologies also seems to be behind the Jellyfish Wind Turbine, which we covered over a year ago.   The Jellyfish is a wind turbine that also promises to plug directly into an outlet.  The Jellyfish has not made it to market yet.  It may be because of an issue one of the readers commented on:

You can’t legally feed power back into an outlet in North America. Probably the biggest problem is that this could cause an overload in the branch circut and start a fire. Imagine that you have a 20A breaker connected to two 20A recepticles. You plug the windmill into one and a load into the other. Now whenever the windmill is suppling power into the line, the load can draw that much more than 20A without throwing the breaker, overloading the wiring and receptacle.

But if you watch the video on their website this get's a little clearer. The plug doesn't go directly from the solar panel to the goes to a plug-in power module first!  Which is basically just a small solar inverter.  They also have a circuit monitor that you plug into a separate outlet.  I'm guessing they use this to address the reader's comment about load management and the circuit monitor checks to make sure the electrical grid is up, and cuts off the solar panel operation if it is down to protect utility workers.

In their nice FAQ section they address the question about the safety of putting unregulated power back on the line:

Is it OK to put unregulated power back onto the power grid? Won’t that cause difficulties for the local power utility?
The Sunfish uses UL certified components and meets all safety and certification requirements required by local power utilities. The unique design of the Sunfish ensures that power supplied to your home and to the electrical power grid is phase-matched to the power supplied by your local power utility.

But just because a product uses UL certified components, doesn't mean that the products is UL certified.  I'm guessing they are currently working on this certification.

I have a lot of hope for the Sunfish solar panels, and if they ever make it to market, I am buying one.  Like the Sunfish panels, the Jellyfish wind turbine is also slated for release in 2011.  Let's cross our fingers and hope Clarian can come through with their cheap, simple, renewable energy solutions!

Sunfish specs from their website:

200W Sunfish Unit

Solar Panel Output 200W
Energy Output 30kWh/month
Solar Module Type Polycrystalline
Output Voltage (AC) 120V
Max Current (AC) 1.6A
Mounting Wall or Roof Mounted
Installation 1-2 Hours
Dimensions 60” x 40” (1.5m x 1m)
Module Weight 40 lbs (18 kg)
MSRP $599-$999

1kW Sunfish System

Solar Array Output 1kW
Energy Output 150kWh/month
Output Voltage (AC) 120V
Max Current (AC) 8.3A
Mounting Wall or Roof Mounted
Installation 6-8 Hours
Dimensions 60” x 200” (1.5m x 5.1m)
Module Weight 200 lbs (90 kg)
MSRP $2995-$4995
enjoyed our post? let others know: 


I'm don't see how this is much different than the Enphase micro-inverters unless someone is just looking for one or two panels. The Enphase micro-inverters chain together and then backfeed into a breaker. All the upstream protection is built into the inverters so, except for a disconnect box, they don't require anything but a conduit run to the main panel. My 4.2kw system took about 3 hours to install.
What I do not see is any mention of how these panels are to be mounted and safely grounded. I too, have a self installed Enphase system and I was VERY CAREFUL to ensure that all the panel frames and mounting rails were thoroughly grounded. Solar panels that are not safely mounted to a structure can become a real hazard in high winds. I hope that this product will not be giving small residential solar a bad safety record.

Post new comment

Subscribe to Comments for "Sunfish Solar Panels Revolutionizing Residential Solar"