Aspen East in Killington VT Debuts Their New SmartflowerApr 17, 2019
This past November, Aspen East installed a new attraction outside its shop on Route 4 in Killington: the Smartflower – solar panels that expand (“bloom”) each morning at sunrise, rotate to follow the sun throughout the day, then retract at dusk.
Aspen East is the second location in Vermont to have a smartflower. Green Mountain Power installed one at its Rutland location on Route 7 north about a year prior.
Because the panels follow the sun, the Smartflower is about 40 percent more efficient than a comparable rooftop display, according to smartflower CEO Jim Gordon. Additionally, the panels are self-cleaning, self-cooling, and self-protecting (if winds exceed 40 m.p.h. the panels will retract), making them hassle free, Gordon added.
“It’s a bold, beautiful and unusual solar solution,” Gordon said. “We’ve reinvented solar… the beautifully designed system maximizes energy production, because it tracks the sun. What inspired the product is the sunflower, it’s biomimicry – it opens in morning, aims itself toward the sun, moves with sun, and at night the petals stow away.”
The 12-petal, 194 square-foot structure produces 4,000-6,200 kWh/year depending on location. That’s enough to power the average European home, or about 3/4 of a typical home in Massachusetts, which uses about 7,200 kWh hours annually, Gordon said, and independent sources confirm.
In Vermont, the average household uses 6,780 kWh per year, the fourth lowest in the nation according to multiple sources. So, a smartflower yielding its maximum output would cover about 92 percent of an average Vermont home’s energy use.
The smartflower costs $24,950, plus $1700 shipping and $10,000 installation (about $6,000). However, until the end of 2019, there is a 30% federal solar tax credit that allows you to deduct 30 percent of the cost of installing a solar energy system from your federal taxes. This brings the total cost down to around $25,600.
Compared to rooftop or freestanding solar displays, the smartflower is definitely more expensive on a price-per-watt basis: the smartflower costs about $6.50/watt, compared to a ground-mounted solar system of that size, which retails for around $15,000 or $3.75/watt. A rooftop systems of that size costs around $14,000 or $3.50/watt, according to Isaac Ost who wrote a comparative analysis titled “SmartFlower Solar Review: The True Cost of a Solar Flower” that published in August 2018 on pickmysolar.com, an independent solar homeowner advocate site.
But unlike other solar options, the smartflower boasts an attractive design, portability, self-sufficiency and requires no additional construction/renovation to buildings.
The unit comes fully assembled. “It’s really just plug and play,” said Gordon. “Installers simply run one line to the electric panel on the house or business and within hours we’re empowering the home-owner or business to produce their own renewable energy.”
read more of Polly Mikula article in the Mountain Times article volume 48 number 15 here