September 5, 08
Envision Introduces LifeTree Solar Shade with Micro-Inverters

Envision Solar has expanded its product line of photovoltaic shade structures to include two "flat-pack" easy to install modular shade structures, each with eight solar panels providing 1.4 kilowatt of clean energy.

The LifeTree is a single post steel structure with a cantilevered canopy, and the LifeShade is a four-post structure made of Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) certified sustainable wood.

Both are an attractive and functional application of solar power that provides recreational shade, without a requirement for a complex and invasive rooftop installation.

The structures are shipped in easy to assemble components and include solar power modules, micro-inverters, and access to an online real-time tracking system to monitor production of clean energy. The structures are anchored in post-holes by concrete, in much the same way that basketball hoops or flagpoles are installed, and a local electrician can connect the AC wiring from the structure to the house meter.

At a price point of $15,500 for the LifeShade and $18,500 for the LifeTree, these new products offer a lower cost solar power option for homeowners and businesses.

Envision Solar designers have focused on modularity as an important goal, because it offers price efficiency and accessibility to clean energy to more people. CEO Robert Noble adds, "We are committed to massive retail deployment of this product in a flat-pack format for local assembly and installation."

In addition to their attractive design and low price, The LifeTree and LifeShade products offer state of the art technical features; they were designed specifically for photovoltaic modules made by Suntech, and both the LifeTree and the LifeShade are equipped with "micro-inverters" from Enphase Energy.

Micro-inverters convert the energy from the sun into usable alternating current at each module, eliminating the need for a bulky inverter on the side of the building at the meter and making connection to the meter a less costly undertaking. Enphase Energy also offers online access to a real-time monitoring package so that owners can track their clean energy production.

Noble describes the company's mission to employ the principles of sustainable design to innovate in the solar power sector: "We see renewable energy as an architectural element that be integrated into our spaces and our lives."