How is clean energy technology changing in 2023–and what does it mean for you?

Highlights from RE+, the biggest solar conference in the U.S.

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Edited by: Rich Brown
10 min read
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Key takeaways from RE+

Clean energy equipment is becoming more affordable, more aesthetically pleasing, and more powerful. In September, we were among the 40,000+ attendees at the largest solar conference in the U.S., RE+, where we got an inside look into future clean tech that could impact your home and your wallet in the next few years.

While the clean energy industry is relatively new compared to oil and gas, it's rapidly evolving and becoming more accessible. In its 17th year, the RE+ conference (formerly known as Solar Power International) showcases the evolution of solar panels, home energy storage, and all the accompanying products and services that come with home electrification. 

At this year's show, we saw that batteries are becoming easier (and likely cheaper) to install. Well-known consumer brands are bringing name recognition and hopefully more trust to the industry. And solar panels today are more powerful and efficient than ever before.

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Key takeaways

  • New designs from battery manufacturers will simplify the installation process and should lower prices. 

  • A lot of companies are offering whole home electrification solutions, including electric panels, solar inverters, and energy storage, either under one brand or through partnerships.

  • Two household-name alkaline battery companies now offer lithium batteries for home storage: Duracell and Energizer.

  • Most home solar panels displayed at RE+ were at least 400 watts, which means they produce significantly more power now than they did just a few years ago, and you may need fewer solar panels to meet your electricity needs. 

  • Despite some lingering questions about implementation, EV chargers that could soon provide backup power to your home and the grid were on full display.

Batteries are becoming an increasingly important component of home solar panel systems. At the start of 2023, California changed its net metering policy, which could soon drive other states to follow suit. Under the new net billing policy (NEM 3), you'll save $21,600 to $43,900 more over 20 years with a solar-plus-battery system compared to a solar-only system. Batteries also provide resiliency against grid outages – very top of mind following the Earth's hottest recorded summer.

HomeGrid Stack'd battery

Home batteries are still expensive. The median EnergySage price in the first half of 2023 was $1,352 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), the highest we've seen since we began tracking the cost of storage. The cost of the raw materials (specifically lithium and cobalt) and "soft costs," like installation labor and permitting, drive battery prices. Shorter and easier installations can cut the price of storage. HomeGrid, a battery company known for its "LEGO-like" assembly and 30-minute installation times, has the lowest price on EnergySage at $659/kWh stored.

LG enblock S+

Many companies featured new batteries with similar modular designs at RE+. One stand out is LG Energy Solution, known for its popular RESU Prime battery, which displayed the new LG enblock S with a purported 10-minute installation time.

Tesla Powerwall 3

Image credit: Tesla

Tesla unveiled the Powerwall 3, the latest version of its well-known battery, with an integrated inverter. This change will make the Powerwall easier and faster to install, but it will also limit your choices for configuring your solar-plus-battery system. You could pair previous versions of the Powerwall with different solar inverters that provide power optimization for each panel, like the popular Enphase microinverters or SolarEdge optimized inverters. With the Powerwall 3, you'll have to use the integrated Tesla inverter, which can only optimize six groups of panels.

As we electrify more parts of our homes (HVAC systems, stoves, hot water heaters), monitoring and controlling electricity becomes more critical than ever. Many companies at RE+ featured a comprehensive suite of products required for home electrification or partnerships with other companies to provide a whole-home solution.

Schneider home energy management system

You may not have heard of Schneider Electric (EnergySage's corporate parent), but its products are already in about 40% of U.S. homes. At RE+, Schneider featured its home energy management system, which includes a smart electrical panel for monitoring and controlling electricity, a battery, a hybrid solar and battery inverter, an electric vehicle (EV) charger, smart light switches and sockets, and one app to control everything.

Two people talking in front of Savant home energy system

Like Schneider, Savant Systems displayed a whole home system, including smart power modules that make circuits in your existing electrical panel smart, a battery, a hybrid inverter, and an EV charger under one app. Savant also acquired General Electric (GE) Lighting in 2020 and now offers its full smart home product suite, including light switches, sockets, light bulbs, home security, and thermostats.

Two people talking in front of SMA home energy system

SMA America, a large manufacturer of solar inverters, has taken a different approach to home energy management. It showcased its new hybrid inverter and high-voltage batteries at RE+ (you can also pair the hybrid inverter with some other batteries like the LG RESU Prime). However, instead of providing a whole-home system under one brand, SMA leans on partner companies. At RE+, it announced its new partnership with Span, a manufacturer of smart electrical panels, for an integrated home energy management solution (though you'll need two phone apps).

The companies that manufacture batteries for your TV remote now offer batteries to power your home. Clean energy companies are gaining more brand recognition, but you may still only know the big names like Tesla, Panasonic, LG, Generac, and SunPower. Now, you can add two more names to that list: Duracell and Energizer.

Duracell whole home energy storage system

Duracell entered the battery space in 2021 with its initial Power Center battery. At RE+, it displayed its Home Ecosystem, which includes its Power Center battery, hybrid inverter, microinverter, and EV charger. One big change is its battery cabinet color; previously, the battery was black to match Duracell's iconic brand colors, but it switched to white to better reflect light and reduce heat absorption.

Two men holding the Energizer battery

The Energizer Bunny has also entered the U.S. solar market! Energizer Solar showcased its brand-new U.S. product suite, including an easy-to-install modular battery (similar to HomeGrid and LG Energy Solution), all-black solar panels, string and hybrid inverters, and an EV charger. According to Energizer, eight in ten people have bought Energizer products; the company hopes to carry the trust that already accompanies its household products into the solar industry.

Each year, we've watched solar panel output get higher and higher, which translates to fewer panels on your roof. At RE+, almost all featured solar panels intended for home installations were above 400 W, which follows similar trends we see in quotes from installers on the EnergySage Marketplace. Two years ago, only 7% of EnergySage quotes included solar panels above 390 W; as of the first half of 2023, 88% of solar panels in quotes are above 390 W. 

REC, Panasonic, and Maxeon/SunPower are among the industry's best panel companies. The three brands constantly push the envelope regarding efficiency and power output in home solar panels, driving higher industry standards. At RE+, they showcased newer panels rated to 420-430 W and above 22% efficiency, making them some of the highest-performance panels currently available.

REC panel with woman in front

REC's lead-free 430 W Alpha Pure-R panels also boast a lower carbon footprint than many other solar panels and one of the highest efficiencies at 22.3%.

Panasonic solar panel with woman pointing

Panasonic, which offers one of the most comprehensive solar panel warranties in the industry, displayed its 430 W EverVolt HK2 Black series panels with 22.2% efficiency.

Maxeon panel with woman in front

Maxeon (who manufactures SunPower's M-series panels under its own brand) featured its BLK series modules with 420 W capacity and 22.2% efficiency. These panels include the longest warranty in the industry at a whopping 40 years!

We also saw a wide variety of U.S. solar panel manufacturers at RE+. While the investment tax credit does not depend on U.S. manufacturing for home solar panel systems, supporting the domestic clean energy supply chain is a top priority for the U.S. government and many homeowners.

CertainTeed solar panels
CertainTeed solar shingles

CertainTeed manufactures its panels in Canada and the U.S. (in California). It showed off its Solstice panel, reaching up to 440 W capacity and 20.4% efficiency. It also featured its Solstice shingles, which use the same technology as the panels but can directly integrate into the roof shingles for a more aesthetic appearance and a higher price tag (about $0.5-$1 more per W).

Mission Solar panel with woman pointing

Mission Solar panels are from San Antonio, Texas. At RE+, Mission Solar unveiled its 410 W panels (available in Q1 2024) with half-cut cell technology, which it hasn't used since 2013. Half-cut cell technology lowers the solar cell size, allowing more cells to fit on the panel and increasing power output.

Silfab solar panel with woman inspecting it

Silfab solar panels are straight out of Washington. Silfab displayed its new Silfab Elite panels, which are up to 430 W and include 21.4% efficiency. They're low in lead, making them one of the more sustainable solar panel options.

Q CELLS solar panel
Q CELLS inverter

Finally, Q CELLS revealed its new Q.TRON AC module, which includes built-in microinverters. It also showed off other components of its complete home solution, including load management and a battery. Q CELLS covers the whole system under one warranty (which includes labor) as long as you select an installer in its network. Q CELLS manufactures its panels in Georgia; earlier this year, it announced it would invest $2.5 billion to update its current facility and build a new facility in Georgia.

Many companies showcased mock-ups of bidirectional EV chargers they plan to launch at their booths this year. Bidirectional charging can send power from your EV's battery to your home (vehicle-to-home or V2H), the grid (vehicle-to-grid or V2G), or to an individual appliance (vehicle-to-load or V2L). 

Despite a significant presence at RE+, bidirectional charging is still very limited in the U.S. While vehicle-to-load is more prevalent and doesn't require a special EV charger, only two EVs currently support vehicle-to-home or vehicle-to-grid: the Ford F-150 and the Nissan Leaf. Some EV companies may limit bidirectional charging because it increases your batteries' cycle, degrading it more quickly for driving. Any vehicle-to-grid connection requires interconnection from your utility company, which requires approval. Since this type of charging is so limited in the real world, we're unsure if the approval process will be similar to installing solar, a battery, or something new entirely–it could depend on your utility company.

Schneider bidirectional charger

Image Credit: Pacific Sun Tech

Schneider Electric revealed its new bidirectional EV charger prototype that should be available in 2025. It will integrate into the Schneider Home ecosystem and support vehicle-to-home and vehicle-to-grid.

Image credit: Wallbox

Wallbox displayed its Quasar 2 bidirectional charger, a 48 Amp (on the higher end) charger available in the U.S. in the first half of 2024. This charger will work with Kia's EV9 and provide vehicle-to-home and vehicle-to-grid.

SolarEdge bidirectional charger

SolarEdge also showed off its new bidirectional EV charger, enabling vehicle-to-home and vehicle-to-grid. The charger should be available in the second half of 2024. It will integrate with the entire SolarEdge Home ecosystem, which includes inverters + power optimizers, batteries, load management, and hot water controllers.

You can get the best tech available through installers in our network. When you sign up for a free account through the EnergySage Marketplace, you'll receive multiple quotes from vetted installers so you can go solar, get a home battery, or install heat pumps with confidence. If you want any specific equipment, make a note in your profile to alert installers of your preference.

Find out what solar panels cost in your area in 2023
Please enter a five-digit zip code.
Your information is safe with us. Privacy Policy
Find out what solar panels cost in your area in 2023
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  • Unbiased Energy Advisors ready to help
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