Earlier this year, OutBack Power launched the SkyBox, a game changer for the solar industry.
The SkyBox has many unique features and most in the solar industry can agree it’s one of the most exciting technology developments in some time. Here’s why.
First, the SkyBox is both an inverter and a charge controller, making it the only equipment to house both balance of systems components in one enclosure. This makes it much easier to install, cutting down on installation time and costs for battery backup systems.
The second most exciting feature is that the OutBack SkyBox is compatible with batteries in a way that no other product is. It can be installed on grid-tied systems or systems with battery backup. OR it can be installed in anticipation of batteries being added in the future! You can also change your mind on the battery chemistry since the SkyBox is intelligent enough to work with current and future energy storage technologies. This gives customers the flexibility of not having to commit to a battery backup system or battery type while still moving forward with a solar installation. This makes the SkyBox a unique product in the solar industry.
The SkyBox also has a five port system allowing the import or export of 5kw of power at each of these locations (though not all at the same time). These ports hook up to the solar array, grid, house load, battery and generator. (Yes, it can support both backup options simultaneously.) Alternatively, you can use the generator port for an EV charger. This allows for incredible flexibility of the solar power you’re producing.
The SkyBox also encloses a communication box with several useful features.
- First, it has built in remote monitoring for your solar system. This means you don’t need to install a separate piece of equipment and monitoring is at your fingertips.
- Second, you can look at the historic production data for any of the input/outputs (pv, generator, batteries, grid).
- Third, you can program regular exercises for your generator all through the Skybox interface.
- Fourth, Renewable Energy Credit (REC) monitoring for added revenue from participating utilities.
Backup Power Capability
The SkyBox can be programmed to function for various battery applications. As discussed above, it can serve as a grid-tied or battery backup system. However, within the battery backup option, you can choose various levels of programmed sophistication. It can be applied towards off-grid purposes (daily battery cycling), emergency battery backup, or energy management options.
The latter is the most complex of these operations and gives you the best option to reduce your total energy costs. Instead of just using your solar during the day and your batteries at night, the SkyBox allows you to program your batteries to power your home during the times of day the utility charges the most for electricity. This programming also allows for you to leave some battery available for backup needs.
The SkyBox is a drop in replacement for all grid-tied string inverters with a 600 Volt input. Whereas other inverters would require the old existing system to be rewired to 150 or 300 volts to fit the maximum voltage input for a charge controller, the SkyBox can simply be dropped in.
The SkyBox is 94% efficient, and has a 5 year warranty with a 10 year extended warranty available. It can be stacked, is compatible with a wide range of batteries, and can be installed outdoors. The SkyBox’s high PV input also allows for it to be implemented with long strings of solar.
The SkyBox package (inverter, battery hookup, monitoring, etc.) is more expensive than your average string inverter but does a lot more too. Additionally, the simplicity in its wiring eliminates the extra installation costs that normal battery backup installations incur (which would more than make up the price difference). The SkyBox truly offers unprecedented flexibility in solar power use from a single device.