Talk about economic indicators: Solar panels are growing in popularity, but thanks to the shrinking economy, the pricey electricity generators have become a popular target for thieves in California. Wait, it gets even more surreal: Napa wineries ZD Wines and Honig Vineyard have each lost $40,000 worth of solar panels in the past year—mostly, police say, by locals who want to use the devices for massive marijuana growing operations.
Enter the newest segment of the solar industry: security systems.
Gridlock Solar Security, a startup in Santa Rosa, California, plans to sell solar security systems that include boxes containing lights, sirens, and systems that send radio wave alerts to owners and cops when a solar array is disconnected. No word on how much the security systems will go for, but they will reportedly cost less than 1% of the total solar panel system.
Tigo Energy, a solar hardware and software installer, is taking a different tactic. The company is experimenting with functions built directly into its solar management software that send alerts to homeowners when panels are disconnected. Tigo also hasn't said how much the add-on will cost, but it is presumably much less than the solar panels themselves.
It seems absurd that solar panels—shiny objects worth thousands of dollars—are ever left sitting on rooftops held down only by easily removable bolts. As home solar systems become more popular, don't be surprised if tricked-out security systems start popping up as well.