All about the SPAN electrical panel: installation, cost, and more

Updated

SPAN electrical panel affixed to a wall
Your old electrical panel could use an update. Image source: SPAN

When was the last time you checked your electrical panel? Like most people, you probably only open your panel to reset breakers when something goes wrong or after a power outage.

No one expects to open their electrical panel every day. It is important to know, though, that your panel, as the hub for everything electrical inside your home, can be used to unlock a plethora of energy savings and power management.

If your electrical panel is old and difficult to use and it feels like flipping the wrong switch will instantly fry your home's electrical system, it might be time for something new.

SPAN’s solution to your clunky, outdated electrical panel is to replace it with a modern smart panel that allows you to easily monitor your energy consumption. Is SPAN’s smart panel right for your home? Let’s find out.

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Key takeaways

  • The SPAN electrical panel replaces your existing panel at home, allowing you to control individual circuits using a mobile app.
  • The smart panel works with solar panels and battery backup power systems to optimize your energy consumption.
  • In order to use all of the features of the SPAN Drive, you must have the SPAN electrical panel, solar panels, or solar panels and a solar battery installed on your property.
  • The SPAN electrical panel can help you save on your monthly power bills by reducing phantom loads and excess usage of power-hungry appliances.

On this page

    What is the SPAN smart electrical panel?

    SPAN smart electrical panel diagram

    SPAN panel. Image source: SPAN

    SPAN offers homeowners the ability to modernize their home’s electrical system by equipping it with smart features. The SPAN smart electrical panel allows you to control and monitor every circuit in your home directly from your phone. Through the app, the SPAN panel provides you with insights into how your home is sourcing, storing, and using energy in real-time.

    How much does the SPAN panel cost?

    The SPAN electrical panel costs $3,500 before installation and shipping costs.

    SPAN offers a version of their smart panel that includes a built-in utility power meter for $3,950, but it is not yet listed for purchase. By comparison, a traditional electrical panel without any smart features costs between $850 and $2,500.

    It makes sense for the SPAN electrical panel to command a higher price, as you can benefit from several cutting-edge features you just can't get with a traditional panel. SPAN also gives you additional insights and control over your solar panels, solar battery, and electric vehicle charging. The SPAN panel comes with a 10-year warranty.

    Electrical panels are designed to last between 25 and 40 years. You will not be frequently replacing this product, making this a one-time upgrade for most households.

    Benefits of using the SPAN electrical panel at home

    The SPAN panel offers numerous benefits for homeowners. The system makes energy monitoring highly accessible via the SPAN mobile app. Going beyond energy monitoring, you can also take action on things you don’t like for energy savings. Using the SPAN smart panel with the SPAN Drive enables greater control over electric vehicle charging and the way you consume power during the process.

    Smart energy monitoring using the SPAN app

    Unlike traditional panels, the SPAN panel is equipped with communication features. It has a built-in Wi-Fi gateway and 4G/LTE connectivity, allowing you to connect to the system using the SPAN mobile app. The app serves as your main method of communication and control for the SPAN panel. Using the app, you can view how much power your appliances and equipment are consuming in real-time. These features are similar to power tracking systems available on the market today, like the Sense smart home energy monitor.

    With the app, you have the ability to turn on and off specific circuits around your home, which is one of the most unique features of the SPAN system. For example, if you accidentally left an iron plugged in, you can actually turn off the circuit powering the device from the app. You don’t have to be at home to control the panel using the app. The SPAN panel also works with Amazon Alexa for voice-activated controls.

    SPAN Drive for electric vehicle charging

    SPAN mobile app

    SPAN Drive. Image source: SPAN

    SPAN offers the SPAN Drive electric vehicle charger, which works seamlessly with the SPAN home electrical panel. This product provides Level 2 charging even if your home can’t deliver the power requirements for a Level 2 charger when connected to the SPAN panel. It does this by prioritizing power delivery to the charger over appliances at home. SPAN can also slow down the charging rate when you’re running numerous devices or equipment.

    If you have solar panels without a solar battery at home, it is possible to set SPAN Drive to only use solar power for charging and not power from the grid. Consider that you have to be at home during the day for you to be able to charge your electric car using only solar power generated by your panels. You can charge your electric vehicle during a power outage if you have a solar battery by prioritizing the charger via the SPAN mobile app. These are great clean energy solutions that are possible with the EV charger.

    The SPAN Drive costs $500 before shipping and installation. This product will be officially available this summer.

    SPAN panel installation

    SPAN requires a licensed electrician with SPAN certification to install the breaker panel on your property. The company has a well-established network of certified installers in California, Arizona, Texas, and Florida. If you live in those states, you shouldn’t have any issues with finding an installer for the panel. For other states, SPAN mentions it could take two weeks to connect you with an installer. This product is only available in the U.S.

    It is possible to install more than one panel on your property. You may need more than one SPAN panel if:

    • Your home is large and requires more than 200 amps
    • You need more than 32 circuits
    • Your residential property has more than one living space

    It takes between three to eight hours to install the panel on your property. This is standard for most electrical panel replacement projects. Taking the DIY route is not recommended for this product, as it deals with your home’s power infrastructure. There’s no room for error during installation and it’s best to leave it to the pros. If your panel is not installed by a certified SPAN professional, the warranty is voided.

    SPAN tip: Most home panels are installed inside the garage or on the outside wall. Avoid installing the panel inside your living room or kitchen to prevent tampering.

    Compatible equipment

    The SPAN electrical panel works with a wide range of equipment to deliver real-time power insights. This product is compatible with most electrical systems found in homes today. You can use existing appliances inside your home with this panel, as it mainly relies on circuits for power management.

    For using its solar-related features, you need to have solar panels, a solar inverter, or a solar battery. The system works with any grid-tie inverter. Information about compatibility with specific solar panel and microinverter brands is unavailable at this time.

    The SPAN panel is compatible with the following home batteries:

    You can use the SPAN panel with a standby generator only if using a Tesla Powerwall system at home. The backup generator functionality comes from the Tesla Powerwall via an automatic transfer switch or manual transfer switch and not the SPAN panel.

    The SPAN panel also works with the SPAN Drive electric vehicle charger (and other electric vehicle chargers on the market) for charging electric vehicles. The SPAN Drive works with any electric vehicle manufactured in the U.S.

    A complete SPAN system includes the SPAN electrical panel, SPAN Drive electric vehicle charger, electric car, grid-tie inverter, solar panels, and solar battery.

    System configuration

    After installation, it is imperative that you label and configure the system to match your power consumption habits and preferences. The process is very similar to manually labeling circuits on an electrical panel so that you know what the circuits are connected to inside your home. This process is a crucial step in the configuration process as the smart panel uses this information to prioritize specific equipment.

    After labeling, you must set your priorities inside the app. This tells SPAN about your preferred appliances or devices inside your home. Your priority options include: Must Have, Nice to Have, and Not Essential. You should place your frequently used appliances that must be continuously left on, such as refrigerators, lights, air conditioning systems, or pumps, under the Must Have category. Equipment you don’t mind getting abruptly disconnected during a power outage would go under Not Essential.

    Using the SPAN electrical panel with solar

    SPAN mobile app

    SPAN mobile app. Image source: SPAN

    You can install the SPAN electrical panel in homes without solar panels, but it is loaded with features that can help you manage your solar panels or energy storage system. However, keep in mind that you need to have solar panels, a backup battery, or both installed at home to benefit from solar energy management features. For homes with solar panels only (no solar battery), the SPAN panel connects to your grid-tie inverter in order to monitor solar power generated by your solar panels.

    The system carefully tracks how much solar power your system is generating in real-time. Be aware that there are some mixed reports about this feature with some customers highlighting differences between what their inverter app shows and what the SPAN app displays.

    If your solar installation has a battery storage system, you can install communication between your solar battery and the SPAN panel for power management during an outage.

    Remember those priority level settings when you configured the system? Those priorities are used to manage power between your solar battery and home during a power outage. Equipment with Must Have priority will be powered by the battery until it is fully drained. Appliances with Nice to Have priority will receive power from the battery until the battery reaches 50% capacity. Equipment under Not Essential priority will not receive power during a blackout.

    The app shows you estimates for how long the battery will last based on your priority settings. This is incredibly useful, as you can make adjustments to your settings easily to prevent draining your battery during a power outage.

    How to save on your home energy bill with SPAN

    There are numerous ways to save on your monthly power bill with the SPAN electrical panel. These methods involve actively managing your energy usage with the SPAN app, as well as adjusting your power consumption at home based on time of use rates. There are also ways to save energy at home with the SPAN panel and SPAN Drive if you have solar panels or a backup battery.

    Decrease phantom loads

    With energy usage monitoring at your fingertips, you can keep an eye on idle appliances or devices consuming power. These are called phantom loads, which account for 10-20% of your monthly electricity bill. Idle phone chargers plugged into outlets and printers with always-on digital displays are examples of common systems that contribute to phantom loads.

    If your electricity bill costs $200 per month, you could save $20-$40 per month by cutting off phantom loads from the SPAN app. This equates to $200-$480 per year in savings.

    Load shifting with time of use rates

    The SPAN app highlights equipment that uses unusually large amounts of power, such as ovens, fans, refrigerators, and more. In addition to identifying these power-hungry systems, you can turn off the circuit during times of the day or night with peak electricity rates and turn them on when electricity rates are lower.

    Battery and solar control

    On top of savings from energy generated by your solar panels, you can set priorities for specific in-demand appliances or devices at home. These adjustments can be done in real-time, so you don’t waste precious solar energy stored in your battery during a power outage.

    Solar electric vehicle charging

    SPAN Drive offers proactive ways to save on your power bill when charging your electric vehicle. You can set the charger to only deliver power to your vehicle during off-peak hours when electricity rates are cheaper. There is also an option to only charge your electric vehicle’s battery up to a specific charge capacity. This feature is ideal if you don’t need a full battery because you charge your electric car at the office parking lot at a lower rate or under a free charging program.

    Is the SPAN electrical panel worth it?

    The SPAN electrical panel is filled with very useful and effective power management features for your home. The energy-saving methods via individual circuit control are straightforward and easy to implement using the mobile app.

    With features like the SPAN Drive electric vehicle charger, homeowners can take advantage of a home EV charger that is seamlessly integrated into their SPAN system. Although installation by a certified SPAN electrician can take about two weeks or longer, we find the wait time is justifiable.

    In our view, the time and painstaking effort spent on installation and setting up the system are worth it as the SPAN panel is an impressive upgrade to your current electrical panel.

    However, to “unlock” all of the SPAN panel's features, you need to have solar panels, a solar battery, or both installed at home. This is because solar power tracking and priority settings are tied to these solar components. 

    Taking this into consideration, there are some additional costs associated with the SPAN panel if you don’t have solar panels and a battery energy storage unit. You would have to purchase these systems separately, which could cost between $8,000 and $20,000+ depending on the type and size of the solar system. Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, you now get a 30% federal tax credit on new solar panels and solar batteries so now would be the perfect time to consider these installations.

    Find out if going solar is worth it in your area
     - Author of Solar Reviews

    Michael Cheng

    Content writer

    Michael is a content writer at SolarReviews. He has more than six years of experience in industrial manufacturing and legal documentation, covering electrical safety, large-scale infrastructure and maritime legislation.

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