Span Raises $10M to Scale Up Deployments of Smart Electrical Panels

Span.IO, the San Francisco-based startup that makes a  smart home electrical panel  that can track and control behind-the-meter batteries, rooftop solar inverters, EV chargers and other key household loads via smartphone, has landed a $10.2 million Series A round to scale up deployment in key markets, including wildfire-prone California. 

Span CEO Arch Rao, former head of Tesla’s energy storage business, said the funding round will help ramp up deployment and build relationships with solar and storage vendors such as  LG Chem , which integrated Span's panels in its “customizable backup” solar storage offering earlier this year. Span plans to announce another partnership later this quarter to “provide more integrated options for customers.”

Span has also earned UL certification in recent weeks, an important step in expanding from the early-access customer installations it’s done so far to broader adoption in its target markets of Hawaii and California, where behind-the-meter batteries are becoming a frequent add-on to residential solar systems. 

In Hawaii, the state’s  tariff structures  for rooftop solar make self-storage a more economic prospect than exporting to the grid. In California, by far the country’s biggest solar market, adoption is driven by a combination of shifting time-of-use rates and the state’s  Self-Generation Incentive Program  (SGIP), which offers significant rebates for behind-the-meter batteries — particularly for customers most vulnerable to having their power shut off by utilities trying to prevent their grids from sparking wildfires. 

“We’re going to work actively to get as many storage systems deployed as we can before fire season begins,” Rao said. 

Leading U.S. solar installer Sunrun, which has sold more than  10,000 of its Brightbox  battery systems, is reporting a 35-percent “attach rate” for batteries added to solar in California. That rate increases to 60 percent in the San Francisco Bay Area region served by bankrupt utility Pacific Gas & Electric, which blacked out  millions of customers  last fall, and could be forced to de-energize a large number of customers as  this year’s fire season  advances. 

Rao’s former employer Tesla, which  surpassed 100,000 Powerwall  battery installations in the first quarter, is also seeing significant uptake of storage in the state. Solar inverter companies  SolarEdge and Enphase  are also targeting California for their upcoming residential battery offerings. 

These providers have been “very focused on the cost reduction of these core pieces of technology, but less on system integration, and even less on load controls,” Rao said. 

Span’s ability to monitor and analyze how much power is consumed by various household loads, and to pre-configure and adjust which loads are powered during blackouts, could offer a significant advantage on that front, he said.  

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