KOSTAL Pressebereich


Photovoltaic experts Tekloth Solar rely on KOSTAL and the ENECTOR

Tekloth, based in Bocholt (Germany), has been installing photovoltaic systems for over 22 years. The company has been selling and installing the KOSTAL ENECTOR wallbox since its market launch. In this interview you'll find out why the German-based company, Tekloth Solar GmbH, installs the KOSTAL wallbox.

When did your company get into photovoltaics?

Thomas Schmeink: We installed our first photovoltaic system as Tekloth GmbH back in 2001. Tekloth GmbH was – and still is – a building electrical engineering company with around 200 employees. The solar power systems business started small as a niche product, but developed so successfully over the years that followed that in 2008 we founded a separate company, Tekloth Solar GmbH, which today operates independently and employs 28 people.

Which photovoltaic systems do you specialise in?

Thomas Schmeink: We plan and implement 90 percent of our systems for single-family homes. In our region, we have few competitors in the single-family home segment. We are aware that many companies avoid this segment because the administrative costs are greater than those of systems with a higher output. However, we have optimised our processes, for example the registration procedure and system documentation. We also have qualified employees with good training and plenty of experience. They work independently, develop their own solutions on the construction site and make their own decisions, so that there are practically no queries and decisions can be made promptly and the work carried out efficiently. In our other company, the original parent company Tekloth GmbH, we primarily serve major customers. One example of a project is the planning and installation of modern remote control technology for 160 residential units.

How many photovoltaic systems do you install on average?

Thomas Schmeink: Our teams install 10 to 15 photovoltaic systems every week. To ensure a continuous workflow, we always have a stock of several shipping containers of photovoltaic modules, around 200 inverters and around 15 kilometres of substructure rails. Our lead time for new orders is currently 12 months. The teams are fully booked. The installation of photovoltaic systems is demanding and also a hard physical job. But we pay well and keep our people in the company for the long term. This enables us to offer our customers good quality, expertise, efficiency and a good deal at affordable prices.

Do you also offer an installation service for the charging infrastructure, e.g. wallboxes?

Thomas Schmeink: We've been involved in this area of work since 2018 / 2019. I wrote my final dissertation for my business degree on this very topic, focusing on AC and DC charging stations, their advantages and disadvantages, possible combinations with generation systems and storage units, and bidirectional charging. So I'm quite deeply involved in this topic. We've installed between 100 and 150 charging stations per year, although the hype of recent years is now over. At peak times, we received five enquiries a day – for private and public charging stations. We are currently still receiving around five enquiries per week. 

Why does Tekloth GmbH use KOSTAL components?

Thomas Schmeink: We're always keeping an eye on the market, but for years we've only been installing inverters from European manufacturers. For some time, we still had a local manufacturer from Bocholt in our offering, but it has now ceased production. KOSTAL is one of three manufacturers in our portfolio. We don't have any Asian inverter manufacturers in our range. I come from a service background, and it's important to me to be able to communicate efficiently and knowledgeably with the manufacturer. We also favour integrated product families because the communication between the components is then better. At KOSTAL, these are inverters, KOSTAL Smart Energy Meters, wallboxes and, thanks to compatibility with products from KOSTAL's partners, electricity storage units.

What we also like about KOSTAL is that the devices are reliable, that there is a free portal and that KOSTAL still installs displays in its inverters. These have now disappeared from products made by other manufacturers. However, I can get information much more easily, spontaneously and quickly on a display than with an app. Our customers – generally single-family homeowners over 40 years old who are not yet "digital natives" – agree. With an inverter with a display, I can quickly look at it in passing and click through the menu. I don't need a smartphone, tablet or PC. I don't have to open an app or log in anywhere. I like that – and so do our customers.

With the next generation of PLENTICOREs, an even wider input voltage range and a backup power supply will also be possible. These are two important features that KOSTAL takes into account. 
For us, the option of automatic remote updates is also a big plus point. Thanks to the AutoUpdate feature we no longer have to travel to the customer in person, which is very convenient. The end customer also benefits from a product that is always kept up to date with free new features and software optimisations.

The ENECTOR Wallbox is actually an inexpensive entry-level wallbox, but it can be optionally equipped with additional convenience functions. If required, the upgrade is activated by code. Does that suit you?

Thomas Schmeink: As we install the KOSTAL wallbox along with the PV system, all additional functions of the wallbox are activated immediately. As a result, we find the additional administrative work a bit of a hindrance. I would like to see a simplified approach here – especially for companies of our size.
However, I see advantages for smaller companies or firms that offer both smart and simple wallboxes: these save storage space and tie up less capital because two variants are covered with one device and the initial procurement costs are lower – even for customers who install on spec because subsidies are available, for example. In this case, a simple and cheaper wallbox can be installed, which can be upgraded from simple to smart using a code at some point in the future when the customer acquires an electric car. 
What factors do you think speak in favour of the ENECTOR? What do you like about the ENECTOR?

Thomas Schmeink: It has a very long charging cable of 7.5 metres. Of course, this provides the customer with a great deal of flexibility during installation. 
In addition, the Smart Energy Meter with the ENECTOR activation code provides blackout protection for the house connection and a clear display of the charging amounts in the portal. Solar Plus Mode is often used for smaller PV systems.

From the installer's point of view, the pre-wiring and large terminal compartment as well as the good workmanship are certainly worth mentioning. The drilling template supplied also helps with installation.

KOSTAL has been researching bidirectional charging for years, for instance in the BDL project.  What do you think? Will electric vehicle charging be bidirectional in the future? 

Thomas Schmeink: This is often requested by customers. Of course, there are still questions to be resolved about bidirectional charging – for example, the structure of the vehicle battery warranty. On the other hand, a parked electric car has many kilowatt-hours of storage capacity available that is not currently being used. This represents huge potential for an efficient energy transition but brings with it just as many aspects that still need resolving. 

How do you see the future of photovoltaics from your business perspective?

Thomas Schmeink: In Germany, at least, photovoltaics has well and truly arrived and has come of age. There will be plenty of work for solar installers in the future – even though the demand for new installations in the single-family home sector will decline.  People are also being affected by inflation. On the other hand, over the next few years we'll see a significant rise in demand for service, retrofitting battery storage units in existing systems and converting or repowering existing systems that are no longer eligible for Renewable Energies Act subsidies.

How does Tekloth GmbH supply itself with electricity? 

Thomas Schmeink: With photovoltaics and storage, of course. We operate a 100 kilowatt-peak photovoltaic system and an 80 kilowatt-hour electricity storage unit. 

Mr Schmeink, thank you for the excellent interview!

Thomas Schmeink: My pleasure.