Recent advances in residential solar panels have come via Elon Musk’s Tesla, as have most of our hopes for realistic renewable energy products.
But there’s a new sunshine wrangler in town, and his name is Christopher Estes.
He’s behind SolPad Mobile, the first all-in-one solar panel that combines renewable energy, battery storage and advanced software. Available for pre-orders now, it comes in at 21” x 28” with a built-in handle and stand — perfect for #VanLife-ers and standard homeowners alike.
The operative words here are “all-in-one.” Solar panels, even those of the Musk variety, require infrastructure that at minimum includes an external battery for storing the energy collected from the sun. SolPad combines these two, streamlining use and lowering the price tag.
The video above runs through how the 25-lb., picture-frame-like device works. But essentially it’s plug-and-play. With two universal AC outlets and three USB ports on the backside, you can plug devices directly into the SolPad or plug it into an outdoor outlet for direct power to your home. If you add in SolControl plugs and their app (for iOS or watchOS), you can track your energy use and choose which items use solar power.
While direct sunlight will keep your devices going indefinitely, the SolPad website notes that a full 600Wh battery (and 60Wh reserve) can power your TV for 12 hours, a circular saw for 4 hours and a refrigerator for 10 hours. Not only is it an all-in-one solar panel, it’s your all-in-one emergency backup system, camping power supply and renewable energy starter kit.
Unfortunately, this isn’t going to take a home off-grid by itself (even though you can link them together). That’s where SolPad Home comes in. The rooftop panel system that “integrates seamlessly into your home without any rewiring needed” is due out in 2018.
“The answer is that there needs to be something that's affordable and is easy for people to use and … understand,” said CEO Estes to Greentech Media.
If you pre-order the SolPad Mobile, with delivery estimated anywhere from 6-9 months from now, it’ll only cost you $1,795. If it helps wean people off the grid, that’s a price we can all understand.