California’s SunCulture Solar Inc. has announced that it will release its full sized SolPad series of plug-and-play photovoltaic panels in 2017. In what is likely a first in solar technology, the SolPad are as easy to use as plugging into an outlet because the module includes a battery, inverter and be charged by the grid as well as the sun.
“SolPad makes solar even more accessible for the majority of the global population and its growing energy needs, without the cost of building expensive grid infrastructure. With our groundbreaking component miniaturization and integration, we’ve transformed solar—much like the smartphone revolutionized the personal computer sector— combining numerous components into a single device that’s significantly less expensive, more powerful, and easier to use than conventional systems,” said Christopher Estes, SolPad’s CEO.
The company is launching two models, the SolPad and the SolPad Home. The first is a portable panel that can be set up anywhere, the second is a panel designed for rooftops. Each panel can serve as a single unit or be linked together in a multiple panel system.
By plugging SolPad directly into an electric outlet users can integrate and optimize their energy consumption and the device’s production using SunCulture’s SolControl user interface (UI). The UI learns user habits, makes optimization suggestions and can be controlled through a smartphone application from anywhere on the planet. Since batteries are built into each unit as are a ‘flexgrid' inverter, each panel provides AC power suitable for use with common devices, like laptops. The inverter also detects when to charge using solar or the electric grid, adapts for cloudy days, and adjusts its electric use and charge according to fluctuating utility rates.
Among the unique features of the “go anywhere” version of the SolPad includes a compact design, two universal grid-quality AC power outlets, three USB ports and it can even serve as an internet hotspot. It also guides the user with voice prompts to position the unit to collect optimum solar energy, according to location and time of day.
The versatility and portability of the SolPad could give people in developing countries access to the internet and electricity in regions that lack sufficient infrastructure. Similar in theory to solar technology being tested by the Air Force for use at forward operating bases, the potential applications of SolPad’s systems are broad.Tweet