About this project
To all our backers: Thank you so much! You put us over the top! Follow SunPort here.
Arrive too late for backing SunPort on Kickstarter? You can still pre-order a SunPort here.
SunPort is about accelerating America’s shift to solar energy, by letting everyone participate in crowdsourcing demand for it. What better place to do that than Kickstarter?
We all know the world is going solar. The issue is not if, but when. We need it now, so the key question is "how?" How do we get it done? How fast can we get there? And how much damage will we do to the planet in the meantime?
Solar is growing, but way too slowly. Despite falling costs and increased development for years, solar still barely shows up as a US electricity source.
Based on current U.S. power sources overall, if you spent one hour cruising Kickstarter today, less than 30 seconds of your energy use came from solar, but a whole 51 minutes came from coal, natural gas, and nuclear.
And we forget the nastiness of non-renewables because they don't spew their emissions in our faces, but tall, not-so-distant smokestacks still constantly spew.
For years 90% of Americans have said they want more solar, but most still do nothing about it. Our politicians and power companies have spent billions to get us more solar, but owning solar panels is still out of reach for most people.
Solar on your own roof can make sense if you have plenty of cash or a good FICO score, plus a sunny roof on a house you own and plan to stay in for years. If you can do it, please do it! But in truth, solar today is mainly for prosperous people in the suburbs. We need solar beyond the suburbs, solar for everyone, solar without barriers. So how do we make solar easy and affordable for all?
By consuming solar energy with SunPort.
You don’t need to own a power plant to use power, and you don’t need to own an airplane to travel by air. Why should you need to own solar panels to use solar energy? You don't.
For many people access is better than ownership, so why own it if you can just use it? And solar energy is quite affordable, even if the solar panels aren’t.
If enough of us are willing to pay just an extra penny or two per day for solar energy, we can create massive consumer demand for more of it. And, most importantly, demand for solar energy can only be met by building more solar installations.
More solar use = more solar demand -----> more solar built
Demand for solar energy is the best way to attract substantially more investment for solar projects. More solar investment means more solar panels feeding the grid, which displaces non-renewable power sources.
Could SunPort be the best way to create that demand?
SunPort is not your typical solar product. It doesn’t have solar panels and it won’t save you money. But it could help you save the planet (or at least take better care of it for future generations).
SunPort is the world’s first smart grid solar delivery device. Instead of making solar energy, SunPort lets you use it by consuming the output of grid connected solar systems: grid energy + solar credits. SunPort does this by automatically matching solar credits to the energy you take from the wall. Just by plugging in, you instantly demand and use 100% solar energy, easily and affordably.
And SunPort doesn't just demand solar energy, it directly funds new solar panels for non-profits as well, but more on that later.
Choosing to use solar with SunPort is kind of like buying organic food or fair trade coffee. You pay just a little more because you care about where it comes from. But your choice makes a big difference where it counts. Part of SunPort's beauty is the high leverage impact it has.
Within a single day, one SunPort can employ a whole day's production from as many as twenty (20) solar panels. Those panels installed as a typical residential rooftop system would cost about $20,000!
In theory, the entire output from a $20,000 solar installation could be demanded by single a $50 device. That’s 400 to 1 financial leverage! Even light use of a SunPort to regularly power a laptop yields 20 to 1 leverage. SunPort automatically demands solar for you, wherever and whenever you plug in, so you can exert it's high-leverage effortlessly. No panels. No hassles.
So how can you consume real solar without panels? You can’t. Real solar only comes from panels, but you don’t need to own them. SunPort “asks” the people with the panels for their solar by buying and consuming the solar credits their panels supply.
For just $20 per year in solar credits, you can solar power anything you can plug into a SunPort, and each SunPort received through this campaign includes one year of unlimited solar to get you started. While we didn’t invent these solar credits, we did figure out how to get consumers using them. Lots of them. Easily and affordably.
Officially called a Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (S-REC), a new solar credit is created each time one megawatt-hour of real solar energy produced from real panels, goes into the electrical grid. Using S-RECs is the only way to actually use solar without going off the grid. That’s why they were invented—to let anyone access solar power and help grow the solar energy market.
Here’s a helpful video from the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explaining how Renewable Energy Certificates work:
When the big companies in the EPA’s Green Power Partner Program (you know their names) get solar power, they may build their own systems or they may just buy the solar energy, but either way they use S-RECs to track their solar use. And now we’ve come up with an easy, affordable way for you to do the same thing.
Certified S-RECs are big chunks of solar, each one larger than a typical home’s entire monthly energy use. Our innovation is simply breaking S-RECs down into much smaller increments called SunJoule™ solar microcredits.
SunJoules are the right size for the small slices of power individuals use day-to-day, like powering a laptop or a gaming console. When a SunPort measures one kilojoule of grid electricity being used, it retires one SunJoule from the system and credits the SunPort’s owner with that amount of real solar use.
SunPort works with a non-profit called ReChoice to acquire the S-RECs and break them up into SunJoules. ReChoice is dedicated to giving all consumers choice in their sources of electricity.
For every dollar ReChoice spends acquiring the S-RECs to make SunJoules, they spend a matching dollar to put new solar panels on the roofs of other non-profits. The cost of that new solar is built into the SunJoules, so when you use a SunJoule, you’re helping build new solar.
Non-profits getting free solar panels from ReChoice benefit by reducing their operating budgets. They receive free electricity from the panels, permanently lowering their electric bill.
Those tiny little SunJoules really pack a punch. Real solar for you, new solar for the planet, and free electricity for non-profits. A triple win.
A little more solar installed by ReChoice is a great start, but that only happens when lots of people use SunPort to demand solar energy. And once that happens, consumer demand for solar from SunPort can trigger even more solar development, beyond what ReChoice builds. So where do you begin?
The sun is waiting to supply an endless amount of solar energy. SunPort lets you start using 100% solar immediately, so the next move is totally up to you. Since you’re reading this online, you probably own a computer. What if you just plugged your computer into a SunPort?
Using SunPort to power just a laptop, you can easily demand 10 or 20 times more solar than today’s average power consumer. That’s a great start (and a desktop computer will demand even more).
What if everyone in America ran their computers on solar? The Kickstarter community by itself, all charging laptops using SunPort for an hour, would use more than enough solar to equal the output of a whole coal power plant for an hour.
SunPort empowers us to have a big impact collectively, even if we each just do a little bit. Imagine if millions of Americans start using SunPort to demand solar energy. We would create a solar movement!
It took a few iterations to get it right, but SunPort’s design has been proven with the help of hundreds of testers using Beta SunPorts produced by our factory in China. We’re ready to go, so you can start demanding solar as soon as yours arrives. Just back this campaign and you’ll be ready to go. There are no long-term contracts or commitments.
During this Kickstarter campaign, we're offering one free year of unlimited solar included with each SunPort to encourage as much solar use as possible starting the day it arrives. Use it to power anything you can plug in, all the way up to 10 amps at 120 volts, or 1200 watts .
After the first year, unlimited solar for your SunPort will cost just $20 for another whole year, but based on backer feedback and solar usage patterns, we expect to offer other plans as well. We’re also exploring brand partnerships that might even get you solar for free.
SunPort is designed so you can use solar where you want, when you want, how you want. We even used SunPort Betas to solar power the production of everything you see on this page, including our entire campaign video, making this the first solar-powered Kickstarter campaign.
And, in collaboration with indie hip-hop label Rhymesayers, we used a bunch of SunPort Betas to completely solar-power a music video for Atmosphere’s most popular song, aptly titled “Sunshine." Here’s a look at those SunPort Betas in action behind the scenes of this historic solar-powered video...
During the Kickstarter campaign, SunPort comes in your choice of four bright colors (yellow, pink, blue, and green). Perfect for highlighting your solar use everywhere you plug in.
When you’re using solar from your SunPort, it lights up green to tell you (and others around you) that you have solar. It’s a great way to visibly show your commitment to solar and start some conversations.
The SunPort app (for iOS and Android) shows how much electricity you’ve upgraded to solar over time, like a fitness tracking app, and you can add multiple SunPorts to your account to create even more impact. You’ll also be able to chart the collective impact of the whole SunPort community or just those in your network.
We're also planning transparency and verification features that will allow users to track their solar back to a system of origin and specific S-REC ID numbers. That way, the community can help oversee the integrity of the overall system and make sure solar claims are always authentic.
Gamification and social features will help keep the app interesting and allow fun interaction around challenges and collaboration. The app will even measure the electricity used by your phone or tablet running the app and automatically upgrade it to solar, without even plugging into a SunPort. And if you select the SUNPORT DEV CLUB reward, you’ll be invited to test our app during development and help shape the final version.
SunPort easily plugs into any standard three-pronged outlet (NEMA 5-15), so you can take it with you and use solar everywhere you go in the U.S., including…
As the world’s first plug-in smart grid solar delivery device, SunPort is part of a growing effort to create communication between energy producers (solar farms) and consumers (you). This communication improves renewable power distribution while giving us more choice over the kinds of energy we consume than ever before.
But it’s important to understand that SunPort is not affiliated with your power company, nor will it affect your home power bill. It simply measures the grid electricity you take from any wall outlet (at home or away) and upgrades it to solar using a ready supply of SunJoule solar microcredits, managed through the cloud.
So don’t wait for panels, politicians or power companies. Please back us now, and begin demanding solar with SunPort.
What makes a tiny startup think it can do something as big and audacious as paving a pathway to solar for everyone?
It can only be described as a sense of calling, and a firm belief that if people are shown a way to make a difference, people will make the difference.
SunPort began at a solar conference Paul and Don attended in southern California several years back. As electric power industry veterans, they were responding to market signals and expanding a traditional power equipment business into solar. They hoped to make connections in the solar industry and gain insight into the industry’s needs. They weren’t seeking a new mission or way to change the world when their light bulb moment came...
“Who has solar?," a speaker asked for a show of hands. In an auditorium full of thousands at a solar conference, only a couple dozen hands went up. These were solar industry insiders—the true believers—and even they were struggling to go solar. Don and Paul realized the world needed a “Solar 2.0.” There was no way solar could become the planet’s primary power source unless something changed radically to make it much more accessible for everyone.
Don and Paul were soon joined by Matt in brainstorming ideas and mining insights. Things clicked when they realized the business potential of solar consumed as a service. Patents were filed and plans were made, but they needed to build a team. At Startup Weekend Santa Fe in the spring of 2013, Paul met Tim and Nick, who joined on to add much-needed technical capabilities. Further development and numerous pivots quickly led to a crude but recognizable version of what is now SunPort.
Before long, after living in Asia for years, Jonathan Droege returned to the U.S. to assist with operations and logistics. Next, an unlikely encounter with Hank at CES 2014 followed by a trip to China yielded a partnership with a world-class manufacturer, and product development began in earnest. Before long, Aaron joined to work on the platform, and Julia came in to run social media as SunPort came more clearly into focus.
Then ABQid, a new Albuquerque-based startup accelerator, invited the SunPort team to join the first cohort. There, Webb and Kat challenged the team in business model and customer development. At CES in January of 2015, Paul met Marty and learned about Fallon’s StarterKit pitch competition coming up in March at SXSW. The SunPort team won that competition, resulting in Fallon’s collaboration on this Kickstarter campaign.
Finally, SunPort’s semi-finalist showing at the Sustainable Brands Innovation Open in May 2015 connected Mateo with the team. He brought design and branding sharply into focus, just in time for our Kickstarter launch.
The path has been long and winding, but it’s now paved and ready for you to join in. SunPort’s vision is solar as a service, broadly used by everyone who cares about where their energy comes from. SunPort technology can be embedded in virtually any product running on electricity. A whole-house product is on our list for development, and an enhanced version of SunPort with on/off control and USB charging. SunPort technology licensing is also planned, so appliance and electronics companies can offer 100% solar-powered versions of their products. SunPort believes consuming solar should be easy and affordable for everyone, regardless of whether they can afford panels or own a roof.
But right now it’s your turn. The solar is real and waiting for you to use it. SunPort lets anyone use solar, easily and affordably, with no long-term contracts or commitments. This idea works for people who genuinely value solar power. And if enough people join in, it could cause a solar breakthrough. So what about you? Are you ready to join the SunPort community and help power a brighter future with solar? Let’s go!
In addition to covering the costs of fulfilling campaign rewards, funds raised through this Kickstarter campaign will be used to pay for SunPort app development as well as final device testing and safety certification.
Video music ("Fish Delay" and "Massive") provided by INKY MUSIC
Risks and challenges
Hardware has inherent uncertainties and integration risks. Logistical challenges like parts shortages or production delays can also come up. Our commitment is to keep our backers updated on our progress and be transparent about any problems that may arise.
We have partnered with an experienced ISO9001 contract manufacturer from Shenzhen, CHINA, and we’ve visited their factory. They have built 31 different SunPort prototypes and then shipped over 1,000 SunPort Betas, which are working flawlessly. They manufacture numerous related products marketed under other labels, so they are well versed in scaling up production for this type of product.
We still have an important testing and certification step to complete for SunPort. The process takes about 10 weeks and could incur delays if there is a problem. Our manufacturer has been through this process numerous times for other products and they believe we should not have any difficulties.
Our online platform is built and running. It works well with a prototype version of our mobile app. However, the SunPort app still needs to be fully developed and tested. We plan to work closely with our backers on designing our UX, and we’ll actively share campaign updates about our app development progress and challenges.
Unfortunately, it will not save you any money on your power bill. But it does not increase your utility bill either. The only cost for the first year is the cost of the device itself. Then it will cost something in the range of $20/year for additional years of solar upgrades.
The fact is, even though prices have come down considerably, solar generation equipment is still quite expensive, and all the cost is paid up front, which is also one reason it’s out of reach for many people. We have worked hard to come up with a way anyone can afford to use at least some solar energy. By letting you consume solar as a service, we’ve arranged to have others pay for the expensive infrastructure, so you just pay a little bit extra to get solar.
SunPort is about using solar energy as a lifestyle choice. It's a way to personally join the solar movement and help drive solar forward, even if you can't put solar on your own roof. If you can put solar panels on your roof, you can save money (once you pay for the system) and I encourage you to do so.
We're focused on people who care but have not had a way to participate. The solar we support flows through the grid and it doesn't cost much or have big commitments involved. For many people this is the only sort of solar that can make sense today. If that's you, please back our campaign.
No. You pay your utility for the electricity, which is just generic energy. SunPort adds a very minor solar cost, which is not for energy but for certified information that attributes your energy use to a solar source. If you skip the information, you can still get energy but it won’t be specifically linked to solar. The information allows what we call a solar upgrade. Only with this combination of generic energy and certified information can energy from the grid to be identified as renewable energy.
SunPort's system runs on Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (S-RECs) which are produced from solar generation equipment connected to the grid. When the solar power is metered and released into the grid, the meter reports how much energy was released and that information gets certified into an S-REC. The energy that went into the grid becomes generic energy, indistinguishable and untrackable within the grid itself. The S-REC is like a "claim-check" for solar. Whoever matches and consumes the S-REC with grid energy is said to be consuming solar energy.
Some utilities sell renewable energy which may seem to be only paying once for electricity, as compared to SunPort. To do this, they still use RECs and you pay for them, even if they don’t show up as a separate charge on the power bill. Whether you get solar as a bundled product from your utility or as an upgrade from SunPort, both approaches rely on S-RECs which help pay to support solar generation, which is more expensive than other (non-renewable) forms of generation. By paying for a solar upgrade, you help create more demand for solar energy.
We only "track" solar where it goes in and where it comes out of the grid. It is impossible to track electrons in the grid and they don't "flow", they actually just vibrate.
The way we track solar is much like your bank tracks your money. They don't worry about which bills came from whom, they just track what comes in and goes out. It's all about the accounting. And just like with the bank, great care is taken in making sure that everything flowing through the system is authentic.
When solar goes into the grid, a solar credit (S-REC) is created that documents what went in. This is a third-party certified commodity that is completely separate from the energy itself. When you take solar out, the solar credit gets consumed by you, along with the the matched electrical energy. The energy "flow" in the grid doesn't actually figure into the equation at all.
This may seem magical, but it is the way the entire grid-based renewable energy system works (we didn't invent it - see the EPA video on our page). We just made the system accessible to you. That's what SunPort does - it lets you get real solar energy easily and affordably without owning the panels, the same way big companies have for years.
Obviously, SunPort is very different from solar panels on your roof, in terms of hardware, cost and benefits. Putting solar on your own roof is fairly complicated and costly. Even if you get it with a no money down lease, you still need good credit and you make a big commitment. Of course, there’s also a financial return, which make the challenges worth taking on for many people. What most people don’t realize is that usually, people with solar on their roof don’t actually use solar energy -- they just produce it and sell it to the utility.
Unless they keep their S-RECs and forego what their utility pays to get them, they only produce the solar energy. In most cases, homeowners with solar just sell their S-RECs to help make the economics of solar work better for their budget. They can’t legitimately claim to be a consumer of solar, if they’re selling the right to claim use of solar to someone else, which is what an S-REC is.
SunPort is like the opposite side of the coin, compared to panels on the roof. SunPort doesn’t cost much or take much commitment; solar on the roof does. SunPort doesn’t have any solar panels at all; solar on the roof is entirely about owning panels. SunPort consumes S-RECs and pays for them; solar on the roof produces S-RECs and gets paid for them. SunPort lets you use solar energy; solar on the roof lets someone else use it. SunPort costs very little but doesn’t save you money, solar on the roof is very expensive but pays a return.
There’s a place for both versions of solar, each suited to different people and circumstances. SunPort allows anyone to access real solar energy, anywhere, without owning panels or even a roof. SunPort helps create more demand for solar and can help us get more of it. Owning a SunPort is different than owning solar panels, but either can be a good choice. Just don’t keep waiting to join the solar revolution.
The Dev Club is just people who will get a beta SunPort and early releases of the app, to give us feedback on their user experience and the app's user interface. There is no requirement to know anything about coding to join. In fact, we want plenty of people who are not techies to join the Dev Club so we know how regular people react to the app.
There's nothing too intense or mandatory involved, but we do want people who are genuinely willing to help with feedback on the app while it's under development. We expect to give the Dev Club more access to what's going on with our team and maybe do some conference calls from time-to-time. Mainly, we want Dev Club members just telling us what they like or don't like, what bugs are discovered, etc.
Of course, Dev Culb members also get a production SunPort when they're available, and an exclusive Dev Club T-shirt. Sorry, but it does not include a secret decoder ring!
Each country has its own requirements in terms of safety testing and certification. This testing is quite costly and it typically needs to be done in order to comply with legal requirements, even before the first unit is sold. Since we're just a tiny startup, we can't afford to do testing for multiple countries all at once, especially without knowing how strong the demand for our product will be in those places. When we get market traction in the US, we hope to go after other countries as soon as we can.
Yes, as long as you can plug into power and connect to the internet you can use SunPort. All our solar is presently generated in the continental USA however, so whatever locally generated electricity you use will be matched against real solar going into the US grid, even though those grids (probably) don't connect with each other. Although such use consumes real solar credits (S-RECs), a legal claim of using solar will probably not be recognized by the country you’re in.
We hope to source solar domestically for SunPort users everywhere in the future, but right now we’re focused on the US market. Each country has different testing and certification requirements too, which is very costly. Most other countries will also require a local power adapter, since SunPort is currently just built for a US-style, 120V three prong plug configuration.
For these reasons, we decided to focus on the US market first. Canada, Mexico and Japan are the next likely places to go, since they have the same plug style and voltage as the US. We want to be anywhere that people want to use solar, but we'll also need partners for most non-US markets. If you're interested in discussing your particular country, please back us for $2 now to get on our email list and then we can connect after the Kickstarter campaign is over.
Right now we’re not prepared to commit how rapidly we can expand to other countries, even though we love the idea and want to do it as soon as possible. Because we’re a startup and we have limited resources, we need to selective about which challenges we take on and in what sequence. Our hope is that we can at least begin evaluating some pilot activities for another country late in 2015 or early in 2016, but we presently need to focus our attention to completing our Kickstarter campaign successfully and delivering on the commitments associated with it.
SunPort is rated 1200 watts at 120 volts, which means the largest load allowable is 10 amps. Most electronics are substantially below this rating so they're no problem. The main items that could exceed this limit are devices or appliances with a medium or large sized motors like some power tools and /or that create heat, like a toaster oven. Some items like blow dryers can go either way, depending on the model and power setting. If you overload the SunPort, it will shut off to protect itself so you should be careful about plugging in something that could overload it and which would cause you trouble if it suddenly shut off.
It is fine to use a plug strip with a SunPort but you need to be careful not to overload it in this case. Also, some loads are variable and they may occasionally spike up, even if they are typically lower. Laser printers for example have a high current spike when they initially start up. For this reason, you should check what the total load of the items on the plug strip are. Also, the phone app is expected to allow you to read what the load is at any given moment, but the final functionality for this feature is still under development.
It does take solar panels to be solar. You just don’t need to own them yourself and they don’t need to be on your roof. SunPort’s technology allows you to get real solar energy from real solar panels, any time you use electricity from the grid. SunPort solar does not directly save you money; rather it is a lifestyle choice, using solar as a service, easily and affordably. The point is to become a consumer of solar and creating more solar demand, which can help cause a tipping point for powering the whole grid with renewable energy.
No, you can get solar energy any time you want. SunPort treats the grid like a huge solar reservoir. Solar energy pumps into the grid whenever the sun shines on the panels that generate our solar, so we always have new solar waiting in the grid, before you demand it. When you use solar, our SunPort technology keeps your power 100% matched against this actual solar production, regardless of time of day or weather conditions. The solar energy is only made during the day when the sun is shining, but you can create demand for solar, any time day or night and without any consideration to weather conditions.
Absolutely! It is completely legitimate and authentic to claim you’re running on solar when you use SunJoules matched to power consumption. In fact, the underlying operating principle of our technology (consumption of RECs) is the only way to legally and legitimately claim use of any grid connected renewable energy. SunPort matches energy use against a true solar energy supply, in strict accordance with what the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires to legally claim use of solar energy.
No, not precisely, but that’s because this question is based on a misinterpretation of how electricity works. Electrons convey energy, but they don’t get used up or normally even “flow” on an alternating current (AC) power grid. Energy flows instantly from one point to another, even though the electrons mainly just vibrate.
Once solar energy is in the grid, it’s completely indistinguishable from energy supplied by any other source. Because of this, there is no way to directly discern where an increment of power in the grid comes from, when it is used. Smart grid enabled tracking however, allows any source of grid energy (solar or otherwise) to be easily identified and tracked as it enters the grid. We use the SunPort platform to automate this tracking process and make sure your SunJoules always come from authentic and accurately measured solar production from real panels. That way, how the energy gets routed makes no difference, since your use is always matched to a verified solar source.
It’s kind of like how your bank tracks money in your account, without regard for what branch or ATM you use. When you get money from an ATM, the bank’s system matches the cash withdrawal back to your account. How a dollar bill arrived in the ATM or who had that bill before you doesn’t matter, as long as the linkage to your account works. The bank’s accounting system makes sure you always get your own money from the ATM, by always matching the ATM’s activity back to your account balance. In the same way, SunPort’s platform guarantees the power you use is real solar, by matching back to a real solar source.
First, we guarantee our system is matching new solar energy in the grid through our SunPort technology, which tracks energy use and correlates it to your SunJoule™ account. Our system is auditable and recurring third-party audits will verify the solar matching claims. The US FTC regulates claims of renewable energy use in commerce, and we must comply with those regulations by law.
Second, the solar industry has practices and standards that ensure only genuine solar production can be claimed as solar. We provide solar in the form of SunJoule™ microcredits, which are created by a non-profit named ReChoice. They produce SunJoules in strict proportion to industry standardized bulk solar S-RECs obtained from reputable sources which are also certified by a third-party organization, independently validating the authenticity of the solar.
Finally, as we further develop our system and our phone app, we expect to add transparency features that give greater social and community visibility. The SunPort community will then be able to further verify the authenticity of our actions and claims, while easily tracking our collective impact as well.
It is theoretically possible for SunPort to temporarily run out of SunJoules, though unlikely. SunPort gets SunJoules from a non-profit named ReChoice, which creates them based on its bulk acquisitions of third-party certified new solar (S-RECs), already fed to the grid. If demand for SunJoules were to spike dramatically, that demand could temporarily outrun the company’s reserve of SunJoules or even our resupply from ReChoice. For this reason, SunPort continually monitors its SunJoule supply and reserves, proactively acquiring more to make sure delivery platform keeps running smoothly.
SunPort works hard to stay out in front of the demand for SunJoules to prevent a supply crunch, but we also continually deplete solar as people use it. It is exceedingly improbable that SunPort could absorb enough solar to prevent ReChoice from creating more SunJoules, but we do want to tighten the supply. The whole point of SunPort is creating much more demand for solar energy, so more solar installations get built. If we deplete enough solar, the likely result is rising prices for solar energy, far in advance of complete unavailability. This sends a strong signal for developers to build more solar installations, thereby supplying even more solar energy into the increased demand.
Your immediate supply of SunJoules is based on what is loaded into your SunPort. Although SunPort always keeps new solar in the pipeline to assure ample supply when you need more, you can personally still run out of solar just by depleting your SunPort. Of course, if you do run out of SunJoules, it results in an interruption of your solar energy consumption, but not an interruption of electrical service.
Yes, we have considered a WiFi version and we expect we will have one. We chose to start with a Bluetooth version because we wanted people to use their phones with it and we wanted to encourage use in public places.
We love the idea of a USB charger version but we couldn’t offer it on our first model because it would have required a larger internal power supply, which would increase the size and cost of the SunPort. We considered doing it anyway but the added lead time it would cause was not justified, when we first need to prove the basic value proposition for consumers: being able to use solar energy easily anywhere without owning panels.
We love the plug strip idea and this is probably one of the new SunPort versions we will add soonest. Many people want to be able to use SunPort for an office or an entertainment system, for which a plug strip is ideal. We are also looking at a conference room type plug/USB charge hub.
This is under consideration but it may make more sense to handle some of these largest home type loads by simply doing a whole house product. Of course, if we were to directly address this application, it would make the most sense to create a suitable hardwired outlet rather than a plug-in product like SunPort. We will be talking with all our users in the days ahead to learn more about what applications you are most interested in.
We love this application but it constitutes a completely separate product from the plug-in SunPort, with many different features and challenges. Of course, it can be done based on the same underlying technology and platform. We need to work out the right user experience and a way to make it integrate seamlessly with other elements of home control and automation. That said, this is a product we feel could merit our attention the soonest, since it could allow much larger impact for each user and it should a very cost efficient way to increase that impact. The upshot is that although this is one of the more attractive products on our list, it is also one of the more complex, so even if we begin our work immediately it could still take longer than some of the simpler products.
This is one of our favorite ideas, although the EV market may still be a little less developed than we may need it to be, in order to pursue this application. With the grid presently powered 85% (on average) with non-renewables, EVs are mainly powered by non-renewable energy. We like to say it’s like they have really long tailpipe, but they still have emissions.
With a an EV charger product based on SunPort’s platform and technology, every EV using it would be a 100% solar powered vehicle. We are also interested in embedding our technology within EVs (through licensing arrangements) so the solar charging could be accomplished with any charger, regardless of where it is located or who owns it.
22. Have you considered a duplex outlet product that could be just hard-wired into a wall receptacle?
Yes, we think this is an excellent product concept that could be useful both for new construction as well as retrofitting into some homes, offices, schools and hotels, etc. It does present several unique challenges as well, so we don’t expect this to be developed in the near-term.
Solar is America’s most loved form of renewable energy, but also one of the smallest sectors. This makes it a good target for accelerating growth, since the popularity attracts interest and the relatively small size gives us a reasonable shot at impacting the market dynamics positively.
The underlying concept of SunPort could work with any form of renewable energy, but it needs to be proven useful before addressing less promising sectors than solar. The wind generation market is many times the size of solar and it has plenty of momentum, so it needs less help. Solar by contrast, is more expensive in cost vs. output and it has structural barriers in terms of utility acceptance, due to the popularity of residential rooftop solar.
Our view is that solar is arguably the most desirable form of non-dispatchable renewable energy, but the most bottled up in terms of market dynamics. We believe that if we’re able to break through the barriers that hold solar back, there could be a landslide of solar development. If we can trigger this, we’ll have plenty of opportunity to go after wind and other sectors of the market afterwards.
Right now we are privately held and entirely self-funded, but we definitely expect to raise money as we grow. Depending on the path we take, it is at least possible that we might accept investments from the public, through an equity crowdfunding platform. Presently we cannot accept investments from unaccredited private individuals, however. We are open to considering investments from accredited angel investors and venture capital firms, so if that’s you, please back us (generously) and then send us a private message with more information.
It is theoretically possible to get units like the SunPort made in the US but it would have been impossible for us to do so, since we don't have the financial resources to pay the development costs we would have incurred here. We did investigate this before we decided to look off shore.
Something like 80% of the world's consumer electronics presently come from the region of China were our factory is located, almost certainly including your mobile phone, your computer, etc. We needed to focus on proving a market and getting our company launched, rather than taking on the desirable but overwhelming challenge of helping fix the balance of trade problem the US faces. We have discussed how we might go about producing here in the US later when we have more resources, and if the opportunity presents itself in the future, we'd love to do it. We just don't want to get stuck on that issue.
By the way, the SunPort consumes 100% US made solar energy, harvested using panels located exclusively in the USA. Even if solar becomes available off shore, we expect to continue using domestic solar for all US customers.
SunPort is tangible and visible, with a user experience and a way of interacting with others about green energy. Because SunPort is a plug-in device, you can easily choose when to use it and when not to, if you wish. Because SunPort has a subscription type program, you can use unlimited solar during the period, so you can consciously choose to maximize your use without changing the cost of your solar investment.
Typically utility programs have mainly wind power and you sign up at a certain level. You must contact the power company to change your plan. Probably the biggest difference is that you need to be the person paying the power bill in order to use a utility green power program. With SunPort, you can demand solar anywhere you can plug in.
No, the charge cable is just a universal charging cable. We had them produced with the #PlugIntoSolar hashtag, to use with solar powered charging stations we have done for events and some public venues. The charge cable has a standard full-size USB male connector on one end and a micro-USB (Android style) on the other. It also has a captive adapter that allows the micro-USB end to adapted to fit an Apple Lightning-type receptacle on an iPhone or iPad. The adapter is not an Apple certified adapter however, so it is only suitable for charging and not for data transfer.
Just to be very clear, the present SunPort model does not have a USB charging outlet. The charging cable should be considered an unrelated promotional item and not for use with a SunPort per se. You will need your own USB charging converter or other 5 volt USB power source in order to use the charging cable. Of course, if you wish you can plug your USB charging converter into a SunPort so you're getting a solar charge, but that's up to you.
As a final comment, we do hope to have a USB charging-style SunPort in the future. It makes sense and it means that new SunPort model would eliminate the need to carry a separate USB charging converter. We did not do it with this model though, because doing so would have added to the size and caused delays.
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