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PowerBarr lets you charge your mobile devices using solar energy, without plugging into the wall. Help make it accessible today!
PowerBarr lets you charge your mobile devices using solar energy, without plugging into the wall. Help make it accessible today!
42 backers pledged CA$ 7,058 to help bring this project to life.

About

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CA$ 7,058

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PowerBarr enables the use of renewable, decentralized solar energy to power your devices. It's a simple concept with tremendous opportunity to change the way you use energy. We've created PowerBarr to make renewable energy accessible for everyone. Join the renewable energy revolution today and start charging your mobile devices faster with solar power that can go seven days non-stop even if the sun isn't shining! Each PowerBarr has the potential to take one of the fastest growing areas of energy consumption, mobile IT, off the grid, removing 2.5 - 5.5 tonnes of CO2 per unit per year. For a full demonstration of how PowerBarr works watch the video below:

"It can go 7 days charging 6 mobile devices without any sun! What other solar device can do that?" - Colin Campbell, Chief Brand Ignitor

With more than two years of R&D, the backbone of PowerBarr's technology is the high efficiency console, an integrated approach that is as simple as a solar calculator but on a bigger scale. PowerBarr has the ability to change the way we charge all of our devices and finally make a switch to renewable power!

Use Every Day

PowerBarr is for cities, businesses and home owners who want to start using solar power today. People love the idea of solar but all too often it is too expensive or inconvenient. PowerBarr empowers you to use solar power to charge mobile devices such as phones and tablets. Powered entirely by sunlight and designed for shared use in your business, coffee shop, community centre, office space, mall, university, airport, transportation hub, trade show, public space, or home, PowerBarr gives everyone a simple and affordable way to use renewable energy when they need it.

For those trying to tap into power in remote places, whether you're on a golf course or an island, PowerBarr provides options for just about any environment.

Why PowerBarr

1. Humanity's future success depends on our ability to utilize renewable energy and make it widely accessible

Achieving a sustainable future requires a solution to the challenges of storage and distribution of renewable power such as solar. PowerBarr is solving the problem of storing intermittent sunlight and providing access to this energy in an easy and efficient way. PowerBarr converts energy from the sun by using solar photovoltaic panels, then stores it in sturdy electrochemical batteries that root the system safely to the ground.

2. Less electricity loss: Higher efficiency

PowerBarr takes direct current power (DC) from its batteries and sends it to your natively DC powered electronics. Without any conversions, and at native low voltages common to all phones and tablets, you make use of stored solar energy in the most efficient way possible. Technically, it just makes more sense and is more efficient to use energy as close to the source as possible, and taking it through as few conversions as possible. The electrical grid, for instance, typically loses 10% of the energy generated in transmission through the wires. In addition, conversion losses from alternating current (AC) to DC electricity required by your electronic devices also sustains losses from 5-20%, according to Scientific American (see the article here).

3. Built to last, designed to be recycled & reused

PowerBarr is designed for the long haul. Making it modular means being able to change parts to service a variety of different needs and environments with the same product. Consideration of the entire life cycle is important, how it will impact your children and grandchildren? Have you ever considered what will happen to your product when you are done with it?  We strive to design each and every part to be 100% recyclable. A great deal of energy can be saved with efficient recycling of aluminum, a major component of the panels and casings of the units. The batteries are made out of pure lead and are designed to be recycled at the end of their life cycle. Other components from the copper wiring, through to the USB ports, are designed to be easily disassembled for sorting and separation for nearly complete recycling.

4. Climate change mitigation and adaption

By using more sources of renewable energy like what PowerBarr offers, you can make an incredible impact! You can reduce the need for fossil burning energy and help reduce the effects of climate change. The atmospheric carbon levels are currently above 397ppm (July 2013, Scripps Institute of Oceanography) and our world will continue to sustain a higher frequency of unusual weather events caused by climate change. Inevitably, the frequency and extent of power outages is likely to increase. PowerBarr aims to be broadly available to keep communications by mobile phone, and other potentially important emergency services including LED lighting working when the grid fails. At work or at home, PowerBarr will be able to keep a few essential electronic devices operating for days or even weeks.

5. Connecting people

Last but not least, there is something even more powerful about solar power stations than using renewable energy that results from the simple act of bringing people together. It may be less obvious, however the sense of connection with others that people experience when using a PowerBarr in public spaces is worth mentioning and making more common place. We live in a world of complexity and competition. PowerBarr aspires to be an act of compassion and connection, and re-establish society's foundation for success and be a part of creating more connected and caring communities.

Launching the NEW PowerBarr ArGON

Thanks to the feedback and support from people like you, we have taken all the findings from PowerBarr Beta (see more below) and created the ArGON! This stand-alone, modular unit provides flexibility to accommodate almost any environment. Fully charged with solar energy, the ArGON can power 6 mobile devices, 24 hours a day for 7 days straight without any sun!

Your support will help produce two PowerBarr ArGON units for public use across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). For every additional $3,000 raised we'll make another unit! You will also have the opportunity to identify the locations where you'd like to see them. Please vote on the regions at our voting portal on the website (www.powerbarr.com). We've chosen the GTA because Toronto is where PowerBarr currently resides. We'll do our best to get the ArGON into the communities you want to see them in by working with local municipal members. Please let us know what cities and countries you'd like to see these solar charging stations come to next.  Feel free to contact us at any time!

The launch of the PowerBarr ArGON will introduce the market to this unique offering and be the first of its kind in Canada. In order to make these solar charging stations accessible to the public, the project requires $7,000. With your support, you will be making the use of renewable energy accessible and sparking the adoption of sustainable energy sources around the world.

What you're getting!

Your support of over $10Virtual high-five & shout out on Twitter and Facebook! Thanks for being awesome.

Your support of over $20: Become a Silver Founder! Your support at this level will be recognized on the websites supporter page.

Your support of over $30: Become a Green Founder! Get a Christmas card and give the gift that keeps on giving - renewable power! Your support at this level will be recognized with your name and a friends on the websites supporter page.

Your support of over $50Become a Gold Founder! Your support at this level will be recognized on the websites supporter page. You will also receive a special Kickstarter edition PowerBarr t-shirt! (Plus applicable shipping fees, if necessary)

Your support of over $100Become a Signature Founder! Your support at this level will be recognized on the websites supporter page and you will receive the benefits listed above, including your name on each of the units built! (Plus applicable shipping fees, if necessary)

Your support of over $200Become a Platinum Founder! At this level you will be recognized on the website supporter page and receive all the benefits listed above. You and a friend will also be invited to the launch event in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). (Plus applicable shipping fees, if necessary)

Your support of over $500: Become an Event Founder! At this level you will be recognized on the website supporter page and receive all the benefits listed above. You will also receive a PowerBarr ArGON unit for a complimentary 2 day rental! (Plus applicable shipping fees, if necessary)

Your support of over $5000: Become a PowerBarr ArGON owner! At this level, get your very own solar charging station. Also if you'd like, we'll brand the unit for you, either with your corporate identity or a unique design. (Plus applicable shipping fees, if necessary)

Your PowerBarr Team

The people behind the scenes include Elena, Colin, John and Lorne. There is also a growing team of interns helping get PowerBarr off the ground. We are passionate about putting renewable energy into mainstream use every day. We have combined experience in sales, marketing, IT, electronics, renewable energy, and entrepreneurial ventures.

Elena Jusenlijska started her career off at Bullfrog Power, where she met John in 2009. Elena’s professional portfolio includes start-up experience in the commercial interiors space, orchestrating the delivery of school and sport supplies to an orphanage in Lima in 2010, and furniture and school supplies to an elementary school in the Peruvian Andes in 2011. At Earth Rangers Centre for Sustainable Technology, she helped develop partnerships that resulted in achieving the highest scoring LEED Platinum building certification in Canada. Elena founded and co-directs a non-profit behind T.O’s Eco Chase - a sustainability-focused annual scavenger hunt in Toronto. She has served on the executive coaching committee for aspiring small business entrepreneurs at the Rotman School of Management and is an active member of the Communications & Marketing committee of the Canadian Green Building Council, Toronto Chapter. Elena is currently the Chief Spark Plug at PowerBarr and works as a Head-hunter with Delta Management, a boutique executive search firm focused on cleantech, sustainability & environmentally-focused roles.

Colin Campbell is a business sustainability consultant, entrepreneur and professional triathlete. As an athlete, his ultimate aspiration would be to compete for Canada at the Olympics. Colin is an ambitious individual and sets the bar high. While studying for his Bachelor of Commerce at Dalhousie University, Colin was involved with several entrepreneurial ventures. In 2009, Colin biked from Toronto to Halifax promoting a non-for-profit he started called Hydro Heroes, which aimed to promote a sustainable way to helping world water issues, by using a lead-by-example approach. He went on to build 'Partnerships in Sustainability' with a small team at Evergreen Brick Works in Toronto and initiated a landscape design start-up called Microscapes aiming to take advantage of unused spaces and turn them into small creative landscapes. Colin is currently the Chief Brand Ignitor at PowerBarr and Consultant on the Business Sustainability team at Canadian Tire, a leading Canadian retailer. Colin has been inventing and creating since he was a kid, with a flair for making the connections needed to get innovative ideas working.

John Wilson is an IT professional and entrepreneur with more than thirty years of experience, which all started with the launch of his own company focused on the desktop publishing revolution. Next, John joined Corel before they released their revolutionary Corel Draw! software package that was pivotal to the success of Windows graphical user interface. Later, working for a small financial services software start-up, John went on to lead the eCommerce surge as a product manager during the dot com phase. Most recently, combining his passion for IT and renewable energy, John joined a team of five that would within three months launch Bullfrog Power, to become Canada's leading 100% renewable energy company now eight years later. In parallel, over the past twenty years, John has experimented, innovated with and implemented renewable energy at home (3 solar systems and 1 wind turbine), an off-grid solar system in the Dominican Republic, a gasoline to electric boat conversion and finally a "solar desk" invention that he has been evolving over the past five years. Needless to say, John is PowerBarr’s Chief Tech & Solar Geek.

Lorne Spence is an electronics professional with a diverse entrepreneurial and technological background. His belief in renewable energy combined with his passion for creation and design has led to his involvement in many innovative projects including off-the-grid marine applications, intelligent battery management programs, and solar/battery integration, which was required to reliably power essential electronics equipment in some of the most demanding environments in Canada. He was the lead designer and technician in converting several sailing vessels from internal combustion to clean, electric propulsion, as well as the lead system designer for navigational and communication electronics used by several Marine law enforcement agencies. He is an ABYC and NMEA certified marine technician, and is currently the Lead Product Designer at PowerBarr.

PowerBarr Beta Findings

PowerBarr's Beta product successfully tested all the major components that make up the NEW PowerBarr Argon.

The Beta product incorporated a 40 watt solar panel, a battery, a smart charge controller with monitor, and a custom steel battery case and console. It was successfully piloted at Cafe Belong, at Evergreen Brick Works in Toronto for a two month trial in order to get feedback on the design, and test all of the major components in a challenging location (facing west rather than south). All systems performed well, and despite a flood that engulfed the entire system, PowerBarr Beta was up and running again after a thorough cleaning, and a minor charge controller upgrade.

Feedback informed the design and direction of the PowerBarr ArGON, our market release product that we are raising funds to build here at Kickstarter. We've taken everything we've learned about how to build and operate PowerBarr and incorporated these changes into our new design. We've moved the design from white board and paper drawings to full AutoCAD drawings, complete with 3D renderings, and files for working with professional aluminum fabricators.

PowerBarr Beta at Cafe Belong, Evergreen Brick Works in Toronto.
PowerBarr Beta at Cafe Belong, Evergreen Brick Works in Toronto.

PowerBarr's Journey

Here's the story of the design, development & fabrication of the solar charging stations.

Initial planning and design for a solar charging station prototype began at a meeting between Elena, Colin and John in late 2012. 

The plan was to rapidly prototype our idea, put it into the market, and start getting feedback as soon as possible. The initial design took a number of iterations as we worked through the many competing requirements for portability, modular & design aesthetic, and internal technology to make it all work. PowerBarr Beta first came to life on a large piece of drafting paper the team worked together to create. In order to resolve all the details, from metal bending and wiring inter-connections to battery and solar panel selection, we agreed upon the overall design. Splitting into two teams, our focus on the external case and internal electronic integration were our initial priorities.

Working with steel turned out to be harder than anticipated. Fortunately, "professionals" were on hand to help us get every bend and cut done right, or at least best as possible. We learned a great deal about designing and working with metal, all of which has been incorporated in PowerBarr ArGON, the unit we are currently raising funds to build for public use across the Greater Toronto Area.

After many sessions at the shop, we worked out the kinks in our design and became more proficient with building the solar changing station casing.

Internal wiring, integration of the battery, solar panel, charge controller, and USB interfaces proceeded quickly using proven parts from previous projects. For the beta test phase, a front facing system monitor was included for checking on the status of the working components, including measuring volts, amps, watts, kWh and more.

Once the console, battery box, and wiring were complete, we began redirecting our focus to preparing for a public beta test at Cafe BeLong in Toronto and creating a brand for the solar charging station.

For two months we tested PowerBarr Beta and gathered feedback using a feedback box, online survey, on-site sessions with users, and at a hands-on launch event hosted in the Spring. Regular checks also provided insight through observing user interaction.

PowerBarr ArGON Design and Build

Taking all the feedback from our beta test, we locked ourselves in a room for the weekend, and ran a design session with the core team, now with the benefit of Lorne Spence, a professional electronics expert officially joining the team shortly after the design session. We also got input from key product design specialists, engineers, marketing, and sales professionals who continue to provide their expertise.

For the design of PowerBarr ArGON, we took all the design ideas and moved them into AutoCAD. Over many iterations, we refined the design and components of the unit. Once satisfied with the next model, we began working with the aluminum fabricator. Through this engagement, we came up with a more refined flexible and modular design, allowing for the integration of different shelving types and the use of a interchangeable base station. Using these design files, we were able to provide everything the fabricator needed to produce the design precisely as specified.

Regular review sessions with the fabricator provided more granular adjusts to update the design.

The first build of PowerBarr ArGON was anodized with a silver coating to protect the aluminum and provide a silky smooth finish. Quickly after, Lorne began the process of integrating the battery, charge controller, USB ports, wiring for shelves, and our proprietary controller. Even at this early stage we are charging up our phones using PowerBarr ArGON. When you are putting so many hours into a project you begin to realize how valuable having a charger for your phone is!

Finally, here you can see the fully built and operational PowerBarr ArGON. We are now testing and making sure all systems are ready to build two more!

PowerBarr ArGON Prototype Demonstration

 

Production Plan

Final design will incorporate learnings from the build of our production ready prototype, demonstrated in the prototype video. All major components and electronics have been finalized and tested. Some adjustments to the battery bay slide rails are planned to make setup easier. The wiring system for each shelf requires some minor changes to secure them better while allowing them to be easily serviced. The shelving units require a recessed metal attachment to the glass shelving that will resolve an issue with the surface texture. A gap in the bottom glass shelf piece will be cut for the final build in order to allow the phone charge wires to wrap up through the bottom of the shelf units. We have detailed plans for these minor modifications that we are making in consultation with our fabricator, glass and hardware suppliers.

The PowerBarr Beta proved the major components work in the real world. Redesigning and moving the solar charging system to production mode has required creating designs in AutoCAD. Now complete, the team is working with a trusted and well established Canadian fabricator for the main aluminum frame and components, streamlining the production process. The fabrication will take 2-4 weeks to complete and the end-to-end production of the entire system will require approximately 6 weeks. Electronics components are being sourced from trusted and proven suppliers. All customizations and wiring are being completed by our Lead Product Designer at his work studio here in Toronto. Given the low initial volume of just two units, we are confident in both our delivery timelines and quality control capabilities. Assembly in Toronto will ensure that each unit is quality control tested and ready for operation. We will begin production of the PowerBarr ArGON immediately after achieving our goal and be ready to charge your mobile devices in public shortly thereafter.

We look forward to bringing you the best phone charger in the world, a solar charger that will change the way the world works.

A Big Thanks from the PowerBarr Team

Risks and challenges

Production
In order to build out the flexible design to allow PowerBarr to work well in a broad range of environmental conditions, we have chosen to collaborate with a number of smaller local fabrication facilities. This process has helped us refine and develop a better design that incorporates the knowledge and expertise of specialists capable of working on projects of our size. The designs are our own, and as such they will allow us to develop relationships with larger entities for the automated fabrication in higher volumes of units in the future using our proven designs.

Fulfillment
PowerBarr will be assembled and tested by our certified and expert technicians. Once all the parts have been fabricated and each electronic component procured and delivered, it only takes us a single day to fully assemble, wire, and begin testing each unit. We will complete a range of quality assurance tests that will take several days before the unit is delivered to each location.

We're Here to Stay
Start-ups can be challenging to manage and develop into thriving companies. We're confident in the people involved and our ability to build a successful organization. However, it's the support from people like you who really help make the process easier. Your support is achieving much more than the creation of two solar charging stations, you're helping connect the world through solar. And for that, you should be proud.

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    Pledge CA$ 10 or more About $9

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    Become a Green Founder! Get a Christmas card and give the gift that keeps on giving - renewable power! Your support at this level will be recognized with your name and a friends on the websites supporter page.

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    Pledge CA$ 50 or more About $47

    Become a Gold Founder! Your support at this level will be recognized on the websites supporter page. You will also receive a special Kickstarter edition PowerBarr t-shirt!

    Plus applicable shipping fees, if necessary.

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    Pledge CA$ 100 or more About $94

    Become a Signature Founder! Your support at this level will be recognized on the websites supporter page and you will receive the benefits listed above, including your name on each of the units built!

    Plus applicable shipping fees, if necessary.

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    Pledge CA$ 200 or more About $188

    Become a Platinum Founder! At this level you will be recognized on the website supporter page and receive all the benefits outlined above. You and a friend will also be invited to the launch event in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

    Plus applicable shipping fees, if necessary.

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    Pledge CA$ 500 or more About $471

    Become an Event Founder! At this level you will be recognized on the website supporter page and receive all the benefits outlined above. You will also receive a PowerBarr ArGON unit for a complimentary 2 day rental!

    Plus applicable shipping fees, if necessary.

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    Pledge CA$ 5,000 or more About $4,710

    Become a PowerBarr ArGON owner! At this level, get your very own solar charging station. Also if you'd like, we'll brand the unit for you, either with your corporate identity or a unique design.

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Funding period

- (45 days)