The gauntlet has been thrown down.  Elon Musk, take heed.

SolPad, an integrated solar plus storage solution, recently made its debut and is precisely the holy grail that the solar industry has long been seeking.  It is developed by SunCulture Solar, of which CEO Christopher Estes, is the brainchild.  Estes, an upstart whose previous claim to fame is through the music industry with technology that he developed that enables artists and producers to create high-quality audio recordings known as Endless Analog.  His foray into the solar world was happenstance.  Through friends in the music industry, he realized upon the idea when introduced to a Caribbean island that was in dire need of an inexpensive energy system.  SolPad is the fruits of his labor and is a revolutionary product that will transform the solar industry much like the iPhone did in the communications market.

Solar cells, an inverter, and a solid-state battery is integrated into one self-contained unit.  It is sleek and compact.  There was some actual thought about the design aesthetic.  It is reminiscent of the iPad.  Panels are designed to link easily with each other.  Each panel is completely self-sufficient.  It is easy to add on or take off.  The good news for consumers is that the system will cost less than traditional solar PV array systems and it has battery storage as part of the package, instead of as an add-on as with traditional solar systems.

Two versions are being developed for market.  SolPad Home is developed for residential applications, where an entire house can be powered.  The SolPad can be used as a standalone unit.  A future vision is for it to be sold at outdoor recreational stores like REI.  The company has also created an app to further enhance the user experience.  This app will allow you to control SolPad remotely.  Interconnectivity will allow consumers to get information about their energy habits.  It is intelligent, meaning that it uses smart technology known as the flexgrid inverter to determine when to run on solar energy and when to rely on the grid, as dictated by the weather or electricity rates.  It can manage power distribution among your household’s power consumers efficiently and effectively.

A fundamental differentiator that SolPad has on traditional solar systems is that it gives people like renters who do not own the home an opportunity to participate in the solar movement.  Homeowners who live in condos or townhouses with shared structures will also be able to go solar.  This whole other market that solar was not previously able to target could be a game changer for the industry.

Choice is another advantage for SolPad.  People love to have options and be able to customize for their unique needs.  With SolPad, you can start out with a small system and add on.  The whole process is seamless and very easy to understand from a layman’s perspective.  Technology is only as good as people’s capability to understand and use it.

SolControl is the energy management platform.  You can use it to manage all of your energy needs.  SolControl is intuitive.  It can analyze habits and provide suggestions for optimal energy use.  During peak times, it will utilize the stored energy and then take advantage of lower nighttime electricity rates.

SolPad can even communicate with you.  It is engaging.  Estes had the forethought to make an interactive experience for users by programming SolPad with sassy voices and funny commentary to enhance the overall experience.  SolPad will chastise you should you drop it.  Another fun feature is the row of LED lights on the front of the device which can be used in disco function or the even more fun Knight Rider theme.  At your next party, SolPad can even act as your personal DJ by playing music.  There’s also an anti-theft alarm for your convenience.  Most importantly, it acts as an internet hot spot, a useful tool particularly for those consumers in remote areas of the World or off-grid.

Imagine the possibilities that SolPad could have on the World, particularly those remote areas where electricity is scarce and there is no grid infrastructure.  From a humanitarian aspect, the potential to save lives on a greater scale can be realized.  Simple things that the rest of us take for granted are basic needs parts of the World are lacking.  Electricity to produce light so that doctors can operate on patients is an example of SolPad’s potential to prevent unnecessary loss of life due to a lack of basic essentials. Also, it could provide a lifeline during emergency or disaster situations.  It will continue to keep working should there be grid failure.  There will be no more worries about blackouts and the like.

With all the hullabaloo surrounding net metering policies in several states, SolPad could prove to be the saving grace.  Utilities have long been complaining that ratepayers do not pay their fair share to maintain the grid, that any excess generation credited is unfair to non-solar customers.  The biggest issue that SunCulture faces is whether it can scale up its manufacturing process to produce at volume.  It may soon face competition from Tesla, who will be unveiling its version of a solar roof on October 28, 2016.

Utilities and solar supporters must work together to gain ground in the fight against climate change.  Our dependency on finite fossil fuels could be the undoing of us all if we don’t make great strides to combat it.  If it lives up to its hype, SolPad could be the all-in-one product that the solar industry has been waiting for.

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