Patriot Solar Group, based in Albion, Mich. launched a series of solar trailers earlier this year that’s making solar a true “plug and play” option that’s proving particularly useful in situations where traditional grid power is unavailable or inconvenient. “The idea is to get the average American family to hook this up to their minivan, drive out to camp for the weekend and run all of their lights and music and electronics on it,” said Patriot account manager Samuel Jaquette.
The company’s founders could see thousands of uses for its trailers when the idea was born, Jaquette said.
Patriot Solar Group builds solar mountings and the trailers are the company’s first fully-integrated product. The trailers come in different sizes and are mounted with sun-tracking solar panels and outfitted with inverters that can supply 110 or 220-volt power. And all of them come with a battery bank, so the trailers can power lights and other devises at night when they are often needed most in remote areas. In addition to its smaller solar trailers, Patriot built a more rugged version for military use, Jaquette said.
Response has been strong so far, he said. But the company hasn’t started mass producing the trailers and hasn’t started marketing efforts. The trailers are available for special order and purchase. But there hasn’t been a lot of organic activity in that yet, Jaquette said.
The company sold one to a university. “We’re getting a lot of interest in renting them here locally,” Jaquette said. The trailers are good for powering camping trips, but they are also useful for contractors who need to power tools at a work site, nonprofits doing disaster-relief work and for festivals.
Jaquette said Patriot has had a lot of interest in renting the trailers for concerts and events because the trailers can provide the same power a gas generator can without the noise competing with the music. “It’s great,” Jaquette said. “People can have the freedom that comes with being able to use the sun’s power anywhere.”