Jennifer Brantley worked in solar for years and studied installation and design before deciding she was ready for a career change. She was tired of climbing on roofs every day, but she believed in solar and wanted to somehow stay in the field.
Brantley found a solution. This month she’s launching Northwest Solar Rover, a Seattle business that rents mobile solar units.
The idea of creating solar rovers for rent came after Hurricane Sandy hit the East coast. Brantley read a story about a man on the east coast who had several mobile units and was helping victims left without power.
Brantley teamed up with Tom Honey, a solar designer and consultant and founder of Honey Electric Solar, to create the rover design. The rovers are white boxed trailer units with panels on the sides and roof. It’s easy to transport, Brantley said.
The company officially launches July 27 at NW Solar Fest. For now the company has only one mobile unit for rent, but eventually Brantley hopes to have a full fleet.
“Now that we know we can do it, we hope to do lots more,” she said.
The first rover is small, offering 1.7 kilowatts of power, but Brantley plans to build larger models.
The units will eventually be available for rent along the West coast. She imagines it could be used for disaster relief, as the one she read about during Hurricane Sandy. She also sees its daily use at construction sites in residential neighborhoods where builders are trying to charge tools and cell phones. The mobile unit will be an alternative to generators which are noisy and create emissions. Construction workers wouldn’t have to temporarily access the grid for needed power, she said.
She also imagines it could be used at festivals, weddings and parties.
The company hadn’t created a price yet. It’s hard as the first to offer the service in the area, she said. They don’t have a comparison, and they don’t want to price out anyone who wants to use solar. She expects the rate will be by-the-day.
She hopes the idea of mobile solar units catches on across the country. It’s a perfect replacement for noisy gas generators, she said.
“And, as long as we have sun, we will never lose power,” she said.
If they don’t have sun- the rovers do come equipped with a large battery bank for those cloudy Seattle days.
The company has already had its first rental request. A business that creates homes from shipping containers and shows them on the road requested using the rover to power the homes for showing.