SunPort™ is about crowdsourcing demand for solar energy and accelerating America’s shift to solar power. What better place to do that than Kickstarter?
On average, if you spend five hours on your computer with it plugged into a wall socket, less than two minutes is solar powered. What if you could make it all five hours? 100%? What if you could do that every single day, for just pennies a day?
90% of Americans say they want more solar, but most have done nothing about it.
As a result, despite falling costs and increased development, solar barely shows up as a US electricity source.
In the US today, 85% of the energy used to view this Kickstarter page comes from coal, natural gas, and nuclear—all non-renewables—and only about half a percent comes from solar.
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.
Our politicians and power companies have spent billions on solar. Even so, panels on the roof are still out of reach for most people.
Solar on your 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 well-off people in the suburbs.
We need solar beyond the suburbs, solar for everyone, solar without barriers. How do we make solar easy and affordable for all?
By consuming solar energy rather than producing it.
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 need to own it, you just need to use it. And solar energy is affordable, even if solar panels aren’t.
If we all will pay an extra penny or two per day for solar energy, we can create massive consumer demand for more of it. Most importantly, demand for solar energy can only be met by building more solar.
More solar use = more solar demand -----> more solar built
Demand for solar energy is the best way to attract much more investment for solar projects. And more solar crowds out non-renewable power sources. SunPort is a great way to use and demand solar energy.
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 demand device. It gives you a way to plug in and instantly demand 100% solar energy from the power grid, and using SunPort doesn’t just demand solar energy. It also helps directly fund new solar panels for nonprofits, but more on that later.
Instead of making solar energy, SunPort lets you demand solar energy by using it. SunPort consumes the output of grid connected solar systems: grid energy + solar credits. It does this by matching the energy you take from the wall against solar credits you consume at the same time.
SunPort automatically demands solar for you, wherever you plug in, so you can just consume solar without any hassles, or panels. 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.
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.
We didn’t invent these solar credits, but we figured out how to get consumers using them. Lots of them. Easily and affordably.
Officially called Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (S-RECs), a new one is created every time one megawatt-hour of real solar produced from real panels goes into the electric power grid. Using them is the only way to actually use solar without going off the grid. That’s why S-RECs 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:
The big companies in the EPA’s Green Power Partner Program (you know their names) all upgrade their energy use like this, and we’ve come up with a way to let you do it, too.
Certified S-RECs are big chunks of solar, each one larger than a typical home’s entire monthly energy use. Our hack is simply breaking S-RECs down into much smaller increments called SunJoule™ 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 nonprofit called ReChoice to acquire S-RECs and break them up into SunJoules. ReChoice is dedicated to giving all consumers choice over their source 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 nonprofits.
The cost of that new solar is built into the SunJoules, so when you use each SunJoule, you’re helping build new solar.
Nonprofits 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, new solar, and free electricity for nonprofits. 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.
We just need to get started. But where do we begin?
The sun is waiting to supply an endless amount of solar energy. Since SunPort lets you start using 100% solar immediately, the next move is up to you. And since you’re reading this online, you probably own a computer. So 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).
Imagine 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 shut down a whole coal power plant for an hour.
SunPort empowers us to have an impact collectively, even if we each just do a little bit.
If enough of us start using SunPort to demand solar energy, we could 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 1200 watts or 10A at 120 volts.
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 hope to make your solar even more affordable. 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.
If you hurry, you could receive an Atmosphere-signed (and used) SunPort Beta for free!
Slug from Atmosphere actually autographed all of the SunPort Betas used in the making of the “Sunshine” video, and now we’re giving them away to a limited number of backers who help us spread the word about our campaign.
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 several SunPorts to your account to measure more impact. You’ll also be able to chart the collective impact of all SunPort users and those in your network.
The app can even measure the electricity used to charge the phone or tablet it’s on and upgrade that to solar, too, so you can use your SunPort(s) to solar power other devices.
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…
SunPort is also the world’s first smart grid solar delivery plug-in device, which means it’s part of a growing effort to allow modern 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 energy 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 solar credits managed through the cloud.
So don’t wait for panels, politicians or power companies. Please back us now, and begin demanding solar with SunPort.
We all know the world is going solar. The question is not if, but when. And how fast we’ll get there. And how much damage we do to the planet in the meantime.
SunPort is all about accelerating the world’s transition to solar by letting everyone participate. So 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 version is next on the list for development, then an enhanced version of SunPort with on/off control and USB charging. SunPort technology licensing comes after that, so appliance and electronics companies can sell 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 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 team 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