Now on Kickstarter: A solar utility in a box

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There’s more off grid clean power devices popping up on Kickstarter (I covered the ReadySet last month). Peppermint Energy, a startup in South Dakota, has developed a “utility in a box” solar power gadget called the Forty2 that collects, stores and distributes solar power.

The team turned to Kickstarter recently to raise money to fund the production of the first 250 units. The funds will be used for the molds and dies for the units, and the project, which was shooting for $25,000, has already been funded with almost $35,000.

Other off grid clean power devices are being designed as separate parts — you buy the batteries, the solar panel, and the grid integration system and combine them. Peppermint Energy wanted their solar unit to be a single device — which closes to look almost like a ruggedized portable computer — and also be small enough to be able to be carried by a child. The solar panel delivers 180 to 200 watts and the lithium ion battery has capacity for 350 watt hours.

There’s over a billion people that don’t have regular access to grid power in developing countries like India and places in Africa. There’s a variety of these types of products already on the market — from solar lanterns to microgrid systems — so I’ll be interested in seeing how well the Forty2 does in those markets.

Some companies like Mera Gao Power are looking at service financing models to pay the high upfront costs for these off grid power systems. Peppermint Energy says it will be looking to work with non-profits to distribute its gadget.

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