SolSolutions: Empowering People to Live Resilient and Comfortable Lives.
SolSolutions: Early Innovators
SolSolutions is a solar+storage+lighting technology integrator based in Northern California. They are one of the early innovators in what is commonly referred to as a mobile solar generator. When getting to know their Lead Technician and Sustainable Event Services coordinator, Traverse Hall, he explained, “This is basically a gas generator that harnesses clean energy from the sun rather than through combustion of fossil fuels, and thanks to batteries, operates all night when the sun doesn’t shine. Our ‘SolMan’ line of mobile solar generators are portable, point-of-use, plug’n’play, clean, green, and silent. Uniquely built for real utilization by everyday people, there are SolMan units still in operation going back as far as 10 years. They are popular with small off grid cabins, tiny homes, RV’s, construction worksites, events, and emergency back-up applications”.
Since there are physical limits to portable Solar’s capability, SolSolutions has become experts in the efficient applications of power usage and have developed a portfolio of products that compliment and often literally integrate with their solar systems, ranging from LED flood lighting and LED grow lights to air conditioning and greenhouse fans.
The products they choose to provide their customers are determined on whether they are high quality equipment, built to be used heavily, and last as long as possible. “This is what our reputation is built upon. As such we always make the best effort to choose high quality components from American manufacturers wherever possible. For solar power and digital electronics in today’s manufacturing climate that is not always easily accomplished”, expressed Hall.
Using Deep Cycle Lithium Ion
Being one of the first in the world to use large lithium ion batteries in portable solar equipment and have had experienced a number of significant losses due to early generations of lithium manufacturing falling short of expectations. SolSolutions had become very skeptical of battery companies especially new companies with lithium-based chemistries due to falling short on things like poor quality control, bad design features, un-honored warranties, ineffective battery management systems, and poor fail safes for things like thermal runaway (which has happened multiple times).
Why Dragonfly Energy?
However, one day Traverse Hall was working a marathon and beer festival, providing power services with their SolMan gear, when Dr. Denis Phares, CEO of Dragonfly Energy, approached him. Phares young son, very astutely, asked how come Hall was running a gas generator next to his solar generator. Hall explained that he was having a cell imbalance and that he was trying to get it to balance out a bit better. Hall and Phares proceeded to have a detailed technical conversation about lithium ion battery chemistries, design, manufacturing, and integration. “This meeting led to a visit to Dragonfly’s facility in Reno so that I could dive deeper into Dragonfly’s technology and grill Denis a bit further about the quality control, reliability, performance, and technical integration aspects for my applications. This was later followed by a conference call with SolSolutions’ CEO, Chaz Peling, where we got really clear on every bit of detail and stressed our reluctance to take further risk in new battery integration. We are a tough customer after all; given how much experience we have, not to mention the history of expensive failures we have gone through. At this point we felt pretty well assured that Dragonfly was a good choice for our stringent requirements and getting to know Denis helped in establishing that trust”, explained Hall. But for SolSolutions, the only way to feel full confidence in a battery is to put it to use on their test bench. Hall proclaimed, “We did, it passed, and we learned what we needed to know to appropriately integrate it into our designs. The next step was to upgrade one of my rental units (“Flex Power Box”) by pulling out the 3 underperforming AGM lead acid 12v 110ah batteries it contained. One thing to note here is that just like the lithium’s, we have experienced outstanding claims from even lead acid start-ups that failed to meet expectations or uphold warranty after premature failures. It was relatively simple for me to do the swap and reprogram the inverter/charger and charge controller to match the desired parameters. The result was marvelous. I had cut the weight in half making the unit much easier to maneuver and load on and off the truck, while nearly doubling my capacity. This was over a year ago now and the unit is performing as expected still”.
He recently decided it was time to upgrade his favorite workhorse in the rental fleet, a SolMan Lithium Deluxe that he likes to call the SolMan “Black”, after it’s black-framed Panasonic HIT panels. It was first built in 2011 and happens to be the same unit he was fussing with when Denis first approached him. This was the second SolMan Lithium Deluxe ever built and has been through at least 3 battery swaps. At one point the SolSolutions crew was so tired of lithium failures they put some AGM lead acids in, since this unit powers stages at festivals and, like all of their equipment, failure during crucial times is unacceptable.Traverse praised, “SolMan Black is now lighter than ever before, and has four Dragonfly 12v 100ah packs, providing ample and reliable power for a nimble and lightweight unit that can power decent sized sound stages yet easily ramp on and off a truck, or wheel down a semi rough terrain. It, along with the “Flex Power Box” were 2 of the 4 units in my fleet that powered the recent Google Environment Day, a private Google event for employees focused on sustainability”.
They have since built some brand-new units for customers who wanted to opt for lithium ion over lead acid and SolSolutions utilized Dragonfly products for them. So far, their clients are quite satisfied. “At this stage we have gained enough confidence in Dragonfly Energy that we are going to go through our substantial past client list and offer Dragonfly upgrades. As well, we are looking at some re-design possibilities taking advantage of the tight space form factor of the DFGC2 for packing as much power into a small as possible”, he stressed.
The SolSolutions Atmosphere
At SolSolutions they treat every sale as an educational process, Hall explained, “It’s a required step since user error will almost certainly result in customer dissatisfaction and premature failure of the equipment. The first thing we do when you call us for a quote is we complete a power demand worksheet in order to know what your expected use patterns are. From there we direct you to the most appropriate options in our product line”.
Their socially inspired mission is based off the Japanese concept, Ikigai. Ikigai translates as, “a reason for being”. The idea is to find the sweet spot of what the world needs, what we love, what we are good at; and, necessarily, what we can be paid for.
SolSolutions wants to empower people to live resilient and comfortable lives without compromising the ecology of the world around them or breaking the bank. They believe that the solutions are everywhere, and that humans need to make a choice about how to use energy both literally and figuratively.
Some words of advice from Hall, “Instead of spending your hard-earned money on cheap stuff that isn’t built to last, consider the indirect social and ecological costs involved in your purchasing decisions. Consider the life cycle of the products you buy and choose to support mission driven companies that are responsible about their choices and seek to provide superior quality. Additionally, beware the hype, and learn the basics of the system elements so that you don’t fall victim to deceptive marketing. Our website features a helpful piece called ‘What to Look For in a Solar Generator.’ This is a great place to start”.
“Dragonfly Energy is arguably the best 12-volt lithium ion battery money can buy.” – Traverse Hall, Lead Mobile Solar Technician @ SolSolutions LLC, Dragonfly Energy Dealer
SolSolutions has a huge event on their calendar, they will be powering a large stage for a 350.org climate rally on the steps of San Francisco’s City Hall on September 8th of this year. It will be a large powered audio system with line arrays and delay towers. The delay towers will be powered by SolMan units with Dragonfly Energy upgrades. If anyone is interested in seeing a solar powered event in Northern California, SolSolutions welcomes you to follow their Facebook page for future updates.
SolSolutions is available for custom consulting, design and installation for RVs, motorhomes, tiny homes, bus/van conversions, and trailers utilizing Dragonfly Energy batteries, leveraging their extensive field experience for ensuring top quality design and integration with the other elements of complete mobile solar power systems. Check out their website here.