Alabama students study outdoors in off-grid solar pods


On the tail of another SEC Championship, students at the University of Alabama turn their attention to studying for final exams, but this year, the study area will look quite different.  

In a partnership with SolarFi, the university has deployed off-grid solar study “pods,” private study areas that can charge laptops as students work outdoors. 

SolarFi has a history working with sports organizations and schools in cutting carbon emissions during times of high energy use. Recently, the company received funding from the City of Los Angeles to scale its business, and as a result, it plans to deploy solar pods at Suber Bowl LVI in February. 

The company is currently scaling-up its business, and is launching a capital campaign via a crowdfunder that allows investments as little as $100. 

The solar Bliss kiosk.
Image: SolarFi

The pod, called Privé, is described as a socially-distanced, durable, and customizable unit. It has built-in charging ports, Hepa air filters, ventilation, and cooling systems. The pod was first conceived at an MIT poverty reduction lab. 

SolarFi also develops a larger product called Bliss, a solar powered “business in a box.” The off-grid kiosk unit is equipped with ten 440-445 W solar modules, has digital boards for advertising space, e-scooter charging ports, and integrated WiFi. The design is foldable and mobile, able to be transported on a trailer pulled by a typical consumer vehicle. 

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