The Solar Pocket Factory by Alex Hornstein and Shawn Frayne
October 5, 2012
What if you could have electricity anywhere there was sunlight? What if the charge on your phone could last for weeks, the poorest, most remote homes in the world could have electric home lighting, and adding a USB charge outlet was as simple as slapping a sticker onto a sunlit wall? All of these are becoming possible thanks to microsolar: small solar panels that are small and cheap enough to go anywhere.
We are Shawn Frayne and Alex Hornstein, two independent inventors who fell in love with the dream of clean energy, everywhere, for everyone. Inspired by this dream, we built a half-dozen products based on microsolar panels, like solar lights and distributed USB power grids, but in the process, we learned that the current solar panels leave a lot to be desired: the panels break after a few years, they’re expensive, and they’re not made very well. We loved the possibilities that microsolar offered, and we kept asking ourselves, “Could we make it better?”
This simple question led us on a voyage of investigation and discovery through the world of small, low-cost solar; through rotting solar factories in Southern China to shivering, soaked motorcycle trips across unelectrified tropical islands in the Philippines and countless late nights working on prototypes in an industrial building in Hong Kong. And all along the way, we kept asking questions, and started to find answers. Would it make a difference if we could make better, cheaper microsolar? Yes! Could we invent a way to make microsolar better? You bet!
Video Source: Digibox/Rhine Bernardino/Alex Hornstein and Shawn Frayne