One wonders what sometimes drives the success of a novel item on Kickstarter while other ones with perhaps more noble goals end without their funding needs being met. Such may well be the case of Suntrunks, designed to be self-contained, portable solar electric power systems for remote or emergency power needs. This design idea, put forth by John Wennstrom, closes in just a few days and is well short of pledges necessary to help pull it off.
Wennstrom, who owns SunReady Power out of Idaho, notes on his Kickstarter page the Suntrunks idea came to him following the devastating earthquake in Haiti in early 2010. With no electricity, it was difficult to meet basic needs around food, water and medical issues. With sun being so abundant in that part of the world, it seemed to make sense to “invent and package a complete solar system about the size of a suitcase or a trunk that could be transported easily and set up quickly to capture a day’s sunlight and make electricity available for many of the basic loads needed for the relief efforts.”
The Suntrunks design has gone through some thought, and now is poised to be something Wennstrom wants to offer both for emergency situations as well as more practical needs when one might, for example, be camping in a remote situation where no power is available. The goal of getting the Kickstarter funding is to “rigorously test the units and to construct multiple second generation units to incorporate improvements and reduce production costs.”
Six different designs make up the Suntrunks line, ranging in power from 10 watts of solar up to 135 watts. The largest unit reportedly can provide over 600 Watts of AC power for more than an hour with one day of good solar input. All the components of these solar chargers are “built into a rugged transportable case or trunk that can be set up and operating in 5 minutes. They provide USB and 12 VDC outlets for small loads and 120VAC power for larger loads. The solar panels recharge internal batteries each day and then the units can provide power even at night.”
Wennstrom is looking to build the units in Idaho once he has proven test results from the initial designs. As with many Kickstarter projects, those which pitch in at specific levels get different rewards. A $1000 pledge, for example, gets you the most basic Suntrunks offering, while a $5000 pledge will get one the hefty 135 watts model. It is believed these initial units will be available by June if funding is met. There are other lower level pledge gifts as well.