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Lift

Product Update – Lift now with 87% more Awesome

Our installation at Sandy Grove Middle School was the first public appearance of our new-and-improved Lift structures. We made progress…

  1. 50% more energy production
  2. time to assemble is now under one day
  3. four structures fit on one truck
  4. more beautiful (IMHO)

Lift Refinements Graphic v3

DSC_3331Spotlight_Solar_Sandy_Grove-0216 DSC_3328 

How we did it: We listened.

We went to our customers’ sites for several installations, photographed every moment, and discussed with our installer partners what could be better.

We listened to this guy, Andy Stough. 

Sandy Grove installation-9961

He’s engineered rockets, bulldozers, and innovative wind generators. He made a two-way joint for Lift’s solar arrays that moves* like butter, and locks against 140 MPH winds, in an wonderfully simple way. He used a 3D printer to try out the details, and a rare laser shaping machine for production.

We borrowed lessons from my work on other architectural products. Balancing beauty, ease of assembly, flexibility, and function is tough, but it’s what makes a great product. Spotlight products act like Legos, designed with standard parts which go together in different ways.

And we listened to our design advisor, David Hill. He’s good.

Some highlights of changes:

  1. refinements to the shape to convey stability while reducing visual weight
  2. new convenient places to hoist large components
  3. 20 fewer bolts
  4. new, clever ways to adjust the solar arrays (like butter)
  5. Lumos 250 watt solar modules. Elegantly simple, efficient, and beautiful from every angle – even the back.

Don’t worry, it still comes in 200 colors.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on these changes and other ideas you might have for Lift. Please comment.

 

*No, the arrays don’t track the sun, but they can be oriented in any direction very easily.

Beyond Net Zero Energy

 Last week, four shiny new Spotlight Solar structures were installed at an amazing new school in North Carolina. Sandy Grove Middle School is not just net-zero, it will make more energy than it uses. It has a 590kW solar system, a geothermal system, advanced efficiency, LED lighting throughout, and more. And it has four Spotlight Solar “Lift” structures in vibrant color right in front.

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When this school opens in August, it will benefit students, faculty, and parents. And it will lift expectations for the whole community. That’s something we’re proud to be part of. AND, because of its innovation in energy management and the public-private funding method, it will save the taxpayers $35 million.

What is Spotlight’s part? It’s the symbol, the shorthand, the landmark. “Hey, have you seen our new school? I heard it’s really green.” “You mean the one with the cool solar trees out front?” “Yeah, that one!.”

The architect and project developer, Firstfloor is the champion of this project (lead architect Kathryn Lynn, pictured). They, along with our integrator partner, PowerSecure Solar, chose Spotlight Solar to provide the cherry on top of this beyond-net-zero sundae. Not just to look great, but to connect the dots for students. Every morning when the busses unload, kids will walk right under beautiful solar machines, and know they are learning at one of the most future-savvy schools in the country.

Spotlight_Solar_Sandy_Grove-2593    Spotlight_Solar_Sandy_Grove_PowerSecure   

We couldn’t be happier with the result. More pictures here.

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We’ll update this story as the building and landscaping reaches completion this summer.

Installation at Southern Energy Management

We installed our new product, Lift, at the offices of Southern Energy Management in Raleigh-Durham, NC. SEM has been a fantastic partner, and was our first Spotlight Solar Certified Integrator.

Many thanks to Budway (really), Jimmy, and Nate for doing a first rate job with something brand new and novel — in the bitter cold and rain no less.   We started off on a bad foot by asking them for a pre-build planning meeting right before Christmas, starting at 5:00.  But they brought a great attitude (typical of Southern Energy), and made the job in January look easy.

In fact, the installation was remarkably easy. The team had to think things through for the first time, so that took a little time, but everything went together well on the first try. Credit to Rob Surra, Spotlight’s leader of product development, for a great design that prioritizes installation.

Thanks as well to Max, David B, James, and JJ at Southern Energy Management. And most of all, thanks to Bob and Maria Kingery, co-founders of SEM, for their unwavering support of Spotlight Solar.  They run a terrific company that serves customers, and higher purposes, extremely well.  We’re privileged to have their partnership.