An all-in-one system that provides electrical energy and water purification.
The OffGridBox is an all-in-one power generator and water purification system. It consists of a solar photovoltaic array with an integrated inverter, a battery pack, a water collection system, a water storage tank, and a water treatment system. The whole product is contained in a 1.98 x 1.95 x 1.91 m3 box, which can be easily transported to remote areas in a small truck, boat, or helicopter. The product is designed and distributed by OffGridBoxTM, based in Italy, Rwanda, and the United States; with its headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts at Greentown Labs. Additionally, a Pay-As-You-Go model business model has been implemented so that customers can also choose to pay in installments.
No primary competitors were identified as of 2020.
The target users include off-grid rural communities, schools, community centers, NGO offices, relief camps, houses cabins, tiny homes, farms, and ranches.
The product is mass-produced in La Fabbrica del Sole (LaFds). The product is assembled once the customer has paid part of the product’s total price.
The product can be requested through the OffGridBox’s website. An initial deposit of 500 USD is required to schedule the assembly of the box. A video interview with an engineer is required to talk about the specific features of the location where the box would be installed, and a written agreement is signed. In order to start manufacturing, a deposit of 15,000 USD is required. The manufacturing takes three days and the box is shipped. Once the box arrives, the remaining balance is required. The installation takes three hours.
For rural communities, the Pay-As-You-Go service can be implemented through franchising by a company or NGO. After an initial investment for production, shipment, installation, and training, the local partner pays a monthly fee for remote monitoring, training on the business model, and for the use of proprietary software to manage business, maintenance, and hardware technology. Women entrepreneurs are trained to run the boxes in rural communities to provide electricity, clean water, and Wi-fi service.
As of 2020, 38 boxes have been distributed in 10 countries.
Manufacturer-specified power rating
The size of land this system requires
Type of battery used
The type and size of the solar panels included in this system
Is this system compatible with a municipal power grid?
Description of the mobility of the solar power system
The 1.98 x 1.95 x 1.91 m3 box contains an array of photovoltaic modules that are installed on the roof. A gutter collects rainwater, which is sterilized by a UV filter and stored in a 1,500 L tank. Above the rainwater tank is the thermal energy system, which can convert seawater, sewage, or water polluted with heavy metals into pasteurized, partially distilled water. The water purification system can clear up to 260 gallons (984 L) of water per hour.
The box is made of steel and has a durable paint coating which allows it to operate under extreme environmental conditions. The unit was designed to be installed by untrained workers with a basic set of tools. Originally designed for disaster relief, the box can be disassembled in 30 minutes, and secured with a padlock.
There are three different models available, customized according to the specific needs. Two inverter sizes are available: 3 and 5 kVA. The size of the solar array varies from 3.36 to 8.16 kWp and the battery packs range from 15.84 to 50.88 kWh. The water purification system is optional.
The company provides remote monitoring and scheduled maintenance calls.
Every component of the product is replaceable by third parties. The OffGridBoxTM team is available to help with sourcing, but they recommend the customers to go straight to the suppliers because it is more efficient. Interview with Representative in 2020
This product was designed to serve up 1,500 people with one unit. The electricity generated by an OffGridBoxTM in one year can replace the burning of 1.4 tons of diesel fuel. This prevents 1.97 tons of CO2 from being released to the environment.
The features of the product informed by the manufacturer have been tested by many projects with different organizations. Interview with Representative in 2020
MIT D-Lab, Oklahoma State University, The Scientific Committee of La Fabrica del Sole, SECO, Off-Grid Academy, Bogota Power Company, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, City of Sommerville. Interview with Representative in 2020
As with any other power generating unit, the risk of shock and electrocution by energized conductors is present. A correct grounding system should be in place. In addition, careful lifting of the solar PV modules to the roof of the box is recommended.
The system can be upgraded with additional solar panels or batteries and other features such as Wi-Fi, remote monitoring, automatic irrigation, USB ports, and a desalination system.
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