(is not unlike getting married)
SolTech Designs may be entrepreneurially polygamist (of necessity), but is careful who it does business with. Doing repeat business with others involves making a committed connection and is not unlike other commitments. Who you hang with is telling and using their product involves a commitment. Who you get in bed with has consequences. Some businesses want to do good — want to make and do the right stuff to make the world a better place. Others are just profit whores who will do anything for a buck.
Here is SolTech's carefully researched, tried and found to be true businesses to do business with:
Grin Technologies Ltd.:
A small Canadian engineering company based in Vancouver that is dedicated to advancing the state of after-market electric bicycle conversion kits.
Rakesh Dhawan, President & CEO, is an electrical engineer who was instrumental in creating one of the first commercial e-bikes, Tidalforce, back when few had heard of such things. He went on to develop Team Hybrid (as in human/electric) to produce his vision of what an e-bike motor could and should be. To repeat, he's primarily an engineer who also has an MBA, so not just another marketing MBA CEO who specializes in piling it high and deep. Engineering values dominate the company, unlike other companies endeavoring to go corporate in the corporate way (note: Bionx did not make this list). Falco is the Bionx alternate and both are alternative to the cheap caveat emptor offerings made for the Chinese mass market currently being shipped around the world.
Good solar panels at a good price including light weight three pound 100W panels. They say they strive "to provide the most economic and environmental-friendly clean energy readily accessible to its customers" and seem to mean it, so it isn't all about the money.
To make a solar vehicle you absolutely need a "mission critical" pricey MPPT solar charge controller custom made for whatever pricey Li battery you decide to use. Genasun is an MIT spin-off that makes what you need. For each 200 watts of Renogy solar panels series connected to produce 24 volts, you'll need one 36V or 48V custom charge controller.
E-BikeKit Electric Bike Conversion System:
There were many who offer e-bike kits for the somewhat DIY types, but now, in recent years, the dollar signs are flashing and many, as in a bewildering plethora of businesses from e-Bay to corporate offerings, abound with more popping up daily. Grin and Falco have been given a thumbs up, but for those on a budget who nevertheless aspire to a better-than-Wal-Mart offering (and yes you can get an e-bike from Wal-Mart online), then E-BikeKit seems to source good stuff and sell it for a reasonable price. Customer support is good, what it should be, and they get the SolTech thumbs up too. Amid the crawling e-bike landscape are likely other e-bike companies who merit doing business with, but SolTech cannot try them all, so beware.
Batteries are both the lifeblood and Achilles Heel of light electric vehicles. They are the most important component of any e-cycle system. You can get cheap ones on e-Bay, but in designing a system, getting the battery tech right is critical. The cells are made by Panasonic — the same as used in the Tesla. The AllCell packs based on the Panasonic cell are made in Chicago using its proprietary thermal management phase changing material. Keeping your battery cool is mission critical. That these are the lithium batteries sourced by Falco e-motors and E-BikeKit, not to mention SolTech, should be to say enough.
Max-Gain Systems, Inc:
Mounting panels on a moving object could be done using a rigid truss system, but flexible works and fiberglass rods do what is needed.
A recumbent trike is good for touring and carrying solar panels. For urban commuting or sightseeing, which may involve using city buses, a light bicycle that fits on the front of one and a bike that folds, pops in a car, or can be carried up stairs merits consideration. Going bicycle doesn't mean you have to go upright/padded post bike. The Cruzbike is a front-wheel drive (human power) recumbent bike. The rear wheel could be replaced by a front-wheel type hubmotor for a two wheel drive bike. At home, have a solar generator to recharge the battery and thereby go solar without trying to carry solar panels.
For some, refrigeration is to die for, i.e. is considered essential. As a former blue-water sailor who sailed without refrigeration (one of the least memorable aspects of sailing the ocean blue), I can say it is not — unless you are dependent on medication that has to be kept cool. Still, on the list of Better Living Stuff, refrigeration rates consideration. One way to go solar refrigeration is to hook up a bunch of panels to a solar controller that charges a battery bank that runs an inverter into which you plug your refrigerator. The refrigerator doesn't run all the time, but the inverter has to be on all the time and it draws a standby current all the time (as do some refrigerators) that will take its toll on a small system.
Another way to go solar cool is to start with a DC powered refrigerator that eliminates the need for an inverter. Insulate it well and it sips solar power while running. To run 24/7, it takes a battery or two. But wait...... Does it have to run 24/7? Go to most any antique furniture shop and mention "icebox" and they'll likely have several leftovers from the 17th century to the early 20th when denizens of modern times on the cutting edge of high-tech awaited for the iceman to cometh. As Thoreau noted, Walden Pond was harvested for ice as were other pre-polluted bodies of water. The ice was stored in sawdust lined buildings for distribution in the summer.
So let's see.....freeze a gallon of water while the sun shines.....put frozen jug in an insulated box and you have a functional refrigerator. As the jug of ice melts, cold drink provided. While the jug melts, another one is in the solar powered freezer that runs while the sun shines. You could store solar power in batteries (big, expensive, and ephemeral) or make ice while the sun shines and store the ice. For a solar powered freezer: Sundanzer.