We’re now powered by a Pocketful of Sunshine. Yes, really!

We’re big on the environment. Some of you may know that we began Redd Urban Farms (RUF) about 18 months ago with the sole intention of employing our skills in design to spread the idea of bringing the points of food production closer to the points of consumption. It is our belief that this change, however small could create a ripple effect towards impacting one of the single greatest source points of pollution.

So it should come as no surprise that this past month we’ve taken a step towards reducing our own impact on the environment. We use a number of computers and other equipment at our studio and our electricity consumption is at an all-time high. So we decided to make the move towards powering our studio with solar electricity. But the decision wasn’t an easy one as we didn’t know how much this would cost, what kind of rewiring would be required, whether our UPS system we already had would be wasted or what kind of an impact this would even make.

We nonetheless spoke to several vendors to see if anyone would help us go solar first. We were asked a number of questions we barely had answers to such as what kind of a system we would require (I didn’t know there were options), what kind of wattage we consumed, what kinds of mounts would be required, etc. This was getting more complicated than we expected, but we persisted. We finally ran into the right solution when we spoke to Pocketful of Sunshine, a Bangalore based start-up that seems to be focussed on electrifying commercial establishments like ours.

Theirs was a simple system that wouldn’t require any rewiring of our studio which made the prospect of talking to our landlords and securing their permission unnecessary. Their system in-fact plugged straight into our existing UPS, so that wouldn’t be wasted either. And what’s more, we would be solar-first as opposed to solar-as-a-backup which was my initial expectation. An intelligent controller would make sure that our UPS was fully charged at all times and when there’s power being produced in excess of that, all our equipment would directly be powered by the sun. When there’s no power being produced such as when there’s cloud cover or during the evenings, the UPS power would then get used and finally when the UPS dies out, then and only then do we tap into the grid.

We were also surprised to learn that we are in the solar-abundant belt right here in Bangalore which receives and average of 280 days of sun in a year and makes us some of the luckiest people on earth for this reason.

This sounded great so we had only to worry about how much of the rooftop would get used for the solar panels and what kind of damage it would cause. It turns out that we only needed four solar panels which is about 48 square feet of space to power our entire studio! So we asked what we would do in case there’s a greater need in the future and apparently we would only add on more panels as necessary and those panels would plug right into the existing setup.

In the end the entire cost was much lesser than what we expected, it used less space, made us solar first and was completely modular and would allow us to expand as necessary. To us it was a no brainer and we went ahead with the installation. It’s been about 4 weeks so far and while we’ve heard our neighbour’s diesel generators kick-in when there’s no power from the grid, we’ve not skipped a beat! And it feels really good to be producing superlative user experiences, building next-generation user interfaces and writing this article on equipment that are all being powered by the sun.