While I’m not always big on covering crowdfunding projects, the SolarGaps Blinds launching today on Kickstarter piqued my interest for a couple reasons. One, the basic premise of solar blinds that can easily be installed inside or outside of a window is compelling as someone that has looked into solar, but balked at the cost and difficulty of installing and maintaining roof-mounted solar panels.
Second, the company actually has a shippable product ready with only a few differences from the final product they are promising if the campaign is successful. That latter point is the crucial one, as I’m sure many of you have been burned by crowdfunding projects that sounded great in the promo video but ultimately weren’t delivered on by the company.
If you’ve stuck with me this far, you are presumably at least somewhat interested in the concept, so let’s take a closer look. SolarGaps are designed to be installed either inside or outside of your window — interior installation cuts the energy production in half — with the aluminum and fiberglass construction able to tolerate all manner of weather and temperatures ranging from -40 to 157 degrees Fahrenheit, at which point solar energy production would be the least of your worries.
At peak production, a 10-square foot section of blinds (roughly the smallest option available in the Kickstarter) will produce 100-150Wh which, according to the company, is “enough to power 30 LED light bulbs or 3 MacBooks.” This clearly isn’t going to be taking you off the grid completely, but it will help reduce energy costs and can also reduce air conditioning costs by simply limiting the light into your home.
So where does the smart part come in? The SolarGaps pair with a smartphone app that allows you to raise or lower the blinds, control the angle and get stats on the energy your blinds on generating. If you aren’t going to be around and just want to maximize the energy production of your blinds, the auto mode will keep the blinds lowered and adjust to the optimal angle throughout the day. Google Home, Nest and Amazon Echo integrations are all stretch goals for SolarGaps after they hit their initial funding goal of $50,000.
There are a variety of reward options available for different sizes of SolarGaps blinds, with the most significant savings available to the early birds. For $249, you can reserve a 30% discount on custom blinds when they are available, and that amount will be treated as a deposit when you do eventually purchase the blinds. The smallest pledge that will get you a set of blinds delivered to your door is $390 for a set of either 32” x 36” or 36” x 36” blinds, which is half what they are planning to charge at retail. The options go up to almost $5,000, with plenty of options in between.
If you are still intrigued, head on over to the SolarGaps Kickstarter campaign for all of the details and to get in on the early bird pricing. As I mentioned at the outset, the company has already produced a working version of the product with just a few differences compared to the final product. I have one of these models to test out and I’ll be putting it through its paces for a review next week, so if you have any hands-on questions, fire away in the comments and I’ll address them here or in the review.