SolPad: Number Free Nonsense

SolPad.  It’s an Energy Experience.  It’s a website with zero useful information.  It’s a high production quality video.  And what I can find, it’s so fact free that it makes makes Jeremy Clarkson look like a fountain of factual information.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

(Comments from Blogger)

2016-10-07 by John Shaw

Excellent post. I saw the video and had the same impression. I am not the expert you are, but I do no enough as a retired electrical engineer to see through the smoke. This is similar to much of what I see on the crowd funding sites.

2016-10-07 by Russell Graves

Thanks! I’m hardly a world class expert in solar, but I do actually have a working off grid system in place, so I have a feel for what’s feasible. Or, at least, how large something needs to be in order to be reliable. This is either a total breakthrough in lots of things, or a really good smokeshow.

2016-10-10 by Robert Grothe

Good post, and you bring up many valid concerns. Will be interesting if company will come forward to address these concerns. I’m waiting for your next blog telling us all about it.

2017-01-04 by dude mcginty

I just heard a podcast (The Energy Show from Spice Solar) interview with Chris Estes, the CEO of SolPad and the main dude in the video. He provided some hard numbers, at least for the SolPad Mobile: 72W solar collector, 550Wh battery, FlexGrid inverter capable of 2kW peak for 10s and 1kW continuous, and 96.5% efficient (thus it doesn’t need cooling fans). He also added the inverter is so robust “you can literally take a screwdriver and short the output and it wont destroy it, it will protect itself.” Specific pricing and delivery dates to be released at CES (which starts tomorrow) though he did say it will be competitively priced with other mobile solutions but with much more value.

The host was able to get some hands-on time with it, though only to estimate its physical properties and not to see it in action. He estimated it was 25 pounds and about 2’ wide by 3’ tall.

Later on Chris shed some light on the SolControl smart plug: it measures the power consumed by an appliance plugged into it and then sends that information to the SolPad. Then, the SolPad delivers that amount of power “to offset that particular appliance.” I think the word “offset” is the key: the SolPad isn’t providing the electricity directly to the appliance. Instead, it’s simply an accounting balancing trick. At least that’s my thought.

2017-01-04 by Russell Graves

Hey, thanks! I’ll have to check that out.

72W isn’t much - that’s maybe 300-500Wh on a good sunny day (if you turn the panels to face the sun). A 2kW peak inverter might spin up a circular saw, though either the saw in the video is more efficient, by far, than mine, or it couldn’t run it for long (my 13A saw idles at about 1400W running).

The plug method makes sense - that’s about the only thing you can do. It would have been nice if the video were a bit more honest about it, though.

I’m still curious as to what sort of regulatory hoops they’ve either jumped through or ignored to be able to plug that in as a feed-in on a standard outlet. I was under the impression code was pretty clear on that.

2017-01-09 by dude mcginty

Well, CES has come and gone and there isn’t one recent peep (review, news, or even PR) about Solpad that I can find. But for what’s it’s worth, does list specs for everything now:

Solpad Home: 330W collector, 500Wh battery, 1000WAC @ 5s peak/500WAC cont. inverter, 41#, 41x61x1.75"
Solpad Mobile: 72W collector, 600Wh battery, 2000WAC @ 5s peak/1000WAC cont. inverter, 25#, 21x28x1.8"
Solcontrol: no collector, no battery, 15A/1800WAC cont., 7oz., 2.5x2.5x1.2"1

No mention of price or even when it would be available. All they have is a “be the first to know” newsletter to sign up for.

2017-01-15 by Russell Graves

You can preorder a SolPad Mobile for a mere $1395 in May!

2017-02-15 by CLEANER

Hey Russel,

Im in Oz and saw this unit appear on Green Renaissance Facebook Page. I smelt bullshit straight away, but didn’t want to be a total pessimist, so went looking for reviews. Dude, you nailed it. Big ups to you mate. You did it honestly and fairly. You called them out for what it is, but still offered them the chance to come clear on the big doubts about this gizmo.

Im now a fan of your work Russel :slight_smile:


2017-02-15 by Russell Graves

They’ve released a bit more information and I should update this post, but it’s painfully expensive for remarkably little, in any case.

2017-09-03 by Unknown

Update September 2017…California Secretary of State Corporate Search shows Sunculture Solar, Inc. status “FTB Forfeited”. Underwriters Labs product search for UL certified products of Sunculture Solar, Inc. returns no results. I’ll leave the conclusions up to the reader.

2017-09-15 by SB Dexter

It looks like they changed their corporate name to Solpad Inc sometime this year, not that that turns anything up, either.

2017-10-10 by Thomas Rothwell

Thanks for the detailed expose of this product. I also smelt bullshit and am happy to be in the company of other people with the same instinct…

2017-10-12 by Russell Graves

I keep hoping the actual products will come out and be decent, but it still smells of design & marketing project to me…

2017-10-13 by Thomas Rothwell

Hi Russel,

Thanks for coming back. I a m based in Europe went to Intersolar at Munich this year. Didn’t expect Solpad to be there but Tesla were. There was a complete absence of technical information about the solar roof tiles as well and look forward to your critical insight on these.

You may also wish to comment on US patent US 20170048207 published earlier this year. I am well acquainted with the inventors who tell me Solpad may run into problems here, bearing in mind that the priority date is 6 Jan 2009.

We will all stand by and watch with interest.


2019-07-11 by Unknown

HAHAHAHAHA Excellent Reading.

Photovolytaic / Solar Thermal Technician here.

As I read, in back of my mind was that little voice wondering if you had a personal vendetta or axe to grind or rant LOL. Don’t know how I got here but saving it. kind of reminds me of this new Legion number something … oh yeah Legion 3.

In a car forum called Tesla I read something and one person claims he purchased one and giving it bells and whistles, aha I did save the url scroll all way down.

What's the TMC verdict on Legion Solar? (and their Kickstarter) | Tesla Motors Club

once again enjoyed your page keep up the good work. oh yeah someone claimed that installation prices are obscene. ok just let me fall off your room and if i don’t die you can support me and my family for the rest of my life or if I die my family will sue your chones off.

i Like, OLE!

2019-07-14 by Russell Graves

Thanks! I had no personal axe to grind beyond a burning hatred of “total and complete solar bullplop that is custom-worked to sound really good to people without a background in PV.” And this had that, in spades.

Near as I can tell, they still haven’t shipped any of the preorders or such. Still a bunch of vaporware.