Solar Energy

Mobile Solar "Flower" by Scottsdale-Based Monarch Power Lets You Bring Your Refrigerator Anywhere

Governor Jan Brewer and other state officials attended a demonstration today of a new, mobile solar-power generator that unfolds like the lotus flower it's named after.

Monarch Power CEO, Joseph Hui, introduced the Lotus Mobile as a product that could power a refrigerator or other appliances in any location (when the sun is shining). The mounting pole and unfurling solar panels, which also track the sun for better energy generation, are light enough to be transported in Hui's orange Tesla.

In a Youtube video released this month, (see below), the company states that the device can be had for just $3,199, but could be eligible for a discount of 55 percent from the state and federal subsidies, bringing the out-of-pocket cost to $1,440.

Looks like the perfect camping accessory, if you could find a place to pack it. Home use seems like underkill for the Lotus Mobile -- but Monarch Power promotes the device as perfect for remote areas of Africa or Arizona's Navajo Indian Reservation. In any case, the flower petals, when retracted, has to be able to withstand both the high winds of dust storms and the occasional pellets of hail if they're to last a few seasons in Arizona.

The company also offers a two-kilowatt-rated, installed device -- the Lotus Electric -- which can be mated to a small natural-gas electric plant to provide 24/7 power. That product, priced at $9,999, uses mirrors to concentrate sunlight and power a small steam turbine. Excess heat from the system can be channeled for hot water or indoor climate control.

Proving that solar competition is ruthless here in the Valley of the Sun, the company's literature takes a jab at typical solar panels: "Photovoltaic solar panels are heavy and ugly, taking up rooftop space and require expensive installation."

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.