The following is a transcript from an interview with Solar Empower.
In today’s interview, we have Joshua Weaver, Executive Vice President at RaVolt, grid-independent whole home solar system.
| Can you please introduce yourself to me and to our readers?
I’m Joshua Weaver, the Executive Vice President at RaVolt. We specialize in whole home power, backup battery solutions for residential solar applications.
| What makes you different? Can you tell me about your actual product and the system you are making?
We’re really fundamentally different from the way traditional solar is done today. Typically, a solar installation may not have any batteries, and you’re relying on a backfeed agreement from the utility to offset your usage. At RaVolt, our goal is to provide you with whole home power instead of just being a backup system that still relies primarily on the grid. We store your energy created so you can use it later. What we are seeing throughout the country, as we have seen in recent news in California, is that true net meter programs rarely exist anymore. You’re selling back to the utility at the wholesale cost of energy yet still buying at the retail cost of energy. That delta effectively pays for your storage capacity over time and should motivate individuals to explore a more resilient solar power solution like RaVolt provides.
The crux of what we’re trying to push at RaVolt is to make solar + battery installations just as easy and fast as any solar installation.
Physically, that means that we take all the equipment that’s needed, and provide it to you in one single box.This becomes a “drop in place” solution for installers and homeowners. It safely sits outside your home and is completely self-contained and temperature controlled.
We take the inverters, batteries, and other required gear (that normally hangs on your wall), and do it in-house, in a factory, making the job easy on the installers, once they get out in the field. They just bring their electrician, land their cables where they need to land them, and walk away. This makes every Solar + Battery installation the same repeatable process allowing installation to be efficient and on a reliable timeline.
| Was it hard to push that idea onto people, or is that something that the market needed?
We have observed that when you find the customers that get what we’re trying to do, it’s a very easy sale, and it’s easier for them to understand our point of view. What’s “hard” about it is, it is objectively a more expensive solution until you take into account the total job cost including installation. It’s also not a more expensive solution just to be more expensive; rather, because we’re focusing on becoming your primary electrical power source instead of a backup to the grid.
We tell our customers that the carbon savings and the amount of trees that you save is just a wonderful byproduct of our system. Our primary focus at RaVolt is making sure that our customers have resilient, redundant, and reliable electricity, no matter what!
| Does your system store energy?
Our system always has a battery backup component to it. We store anywhere between 15 kilowatt hours (minimum) up to 80 kilowatt hours, which is the limit based on the international building code.
| Do you have competition? Are there people also in the market doing something similar to what you’re doing?
There are some competitors out there, doing similar types of products. How we differentiate ourselves is we have patent protection that helps us protect our intellectual knowledge around our systems.
We’re, to my knowledge, the only company that’s really taking HVAC seriously. Lithium ion batteries have some temperature requirements you must meet and so for system designed to be outside you have to take this into consideration.
We are the only ones that I know of, putting this in a NEMA 3R enclosure, providing heat, as well as cooling, so that we have a conditioned space that’s going to allow the system to work properly in all climates.
In essence, we differentiate ourselves by not just providing an inverter and a battery in a box, which is what our competitors are doing now. We’re trying to provide a solution that we call a ‘home power plant,’ where our product sits outside your home and becomes the electrical hub for your property to help you service all your energy needs!
| What are your plans for the future, in terms of expansion?
We really are expanding quite quickly. We’ve almost quadrupled our sales from year one to year two, and plan on more than tripling that again, just based on what our forecasted demand is already in 2023. So, there’s a large appetite for our equipment and a large appetite from the installer network as well.
| Are there any other projects maybe you’re currently working on? Are there any plans for the future?
Yeah, we really are focused on building out our product line. We have a product line that’s scalable and usable for what we call “whole home usage” for “typical homes.” That’s scalable from a thousand square feet, up to large residential buildings of like 8,000 square feet..
So, this year, we’re going to work on filling out our product line a little bit starting with a smaller system. Depending on different parts of the country, our aim will be so called ‘Casitas’ in south Texas, tiny homes, hunting cabins, etc. A small cabin system that’s going to be a DIY focused product.
And then also, a three-phase system intended to tackle the light commercial and the agricultural market. We see areas like chicken farming and other agricultural needs that are being unmet out there; these spaces have large roofs available to accommodate solar panels and a lot of times, those also coincide with remote areas of the country. Energy resiliency there is super important for the health of the flock and for the health of the farmer’s income stream. So, those are two different areas that we’re really looking to.
| Where do you come into the solar installation process? If someone wants to go solar, they would go to the installer, maybe get the panels installed and then talk to you? How does that work exactly?
We’re setting it up, so they would go to their local installer who would, ideally, already be in contact with us. So our goal is to integrate from the supplier side of things.
We also have our own sales team that works to bring in leads and help support our installers but that’s not our 100 percent focus moving forward. We really want to make sure we get a really robust installation, sales, and distribution network built up.
| I read about your social mission on your website. Can you expand on that a little?
Our social mission, as an organization, is to provide equal opportunity for everyone out there seeking energy independence, and to build up localized energy resiliency in general.
| What do you think about solar energy in general? About its future? Are people talking more about it, wanting to install more systems? What have you seen in these recent years?
We certainly have seen an influx in interest over the last six months, especially since the new IRA was passed. We know that that’s going to be, for the US at least, a guaranteed decade-long support system for the solar industry while we continue to figure out how to be completely competitive with fossil fuels and any other energy resources out there.
What we’re finding is, with the rising cost of retail energy, from utilities, residential solar is really competitive when it comes to a kilowatt hour basis on energy. So, we believe that these smaller scale localized systems, where someone can detach from the grid or someone can just use the grid as some support system, is really the major growth in solar moving forward.
| Is there anything you would like to say, maybe I didn’t have the chance to ask you?
We at RaVolt hope that people see that supplying their own energy locally is a reality that can happen today, and if they want to achieve energy independence, there are many options to do that. So, I just encourage individuals to reach out to us at www.RaVolt.us or follow us on all major social media platforms.
If someone wants to achieve this goal and the financial burden is hard to overcome, there are options out there that will lease the system to you to help alleviate that and lock in your energy costs now and in the future. We partner with Ohmgrid, who provides those types of solutions to customers and would be happy to help them achieve those goals through that avenue.
The future truly is bright for energy independence. We, as well as a large group of very motivated people, continue to make this our mission and work at developing solutions to bring this reality to all.