What do you get when you cross one partner's love for coffee and baking, with the other's can-do attitude and draw to renewable energy? A solar-powered café on wheels.
Years ago, Kathy Reinert pondered how best to channel this love for coffee. "Living in a rural community, it was difficult to appease the desire for quality coffee in our small town. After having a passion for coffee for several years, I began looking for options to bring it closer to home. Although the population is low, our area provides a hub of traffic for businesses in the region."
Taking note of the growing food truck trend, the pair began to consider putting Kathy's ambition on wheels. Unable to justify the cost of a brand new truck, Matt and Kathy searched for a reliable - yet cost-effective - alternative. After many months of searching, they stumbled upon a van with a body in good condition...and after fixing some fist-size holes in the frame, assembling prefabricated rails, drilling 100+ holes for mounting the truck components, and applying corrosion prevention treatment, Kathy's vision began to materialize.
Powering the Café
To satisfy the high energy demands of a fully operational café, the pair initially planned to use a 15kW propane generator. But consideration of fuel cost, maintenance, and noise led Matt and Kathy to abandon the idea of using a generator. As a Field Engineer servicing commercial-scale wind turbines and as a former U.S. Navy nuclear electrician and a master electrician, Matt soon began exploring renewable alternatives. A battery-based solar solution quickly became a promising option.
Keep reading over at the altE blog.