Online and Off the Grid. This solar powered internet service provider offers online services that are powered by the sun.
Computer gurus spend hours hunched over glowing screens, listening to whirring hard drives, speaking a kind of foreign language and rarely seeing the light of day. But Marc Overman, founder of startup Internet service provider (ISP) Solarhost, may just be the first computer geek who actually uses the light of day.
Launched in March by Overman and his wife Carole, Solarhost is a forward-thinking, mom-and-pop operation that offers entirely solar-powered Web site hosting, design, maintenance and programming. Based in Warrenton, Virginia, Solarhost owns 12 high-density 110W panels that occupy 150 square feet of land and produce a peak output of 1.2 kw/hour, which is converted to electricity for their servers and facility. After the immediate AC/DC power needs are met, excess power gets stored in a massive battery bank. "It would take five days of darkness to shut us down," explained Overman, "but we can turn off `optional' devices in order to extend our time. If after five days we run out of power, we can pull from an external source to recharge." In case of catastrophic failure, a backup generator or grid power takes over in less than a minute.
Moreover, besides being environmentally sound, Solarhost's use of photovoltaic (PV) energy may actually make it more reliable. Energy deregulation and power outages, combined with the Internet's continued popularity explosion, has inspired many grid-based companies to extend their battery banks with PV energy, making Solarhost's operating model one step ahead of the competition. Since going live nearly a year ago, the company boasts a track record of having its server down for only 11 minutes. Such service has won over not only numerous clients from the green community like Crest.org , IREC.org and Greenwave.com , but also a surprising number of mainstream commercial clients who seek the freedom of being off-grid and online.
Solarhost has set its sights on becoming a national ISP in 2002. "We hope to use our technologies to bring people together, share ideas and be more effective," says Overmann. "And we're choosing our clients, partners and investors carefully to ensure that we can meet our goals and affect positive change."
With a future this bright, maybe Overman ought to wear shades. For more information, visit www.solarhost.com .