Solar Party Detroit takes local live events off the grid

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Attend a DJ set or live music performance in the Metro Detroit area, and it might be powered by solar, thanks to an organization in Detroit that’s bringing solar to the party.

The organization, called Solar Party Detroit, offers off-grid solar-powered units for everything from parties to DJ sets to outdoor movies. Anything electronic, Solar Party can do.

It started six years ago when one of the team members, Diane Cheklich, got an e-bike and wanted to take it off the grid. So she got a protective carrying case on wheels, put a battery in it, and connected it to solar panels.

In addition to powering the bike, the battery unit ended up being a useful and cool way to power microphones and other things as well. Cheklich started getting requests to rent the equipment, and Solar Party was born without even trying.

“We thought, ‘well, there seems to be demand for this. We're not even trying. So let's focus on that opportunity, meet that need in the community, and help raise awareness about solar,’” Cheklich said.

Diane Cheklich and Ash Arder of Solar Party Detroit.

Now, in addition to the original style battery pack, Solar Party has several different sizes of solar generators available for rent. The latest addition is Grover, a small trailer equipped with solar panels. At 35,000 watt-hours, Grover is the largest unit in Solar Party’s fleet and has enough capacity to power an 8-hour music set. It features two 3-prong 20-amp outlets and two 3-prong 15=amp outlets.

Since its beginnings, Solar Party has powered everything from a Mario Kart video tournament to a pottery wheel to haircuts. And, a lot of music sets, which they’re focusing on more now.

“We’ve been focusing in on the DJ community,” said Ash Arder, another team member. “Obviously, Detroit is a huge place for music and the history of music – techno was born here,” she said.

Typically if a DJ is doing a set outdoors without access to power, they have to use a diesel generator, Cheklich explained, which is noisy, smells bad, and pollutes the air. So then DJs use an extremely long extension cord, so the generator doesn’t interfere with the party.

With Solar Party Detroit, the generator can sit next to the DJ, which adds to the experience by exposing people to solar power.


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