Scrobby Solar is the Roomba for your roof panels

The Premise. Solar panels are a fantastic way to cut down on carbon emissions while providing people and the energy they need to power themselves. Their hassle-free nature are an added bonus, usually requiring no more than initial installation and routine maintenance — unless, of course, they get dirty. With no clear estimates as to how much dust, dirt, and grime affects a solar panel’s capacity to generate energy, owners run the risk of giving up anywhere from 3% to 40% of possible energy, severely cutting down on returns.

The Product. Scrobby Solar is a Roomba-styled robot designed to live on and clean your solar panels created by Stefan Hamminga. Itself powered by solar energy, the Scrobby uses nothing but gravity and rainwater to clean your installation. Ron Popeil’s “set it and forget” has never been more true with this product being completely self-reliant, keeping you safe by relieving you of the dangers of cleaning panels yourself while lightening the burden on your wallet with its price.

The Pitch. The campaign’s video is straightforward and extremely informational, showing the creator building a Scrobby Solar from scratch. The simplicity of its design is shown to us piece by piece, allowing potential backers to see how effective design is truly created. Although the rest of the campaign is a bit wordy, it does so in a comprehensive way rather than in a obtrusive one — better for those who like to feel as comfortable as possible contributing towards a pricey €75,000 ($97,000) campaign goal.

The Perks. The Scrobby Solar can be had with a early bird pledge of €269 ($345), or €289 ($370) if you hit the snooze button too many times. Early bird packages featuring multiple Scrobby Solars are also available if you need to clean larger installations, ranging from €529 ($679) to €1049 ($1345). All packages are slated to be delivered by February 2015.

The Potential. The Scrobby Solar’s shape is familiar and welcome, the idea of a automated solar panel cleaning system that doesn’t cost a fortune will turn heads, and its self-sustaining design is sure to make headway in the space at that price point. Not mentioned in detail in the campaign are the exact requirements to successfully install the product being that there suspension wires involved in its operation. As long as it doesn’t turn out to be more trouble than it’s worth, the Scrobby Solar should have a real chance of surpassing its funding goal.


Avo offers a betta’ home for your beta fish

The Premise. Fish tanks can be a soothing, interesting addition to the home. The only problem is that they require maintenance and tanks needs to be cleaned. Suddenly the fish becomes bothersome and may seem like a lot of trouble. 

The Product. Avo is a self-cleaning fish tank for beta fish. With plants on the bottom, it uses a natural filtration system to keep the tank clean. All fish poop and uneaten food is converted into nitrate which feeds the plants. Avo is its own mini eco-system. It has a stylish design with its own lighting as well that controls the heat of the water. Since beta fish are tropical, it’s essential that the water is warm enough to support their survival. The plants at the bottom of the tank come in pods that are easy to rearrange for different looks. In addition, the filter itself is self-cleaning so there’s really no maintenance for the tank at all.

The Pitch. Avo’s Kickstarter campaign, unfortunately, lacks a video. The rest of the campaign does a good job of explaining the tank’s various features, however. There are lots of photos showing the different places the tank can be displayed. It’s small enough to fit on desks and bookshelves.

The Perks. Early birds have two options for this British product. For £150 and £200, backers can receive the tank and start-up kit for estimated delivery in March 2015. At a regular cost, Avo goes for £200. Reward tiers go up to £2,000 but none include an actual fish! (Probably better for the fish in terms of shipping.)

The Potential. Avo is cool product and idea, but not the first of its kind as the campaign suggests. AquaSprouts is a self-contained eco-system for fish as well. However, its plants sit on top of the tank with water being pumped up and down. With AquaSprouts, it’s possible to grow herbs, however, the tank doesn’t have the same type of temperature control that Avo does. Avo also gets higher points for design, featuring the traditional round fish bowl with a twist. All in all, Avo is a great product for lazy fish-owners who enjoy the wonders of ecology.