At the end of September, 2019, the Solar Power Rocks crew attended North American Smart Energy Week in Salt Lake City, Utah. It’s the largest single energy conference in North America, and includes Solar Power International, Energy Storage International, and more.
The solar and energy storage industry has its fair share of inscrutable acronyms and mysterious marketing ploys, but one thing that struck is there are some remarkable company names in the solar industry. Whether that’s because companies want to stand out in a crowded field or they use some kind of weird portmanteau of the founders’ last names, there are some gems.
We thought it would be fun to highlight 10 companies and guess what they do before revealing what the company actually does and why they’re important. This is just for fun, and we’re hoping the companies we name here will accept our humor (and our links to their products and services). We tried to stay away from cheap shots like making fun of foreign names and words. Hopefully, everyone profiled below will have a fun time with this.
#10: Oztek Corporation
It sounds like they: Are the result of the Wizard mechanizing the munchkin infantry
In a gritty, dystopian future, after the alliance of the witches of the west, east, up, down, and sideways, the Wizard of Oz is forced to develop modern cyberweapons to combat the heavily armored flying monkey air force.
But they actually: Make power converting and optimization equipment
#9: Zilla Corporation
It sounds like they: make little sugar cookie wafers for radioactive dinosaur monsters
I bet radioactive dinosaur monsters need to eat a lot of cookies to keep their energy levels up enough to raze large Japanese cities.
I hope they also make a big glass of milk!
But they actually: make racking and mounting hardware for solar modules
Zilla is most famous for its Phantom® low-profile railless rooftop solar mounting system. If you’re a homeowner, what you need to know about Zilla is their products are made in the USA, work extremely well on composite shingle roofs, and allow for fast, strong rooftop solar installations.
#8: Ardexa Pty Ltd
It sounds like they: make personal digital assistants for pirates
“Hey, Arrrrrdexa! Me timbers have been shivered and me gangplank is in splinters! Order new timber supports and deliver on my next Arrrrmazon Day.”
But they actually: provide software to get IoT devices connected to the cloud
At least, we think that’s what they do. Ardexa.com has some pretty compelling language about how they can help enable device manufacturers to use their connected devices to their full potential. We still don’t know what “Pty” stands for, if anything.
#7: Tie Down Engineering
It sounds like they: get kinky with the solar panels
If your solar panels have been bad, choose Tie Down.
We’re wondering what kind of knots they use to get those solar panels cinched down to that roof and ready for a full day of punishing sunlight…
But they actually: make really cool tools for solar installers
Tie Down actually makes a huge variety of products for many industries, but when it comes to solar, they make these really cool platform hoists that can help roofers and solar installers lift hundreds of pounds of materials up to where they work (i.e., a rooftop).
It sounds like they: use solar power to unclog your drain and polish your silver all at once
What, was “SolarClean” taken? (oh yeah, it totally was).
Anyway, we’d imagine that SolarCleano would be like an infomercial miracle product that uses the power of sun rays to improve your life in heretofore impossible ways. We’re actually kinda sad that isn’t the case.
But they actually: make really cool robots meant for cleaning large-scale solar installations
Squeezing every last kilowatt-hour out out of a solar installation is tricky business. You’ve got to weight the pros and cons of doing cleaning, because it’s possible to damage the panels in the cleaning process, and a little dust only reduces solar output by a few percent, if that. That’s where SolarCleano comes in. Their robots can effectively and economically clean a ton of panels in a short amount of time, and a few percentage points more production actually matters when you’re talking megawatts of solar panels in the same field.
#5: SenseHawk, Inc.
It sounds like they: aren’t a bird, or a plane… it’s SenseHawk!
Our Hawk Senses are tingling, and we’re sharpening our PanelClaws to stop some criminal activity! We imagine SenseHawk as a throwback to the golden age of superheroes—something like Daredevil combined with Hawkeye. As a deaf and blind superhero, SenseHawk uses her supernatural powers to fight for truth, justice, and renewable energy for all!
But they actually: offer software and imaging solutions for solar developers
This company actually does some pretty cool stuff. If you’re a large-scale solar developer, SenseHawk’s solutions can help you do site surveys, monitor your installation’s construction, get thermographic data about your panels, and manage all the data associated with your project.
#4: Victron Energy B.V.
It sounds like they: are Her Majesty’s own robot corgi force that can combine into a giant robot
When trouble arises on the international stage, the corgis of the Victron Force rush to the pilot’s seats of their individual solar-powered robots to fight the forces of the evil King Zarcoal.
When the going gets extra tough, the corgi robots combine to form Victron: Defender of the Universe! (Major hat tip to No Goblin’s 100 ft. Robot Golf, which somehow came up with Corgi Voltron years ago).
But they actually: make, or at least put their name on, all manner of solar and power supply equipment
Victron energy offers a wide array of products, from batteries, chargers and inverters to solar panels and transformers. All products come with the Victron name and are sold through dealers all over the world.
#3: ARCELORMITTAL PROJECTS EXOSUN
It sounds like: Area 51 aliens are real and they run this company to fund their eventual voyage home
“We have crash landed here and need to use arcelormittal projections to launch a ship capable of reaching our exosun in less than 12 parsecs”
That’s the message the Area 51 aliens kept repeating when they arrived way back in the ’50s, and it took like two weeks to find someone who could translate from their language into ours, and we were so excited when we finally understood the message we were just like, “yeah, no problem, we’ll help you. Just sign these articles of incorporation here and share your technology with us and we’ll help you grow a company capable of building a ship in like 75 revolutions, tops.”
But they actually: are a steel company who merged with a mining company who bought a solar tracking company
So Exosun is/was a solar tracking hardware company that was acquired in early 2018 by ArcelorMittal, a humongous steel and mining concern, with over 200,000 employees in 60 countries. The name ArcelorMittal itself comes from the merger of two huge companies, Arcelor and Mittal Steel, back in 2006.
These days, Exosun exists as a project under the unbrella of ArcelorMittal and makes not only solar tracking hardware for large-scale installations, but also super cool waterless panel-cleaning robots that slide right over top of panels mounted on its tracking system.
We’re sure they also know that a parsec is a unit of length measurement, just like we do.
#2: Snake Tray
It sounds like they: make a tray that can hold your snakes
“I’m tired of all these &*%#*$& snakes on this &*%#*$& solar jobsite!”
If that sounds like you, you need snake tray! It’s a tray to hold each end every snake that’s causing you problems! Don’t ask us why a tray that holds snakes is a good enough, or even how it keeps the snakes from escaping!
But they actually: make cable management and power distribution systems
Snake Tray is a company that makes cable management racking systems for many industries, but also has solutions for solar cable management as well. We think the name comes from the fact that some of their cable racks can be twisted and turned and basically look like a stainless steel snake skeleton (say that 5 times fast) when fully installed.
#1: Ampner Oy
It sounds like: a plucky little Jewish kid from a 1930s-era newspaper comic strip
Li’l Ampner Oy gets in all sorts of trouble, and his ability to turn sunlight into electricity doesn’t help things! In his latest comic strip, Li’l Ampner accidentally turned the neighbors’ cat into a static-filled ball of fluff! The cat hasn’t been the same since, but Our Hero gets a free pass on account of being so cute and plucky!
But they actually: offer some of the world’s most powerful solar inverters
Ampner Oy is a Swedish company that makes a new solar inverter that can handle over 300 kW of direct current power at once, providing value to owners of large-scale solar installations and reducing cost and materials used.
That’s all, folks!
We hope you had fun looking at some of the funniest names in the solar industry. We’re already looking forward to new company names at SPI 2020, so if you’re starting a company this year and you want us to profile you next year, reach out!
Last modified: October 29, 2019