CHICAGO -- The world’s first Coca-Cola cold drink vending machine to run exclusively on solar energy made its debut at the National Automatic Merchandising Association's recent OneShow here.
The one-of-a-kind prototype combines a conventional "stack" vending machine (a closed-front configuration easier to adapt for outdoor operation, named for the vertical stacking of packages) and a custom-designed solar-power generation and storage system.
The self-contained machine requires no external source of electricity to power its functions, from refrigeration to payment systems, allowing operators to take it completely off the grid. Solar panels, measuring about as deep as the machine and three times its length, mount atop the vender and fold for easy portability.
PHOTO: Coca-Cola Co.'s Jeff Busch (left) and Scott Corley show off prototype of a solar-power vending machine at NAMA OneShow in April.
The machine’s solar-powered battery continually charges in daylight and can hold a charge three to five days without sun (even if machine is indoors).
Coca-Cola Japan has been deploying vending machines equipped with solar panels to harvest energy during daylight hours that is used to power nighttime LED lighting. Also in Japan, Coke has developed another energy-saving vender that can keep beverages cold without using power for up to 16 hours a day by shifting use of power for cooling from the usual peak midday period to the nighttime. | READ MORE
The concept unveiled at the NAMA show, however, is the first to power all machine functions and systems with solar energy. Coke will begin field testing the technology this summer.