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BigBelly FAQs

How does a solar compactor work?

The solar panel extracts energy from the sun and transfers the power to a battery for storage. On-board controls software takes fullness input from a photo eye and triggers compactions automatically. When the compactor reaches predetermined fullness levels that indicate a pick up is required, external LED indicators are triggered. For units equipped with wireless monitoring, the fullness and required pickup status is visible and trackable from a remote computer.

What is CLEAN?

CLEAN stands for Collection Logistics Efficiency and Notification, and is BigBelly Solar’s software application for extracting fullness, compaction frequency and other important operation data from the solar compactors. This information is relayed through a server network to any remote computer connected to the Internet and is accessible using your password.

What is the value of pairing a recycler with a solar compactor in a kiosk configuration?

Recycling is growing in importance as plastic and other containers become more prevalent in the consumer goods value chain. For example, 2 million plastic beverage bottles are used EVERY 5 MINUTES in the United States. Having a BigBelly recycler at the point of waste disposal diverts recyclable commodities from landfills and may create an additional revenue stream. Additionally, less plastic and glass in the compactors increases compaction efficiency, further reducing the frequency of required pickups. The design of the BigBelly recycling kiosk encourages better separation of trash and recyclables, resulting in low cross-contamination rates (recyclables in the trash or vice versa).

Does a solar compactor require direct sunlight and will it work if it is not a sunny day?

The BigBelly solar compactor does not require direct sunlight. As long as the solar panel can “see” the sky (i.e., not under a roof or tree), the unit will work reliably on diffuse light. This is a central area of BigBelly Solar’s technical advantage: the company has extensive intellectual property in intelligent energy management, allowing the solar compactor to work reliably 24/7/365 in rigorous environmental climates and light conditions. For example, a BigBelly solar compactor can operate for a day on the equivalent energy it takes to make a piece of toast.

What do the green, yellow, and red lights mean on the BigBelly solar compactor?

It should first be stated that citizens, students and park goers need no knowledge of or even to take notice of these signals; they are intended to communicate fullness status to pickup crews – either through direct observation, or as communicated through CLEAN. Green means the BigBelly compactor is ready to continue to accept and compact trash. Emptying a Green compactor is a “wasteful” effort – the BigBelly compactor can continue to consume trash and pickup should take place at a later time. Yellow means that the unit is nearing capacity (60%-80%, depending on the settings) and a pickup should take place in the near future. Red means that the unit has sensed a fullness level to where compaction is no longer taking place; collection should take place at or before this point.

What are the safety features of the BigBelly solar compactor?

With full compliance to International Standard ISO 13857, the elimination of any potential for personal injury in the use of the products was a primary consideration in the design of the solar compactors. Both the access door to the trash and the electronics access door (the solar panel) are locked and require a key. If either door is opened the compactor will not run.
In addition, the receptacle door (the “hopper”) is designed so that the back of the hopper creates a safety barrier and does not allow arms, hands, feet, heads, or other body parts access to the compacting ram. The machine runs on a safe low voltage system.

How reliable is the BigBelly solar compactor?

A New York case study found 99.8% up time in a heavy-use and demanding environment. The BigBelly system has been designed to be highly reliable in rigorous external environments, with an expected life of 10 years with proper cleaning and maintenance.

What kind of maintenance does a BigBelly solar compactor require?

The BigBelly solar compactor has been designed to require very low levels of maintenance. No maintenance is required on the motor or the solar panel, which are sealed, maintenance-free components. Guidelines are available in the operating manual. Replace the battery every 4 to 5 years.

How do you clean a BigBelly solar compactor?

Occasional power washing of the solar compactor and recycler will ensure a long life (and a better response from the users). While avoiding the internals of the top door (location of electronics), power wash the units inside (bin locations and hopper) and out as needed. Recommended cleaning agents are listed in the manual.

What about vandalism and graffiti?

BigBelly solar compactors and recyclers have been designed to limit the effects of attempts at vandalism. Units are bolted to sidewalks and are virtually impossible to manually dislodge. Siting with proper curb setbacks will minimize the potential for other mechanical means (e.g., a vehicle strike) to dislodge or damage the units. Side panels are designed from recycled car bumper materials – they will not deform even under the force of a baseball bat. The polycarbonate solar bubble is similarly designed.

As with other external containers or street furniture, occasional graffiti removal may be necessary, but is easily accomplished. A full list of standard approved solvents and cleaning procedures are contained in the manual. As an interesting side note, BigBelly solar compactors and recyclers tend to be very favorably received in the community. One of the company’s large university customers shared, for example, that the BigBelly compactors are the ONLY external asset on the campus that has not been vandalized.




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