A community energy co-op in Antigonish is trying to persuade its members to band together to buy solar panels, and for those on the fence it's offering up a mobile unit that doubles as a karaoke machine and public address system.

The Antigonish Community Energy Cooperative is gauging the interest of its members in a plan to group purchase solar panels for home installation in order to secure a better price.

As part of that consultation, members can see the benefit first hand with a demonstration unit that is towed behind a car or truck, according to co-op president David Morgan.

"Any member of the co-op who wishes to see what the capabilities of even a very small system are can borrow the solar mobile free of charge, run an extension cord from the solar mobile into their house and see what they can power with it," he said.

The unit can also be used as a karaoke machine and loudspeaker, which could make it in demand for those putting on outdoor events such as concerts.

This demonstration system has 530 W of solar photovoltaic panels, batteries, a charge controller, and an inverter to produce AC power. 

Morgan said about one-third of the membership is considering the idea of entering into a group purchase deal to outfit their homes with solar panels. 

Solarmobile for Antigonish Energy Cooperative

The solar panel unit can be used as a karaoke machine and loudspeaker, which could make it in demand for those putting on outdoor events such as concerts. (David Morgan/Antigonish Energy Cooperative)

"Forty of them have already had their homes appraised for the possibility of having solar installed," he said.

The co-op will be a meeting at the end of the month in Antigonish, and if there's a commitment from members to make a group purchase then the co-op intends to do so in late March or early April.

Morgan said the Antigonish Community Energy Cooperative has branches in Pictou County and Port Hawkesbury.

He's hoping to spread the solar "gospel" from there into the west side of Cape Breton and on to the Sydney area.