In March of 2002, Nextek Power Systems teamed up with PowerLight Corporation and Princeton Energy Systems to make the Whole Foods Market in Berkeley, CA the nation’s first major food retailer to introduce solar energy as its primary lighting power source. Eleven years later the system is still going strong, providing low-cost, virtually maintenance-free lighting to environmentally conscious customers and employees.

This was one of the first examples of what has become Nextek's Direct Coupling® technology, which provides Direct Current (DC) power directly to DC-compatible equipment that eliminates the need for most conversions/inversions to and from traditional Alternating Current (AC), thereby reducing power loss in the system, which translates to energy cost savings.


Whole Foods Market brought together Nextek, Princeton, and PowerLight to create a 33kW solar electric system to power the Berkeley store’s fluorescent lighting. The solar array, composed of PowerLight’s PowerGuard tiles covering 2,860 square feet on the store’s roof, turns the sun’s energy into usable power while increasing building thermal insulation and extending the life of the roof.

These solar tiles are electrically interconnected to Nextek’s NPS legacy power modules, which feed high quality DC power to the store’s newly retrofitted advanced DC lighting system. The NPS modules have since been replaced by a radically-advanced Direct Coupling® technology system, which incorporates the Nextek 16-channel Power Server Module, and will soon be managed wirelessly via cloud applications.


The system is already fully amortized, which means the electrical power produced by the solar panels and managed by the Nextek system is virtually cost-free.
“As a company actively looking for ways to help preserve our planet’s natural resources, natural solar powered lighting systems made sense both from an economic and an environmental standpoint,” said Ron Megahan, Regional President of Whole Foods Market.