Archaeologists believe the first vending machine was a water dispenser used in Greek temples as early as 215 BC. When the coin was deposited into the device, its weight caused a lever to dispense a small amount of water. While vending machines have come a very long way since then, with the invention of electricity for one, perhaps we could take a thing or two from ancient Greece. Do vending machines really need to be plugged into a wall?

The EPA estimates that 3 million vending machines are in use in the United States, using about 6 kilowatt-hours of energy per machine. Many of these machines are located in areas that have accessibility to sunlight, particularly machines located outside of gas stations, music venues, office buildings, hospitals, schools, and the like. Some companies are now reevaluating the cost of providing electricity for these machines, as well as the impacts that the wasted energy (especially during odd hours of the night) has on the environment.

Various vending brands, such as VendoMax which has created The SVK Solar Vending Kiosk, a 100% off-grid solar powered vending machine in Chattanooga, Tennesee, are finding great success with the sun-powered machinery. While drastically cutting costs, the grid-free machine is easily moved from one location to another, providing locational flexibility.

A European brand, Solar Energy Vending, has further developed its machines to have both solar and wind technologies to cater to the not-so-sunny parts of the world. Solar Energy Vending explains the added benefits of having an off-grid machine, highlighting that their machines have traveled everywhere from sunny golf courses to hot beaches, all without concerns of outlets and generators.

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