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Friday , 24 October 2014
Great ideas for harnessing the sun

Great ideas for harnessing the sun

Here’s an idea that seems to have loads of potential, not to mention the best optics ever for a green energy device: a solar-powered electrical socket that sticks to the inside of your windows. Just stick the socket on the window, wait for its mini photovoltaic panels to charge up with solar energy, and away you go. Plug in your devices directly to the window outlet. Not only is it a great idea for home use, but it would be a really useful little thing to carry with you (instead of batteries) when you travel, especially to places where electricity might be restricted, possibly even on an airplane. Or take it with you for a day at the beach.

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Too cool not to work. This window-mounted solar charger from Yanko Design is still a concept, one that promises more than it delivers, but the designers say technical issues like long charging times and low energy storage capacity can be overcome.

At least, that’s the idea. In its present form—it is still in concept stage—it looks a lot better than it performs. In fact, it looks so good it could be the new poster device for the green energy movement. What could be greener? You almost literally plug directly into the sun!

Alas, the main problem is that the tiny device can’t store enough power to make it really useful for running larger devices or appliances. It provides up to ten hours of power on a full charge, which takes five to eight hours to achieve, but its limited power won’t be good for much more than charging a mobile phone. That would be fine, of course, but it has so much greater potential.

The designers (Yanko Design) have registered the device for a US patent and hope to take it to market soon. They are working on its inefficient charge time and the limitations of its electricity use, technical issues they say can be resolved. We wish them all success because an idea this cool just has to work.

The idea of using your windows as a source of sunlight for charging things is so obvious that it’s almost incredible that no one thought of it before. But, as it turns out, someone did.

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Window-mounted solar charger from XD Design. This one is already available and provides enough power to charge smartphones, iPods, MP3 players and the like.

Another design group, XD Design, came up with a window-mounted solar charger about a year ago. Intended for charging portable devices, it has a regular USB port and a mini USB port. Its lithium-ion battery holds 1300 mAh  (milliampere hours) of charge, which puts out enough power to charge an iPod, MP3 player, digital camera or smartphone. This one is already available in stores.

A reviewer at gizmag said it took him twice as long as the product’s specs indicated to fully charge the XD Design Window Solar Charger, but since charging costs nothing (sunlight is still free), he didn’t mind. In his estimation, the device was “excellent,” though it would not be capable of keeping up with demand if you had a lot of battery-powered devices that need charging.

About Nicole Ryan Editor

I am Nicole Ryan, a contributing editor at Condo.ca—Canada's Condominium Magazine.

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