As students return to California State University, Chico, they’ll find they’re now able to charge their mobile devices and their laptops via a solar charging station designed and built by students. The students who designed the system also say it’s the first solar charging station in the US that uses thin-film solar as opposed to silicon solar panels to power its battery bank.
“It’s so exciting to know I gave back to a University that gave me so much, to utilize the knowledge we gained here and say, ‘This is our thank-you—this is the culmination of our knowledge,’” said Salam Ali, the project manager. “It fills me with pride, for myself, for my college and for the university.” The project was the capstone project for Ali, Erik Marquis, Jairo Orozco, Maythem Alhaddad and Chou Vang, who all graduated in spring 2016 and the project advisor was Professor Greg Kallio.
The thin-film solar panels used in the off-grid are lighter and more flexible than silicon panels and are more easy to incorporate into designs like umbrellas. The project has 600 watts of solar panels integrated into patio umbrellas also has a 780-amp battery bank. It has eight 120-volt outlets and four USB charging stations.
Despite bing off-grid people will soon be able to monitor the small system’s power generation and consumption in real-time, via the University’s website. The project is unique in that it was student led and will provide learning opportunities for current and future students at the university. It can also serve a project to help design future mobile charging stations for festivals, parks, resorts or even backyard patios. While this project was designed and carried out by students other companies are starting to make mobile, solar-powered chargers as well to meet demand for powering gadgets.
The project was funded with $16,000 from the university’s Sustainability Fund Allocation Committee and the College of Engineering, Computer Science and Construction Management.Tweet