It seems that every time you turn around, another device has been created to make our lives easier. Many of these devices use electricity. Sure, an iPod does not require a lot of energy. However, millions of iPods requiring a little energy adds up.
Ten years ago, the United States had around 34 million cell phones in service. Today, more than 200 million!
So, how do these statistics show up on an Energyseeds story? Well, not long ago, I received a handy little solar gadget called the Solio. The Solio is a small, portable and lightweight solar array and battery storage system. Think of it as your own personal “off-grid” power supply. The Solio literature states that an hour of charging in the sun can translate into about 25 minutes of talk time. The nice thing about the Solio, that sets it apart from other chargers, is the onboard lithiom-ion battery. That way, your expensive new mp3 player does not have to be out in the sun to charge. In fact, you can charge up your Solio and carry that juice with you for up to a year!
At first, I was really enjoying setting up the panels and adjusting the angle of the Solio towards the sun by using a pencil. Next, I began to think how I could use it.
A student in my science class suggested that we could power a cell phone with it. Not to be outdone, another student suggested we power a cell phone with solar power – only. I am game to try anything once, so we decided to take my phone “off grid.” We are almost a month into the experiment, and my Motorola has never dipped below 2/3 a charge!
Now let’s crunch some numbers. The average cell phone charger uses about 3 watts. Assuming that conservatively every phone is plugged in for 6 hours a week…
7 hours a week X 3 watts = 21 watts a week
21 X 52 weeks = 1092 watts a year (round to 1kWh).
If we take a simple calculation of $.10/cents a kWh, that translates to Americans are using more than 200,000,000 kWh a year to power their cell phones! That is at least $20 million a year!! Those of you that are energy savvy may know that unless those Americans are unplugging their chargers between charges, the “phantom loads” on those chargers being plugged in can be many times higher than the amount of energy they are using to charge the phones!
Lets assume half of this country’s cell phone chargers are left plugged in. (this is being optimistic)
100 million X 1watt/hour X 24 hours X 365 days =’s 876,000,000 kWh! X $.10 =’s $87 million a year!
Enough about money… By using the Solio, charging my phone is so much more convenient in my backpack. I do not need to worry about forgetting it “on the charger.” Not to mention the safety aspect during a power outage, or out hiking and camping away from modern civilization.
There are parallels between off-setting your carbon footprint of your cell phone, with off-setting your home electrical use with a home solar system. Or in the future, installing a solar-covered car port to plug in your all electric vehicle…
Sure, the immediate payback may not be there. Using the Solio as a real-life example of how to gain the convenience of a cell phone, while off-setting environmental impacts is excellent.
Buying a Solio portable solar charging device: $80
Teaching the world to reduce their carbon footprint: PRICELESS!