New Solar Tables Give UCR Students a Place to Recharge

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Thirteen of the environmentally-friendly units have been installed around the campus, providing students with more opportunities to plug in their wireless devices

By Ross French on April 22, 2014

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Three of the six solar tables being installed near the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf at the Highlander Union Building. Photo by Ross French

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — It is now a little bit easier for students at the University of California, Riverside to find some place to plug in and charge their phones and laptops, as 13 new, environmentally-friendly solar charging stations that double as canopied, café-style tables, have been installed this week at sites across the campus.

Thirteen Carrier Glass Green Infrastructure ConnecTables Solar Charging Stations have been installed just in time for the campus’ annual Earth Week Celebration. Six are installed near the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, two at the R’Garden, and another five at various high-traffic sites around the campus. The tables are expected to be fully installed and operational on Thursday, April 24, 2014.

“The solar tables at UCR provide a clean and renewable source of energy for charging the multitude of mobile devices on campus while offering  much-needed shade,” said John Cook, director of Sustainability at UCR. “The solar tables get us one step closer to meeting our 2025 carbon neutrality goals.”

The idea of installing these units came from a group of students who were interested in providing places for students to charge their devices in a “green” way.

“With the wireless network expanding all over campus, students are more reliant on laptops and mobile devices. Laptops and mobile device chargers can be checked out from the HUB for use by students, but there were limited places to use them,” said Israel Fletes, director of Educational Technology and Computing Services for Computing and Communications. “This will help change that.”

HUB Director Todd Wingate agreed that the tables will fulfill an important need.

“As the campus has continued to grow, so has the number of devices that students carry,” Wingate said. “Finding a place to recharge mobile phones or laptop batteries on campus can be tough. We saw the solar tables as one part of the solution.”

Each table is a self-sustaining, off-the-grid solar power unit that feature a commercial quality, 265 watt solar panel that also serves as a canopy. The solar panel charges a battery that supports eight 120-volt outlets and eight USB outlets. The solar panel produces two-to three times more power than the charging system and battery requires to charge up to 150 mobile devices in a day. The units can be used on shady days or even placed in somewhat shaded areas without compromising the availability of power. The batteries have an estimated life of five years before they will need replacement.

“These units meet a need by bringing electricity to areas where students congregate, but where there is little or no infrastructure to support it. It also demonstrates a commitment towards green power and toward fulfilling the university’s goal of reducing carbon emissions,” said Uma Ramasubramanian, senior physical planner in Capital Resource Management, who coordinated the selection and placement of the tables.

Funding for the units, which cost approximately $11,500 each, is coming from the Highlander Union Building administration, the Student Technology Fund, and the Green Campus Action Plan (GCAP).

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