Solar-powered benches give new meaning to fiat lux

Cameron Yong/HIGHLANDER
Cameron Yong/HIGHLANDER

Thirteen solar-powered benches that feature outlets for students to recharge their portable devices were installed all across UCR last week.

The concept of the benches, according to Sustainable UCR, started in 2010 after a group of students wanted to find a way to charge their devices in an environmentally friendly way. After four years of planning, the solar-powered benches are now fully operational.

The benches’ solar panels, which double as canopies, are used to charge the controllers that rest at the base of each bench. The controllers, in turn, manage the sun’s power to charge the batteries which then supply energy to the power outlets and USB ports.

According to James Innes, CEO of CarrierClass Group — the company responsible for bringing the units to campus — the benches are off-grid solar systems, meaning they can be powered without needing to be connected to an electrical grid. Additionally, the units were designed for durability and longevity as they can withstand winds of up to 120 mph and the batteries can last as long as five years before they need to be replaced.

Each of the benches cost about $11,500 and are funded by the Highlander Union Building administration, the Student Technology Fund and the Green Campus Action Plan (GCAP).

 

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