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Solar Powered Phone Charger Tower Debuts in Tech Valley

NZ’s First Solar Powered Phone Charger Tower Debuts in Technology Valley

New Zealand’s First Solar Powered Cell phone Charging Tower – pictured left to right are WelTec Engineering lecturer Frans Weeihuzen, Tom Rabone 1ST Assembly Manager, WelTec and Whitireia Chief Executive Chris Gosling, Hutt City Mayor Ray Wallace, Steve Hainsworth and Sarath Malliyawadu from WelTec’s School of Engineering.

Running out of charge on your cellphone could be a distant memory for residents and visitors to “Technology Valley”, Lower Hutt.

Engineers from WelTec’s School of Engineering and the School of Creative Industries have teamed up to design and build a prototype cellphone charging tower powered by solar energy. Engineer Frans Weehuizen designed the electronics for the “green” cellphone tower and Darren Ward incorporated the Maori legend of how Maui captured the sun into the design of the tower giving the story a 21st century edge. Tutorial and technical staff from the School of Engineering contributed to the project with WelTec’s engineering fabrication students welding the stainless steel tower together.

The tower is 3.5 metres high with a solar panel at the top to harness the sun’s energy allowing up to 8 users at any one time to use five volts of energy to charge their cellphone. This is the typical amount of voltage required to charge a cellphone for half an hour. The rate of charge required varies according to individual cellphones, but users may only need to wait ten minutes before they get enough charge to last them until they get home or to their place of work.

Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace says, “It’s great to see this kind of innovation in Lower Hutt. It’s always exciting to see new technology introduced and the creative applications that result, especially sustainable technologies that also improve our residents’ quality of life.”

Frans Weeihuzen says, “The idea is that Lower Hutt has several cellphone charging towers located near a coffee van or picnic table or outside The Dowse Gallery so that while your phone is being charged you can be nearby enjoying a coffee or catching up with friends,”.

“We are hopeful now that a telecommunications company sees the benefit that this prototype can bring to a local community and helps us to build these towers around Lower Hutt in safe and secure locations.”

The model which has passed the proof of concept stage has been tested and works well. It is currently on display in Hutt City’s hardware set up development space and lab – called 1st Assembly at 125 High Street.

“The model is the same size as what it would be if installed in various locations around the Hutt,” says WelTec lecturer Frans Weeihuzen. “It just needs to be bolted onto a concrete base, have some additional cross-bracing and positioned in a suitable location and members of the public will be able to use it. That annoying problem of running out of cellphone charge will be a thing of the past.”

Hutt City Council provided financial support for the project in its efforts to “green” the Hutt Valley and be a hub for technology advancement. Council approached WelTec with a request to design and build a solar powered smartphone charging facility. The project was undertaken by the WelTec Schools of Engineering and Creative Industries.

The solar powered cellphone charging tower is symmetrical so it can be oriented in any direction. The panel is rotatable and can be set up to point north to maximise energy collection.


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