Home > iPhone, Nokia, Solar, Solio > Solar Powered Experiment Results

Solar Powered Experiment Results

After a week of attempting to only use solar power to keep my iPhone charged, the end result was mostly successful.  There were two times I needed to connect my phone to a computer.  The first time was to update the phone’s system software to iOS 4.3.4.  The second time I needed to give the phone a boost of power since its battery was down to 9%, and I needed to make a phone call and didn’t want to get disconnected due to a bad signal and low power.

Trying to keep a power-hungry smart phone fully charged is not an easy task.  One of the most critical lessons learned from this past week is a cornerstone of green living.  Conserve.  Learn to live with less.  As long as I only used the phone occasionally to send text messages, make the occasional phone call, and perhaps perform a couple of other internet-related items (stocks, web browsing, social networks), I was able to keep the phone sufficiently powered by the sun.

Tips to keep a good charge:

  • Turn off any unnecessary radios when not being used.  I normally only keep the EDGE connection turned on, and normally have WiFi and 3G disabled.  But to really maintain a good charge, put the phone into Airplane mode when you know you will not need to a connection to the network (or even turn the phone completely off).
  • Keep the phone out of areas which mask the signal.  This causes the phone to work harder to try and find a signal, which wastes more of the battery.
  • Only use the phone when necessary.  I’ve watched numerous teenagers quickly drain their phone’s battery due to non-stop texting.

On Friday I listened to music for several hours, which drained at least a third of the battery.  One of the reasons I wanted an iPhone was to be able to reduce the number of gadgets I owned.  Instead of having a mobile phone and an iPod, I wanted just a single device.  The iPhone was designed and marketed with idea this in mind — to be an internet device, a phone, and an iPod.  While having an iPhone helps by not having to power up multiple devices, it does leave me to have to rely on my iPhone more if I want to listen to music or read the news.

Smart phones love to consume power and bandwidth on many non-phone activities, but what about the power requirements of a feature phone?   Nokia is testing this idea, as evidenced with the Nokia solar powered phone project.  Nokia is attaching the specialized Lokki device to a Nokia C1 or C2 phone in their attempts to see how viable a solar powered phone is in various environments (Sweden, Finland, Baltic Sea, and Kenya).

The initial reports are interesting, but the testers seem to be encountering the same issues I have found in trying to charge the Solio.  Current solar chargers work best when facing direct sunlight.  However, since the sun’s position moves during the day, this requires the charger to also need to be repositioned to gain the greatest amount of solar energy.  While this method works out decently for chargers, it may not work as well if the solar cells are attached to the phone itself.  Typically, a mobile phone is carried on the person (in a pocket, purse, bag, etc.), and generally is not left laying out in a window.  Even if someone can position their phone in a window all day long, there is the concern if the phone might get overly warm due to the direct rays of the sun which are necessary to deliver enough power to charge up the battery.  It will be interesting to see if Nokia’s experiment will prove to be a viable solution to power a phone with solar power.


Categories: iPhone, Nokia, Solar, Solio
  1. 24 July 2011 at 23:54

    Great piece – interesting to find that you’re changing your usage habits to match your charging habits. Conservation is indeed the first rule. Thanks.

  2. Stu
    28 July 2011 at 08:53

    Hi mate,

    Great piece, Solar phones not too far away now.


  3. 30 December 2011 at 07:01

    Hey edenwaith i love your blog well done!

  4. 27 July 2012 at 09:36

    Hey there just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The words in your post seem to be running off
    the screen in Safari. I’m not sure if this is a formatting issue or something to do with web browser compatibility but I thought I’d
    post to let you know. The style and design look great though!
    Hope you get the issue fixed soon. Kudos

  5. 29 July 2012 at 20:49

    Thanks for the feedback. I’m viewing the site in Safari 6.0 on Mountain Lion, and I’m not seeing any formatting issues. Beforehand, I have generally used some version of Safari or Chrome and do not recall any formatting issues as have been described.

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