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Solar Powered Module for Portable Computers

[+] Author Affiliations
David Serrano

University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, Mayagüez, Puerto Rico

Paper No. SED2002-1057, pp. 229-240; 12 pages
  • ASME Solar 2002: International Solar Energy Conference
  • Solar Energy
  • Reno, Nevada, USA, June 15–20, 2002
  • Conference Sponsors: Solar Energy Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-1689-3
  • Copyright © 2002 by ASME


A laptop by its virtue is a mobile apparatus therefore a power outlet may not necessarily be available to charge its batteries. Typical laptops have a range of up to two and a half hours of battery life under normal operation and some have as little as one and a half hours. Therefore for the computer user on the move it is important to have enough power available for more extended periods of time. Today’s technology provides a large number of other mobile appliances, instruments and tools that will also greatly benefit from extended power. Existing solar panels operate under direct sunlight conditions and are deployed only when the equipment is in use or stationary. The solar powered module developed at the Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Puerto Rico – Mayaguez has the advantage that it recharges the laptop in transit even when it is not in operation. By charging the battery when it is stored it allows the battery to be recharged during a larger period of time therefore increasing the amount of energy stored. Different types of solar cells were tested under “real world” lighting situations in order to assess their potential for the intended application. The solar array was optimized for use under a larger range of illumination conditions such that it may operate when direct sunlight is not available. The ergonomic design is integrated into the laptop’s carrying case but it may also be detached and/or repositioned if desired. The solar panel is based on the latest technology of triple junction spectrum-splitting amorphous silicon solar cells. The equipment allows the use of a laptop or other portable equipment in situations when power is not available, therefore providing a needed service in remote locations to professionals in the field and provides a backup power source in the event of an emergency or lack of adequate infrastructure. The paper describes the design process in the selection of the solar cell technology used in the module.

Copyright © 2002 by ASME



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