George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Solar-Powered Station Lets You Recharge Outdoors

July 2, 2013   /   by Beth Pullias

Giulia Manno, Sustainability Outreach Coordinator, charges her laptop on the new solar charging station installed by EnerFusion Inc. Photo by Evan Cantwell/Creative Services/George Mason University

It may look like just a solid table and fancy umbrella, but this duo doubles as a charging station for portable electronics. Photo by Evan Cantwell

With beautiful weather in Northern Virginia this time of year, studying and working outside with your laptop and electronic devices is tempting. But it’s tricky to keep laptops and tablets charged for a long periods if you’re away from an electric outlet.

Not a problem anymore.

Meet Enerfusion Solar Dok table outside of University Hall on George Mason University’s Fairfax Campus.

This solar-powered table, which seats up to eight people, not only provides shelter from the sun but also allows you to charge your laptop, cell phone and handheld devices. The table sports four 110-volt electrical outlets and 2 USB power outlets, a nice green-and-white George Mason umbrella for shade and its own lighting. A digital reader at the table provides readouts of solar energy production.

Joe Kobus, left, president and founder of EnerFusion Inc., and Justin Kobus install the solar panels for the table. Photo by Evan Cantwell

“The Green Patriots wanted to bring a solar charging station to campus to give the Mason community the opportunity to interact firsthand with solar technology,” says Giulia Manno, outreach coordinator in the Office of Sustainability.

“If the solar dok is popular, the hope is that this will encourage further implementation of renewable energy technology at Mason.”

Manno and the Green Patriots student group submitted a proposal earlier this year to the Patriot Green Fund (PGF). The total cost of the project was $12,050 for the purchase and installation.

The Patriot Green Fund of $100,000 was established two years ago by the Mason administration to fund sustainable projects on campus. Of the $100,000, $20,000 is set aside for student research under the supervision of a Mason faculty member, while $80,000 is set aside for facility upgrades or installations. A panel of students decides which proposals get approved.

So why is the table at University Hall and not in the center of campus? The location provides continual sunlight — except in the case of cloudy skies, of course. The umbrella offers shade in this sunny area, and the site provides excellent visibility to the bus bay, Starbucks and food options in University Hall– a building built to LEED silver standards.

Another solar table will be available in the future and will be built by a group of Mason engineering students. Their goal is to build a table that is less expensive and charges devices faster.