The Powersol table and umbrella will permanently reside in the courtyard at Bettie Johnson Hall.
The Powersol table and umbrella will permanently reside in the courtyard at Bettie Johnson Hall.

A patio umbrella table attracting attention outside The Red Barn is more than a place to rest during busy back-to-school season. It’s actually a Powersol Smart Hub Charger station that gets its energy solely from the solar panels installed on its umbrella and can charge phones and other devices.

The Powersol table and umbrella will permanently reside in the courtyard at Bettie Johnson Hall, where residents last spring reduced electricity use by 27.5 percent in the UofL Ecolympics competition. During the competition, UofL residence hall occupants were encouraged to conserve electricity by taking steps such as turning off lights/televisions/computers and not using clothes dryers.

The table and umbrella were purchased by Campus Housing and the Sustainability Council.

The station’s solar panels generate 54 watts of electricity and the table can simultaneously charge three devices in the same time it takes to plug them into a wall socket. It uses recyclable lithium ion batteries and needs 5.5 hours of sun to fully charge.

“The Sustainability Council is thrilled to bring this new solar charging station to campus as a ‘Green Renovation’ prize for Bettie Johnson Hall,” said Justin Mog, UofL’s assistant to the provost for sustainability initiatives. “So, while you’re charging your mobile device with the power of the sun, be inspired to explore ways to reduce your own energy footprint, and consider supporting the UofL Green Fund to make more projects like this happen in the future.”

UofL has a goal of reducing its net greenhouse gas emissions and achieving climate neutrality by 2050. Other campus solar projects include a solar pool heating system installed on the roof of the Wright Natatorium and a solar hot water system in use at the Student Recreation Center. UofL’s Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research recently moved into the solar-powered Phoenix House, a building constructed by UofL and Ball State University for the 2013 Department of Energy Solar Decathlon competition, where it won the affordability challenge.

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Janet Cappiello covers the College of Business, the J.B. Speed School of Engineering, the College of Education and Human Development, the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies, Sustainability Council and military initiatives for the Office of Communications and Marketing. She has more than 30 years’ experience in journalism, including working for The Associated Press and magazines such as Vegetarian Times and Sustainability: The Journal of Record. She has been at UofL since March 2014.