CATEGORY: Systems, Research, Industrial Design, Socal Good
TOOLKITS: Google Drive, Fabrication
ROLE: Research, Design, Fabrication
The DIY Solar Charger is a design project that allows people to explore energy independence within their own homes. This project began as a research project focused on fracking in the United States, but grew into a larger study of what energy independence means from the national level to the personal level. Made from widely available materials and using simple construction, this design is highly accessible. This solar charger is a way for people to discover what energy independence means for them.
Research makes up the bulk of this project. Energy consumption in the US is an incredibly complex and wide reaching topic, so I spent a great deal of time looking at the process of fracking, the actors in the system around it and the the flows of materials, energy, information and money through the system. I realized that although fracking was sold as a way for the US to become energy independent, that dream was scuttled by other players in the global energy economy. This lead me to an exploration of what energy independence really means, and how we can explore that as individuals.
I set out to create a design intervention that people could easily build on their own. I wanted to create something that required minimum technical skill or domain knowledge to assemble, used predominantly recycled or reused materials, and served the majority of use cases, but could be adapted for other use cases. This solar battery charger design is housed in a cardboard case and is made primarily from automotive materials that should be readily available from a junk yard. The specialized parts required are the solar panel, solar panel connecters, a charge controller, and inverter.