Freshmen Braelyn Rice and Breanna Price visit a solar charging station recently installed at USC. (Photo by Jack Wolfe/Carolina News and Reporter)



USC students now can charge their phones, laptops, tablets or other mobile devices by using solar energy at standup outdoor stations around the campus.

The university installed three charging stations over the summer with plans to add three more this month. The goal is to create convenience for the students. But the project also is in line with next year’s Green and Garnet initiative designed to create greater energy efficiency on campus.

Sophomore Kate Heller said at first she didn’t realize what the pole-like charging station at Davis Field was.

“I’ve never seen this. What is this?” Heller said. “And then when I walked past, I saw it was a charging station, which is cool.”

USC’s Facilities Services will determine where to best place these stations. Whether the university should buy more will depend on how often the stations are used.

“Our goal is to place them wherever there’s a high concentration of students that already hang outside at that location,” said Jason Lambert, associate vice president of Facility Services.

The three standup charging stations installed this summer were made by Sunbolt and placed near student-dense sites such as Davis Field, Currell College and Colloquium Cafe. 

People can plug in a USB- Type A or USB-Type C cable at the charging stations and charge up. 

USC freshman Lauren Barriero likes the idea. She said working outside keeps her from getting distracted and being inside a stuffy campus building. But sometimes her devices often need a charge.

“The main downside of working outside is if your electronics die, … you have to now go back inside,” Barriero said. “I definitely think that will be beneficial to those who enjoy being more productive outside.”

One tricky part is that the solar panels need to receive UV light, Lambert said.  

That means the devices won’t get charged at night, as the station is not intended to be a 24-hour device, Lambert said. 

There will be two picnic table-style charging stations in October, as well as a retrofitted solar umbrella-shaped charger that will be added to an existing table.

Sophomore Johannes Piket likes the idea of sitting down while charging.

He would like to see more of the table-styled chargers across campus if the school decides to invest in more stations.

“I don’t see what the downside of that would be,” Piket said. “Solar power doesn’t seem like it hurts anybody, and you can charge your phone outside. … Seems pretty good to me.”

The two picnic tables, from EnerFusion, are expected to arrive Oct. 10. They will be placed on the south side of Close-Hipp Building, near Barnwell Street, and in the courtyard of Swearingen Engineering Center.

The retrofit umbrella kit from Aurora Solar, which should arrive later than the picnic charging stations, will be added to an existing courtyard table on the north side of the College of Nursing.

“These things are mobile,” Lambert said. “If we find they’re not being heavily used or if it doesn’t get the right sun exposure, then we’ll move them around.“

Lambert said future installations of charging stations mainly will be driven by the feedback from students around the various initial sites.

“We were fortunate to be able to try these out, and we’re very much looking for student feedback, too,” Lambert said.

Sophomore Kelvin Rudnicki walks past the Colloquium Cafe solar charging station, near the Pickens Street pedestrian bridge. (Photo by Jack Wolfe/Carolina News and Reporter)

At the Davis Field solar charging station near the Thomas Cooper Library, sophomore Dana Spence takes a call. (Photo by Jack Wolfe/Carolina News and Reporter)