What You Need To Know About Solar Charging Stations

Category: ConnecTable Hub

As solar energy rises in popularity and its barriers to entry (particularity cost) begin to diminish, an onset of products are coming forward in the market—all promising clean, off-grid energy delivered by the sun. There are solar products for every need (a solar charging wallet has even been developed), and solar charging stations have become a mainstay at commercial properties, parks, and universities nationwide. These stations satisfy the need to mix work with relaxation, while also providing security for its users with the knowledge that their devices can be charged seemingly anywhere.

With such a plethora of options in solar charging stations available, we are often questioned about what makes the ConnecTable unique. We find that a lot of potential customers are unaware of the benefits and limitations of certain stations, and so we created this blog to help clarify what you need to know when considering buying a solar charging station.

Power Capabilities– While designs with dainty or small solar panels may be aesthetically pleasing; they may not have the ability to charge many devices. Ask about the size of the solar array, and how many Watts it generates. It is also a good idea to ask how many devices can be charged per day on average. For some spaces, it may not be necessary to have the capability of charging 50+ devices per day, but for others it may be essential.

Charging Capabilities– What kind devices are you looking to charge? Just cell phones, or will you need 120v outlets for laptops, projectors, and other devices? It is important to think about how the station will be used. If it’s in a common area like a quad or a corporate campus, you will probably need 120v so students and employees can plug in their laptops to work.

Autonomy– Autonomy is essentially how long the solar energy will be stored after the sun stops shining. This is important especially if you are in an area that has a lot of rainy/overcast days, or if you expect patrons to have the need to use the station at night.

Materials– It is very important to understand the base materials of a solar charging station and their purposes. Some stations are meant to be easily collapsible/transportable to other areas. Others however, are made to withstand harsh weather conditions. If you live in an area that is susceptible to hurricanes, tornadoes or heavy rainfall, you will want to invest in a station made from durable materials that is wind tested to endure the elements.

Design– How well will the solar station’s design complement your surrounding environment? The design may be functional, but will professionals feel comfortable working at one at a corporate campus, will students enjoy it in a university setting? How well will the station blend with the natural landscape of a local park?

Maintenance– Pay close attention to how often the station will have to be cleaned/have batteries changed, etc. Some stations require routine maintenance, while others will barely need any.

Service Life- A solar charging station shouldn’t be a short-term investment. Look for warranties, and figures on the expected service life for the station and its component parts.

There are many different solar charging stations on the market and each of them focus on different customer needs. We hope that this blog helps you understand what exactly you are looking for in your charging station and ultimately leads to you selecting the product that best fulfills your property’s needs.

For more information on ConnecTable solar charging stations, or to speak with a sales representative, please contact us at info@theconnectable.com or 267.419.8496.

The ConnecTable is more than just a solar charging table. We’ve designed it as a multi-purpose social gathering station, and while we built the table with certain sustainability uses in mind our customers have found many additional ways that ConnecTable can be beneficial to campuses and outdoor workspaces alike:

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  • Outdoor Charging Station: The main purpose for the table was, and continues to be, an off-grid, solar charging solution for charging your devices outdoors. The ConnecTable enables students, colleagues and park patrons alike to charge up to 150 mobile devices per day- including phones, laptops, cameras, tablets and hand-held video game consoles.
  • Outdoor Learning Center: The ConnecTable is ideal for creating an outdoor learning center for students. Use one of the 4 electrical plugs to hook up a projector to the table and give presentations and lectures to students. Alternatively, allow students to bring their laptops and books outside with them to work on individual or group assignments.
  • Campus Safety Feature: Studies have shown that less crime occurs on well-lit streets and areas of campus. Keep your neighborhood and students safer by taking advantage of the ConnecTable’s LED lighting.
  • Fundraising Opportunity: At the University at California, Santa Barbara, students have found several innovative ways to use the ConnecTable café table. Several student groups have set up fundraisers around the ConnecTable and have utilized the tables charging and Wi-Fi capabilities to set up PowerPoints and slideshows.
  • Shaded Seating Areas: We know how hot it can get hot in the summer, and far too often there are not nearly enough shaded seating areas in parks and university campuses. Luckily, users can find solace and sanctuary from the afternoon sun underneath the ConnecTable’s 10’x 6’ shade canopy.
  • Outdoor Workstation: The ConnecTable’s design provides employees with a comfortable workstation where they can plug-in their laptops and phones, and work on their projects and assignments while enjoying the serenity of nature. You can even schedule an outdoor meeting at a ConnecTable! Many businesses have beautiful courtyards on their campus, but unfortunately they are only utilized by smokers and geese. By adding a ConnecTable to your campus and encouraging employees to spend more time outdoors, you will find that your employees will be much happier and more efficient on a daily basis.

For more information on the ConnecTable Hub or to request a free quote please contact our sales department at info@theconnectable.com.

Have any other ideas for uses for the ConnecTable? Leave us a comment below!

It’s common knowledge that spending time outdoors helps reduce stress and increase productivity, but did you know that it also helps regulate your circadian rhythm, which helps you fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning? Did you know that spending time in the presence of local flora helps to strengthen your immune system? And that spending time outdoors can even help to battle and prevent depression?

Even without all of these added benefits, who doesn’t want to spend more time outdoors? Sitting in a classroom or an office all day can make it difficult for us to get the fresh air and sunlight that we need. But with busy schedules and the need for electricity and internet to be productive it’s hard to bring our work outside with us, right? Not quite, with the ConnecTable.

At the ConnecTable’s headquarters in Willow Grove, PA, you will find employees eating, chatting, relaxing, and working outdoors—with no fear of their laptops or phones dying on them. That’s because they work in the shade provided by the ConnecTable’s solar array with their computers plugged in to one the ConnecTable’s (4) GFCI outlets and their phones connected to one of the table’s (8) USB ports.

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“It’s perfect for when I get writer’s block,” says Jimmy Mastroni, ConnecTable’s Marketing & Production Coordinator. “The fresh air and scenery help me to clear my mind and focus on my work. Plus it helps break up the monotony of a day; it’s amazing how beneficial it is to step outside the office for even an hour or two.”

“I enjoy taking my lunch with outside with me while I work on renderings and designs for new tables and products” explains Brian Kehl, the ConnecTable’s lead designer. “For me, it is much easier to relax and focus on my work when I’m outdoors.”

The ConnecTable is not just suitable for corporate life; students and university faculty around the country are also enjoying the benefits of working outdoors. More than 20 tables have been installed in the University of California school system alone.

“The tables have become highly functional spaces for group study sessions with everyone plugged in” explains Brian Petyo, the marketing manager at UC Irvine. John Cook, the director of sustainability at UC Riverside elaborated, “The solar tables [at UCR] provide a clean and renewable source of energy for charging the multitude of mobile devices on campus while offering much needed shade.”

If you would like to learn more about the benefits of bringing a solar charging station to your campus or property, feel free to request our white paper: Outside the Four Walls: How Outdoor Workstations are Revolutionizing the Way We Work.

Be sure to look for us at this year’s AASHE Expo in Baltimore from Oct 9th – 12th where we will unveil our brand new solar charging table, the ConnecTable Hub!

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Smartphones and social media have turned the world into a global village. Australians can communicate with their online neighbors in Nigeria. Icelanders can network with Hawaiians. And people in the Upper West Side can interact with those in the Upper East Side—if they want to. So if technology can bring people together from all across the globe and from all walks of life, why has it become so difficult to connect with people in our own community? Many people contend that technology has hindered the development of personal relationships and interactions, as well as the social development of our youth.

It’s becoming harder and harder to interact with people face-to-face. The majority of commuters have their headphones in, friends now text instead of calling, and a party is more commonly becoming a way to check out what’s happening on Instagram while surrounded by people doing the same. How do you strike up a casual conversation with someone who is immersed in technology? While this breakdown in physical communication is lamentable, the fact is that we are living in a digital age and technological advances will continue to permeate our society – we just need to find a way to use technology in a social way.

Instead of technology working as a barrier for human socialization, we want it to be something that brings people together. That’s why we’ve created the ConnecTable Hub. As the name indicates, the Hub is a central place for people to connect with technology, nature, AND other people, using off-grid, solar technology. The Hub’s charging output and LED lighting offers an area for universities, businesses, and community associations to host movie nights, showcase presentations, play interactive, online games, and partake in a plethora of other activities to spur the participation and socialization of its members.

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The Hub is also a great place for students to bring their lunch and laptops so they can work on projects while enjoying the afternoon sun instead of studying in the dark, dusty, and often cramped library stacks. It’s also ideal for corporate employees who need to escape their cubicles and conference rooms for a breath of fresh air and some outdoor inspiration. The Hub also provides a convenient location for neighbors to catch up with one another and relax under the table’s shade, while charging their camera batteries for those precious shots of their children playing at the park.

The ConnecTable Hub offers a comfortable, convenient workstation that allows people to both interact with millions through the internet and socialize with colleagues, coworkers, and neighbors in person.

It’s our goal to help our clients put “social” back on the map, without sacrificing the work (or play) that needs to be done. Be sure to look for the ConnecTable Hub’s unveiling at this year’s AASHE Conference in Baltimore, October 9-12! For more information on availability and pricing, please contact us at info@theconnectable.com.

Technology is always improving – and so are we. Our goal is to extend the amount of “green” time that Americans spend outdoors by providing the convenience and comfort of connecting to mobile devices while on the go. Because sustainable technology continues to augment our surrounding landscapes, from business buildings to universities and parks, our design team has created a new product that can adapt to our changing environments and our modern need to stay connected – the ConnecTable Hub!

After receiving feedback from you, our customers, our design engineers agreed that it was time for a new product with a simpler, more cost-effective design – one that would ultimately give you more ‘bang for your buck’.

According to Brian Kehl, the Hub’s lead designer, one of the biggest benefits of the new table design is portability. “We took the Café table and boiled it down. The Hub is designed to be a turnkey product. Just drop it down and turn it on. It’s as simple as that.”

The Hub design, which is both NEC and ADA compliant, will feature (4) solar panels, (8) USB charging ports, (4) GFCI outlets, carbon steel for the mast and canopy, and a concrete base and table top, with (2) concrete benches and the ability to add on up to (2) more.

“The ConnecTable Hub was designed with a simple, robust concrete frame for several reasons” says Kehl. “First, the design will allow the table to complement a variety of settings. Second, concrete has a multitude of beneficial properties for outdoor furniture: it is nearly maintenance free, it will remain resilient during harsh weather, maintain our 90mph wind rating without the need for an anchor, will not overheat on a summer day, and is highly resistant to vandalism. And finally, the use of concrete has allowed us to significantly lower the cost of the table, so that we can make it more affordable.”

The color of the concrete for the ConnecTable Hub will be a warm French Grey.

“I’m excited to finally see the release of the table,” remarks Kehl. “This type of solar innovation is the future, and it feels good to be doing our part.”

A simple concept with a sleek design and a multitude of applications. The ConnecTable Hub is sure to be a game changer.

Look out for the Hub to make its debut at the 2016 AASHE Tradeshow in Baltimore this October!

Here at the ConnecTable we are always thinking about our clients, and how we can evolve our product line to match their ever-changing needs. Technology can be either a blessing or a curse. We have decided to see it as an opportunity to grow, and are always finding new ways to save time and money through solar and design advancements. What’s more, we pride ourselves on being customer-centric. At the very core of our product is a belief that our customers are seeking convenience through sustainability. This belief is the basis of our business, the reason why we exist…

It’s been a few years though, great years where we have learned and grown, found our strengths, and areas of improvement. In that time we have continued to provide great customer service, but needed to get a pulse  on the market. We decided that the simplest way to see how the market felt about our product, the ConnecTable, was to ask.  And that’s exactly what we did. The more we asked the more we understood  there was an opportunity for a new solar charging table that would be unlike anything else. Spoiler alert: We made it; it’s called the ConnecTable Hub.

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Our survey method was pretty straightforward- we created an online survey that could be taken in less than 10 minutes that included quantitative and qualitative questions. We reached out to current and prospective clients, as well as industry leaders via email, and asked if they had time for a phone conversation to review the results. The conversations we had were surprising in some ways, and confirmed what we thought we knew in other ways.

At a high level, we were able to narrow in on what the customer finds to be the most important aspects of our product as it pertains to their buying decision. While price was a major factor, it wasn’t the largest. Design aesthetic ranked high in terms of priorities, as well as durability- especially in campus and park settings.  There was a lot of discussion around performance, maintenance and safety as well.

Our research has also informed us that both GFCI and USB outlets are preferred and that charging ability and battery duration are also very important to you. In addition, respondents indicated that the materials that are used are very important. Customers want a table that is resistant to both vandalism and the destructive power of nature. Finally, you mentioned that customizability was not important as long as the table could complement a wide variety of surroundings.

With all of this in mind, our design team developed our newest product – the ConnecTable Hub!

Using the same great design aesthetic as in our Café model, we went back to the drawing board to create a brand new product that is visually appealing, durable, and provides the same great performance you have come to expect from ConnecTable, charging up to 150 devices per day through the power of the sun. We also heard several comments about the product price. The Hub was designed to address these concerns. We know that you may love every aspect of a product and have a thousand useful applications for it, but unfortunately none of that matters if it is out of your price range. This is why we have reduced the price of the ConnecTable Hub…a full 33% lower than the Café!

In closing, we would like to send a very special “thank you” to everyone who contributed their time. Your thoughts and ideas are what kept us going through this whole process. We know this isn’t the end of the conversation, however, and we look forward to your continued feedback while we continuously improve upon our line of solar charging stations, thereby enabling you to meet your sustainability goals and make this Earth a greener place.

For more information on the ConnecTable Hub, please contact info@theconnectable.com.

Be sure to look for the ConnecTable Hub when it is unveiled at this year’s AASHE conference in Baltimore from October 9th-12th!

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