London’s emblematic red phone boxes are getting a makeover. They are being transformed into solar-powered mobile phone charging stations. The service is free although users will be shown adverts as they wait for their phone to charge.
Two Geography graduates from London’s School of Economics came up with the idea. With the help of funding from a variety of schemes, they have created this new addition to London’s streets. The boxes are maintained daily and locked overnight.
“The idea for Solarbox came about through three reasons really. So, the first thing was that the phone boxes aren’t used anymore and they’ve become sites of anti-social behaviour. The second thing is that modern phone battery life can’t keep up with the pace of our lives, everyone’s being caught out. And the third thing was there is nowhere really to charge your phones in the public realm. So we did some research, we held some focus groups and brought these three things together and this is the end product,” explained Kirsty Kenney, co-founder of Solarbox.
While many phone boxes in Britain’s capital often go unused or fall into disrepair, the Solarbox is giving the famed London telephone boxes a much-needed boost. The boxes have been painted green and fitted with a roof-mounted 86cm solar panel. And London’s wet weather won’t put a dampener on any desperately-needed charging.
“We need three hours of sunlight a day to operate all year round. And the reason that we only need so little sunlight is cause we’ve got an integrated battery. So, through the summer months or on the sunnier days that battery is storing all excess energy to be used throughout the year,” said Kirsty Kenney
The solarbox can charge up to 100 phones a day, offering a 20 percent battery boost in 10 minutes. Six boxes have been unveiled to date with a further five set to open early next year.