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Solar-Powered Bonsai Tree Charges Batteries and Smart Devices Sustainably

technology

Color-changing Electree Mini brings a new meaning to the term ‘power plant’

Vashti Hallissey
  • 4 august 2014

A new multi-purpose charger in the shape of a tree gives solar power the natural look. The leaves of the Electree Mini are photovoltaic panels that enable the user to charge small batteries and devices with light alone.

Invented by French designer Vivien Muller, the Electree Mini is inspired by photosynthesis. He tells PSFK:

Leaves are effectively photovoltaic cells and Nature took millions of years to create a structure that optimizes their exposure. Why not use this structure to create electricity? But installing a whole tree at home is quite difficult, so I decided to scale down the entire concept to fit in a tiny flat. That’s how the idea of the photovoltaic potted plant came to mind.

Muller made waves when he launched the original limited edition Electree in 2008. Since then, he has been developing a smaller version with nine photovoltaic panels developed by Power Film, one of the leading solar cell manufacturers in the US.

The Electree Mini converts solar energy into power for AA and AAA batteries, charging three at once. The energy stored in the batteries can be used to charge a small device via USB, such as a smart watch and a smartphone.

The time this takes varies depending on weather conditions and levels of sunlight. Muller explains:

To give you an idea, in four hours you’ll fully recharge an AA battery (1200 mA) under direct sunlight (for instance an iPhone is ~ 1500 mA). With the USB module, your appliances will charge as quickly as usual, because you’re just transferring stored energy from the batteries.

The leaves can be positioned to make the most of the available light and, as long as it’s not raining, you can put it outside for maximum exposure to the sunshine.

electree_mini_by_vivien_muller_outside.jpg

You can also turn the Electree Mini into an unusual, color-changing lamp. By plugging in a module, the user can use the energy harvested in the day to make the LED leaves light up.

electree_mini_by_vivien_muller_lantern.jpg

Muller wants the Electree Mini to remind us of the power of natural forms of power. He explains:

It allows you to recharge your devices or batteries without using any energy other than light. It teaches us that nature can offer an effective and beautiful way to acquire energy.

The Electree Mini is a sustainable and visually appealing way to recharge batteries and devices. Instead of draining the environment and your wallet by using a plug-in charger, all you need to do is sit back and let it soak up the rays.

Electree Mini

[h/t] Inhabitat

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