This aircraft window can charge your smartphone or tablet

This aircraft window can charge your smartphone or tablet

Many airplane passengers travel with the window shade pulled down – especially to block out the first rays of sunrise when you're still trying to snatch that last hour of sleep.

Now there's a window shade that'll harness those bright beams and use them to recharge your smartphone or tablet.

The boffins at US aviation firm B/E Aerospace call it the  'Solar Eclipse'.

A thin film of high-efficiency solar cells sits over the outside of the window shade, soaking up the sunshine and converting it into precious power which is delivered to your travel tech through a USB cable.

Although the system remains under development, B/E Aerospace is working on a production model which could soon be approved for fitting to any aircraft.

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David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


  • Bizflyer


    17 Apr, 2015 02:50 am

    It would be very good on shorthaul aircraft but not so sure with long haul as they all ready have usb ports in the tv screns anyway

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  • watson374


    17 Apr, 2015 03:12 am

    Yes, but those aren't solar-powered.

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  • Hugo


    17 Apr, 2015 05:12 am

    Indeed. Although photovoltaics at this stage remains mostly an inefficient marketing gimmick (or huge trough for taxpayer money to be shoveled into) I wonder whether an aircraft in flight is one of the places where it actually makes sense.

    On the ground, a joule produced by burning fossil fuels is a helluva lot cheaper than a joule produced by solar power over any reasonable timeframe. But in the air, you're burning fuel which you have to burn more fuel in order to carry. So maybe getting a small amount of auxilliary power from the sun actually saves money? But I'm still doubtful, especially if the only place they can think to put it is the window shade.

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  • Serg


    17 Apr, 2015 09:18 am

    You cannot save fuel by using solar on airplane - those sells also weigh and need to be lifted using fossil fuel and unlike fuel weigh not going down during flight. Have a look at solar powered plane - IMHO solid effort, but gee how it inefficient and week! And nothing going to change because solar power is limited per square meter. If we as civilization really worry about extensive usage of fossil fuel in aviation, then we have only one way - generate electricity by nuclear, brake water into hydrogen and oxygen, release oxygen into atmosphere and burn liquid hydrogen. Still looooooong way to achieve this.

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  • aklrunway


    17 Apr, 2015 06:57 am

    Too bad if you're not sitting at the window seat

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  • Serg


    17 Apr, 2015 07:41 am

    IMHO just gimmick. Those USB charging ports useless anyway - last time when I was flying I tried to charge my iPad via USB port and it declined to be charged. I think it because it requires more current then USB port can provide. So I took my AC adaptor to charge my iPad. Those shades will be even less efficient, not saying that only window passengers and only from one side can actually use them. Useless gimmick.

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  • henrus


    17 Apr, 2015 08:20 am

    The USB pots were never designed to charge an iPad or a tablet

    If you plug in your phone then you'll find it will work

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  • Serg


    17 Apr, 2015 09:09 am

    Article says: "Now there's a window shade that'll harness those bright beams and use them to recharge your smartphone or tablet." And if USB ports on plane cannot charge iPad then they utterly useless. Who using phone whole flight? And how about watching movie on iPad?

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  • Peter  Rutten


    17 Apr, 2015 09:13 am

    A bit late for an April fool's joke isn't it ?

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  • wgr


    17 Apr, 2015 12:04 pm

    I presume this would not work at night. Would passengers be happy with this type of intermittent service?

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  • lionelhutz


    17 Apr, 2015 04:53 pm

    I'm sure they'll get a lot of complaints from passengers that their USB port doesn't work at night...

    Solar cells on the outside of a plane might make sense charging batteries to run non-essential systems. After all, planes are above the cloud so they get full sun all day. Probably better places to put them than on window shades though.

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  • Ryan Stephen


    17 Apr, 2015 06:58 pm

    Why bother when you have the normal USB port anyway? I mean the windows aren't gonna generate enough electricity to charge your device quicker than the normal ports. 

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  • grov


    17 Apr, 2015 07:05 pm

    And after a few years, when the cell efficiency has dropped drastically, who is going to pay for their removal and waste disposal? They are regarded as hazardous waste.

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  • spinoza


    21 Apr, 2015 11:15 am

    This is the kind of silliness that gives sensible utility scale renewable energy a bad name.

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  • rambler


    24 Apr, 2015 04:05 pm

    "Airplane" passengers? 

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21 Mar, 2019 05:31 pm


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