How a solar powered mobile phone performs in stormy weather

In his first report from his boat on the Baltic, Petteri Alinikula was enjoying great weather and fine sailing with his family. Perfect conditions for keeping Lokki, our solar powered mobile prototype, up and running. But how will Lokki and Petteri fare when conditions take a distinctive turn for the worse? To find out, read on.

Weathering the storm

Day 8, Wednesday July 13th: 4:30 start from Haapsalu to Kuressaare 75 nautical miles, sunshine, clouds, and tornado!

Day 11, Sunday July 17th: Kuressaare-Kihnu-Pärnu. Nature has truly shown us its energy. Had one of the most frightening moments in my life when a tornado landed next to us and chased us on the Gulf of Riga. To my understanding the probability of that happening in this part of the world is much smaller than winning the jackpot in the national lottery twice in a row. Are we really working on capturing the right mode of sun’s energy, when such powerful forces, waves and winds, are rioting around us?

Day 15 to 17: Sailed from Haapsalu to Hanko. A partly sunny day. Docked in Hanko, and enjoyed a beautiful sunny day. From Hanko we sailed to Rosala. Sunny to begin with, then a major thunderstorm. I think the phone might have got wet.

How well did Lokki work?

Day 8, Wednesday, July 13th: Set sail early and Lokki seems to have started to collect solar energy already at 5:30am and continues until 7pm.

Day 16, Thursday, July 22nd: Hanko guest harbor is obviously a sunny place with no skyscrapers or mountains around as Lokki had one of its most successful solar harvesting days. It gained 15 hours of energy between 5am and 8pm. That would be good for 53 minutes talk or 45 hours stand by. But, it’s only used for a short time at 9pm, so its battery stays pretty full.

How does the Baltic compare to Lapland?

During the whole trip Petteri’s Lokki’s peak charging performance was 23mA. That was about 20% less than in Lapland, where it reached about 29mA. This makes sense when you consider that he used a protective bag with a plastic window and fixed it so it was pointing directly upwards rather than towards the sun, which never got higher than 54 degrees above horizon.

Looking at the best daily records and assuming there were no clouds or shadows over Lokki, it gained its charging peak of 23 mA by noon, after waking up at 4:35am. By 8:20pm it had gone down to zero. This means that theoretically, Petteri’s Lokki could have harvested 230 mAh of solar charge. However, as the best harvested charge was 138mAh, and 137mAh is 60% of 230mAh, the best ‘mobile’ day harvested 40% short of theoretical maximum.

From the analysis, then, it looks like sailors might well benefit from a solar powered phone such as Lokki, even if they do find themselves in stormy weather. But what about you? Would you rely on solar power to keep in touch if you were sailing the seven seas? Let us know in the comments below.

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2 Responses to How a solar powered mobile phone performs in stormy weather

  1. Antonio says:

    I think this project is really amazing. Please do keep us posted about the outcome. We have in the meantime published a blog post about it:


  2. Pingback: Un téléphone solaire dans la tornade - Autonomie, Solaire, Téléphone portable

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