Electric power for the little guys
February 22, 2011 5:12 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for quantitative information on energy demand for mobile devices with low power requirements, such as alarm clocks, book lights, TV remotes – things that usually require batteries to run (but not devices with higher power requirements like smartphones or laptops). Does anyone know where I can find such information?

I'm sure the information is out there, I'm just not sure how to find it... such a specific request is not easily Googleable. Basically, it would be great to find something like "low-power mobile devices consume X kWh a year, or Y% of world energy demand" or even some kind of distribution curve showing amount of energy provided to devices with various wattages.

I'm trying to look into organic photovoltaic cells as a replacement for battery power and I want to get an idea of how big the "energy market" is in that area, so to speak.
posted by Rickalicioso to Technology (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I think you're going to run into trouble partly because you are using the phrase "mobile device" in a way I don't think anyone else does. The closest standard phrase I can think of would be "small battery-powered electronics" which leads to the best proxy measure I can think of: if you're looking to replace alkaline batteries, why not just determine the market for alkaline batteries?
posted by range at 7:03 PM on February 22, 2011


Yeah... huh? You can try to calculate back from the typical battery life for such devices. An alkaline battery usually contain about 700mAh to 3000mAh. Say, if your book light last for 30 minutes of continuous use, that mean the bulb draws about 1000mAh/0.5h = 2A which is 2A*1.5V = 3W.

I think your idea is good; but there is a hitch: solar only works with strong lights (ideally sunlight); have low power output; and also bulky and fragile... all of which will need to be overcome before it can be competitive with battery, esp. for portable devices.
posted by curiousZ at 9:51 PM on February 22, 2011


range: "I think you're going to run into trouble partly because you are using the phrase "mobile device" in a way I don't think anyone else does. The closest standard phrase I can think of would be "small battery-powered electronics" which leads to the best proxy measure I can think of: if you're looking to replace alkaline batteries, why not just determine the market for alkaline batteries?"

Ah, you're right. I guess what I meant by "mobile" was in contrast to devices or electronics that are anchored by a plug to a wall outlet. You're right though, probably the best proxy is the alkaline battery market. Thanks!
posted by Rickalicioso at 9:22 AM on February 25, 2011


curiousZ: "Yeah... huh? You can try to calculate back from the typical battery life for such devices. An alkaline battery usually contain about 700mAh to 3000mAh. Say, if your book light last for 30 minutes of continuous use, that mean the bulb draws about 1000mAh/0.5h = 2A which is 2A*1.5V = 3W."

I was looking on a larger scale: energy demand of all devices of that nature in the US, or the world, etc. not on the individual level.

curiousZ: "I think your idea is good; but there is a hitch: solar only works with strong lights (ideally sunlight); have low power output; and also bulky and fragile... all of which will need to be overcome before it can be competitive with battery, esp. for portable devices.

I agree that traditional solar ideally works with sunlight (direct), but organic solar cells are unique in that they can work indoors without a significant drop in efficiency. Organic photovoltaic technology is still very young and thus relatively inefficient in comparison to more mature technologies (silicon, thin-film), but it is projected to improve drastically in the next few years and has the potential to be produced in large quantities with low environmental and economic costs. The idea behind looking into the market for small battery-powered electronics is to see if this is a market where organic solar can penetrate in the future.

I would, however, have to disagree with the ideas that solar has low power output and is bulky and fragile. Large-scale photovoltaic plants are providing large amounts of electricity to places like the Southwest US; thin-film cells have thicknesses on the order of micrometers; mature technologies have lifetimes upwards of 25 years.
posted by Rickalicioso at 9:59 AM on February 25, 2011


« Older User Interface Design 101   |   Feel my pane. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.