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Six new solar tables keep TCNJ charged up and fully connected

students sit at outdoor solar-powered charging tables
Students and orientation leaders enjoy the new Solar Power-Doks during welcome week, August 28, 2022 (Photo/Andrew Cislak)

It took no time at all for new and returning TCNJ students to occupy the new picnic tables between Brower Student Center and Green lawn — though the project to bring them to campus was over three years in the making.

The six brand new tables are more than a new spot to study or relax with friends between classes. They’re solar-powered charging stations and WiFi hotspots called Solar Power-Doks, manufactured by Enerfusion, Inc.

Bringing them to TCNJ was a team effort led by Student Affairs staffers Kelly Hennessy, assistant vice president for student services; Kiley Cinelli, associate director of the Brower Student Center; and Mark Mehler, executive director of financial affairs.

“I submitted a request through the Environmental Sustainability Council at the end of 2019,” Cinelli, said. “Enerfusion was scheduled to do a site visit in mid-March 2020.” But we know what happened next.

After more than a year’s hiatus due to COVID-19, the project was revived in summer 2021 only to experience production and shipping delays due to remnant and on-going supply chain challenges.

But now the tables are home sweet home and already feeling the love from the TCNJ community.

“I love that TCNJ has offered a new space for us to meet with friends in between classes,” psychology major Caitlin Mbuakoto ’23 said.

Six new solar tables keep TCNJ charged up and fully connected
High-intensity LED lights — powered by stored solar — light up evening get-togethers. (Photo/Andrew Cislak)

Each table generates and stores electricity that powers two traditional GFCI outlets, four USB-A power outlets, and two USB-C power outlets and charger ports, even when the sun goes down. Ambient lighting is activated at dusk, and after dark, the canopies provide high-intensity, push-button LED lighting.

For those who prefer a wireless experience, each table provides four Qi-enabled wireless charging locations on the tabletop surface.

“I love the wireless charging features on the tables. It’s easy for me to charge my phone whenever I need it,” psychology major Sarah Kudron ’23 said. According to Enerfusion’s website, the wireless tabletop can charge an iPhone 11 from zero to 50% in 30 minutes.

The tables are constructed from poly-recycled plastic materials, so in addition to providing self-sustaining green energy through solar, each table keeps nearly 7,250 plastic water bottles out of the landfill — that’s more than 43,000 plastic water bottles in all six tables!

And that’s how the blue and gold keeps getting greener!

— Emily W. Dodd ’03