September 28, 2016

EnGo Solar station not working

The EnGo Public Charging Station at Webster University is intended to provide students and faculty with an environmentally way to charge their phones on campus, but most of its functions are currently not operational.

The station’s wireless charger is not working, and the charger cords attached to the station are non-operational as well for at least some models of electronics, including iPhones.

The unit also features a call button intended to reach Public Safety in emergencies, which also is currently non-functional.

The EnGo charging station is located outside of Webster’s East Academic Building. Its purpose is to provide cell phone charging power which is derived from both solar energy and the kinetic energy collected when pedestrians walk over nearby electronic panels.

Kelsey Wingo, Webster’s Sustainability Planner, said she was not aware of any issues with the cell phone chargers, but would look into the possibility of replacing the charger cords.

“It is also worth mentioning that the station doesn’t store the electricity that it collects,” Wingo said in an email. So if it is rainy or cloudy, the chargers may not work because they solar panel isn’t collecting any energy at that time and has no way to store what may have been collected in previous sunny days.”

The kinetic energy panels are intended to allow the station to operate even during intemperate weather.

Wingo also said the call button for public safety had never worked and that in the future it would be either covered up or made operational. She said that she has had conversations about implementing maintenance checks on the charging station, but there is no system currently in place.

Branko Zivkovic, the Webster alumni who co-founded EnGoPLANET under its original title of Volta Group, contacted the university about installing the EnGo Charging Station. The project was completed in 2014. Webster News reported at the time that the installation would cost Webster about $20,000.

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