London Turning Iconic Callboxes into Free Solar Charging Stations

London Turning Iconic Callboxes into Free Solar Charging Stations

London Solarbox Call Box 310x

Foggy London-town wants solar charging all over the city.

Nothing revs my engine quite like the re-purposing of public infrastructure (seriously, let's talk urban planning sometime), and London is now setting off one of the greatest such ideas in recent memory.

We all know of the iconic callboxes in London, those red (not TARDIS Blue) darlings that dot the cityscape. Iconic as they may be, phone booths are no longer the necessity they used to be, given the rise of the smartphone (or burner flip phone, if you fancy yourself a man or woman of action). So what can be done with all these booths?

Free power for all, naturally. Solarbox is a new initiative from Kirsty Kenney and Harold Craston, two students from the London School of Economics. Kenney and Craston recently won $5,000 from the London Mayor's Low Carbon Entrepreneur competition, and the money is being used to set up Solarboxes across the city.

Solarbox will take some of London's 8,000 callboxes and convert them into free, solar-powered charging stations for the masses. The solar panels placed on top of the box will be able to charge up to 100 devices per day. The free power is subsidized by advertising, which is played in the kiosk (not directly on your phone or tablet, don't worry). It's like the advertising model now seen at many American gas stations -- displays playing ads and news content as your fill up at the pump.

There's one Solarbox up and running so far (on Tottenham Court Road, for our UK readers), with a second going online in January. There's no set limit on the Solarbox project just yet, but I don't think we'll see all 8,000 callboxes converted.

Between solar charging stations, and free WiFi hotspots, seeing new life breathed into unused, aging infrastructure will help keep urban life young and vibrant. And hey, keeping your phone alive during all those late city nights is always a plus.

Source: Reuters


I was wondering how £5000 can stretch to 8000 solar panels, should have guessed it would be some good old ads. At least these ones can't be blocked. They're still missing something though; a vending machine that dishes out replacement Galaxy S4 batteries.

This is neat but having to wait around might be a problem, and leaving it in a safe seems risky as London criminals seem to love a good smash and grab.

"It's like the advertising model now seen at many American gas stations -- displays playing ads and news content as your fill up at the pump." You mean how I just spent 5 minutes inhaling gas fumes, risked getting HIV from hidden needles on the pump handle and risked getting my credit card skimmed and am now being told to go into the store and buy a pack of insecticide laced tobacco sticks is the same as dropping off your phone at a public charging station and having to endure whatever horrible ads are plastered all around you in a small space. Hmm, sounds about right.

I'd rather they went with making them Wifi hotspots or they had a replacement battery program[1] (model specific like what Alexander above said or just those external booster packs that plug into the USB ports). Since you can bring a charger to work or share one or two with coworkers or carry a small one to coffee shops, etc, this really only works if you are waiting for the bus or plan on staying at a building nearby for around an hour. There is also the risk of shifty criminal types trying to steal phones for parts either breaking into whatever security these things have or mugging someone with an expensive looking phone or other effects (with the bonus of getting whatever cash the victim has, too).

[1] Actually, that sounds like a great idea. Put down a deposit on a booster or temporary replacement battery that was charged by solar panels and rent it for super cheap or get it for free thanks to advertising *pukes a little* for the day.

I'm not such a fan of that neon green thought .... >.>;;;

Although the Idea itself is pretty freaking awesome...

Given that these are the toilets of choice for pissheads and tramps, I doubt this venture will be all that successful.

Also, the ads are gonna get covered in pictures of prostitutes, calling it now.

Also also... loose the green. This city has a strong colour scheme, don't let it turn into a beta city by allowing any old design on the streets


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