This aircraft window can charge your smartphone or tablet

By David Flynn, April 17 2015
This aircraft window can charge your smartphone or tablet

Many airplane passengers travel with the window shade pulled down – especially to block out the first rays of sunrise when you're still trying to snatch that last hour of sleep.

Now there's a window shade that'll harness those bright beams and use them to recharge your smartphone or tablet.

The boffins at US aviation firm B/E Aerospace call it the  'Solar Eclipse'.

A thin film of high-efficiency solar cells sits over the outside of the window shade, soaking up the sunshine and converting it into precious power which is delivered to your travel tech through a USB cable.

Although the system remains under development, B/E Aerospace is working on a production model which could soon be approved for fitting to any aircraft.

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Lufthansa - Miles & More

29 Jul 2014

Total posts 182

It would be very good on shorthaul aircraft but not so sure with long haul as they all ready have usb ports in the tv screns anyway

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2212

Yes, but those aren't solar-powered.

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 738

Indeed. Although photovoltaics at this stage remains mostly an inefficient marketing gimmick (or huge trough for taxpayer money to be shoveled into) I wonder whether an aircraft in flight is one of the places where it actually makes sense.

On the ground, a joule produced by burning fossil fuels is a helluva lot cheaper than a joule produced by solar power over any reasonable timeframe. But in the air, you're burning fuel which you have to burn more fuel in order to carry. So maybe getting a small amount of auxilliary power from the sun actually saves money? But I'm still doubtful, especially if the only place they can think to put it is the window shade.


12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1463

You cannot save fuel by using solar on airplane - those sells also weigh and need to be lifted using fossil fuel and unlike fuel weigh not going down during flight. Have a look at solar powered plane - IMHO solid effort, but gee how it inefficient and week! And nothing going to change because solar power is limited per square meter. If we as civilization really worry about extensive usage of fossil fuel in aviation, then we have only one way - generate electricity by nuclear, brake water into hydrogen and oxygen, release oxygen into atmosphere and burn liquid hydrogen. Still looooooong way to achieve this.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2011

Total posts 363

Too bad if you're not sitting at the window seat


12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1463

IMHO just gimmick. Those USB charging ports useless anyway - last time when I was flying I tried to charge my iPad via USB port and it declined to be charged. I think it because it requires more current then USB port can provide. So I took my AC adaptor to charge my iPad. Those shades will be even less efficient, not saying that only window passengers and only from one side can actually use them. Useless gimmick.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Oct 2013

Total posts 705

The USB pots were never designed to charge an iPad or a tablet

If you plug in your phone then you'll find it will work


12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1463

Article says: "Now there's a window shade that'll harness those bright beams and use them to recharge your smartphone or tablet." And if USB ports on plane cannot charge iPad then they utterly useless. Who using phone whole flight? And how about watching movie on iPad?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 May 2013

Total posts 25

A bit late for an April fool's joke isn't it ?


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Mar 2015

Total posts 4

I presume this would not work at night. Would passengers be happy with this type of intermittent service?

20 Jun 2014

Total posts 59

I'm sure they'll get a lot of complaints from passengers that their USB port doesn't work at night...

Solar cells on the outside of a plane might make sense charging batteries to run non-essential systems. After all, planes are above the cloud so they get full sun all day. Probably better places to put them than on window shades though.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Aug 2014

Total posts 506

Why bother when you have the normal USB port anyway? I mean the windows aren't gonna generate enough electricity to charge your device quicker than the normal ports. 


19 Sep 2013

Total posts 192

And after a few years, when the cell efficiency has dropped drastically, who is going to pay for their removal and waste disposal? They are regarded as hazardous waste.

01 Feb 2012

Total posts 370

This is the kind of silliness that gives sensible utility scale renewable energy a bad name.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jul 2013

Total posts 43

"Airplane" passengers? 

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