Solar pump stations offer free electricity for UT-Austin students

Sol Design Lab founder discusses solar stations installed in Austin


SAN ANTONIO – A UT-Austin graduate is offering students free electricity from the sun. Beth Ferguson founded Sol Design Lab in Austin.

Ferguson used an old fashioned gas pump and converted it to an off the grid charging station with regular outlets.

"Students can plug in electric bikes, laptops, cell phones and charge them for free with the sun," Ferguson said.

The old gas pumps are filled with batteries and instead of displaying gallons and price, it reads units of electricity.

Ferguson described how the pumps work. "We have 60 volts coming in from the four solar panels. We are using 14 watts right now which is a couple of cell phones and laptops plugged in and the LEDs are saying the batteries are high so we have plenty of power," Ferguson said.

Ferguson's company has installed solar chargers in California and Massachusetts and they are not always gas pumps.

One installed in Massachusetts at a marine aquarium is made to look like a sea turtle.
The special designs attracts attention and conversation.

"A lot of students like it. Usually I walk by and there's 2 of 3 students either looking at it or plugging in their laptops," said Austin Jorn, UT-Austin student.

Ferguson also pointed out its great for emergency power during blackouts because it is off the grid and the chargers still work.