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Solar umbrella

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Area of technology
This document is about a solar umbrella, which - as well as its protective function from the rain and snow - also serves to convert solar energy into electric, or kinetic energy.
Present state of engineering
An umbrella is a device which enables people, or objects, to hide from falling rain, sun shine, or snow. It has a retractable surface covered in waterproof material made of impregnated fabrics, or plastic foil that are placed on wooden or metallic rods. These rods support the construction in such a way that it won't collapse, and enables the protective shield to be spread out. There is a wide variety of umbrellas today, of various shapes, sizes, colours and materials. Some are made to be collapsible (or foldable), which means they fold into themselves to make them significantly more compact. Others are made as a whole piece that is not collapsible, and serve additionally as a walking stick.

Nowadays, new prototypes of umbrellas are invented, and without eliminating their primary functions, are able to use one particular renewable source of energy, which is solar energy. For this purpose, umbrellas have been fitted with photoelectric cells converting solar rays directly into electric energy. Whilst energy gained from the sun is almost inexhaustible, safe, and is available for most of the year, the main problem with these cells is their cost.

So far, there is one known solution in file KR1020120087378 chargable umbrella with a solar battery, which allows it to charge electronic devices via USB. It's basic part is the collapsible umbrella containing:

- solar system with accumulator, placed on the outside of the umbrella,
- the handle,
- rechargable battery placed inside the handle,
- LED light bulb and a heating wire which, at night time or time of discomfort, offer the user light and heat inside of the umbrella.

If the accumulator is exposed to the sunlight, it is possible to charge the batteries through the solar accumulator. This solution can be financially challenging, and it can only be used in one condition, namely, after the sunny spells that enable the battery to get charged, there must be rain in order to use the energy, therefore limiting it's application.

Another commonly known solution is the use of a stationary umbrella with solar collectors. This principle is using a solution according to file WO2004102063 Solar light system for outdoor umbrellas and also WO93/00840 Multifunctional solar umbrella. These solutions are only designed for stationary umbrellas, due to the weight of collectors. Also, the process of setting of collector's surface, to assure reaching maximum amount possible of the solar rays, can be quite laborious, and moreover, is very costly.

The fundamentals of the technical solution

The short-comings listed in other products are eliminated by the inovation of this technical solution. This offers an option to use the umbrella to make electric energy, or kinetic energy, without effecting the function of the umbrella itself.

The principle solution of the solar umbrella, used for solar to electric energy conversion, lies in the principle of concentration. The inner side of the open umbrella serves as a focusing mirror facing the sun, which allows the energy to be concentrated into the front of the handle, where there is the generator. This generator's function is to convert the solar energy into electric energy. The accumulated electric energy is then led out into the bottom part of the handle, where it can be used as required.

The advantages of the proposed technical solution are:
- a simple construction
- financial availability, therefore accesibility for a wide range of users of renewable energy

The usage of solar energy contributes to a greater sustainability of energy, and does not overload our future generations.

Financial information

Market size:
Based on a market survey conducted in the US for us (by market research platform GroupSolver) interest in buying Chargebrella significantly increased with customers who stay outdoors overnight. About 13% percent of total US population goes hiking (appr. 41 000 000 people) and about 4% within this group stays outdoors overnigh which is appr. 1 600 000 potential customers. Based on this estimation 4% of total population in Europe equals to appr. 3 700 000 potential customers. Taking in consideration average durability of energy sources (5 years) we can potentially target 600 000 customers annually in US and Europe only.

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