Solar Textiles for Off-grid Populations in Sub-Saharan Africa

Olaitan Adeleke, Heidi Woelfle, John Sartori, Lucy E. Dunne

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Solar textiles offer the ability to democratize solar technology and provide portable and reliable power to the off-grid populace in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The textile platform allows for reduced cost and installation training for solar energy provision, as well as increased environmental awareness and development of a knowledge bridge between the solar and textile industries. However, for the successful development and adoption of solar e-textiles, solar technology must be integrated in a manner sensitive to local textile traditions and economies. In this project, we developed a concept that integrates small bead-like solar cells primarily using stitching techniques and characterized this technique's energy output and fabrication parameters. A proof-of-concept design was fabricated by incorporating 40 through-hole miniature solar cells into a garment without compromising functionality and aesthetics. We estimate the maximum total power that can be harvested from this energy harvesting garment to be g1/416.47mW (0.46 mW/cm 2) with 40 miniature solar cells. A simulated energy harvesting garment with 640 solar cells is projected to harvest g1/4294.4mW. This power output can charge a 3.7V 100mAh Lipo battery in about 1.5 to 2 hours under direct sunlight.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationISWC 2022 - Proceedings of the 2022 ACM International Symposium on Wearable Computers
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)9781450394246
StatePublished - Sep 11 2022
Event2022 ACM International Symposium on Wearable Computers, ISWC 2022 - Cambridge, United Kingdom
Duration: Sep 11 2022Sep 15 2022

Publication series

NameProceedings - International Symposium on Wearable Computers, ISWC
ISSN (Print)1550-4816


Conference2022 ACM International Symposium on Wearable Computers, ISWC 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Minnesota Robotics Institute. Also, we want to acknowledge Robert Pettys Baker for his help in the garment making process.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Owner/Author.


  • Cut & sew
  • Power
  • Solar E-textile
  • Solar technology
  • Sub-Saharan Africa


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