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Solar Calculators

Cordless, handheld calculators have been a commercially available productsince the early seventies. Solar powered calculators appeared commerciallyin 1977, concurrent with solar powered wrist watches. The earliest PV calculatorsand wrist watches were powered by hand-soldered crystalline cell chips.These simple, four function calculators cost $80 to $160($US), and operatedwell in sunlight but poorly under fluorescent light.

Current photovoltaic powered calculators use thin film silicon cells. Cellsare monolithically integrated (as opposed to soldered) into miniature modulesto match power requirements.
Thin film silicon cells are inherently more responsive to indoor, fluorescentlight, and also perform well under general sunlight.

Explosive, worldwide market growth for handheld calculators has driven pricesto lowest probable levels, now averaging less than three dollars($US retail)for business card size units and up to sixty dollars for fancy executivedesk models.

With consistent U.S. annual cordless calculator imports in excess of 400million dollars($US), over 90% of these are now solar powered. Virtuallyall solar calculators are manufactured outside of the U.S., mainly in theAsian Pacific region, using predominantly Japanese-manufactured thin films.Mainland China exports the most calculators to the United States.
©S.K.Lowe 1996
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