Patenting a product powered by a new power source

Many inventors try to patent a new power source for electronic products, e.g. a solar powered kettle.

To be patentable, your new power source must be “new” and “inventive”.

Let’s first consider whether the general concept is “new”: some solar energy farms feed power into the grid, so every kettle that is plugged into the grid is powered (if only partly) by solar energy. So, the general concept isn’t “new”.

What about “plugging the photovoltaic panel directly into the kettle”? This doesn’t help – the grid can be regarded as a very long electrical lead that connects the solar farm’s photovoltaic panels with your kettle.

And, placing the photovoltaic panel on the kettle’s lid? Well, this may be “new”.

Patent new power source

But, before we get too excited about squeezing something “new” out of the solar-kettle combination, let’s consider “inventiveness”:

There are hundreds of electrical devices that were originally intended to be powered by mains electricity, but that have since been powered by a dedicated wind turbine / a photovoltaic panel. If radios, TVs, cooler boxes, water pumps, etc. have been associated with photovoltaic panels, why should powering your kettle by a photovoltaic panel be considered inventive (i.e. not obvious to an expert in the field)? On its own, it clearly isn’t.

HOWEVER, according to my calculation to satisfy the power consumption of a household kettle, a solar panel would need to store power in a battery; and, if the battery were a lead acid battery, the battery would need to weigh at least 90kg – not very practical for a camper-kettle.

Now, anything you do to overcome this problem may well be patentable.

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