A new method of harvesting solar and ambient energy is presented. The method is based on thermoelectric and latent heat effects and is put into practice in a prototype work unit composed of a thermoelectric generator (TEG) and phase change material (PCM). Numerical and experimental analyses of the work unit are developed. The numerical analysis deals with finite elements modeling on solar radiation, temperature variation and wind-speed effects. The results demonstrate the utility of sensible and latent heat storage in the phase change material and confirm the capacity to generate continuous voltage by day and by night. Subsequently, with an optimized thermodynamic design and with several work units linked together, the proposed energy harvesting system could be utilized as both sensor and actuator in low power applications in buildings. It could replace dry batteries for wireless applications, LED lighting and autonomous systems.

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