Devices like mobile phones and iPods are essential equipment for millions of people as they head out the door each day – - but electronic gadgets are only as useful as their battery life. For a guaranteed charge even when a wall plug is nowhere to be found, a solar device charger can be the perfect solution.
In addition to the convenience of an off-the-grid recharging source, a solar device charger means less electricity is consumed from your power company. Granted, the energy used to juice up your cell phone is probably only a tiny fraction of your environmental footprint – - but a solar charger is a downright nifty application of technology that can be applied on a much bigger scale.
The Solio line of solar chargers is one of the most established on the market, and manufacturer Better Energy Systems fully acknowledges their role as a gateway for consumers: “Solio, our flagship product, was conceived as a ‘trojan horse’ for the renewable energy market; a versatile hand-held charger that opens the lives and minds of consumers to the potential of solar.”
For keeping a small device like a phone or camera charged, an easily portable model like the Solio Classic Hybrid is a great option. This improved version of their folding “Classic” model features more efficient solar cells, and it includes various adapters for devices from Apple, LG, Samsung, and Nokia, among others. Users can also charge the Solio’s internal 1650 mAh lithium-ion battery via the included USB plug and keep it as a ready-to-go backup battery for uses like travel or outdoor sports.
Find it here:
Solio Classic-i Hybrid Solar Charger, on sale at Amazon for $85.99 (normally retails for $99)..
Higher-powered items like laptop computers or even car batteries can use the sun’s charging power too, they just need a larger-scale charger that provides more output. The Brunton Solaris 26 is one of the best, using eight thin-film panels in a foldable array to provide up to 26 watts of power. The Solaris 26 collapses into a compact 8.5 x 11″ package, and includes a “cigarette-lighter” style vehicle outlet to connect devices as well as a battery clamp cable for charging car batteries.
The Brunton solar array charges devices directly, or it can be paired with a portable battery to use the sun’s juice later. The Brunton Solo 7.5 is the highest-output battery pack they offer for powering laptops or other bigger gadgets like portable TVs, with a maximum output of 14.6 Volts.
Brunton also produces scaled-down (and more affordable) models for charging mobile phones and the like, including the cleverly-designed Solo BattPack which charges AA or AAA batteries contained inside. Users can use the BattPack to charge devices via a USB cable, or remove the charged batteries for use elsewhere.
Note: The Brunton battery packs can also be charged from a wall plug as well as from the solar array, so they are handy as versatile portable power sources similar to the Solio.