Photo via Afrigadget
Alright, alright. So not that long ago I ranted about how we need to stop seeing ugly solar clothing, and that a particular solar vest was so ridiculously hideous that there was just no reason for it to exist. Well, yeah, so turns out there are instances where solar vests are cool. Afrigadget pointed out that Boda Boda operators (essentially inexpensive bicycle taxis that cycle people from border to border) could wear solar vests to help charge up mobile phones used for their businesses. Since the cyclists are working long hours - often from 4:30 am to 10 pm - and are in the sun for a good chunk of that time, the solar vests make a lot of sense.
The solar vests can be used in addition to a bike charger, or instead of. The fact that the solar panels are worn, rather than attached to the bike, prevent the possibility of theft.
The idea is from Dominic Wanjihia who was awareded a KVA Flexible Solar Portable Kit at the recent Maker Faire Africa. His is a great idea for how to maximize how effective the kit, and the long days of riding, can be. He states that by wearing the solar panels on his back:
1. His phone is always charged guaranteeing customer accessibility
2. He has light at home from the LED's so saves on heavy power bills
3. He always has an emergency light with his - LED
4. The panels will not get stolen
5. One can also offer charging facilities to client being carried
So, this is definitely one instance where wearable solar panels make sense and are therefore cool.