Images via Voltaic Systems
We usually hear about new solar-charging bags from Voltaic Systems, known for its very high quality backpacks, laptop cases and messenger bags. However, the company is bringing us something new -- stand-alone chargers. They have three new models available, each boasting about four times the charging power of most solar chargers out there on the market. Voltaic states they can charge a smartphone in just 4-5 hours of direct sunlight, which is a fast charge by any account. It seems we might finally have small, personal chargers that make practical sense. The chargers have two 6-volt panels, and users can switch between 6 and 12 volt charging. The cells are also high-temperature Lithium Polymer, which means their charging capacity lasts longer even when exposed to very hot sunlight. And the battery is large enough to fully charge a smartphone twice.
The models come in three sizes, one that fits folded into a backpack or purse, one that can clip on to bike racks, tents, backpacks and other items, and one that is a small day bag itself with room enough to carry a couple of devices from a camera to a Kindle. And as always, the fabric of the packs are made from recycled PET.
Reasonably priced at $99 and $129, depending on which model you purchase, the new chargers are an exciting option for those on the hunt for off-grid power. While you'll likely never be able to offset the embodied energy of the charger itself by using sunlight instead of grid energy, you'll at least have a portable alternative energy source that allows you to stay unplugged as much as possible.
Many of the solar chargers on the market now may look slick, but take a frustratingly long time to gather enough charge to juice up a cell phone or MP3 player. Or, if they're strong enough, they're bulky, heavy, and cost an arm and a leg. We haven't had a chance to personally test the new chargers from Voltaic, but if they live up to what the company states about them, then we might have hit a nice middle ground for charging strength, size and affordability.
Full Disclosure: Shayne McQuade of Voltaic Systems sits on TreeHugger's Board of Directors
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