Jenni is a gateway device for small-scale solar for apartment & condo dwellers

Jenni solar charger & battery
© Better Current

The Jenni solar charger and battery pack aims to make it easy to begin going solar at home, starting with your portable electronics.

The current state of solar technology has enabled a whole new energy revolution, as system costs drop while grid prices rise. However, even though residential solar is now more attainable than ever, for those who don't own their roof or have the credit and capital to invest in a rooftop solar array, clean energy isn't really an option. Some utilities may offer a renewable energy option for customers, and there are companies such as Arcadia Power and SunPort that purchase certified renewable energy certificates to offset their customers' electricity usage, but when it comes to directly generating and using solar power at home, the simplest way is to use small-scale systems to keep our portable electronics charged up.

A new product that combines an integrated 5W solar panel, a 20W window solar panel, and a 12V 10,000 mAh lithium polymer battery pack, along with "intelligent" charging and control systems, could allow for households to take their portable devices off the grid, without a major investment or any sort of construction work or permanent installation. The Jenni Hub is powered by a hinged 5W solar panel attached to the device, which can be augmented with one or more of the 20W window panels that can be affixed to a south-facing window, and portable electronics can be charged from any of four USB ports (5V 2A), a USB-C port, or via an onboard Qi wireless charging pad.

Jenni measures 2 inches high by 10 inches wide and long, and weighs in at about 2.2 pounds, so it could be used as a portable solar charger and battery bank, but the device is designed to be a home energy accessory that connects via WiFi to keep its users informed as to the amount of electricity generated, the state of the battery, and the estimated savings and impact of using solar electricity. The Jenni Hub can also be charged via the grid (110-220V AC) or another 12 volt system, and the inner-facing side of the window solar panel can be used as a whiteboard, a calendar, a corkboard, or a picture frame.

"Jenni works subtly. Naturally, she charges during the day when the sun is out. While she charges you can plug in your phones and laptop and let them charge from Jenni rather than the grid.

"We built Jenni to be intelligent. She anticipates charging needs assessing weather and charging patterns to make appropriate re-charging decisions to make sure you always have power. Jenni takes advantage of the sun and off-peak times to ensure you pull the most environmental and economical energy available." - Better Current

There is also a community aspect to the Jenni solar ecosystem, as the app allows users to compare their solar generation and electricity usage with other Jenni owners, as well as keep track of daily, weekly, and monthly performance data for the device. To launch the device, Toronto-based Better Current has turned to crowdfunding with an Indiegogo campaign, where early-bird backers can reserve the first of the Jenni units with a $229 pledge (MSRP $349), which will include a Hub, a Solar+ window panel, and a charging dock insert. Units are expected to ship to backers in May of 2018.

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