One of the very first posts on TreeHugger, back in September 2004, was a sneak peek at Shayne McQuade's Voltaic backpack. It was the first post to have a disclaimer: (full disclosure: this is a friend of TreeHugger's). Shayne was an early sponsor and supporter of TreeHugger and here's another full disclosure; I am happy to return the favor with coverage of his latest: Shine, a new solar powered light and phone charger that just went up on Kickstarter. Shayne tells us about it in an email:
It is a re-imagined solar light and USB charger. It is distinct from anything else out there and has taken a lot of effort to develop. For us as a company it is a chance to increase our focus on developing countries and disaster recovery situations, and hopefully to sustain those efforts with a US / EU retail market.
And indeed it is different and distinct. It has a 5,000 mAh (19 Watt hour) internal battery that can be charged via a USB port or a 3.5 Watt Voltaic solar panel. It can run 30 hours on a charge and can fully charge a smart phone. It's totally waterproof.
It looks good too. But it's real impact is not on your deck, but in developing countries.
There are 1.3 billion people across the globe that live everyday without access to electricity in their homes (IEA Energy Access Database, 2014). An additional 1 billion people depend on unreliable power supplies. Increasingly, these communities rely on cell phones for communication, weather updates, and mobile payments. For us, this innovative piece of technology is more than just a modern convenience, it is about addressing a significant global issue.
Voltaic didn't invent the solar backpack, but it refined it and took it mainstream. Similarly they are not the first to make an LED/ battery and charger combination by a long shot. However they have certainly refined it; this looks solid and long-lasting. Get yours on Kickstarter.