From Reware’s solar-powered Juice Bags to Noon Solar’s range of solar handbags, some of our regular readers may have detected that I have a bit of a “thing” for solar power. I’m sure this is an enthusiasm shared by many web workers: When your working life is governed by the proximity of electricity and availability of connectivity, free solar power would be very welcome!
Sadly, most solar charging products — like the aforementioned Noon Solar and Juice Bags — unnecessarily bundle solar chargers with some other product, like a bag! Fortunately, standalone solar charging products are beginning to find their way to the marketplace. Some of the most intriguing are found in Suntrica’s range of SolarBadge and SolarStrap chargers.
Designed specifically for portable consumer electronics — like digital cameras, phones, MP3 players and GPS units — Suntrica’s chargers include adapters for common mobile charging connectors and USB devices and come in form factors ranging from flexible paperback-sized panels to wearable wrist-straps. Each charger holds an internal rechargeable battery, so that devices can be charged even when there’s little or no sunlight.
The chargers are priced between $40 and $70, with adapters priced individually at around $5 each — although, unfortunately, it seems that Suntrica’s products are currently only available in the company’s native Finnish market. Suntrica’s products are by no means the only portable solar chargers available today, but they look pretty durable, have some flexibility in the devices they support, and are competitively priced.
Alternatively, for the more adventurous, the fantastic Instructables site recently published a how-to guide to building a solar iPod/iPhone charger using some basic electronic parts, rechargeable batteries and a soldering iron! The component parts come to around $70, about the same as Suntrica’s high-end unit with an equivalent output, and although the project does look fun, it’s not quite as lovingly styled. It’s great to see that solar power is beginning to attract both venture-backed and grassroots-driven innovation.
I’m itching to try Suntrica’s products, so if you are using solar chargers regularly, let us know how they’re performing for you in the comments.