Solar chargers are becoming a more popular thing these days. We’re all used to solar powered calculators, they’ve been around since 1978, when the first solar powered calculators were introduced by Sharp, Casio and Teal. The Teal Photon calculator was one of the first of it’s kind, and featured an automatic on/off function without an on/off switch. It’s hard to believe that other electronic devices (like Ipods, cell phones and digital cameras) have not yet been equipped with solar chargers on the items themselves (see my Solar Digital Camera post).
For now, we do have solar chargers. With a solar charger, you can power your electronics without being tied to the grid. That is great news for backpackers, campers, boaters, beach-goers, or even Antarctic explorers — you don’t have to have an elecrical outlet to get your mp3 player, phone or camera back in action. A company called Solio has been around for a few years, and with their tagline, “Plug into the sun,” they are spot on. Solio offers a Magnesium Edition solar charger that in addition to charging with the sun, it also can store power for up to a year. And a full Solio Magnesium charger will charge a cell phone more than twice or give a user over 20 hours of MP3 music. With just 1 hour of sunshine charging, you can blab for 20 minutes on your cell phone or listen to MP3 tunes for 50 minutes. Additionally, if it’s dark out, you can still plug the Solio into a wall outlet and charge your electronics directly.
Unfortunately, buying a solar charger isn’t cheap – they range from $80-$150 depending on what you get – so hopefully with more demand, prices will drop and become more affordable for everyone. Ideally, it would be nice if they just put solar panels on the electronics themselves – like solar calculators – so we never have to worry about lugging around a charger with us again (unless it’s dark out).