Gadgets for collecting the sun’s rays have been around since the 1830s when British astronomer John Herschel famously used a solar thermal collector box to cook food during an expedition to South Africa. These days, there is a whole host of gizmos you can use to make the most of solar energy. We’ve unearthed four that won’t make you dinner, but will feed your mobile phone’s battery.
1. Solio Universal Solar Charger Kit
While this stylish piece of kit is too big to fit into anything but the biggest surf short pockets, it’s still compact enough to easily travel in your beach bag. Oval shaped, it has three small panels that fan out like a flower. Solio’s makers promise that 8 to 10 hours of direct sunlight will get your device fully charged.
2. Voltaic Systems Solar Power Backpack
If you don’t want to carry a solar charger kit around with you, why not use a solar charger to do the carrying. The Voltaic Systems solar power backpack has three solar cells. These are connected to pouches, which are the perfect size for your mobile device. The panels give the bag a cool sci-fi look and either transfer the power to your device or capture it in an internal battery. The battery means that even if the sun disappears, you’ve still got power on hand…or in this case on back.
3. PowerFilm Rollable Charger
Rather than lug extra devices, portable chargers, or batteries, when you go off for a trek or a day out in nature, why not use a PowerFilm Rollable Charger. These flexible solar power panels can easily fit in your backpack, knapsack or luggage without adding on much weight. Available in a variety of sizes, they might not be cheap, but they are convenient.
4. JOOS Orange Personal Charger
Trouble with some solar mobile phone chargers is that they’re, well, a little delicate. Not the JOOS Orange Personal Charger. Made by Solar Components, and about the size of a paperback book, it’s especially built to be durable and waterproof. What’s more, for every hour of direct sunlight exposure, the Orange delivers up to two hours of cell phone use. And its large lithium-ion polymer battery stores enough power to charge three smartphones or four regular cell phones.
These are our four most fascinating finds. If you know of any other great gadgets for powering up your phone from the sun’s rays, we’d love to hear about them.