I’m a big fan of renewable energy. Since there’s not enough wind where I live, and not enough geothermal anywhere that I can dig with a shovel, I decided to go with solar. There are two companies that definitely stand out both efficiency, and design-wise so I decided to buy both chargers on impulse and try them out:)
First the Voltaic AMP arrived. It’s a small, portable charger that’s a foldable case, so it’s easy to carry around. Two panels give out about 4Watts of energy, and that in turn is supposed to charge the internal battery (3,000mAh, 11 Watt hour capacity) from 0 to 100% in about 6 hours. It turned out that even in Eastern European sun on my field trips, I was able to get it charged in between 6 to 7 hours. That resulted in a full battery and the ability to charge my iPhone 4S once, and then to about 50%. Not bad! The case is durable and looks like it can survive plenty of damage, so for anyone doing some outdoor survival this charger would be perfect. It’s so tough you can easily hit it with a rock and break the rock ;) They also offer iPad chargers, laptop chargers and solar backpacks!
Light, portable, ready for travel
Pretty fast charging
No social media integration or measuring your charges
The battery gets easily scratched when used
Can’t charge an iPad at all
Voltaic AMP is a good deal at $99 for everyone who does a lot of travel and needs sun on the go
The second one is the newest of all – a Solar Charging community, with uploading your Wh and CO2 grams to a social website to share. It’s called changers, and it does make a change by introducing the social aspect to solar power. I found out that I’m actually uploading the data every day and it’s really awesome to have saved over 50 grams of CO2 by doing this. Since I’m using both chargers, and both are 4Watts, I’m probably saving twice the amount actually. The solar panel has the Holstee Manifesto on the back, some suction cups that can be reversed (to place it on the inside or outside of a window), and this time the battery and the panel are separated. The panel is light and quite flexible, but pretty big and hard to pack (unless you strap it to the outside of your backpack), and the small, beautifully designed battery (looks like an Apple designed elephant a little bit) can power two iPhones a day. On their promo materials they also said it could give some juice to the iPad, but unfortunately Changers doesn’t seem to work with either iPad1, or the new iPad (I have both for testing apps). On the upside I think it takes a little faster for the battery to charge, so in 4-5 hours of sun a day you can have two iPhones ready to go.
Sunpowered social media – it works!
Aesthetically pleasing design!
Hard to travel with
Can’t really charge an iPad at all
Changers will work better at home or at the office, where its design will shine and you'll be sharing your CO2 savings with friends online.