Solar powered backpacks have
become popular with hikers, campers and city folks alike. They
are able to recharge a number of different products that our modern
lives require such as laptops, phones, cameras, GPS units, etc.
A few things to consider when purchasing one of these items are the
weight, charging capacity and whether it comes with an adapter
compatible with the devices that you currently own or intend to buy.
Another consideration...is it large enough to hold the things you
want to carry! Prices range from $800 dollars for a high end
luxury model to 50 dollars for a basic bag with a solar cell.
Most decent solar backpacks will come with USB adapters so that they
can be charged while your laptop is plugged into your computer at
home. Good ones include an AC adapter in addition to a car
charger. With many of them you can remove the solar cells or
panel and attach it to other things like a bicycle or different bag.
The added portability makes charging your electronics more
convenient & increases functionality while not wearing the backpack.
A typical 4 watt cell will
provide approximately 3 hours of cellular talk time for one hours
worth of sun input. Charging a completely dead iPhone would
take around 4-5 hours. The lower capacity packs are designed
for handheld devices and are not suitable for laptops. (most
tablets should recharge OK with these though) One hour of
direct sunlight with a larger 10 watt solar backpack charger will
yield about 30 minutes of runtime on a typical laptop.
video from Smart Planet describing the specifications of a popular
solar backpack from Voltaic.
attempted to find product reviews or comparison charts but was
unsuccessful. I guess they are too new, or not widely adopted
enough to currently have such information readily available.
Something that I came across while searching, that I thought was
pretty cool, was the Solar
Charging Station created by Sol Design Lab. They've
created a place that provides seating, an awning and lighting at
night for urban areas. The coolest part is that during the day
the station provides solar recharging power for laptops, phones,
electric bikes etc. Having power generating systems like these
for the masses would surely help fuel our insatiable energy