Some of you may have heard about my little travel charger that I brought along.
No, not the combo international plug adaptor that also supports USB (the connector on computers) that helps me save on cables.
I brought along a little Solio solar-powered charger to see if it was feasible to survive on some eco-friendly power while I was on the road. After seeing my fair share of pollution (and now substantial amounts of it also here in Thailand - and most of it directly due to tourism in this case), I thought it'd be worth testing out.
sooooo, with my 60 euro unit (purchased at the Quiksilver stove at the Kildare Outlet Centre) in tow, the latest update.
Some quick info on it: it's got three solar panels (they fold on top of each other for transporting and size-reduction), and a rechargeable battery built-in . It's about the size of an iPod (the big ones) but weighs a lot less. The battery will supposedly last about two full mobile phone charges (i.e. when fully charged, it'll charge two Nokias for example). From my rough experiences, it takes just over a day to fully charge the battery as long as it's in sunlight all day. It does support the facility, if it's own battery is flat, to just plug whatever device you have directly into it and charge the device first.
Keeping my Lonely Planet bible company on the beach
Connectors: It comes, as standard in the box, with a small plug converter for every possible mobile phone (one tip for each company) and another converter for, once again, USB-charged devices. You can buy as an add-on an adaptor that has a car cigarette plug on it. I don't have this adaptor and don't have any interest in it, as it also means having to buy car adaptors for all my equipment also.
So basically, no wall socket included and it doesn't support it, due to it's size and power consumption.
Of the electronics I have with me (one Canon digital SLR camera - one of the large pro ones, a Nokia mobile, and two walkmans - for backing up photos silly, not all just for music! I'll have another posting on the problems of traveling with digital pictures another time). Of all these devices, the only one that doesn't support the Solio is the Canon SLR. Of the others, they haven't been plugged into a wall socket since I left the country! Yep, I've EASILY been able to live off the solar panel. Everyday, while out climbing, I just throw it on the beach, and leave it there on my bags for the day. Nice and simple, doesn't require much thought.
Obviously, there's some potential drawbacks. it's cloudy. Well, it hasn't happened here yet so I don't know how to deal with that one :) The problem I mentioned above: your device doesn't support USB. Well, hopefully someone gets the finger out and creates a common format. The Chinese are after making all mobile phones charge by a common connector (USB) as 100MILLION new phones are bought every year in China. That's a lot of rubbish from old mobile chargers. We can only hope someone else decides to do something simple like this.........