Solar Paper, which has reached its Kickstarter goal ten times over, lets you charge your phone while looking stylish and eco-conscious
How do African villagers as well as hikers and outdoor enthusiasts recharge their smartphones when they don’t have access to electricity?
If you answered portable solar chargers, you’re right..Although relatively efficient solar chargers have been around for a few years, most of them remain bulky and –let’s face it–not very sleek.
Now, a South Korea-based designer, SungUn Chang, has created Solar Paper, which she claims is the smallest and lightest solar charger on the market, one that can charge your smartphone in an average of 2.5 hours, about the same amount of time it takes to charge it by plugging it into a wall.
The product is halfway through a successful Kickstarter campaign, having raised more than ten times its original goal of $50,000.
The device consists of 2-4 (or more) notebook-sized solar panels, that can charge anything from a smartphone to a camera to a tablet, depending on weather conditions.
The charger also automatically resets in the event that a shadow passes over it, instead of requiring manual resetting as do other devices.
Who will use it?
“Our direct competitor is Goal Zero,” Nathan Millard, a representative of the company, told Geektime. “The tech is closest to theirs But their product is geared towards camping and the outdoor market. Solar paper made a huge effort to appeal to a much wider audience.”
Solar Paper’s Kickstarter video shows a trendy-looking man sitting at a table out-of-doors. There is a good chance that Solar Paper could catch on with the creative classes who sit in cafes. What better accessory to accompany your organic coffee and Moleskine notebook than a lightweight charger that looks like something Steve Jobs could have designed?
Millard says it could also be useful to urban dwellers who are out and about with no way to charge their phones. “I can imagine being in a taxi and putting it in the back seat.”
It can also be fastened to a backpack to be charged while you are walking or commuting to work.
Where does solar charging work best?
Whether a portable solar charger is a good investment may depend on where you live.
Altitude, latitude, weather and time of year can all affect solar energy conversion, according to Mike Green, a solar consultant and CEO of M.G. Lightning, For instance, he says, in Israel’s Arava desert, you can produce 2,100 kwh per meter per year for every square meter of solar panel. In Jerusalem, the figure is 2,000. In Tel Aviv, it’s 1,800. In Romania and New York, the number is 1,400. In Germany, it’s 1,100. Finally, in a place like Sweden, the number is a paltry 900, and that’s when they actually have light.
“There are tremendous differences,” says Green. “You phone will charge a lot faster in some places than others.”
Green said the very best places in earth to use a solar charger are probably certain areas of Chile and Argentina with clear skies and high altitudes. When he worked on projects there, he said he measured rates of 2,300 kwh per square meter.