Published on April 15th, 2014 | by Derek Markham


Crowdfunding Hit — Solar Charger For Tablets

April 15th, 2014 by  

Originally published on Ecopreneurist.

solar charger solartab

Solar power for mobile devices is the wave of the future, but many of the small portable solar chargers on the market aren’t big enough to efficiently power tablets and other gadgets that have a larger battery capacity, and they don’t often include an onboard battery pack for charging devices after the sun goes down.

However, a new entry to the portable solar charger market aims to fix that, by offering a small yet powerful system to both harvest and store solar energy for all of your mobile gadgets.

“We wanted to create a really powerful charger that people would actually want to use, all the time. Solar power should never be a mere gimmick – on the contrary, we believe it’s the future of power consumption!” – Mathias Einberger, Solartab

The Solartab measures about the same size as an iPad, comes with a combination cover/stand, includes a 13,000 mAh lithium-ion battery and two USB ports for charging devices from. The device can also be charged from a wall outlet, so you can start your day with a full charge.

The Solartab is currently in a crowdfunding phase, and the startup’s Kickstarter campaign is already over 2/3 of the way to its goal, with 20 more days to run. Backers of the project at the $99 level will be the first to get one of these solar chargers (a value of about $149), or for $139, a special limited edition Kickstarter model.

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About the Author

lives in southwestern New Mexico and digs bicycles, simple living, organic gardening, sustainable lifestyle design, slacklining, bouldering, and permaculture. He loves good food, with fresh roasted chiles at the top of his list of favorites. Catch up with Derek on Twitter, Google+, or at his natural parenting site, Natural Papa!

  • macloo stanley

    Normally, it is observed that consumer don’t possess enough
    expertise about the handling of this product. Its power transfer technology is
    marvelous as carrying qualitative performance at present. There are numerous
    options related to its price, specifications, appearance, heaviness, and many
    more. iPad charger is normally light in its weight with great power conversion
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  • JamesWimberley

    At present, technical progress in computer processors and SOCs is being cashed in better performance rather than power saving. This may not last for much longer. Most of us are not really interested in further performance improvements in desktops and laptops, perhaps soon in tablets and smartphones. The battery problem for mobile devices will go away.

    • Benjamin Nead

      Interestingly, James, I said the same thing regarding computer performance . . . about 10 years ago! In reality, though, there is always going to be power users out there who will drive the market for faster processing speed and more features. Any manufacturer who declares that their upcoming model isn’t going to run any faster or store a larger number files and not offer to simultaneously shrink the package is asking to go out of business. You and I know that development of batteries to keep up with it is important, but it’s of secondary concern to a lot of other end users.

      All that said, notice that the iPad Air has a battery life of around 10 (WiFi internet) to 11 (video viewing) hours per charge, which is truly astounding.
      It was only a few short years ago that the diminutive (and radically underfeatured) One Laptop Per Child XO-1 was able to keep running for about 5 hours on a charge and that was considered excellent in its day.

      Getting back to the Solartab: while it’s being marketed to tablet users on the go in, I can think of other applications. Backpackers can keep several GPS units and basic emergency cell phones charged almost indefinitely, as well as powering LED campsite lights at night. Not bad for a single box gadget that slips inside a backpack.

      As for price point: Sanyo’s Eneloop branded products offered something similar to this (ie: small PV cell packaged in a folding “portfolio” with fairly generous battery compliment and 5V output on USB) a few years ago. If you could get them in the US, they were something like $275 a copy.

  • MarTams

    At $149, I think this is way overpriced solar panel for recharging. You can buy weatherproof solar panels for a water fountain at the cost of $25 retail price per unit right now. So the additional cost for an adapter to fit various phones or tablets would be $2. It is not groundbreaking tech, it’s already been done. No one is marketing it for smart phones or tablets yet.

    • Benjamin Nead

      Well, I’m not as pessimistic about this one as MarTams. Yes, $25 is about right for a similarly-sized PV panel, but he doesn’t account for the price of 13,000mAh of lithium cells. Those are certainly going to be more than $2 total . . . probably more like $45 just for those. Quality 3000mAh 18650 sized lithium cells retail for about $9 each (based on what I’ve paid from Chinese vendors,) then add a few more dollars for charging circuitry and various electrical/mechanical parts to output to 5VDC. You’re also paying for nice-looking aluminum packaging here and the iPad-style stand (about $20 retail for the latter.)

      Check out neat web sites like Indestructables for someones eventual take on how to build a version of something like this for a little less money. But pay yourself for your time to assemble and test it. I also highly doubt that fit and finish on the homebuilt one will come up to this level, unless you invest even more time and money.

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