Need to recharge your mobile phone where there is no place to plug in your charger? The Innergy Power 22W Solar Binder offers a convenient, reliable way to use sunshine to charge your cell phone or PDA.
Severe weather this winter downed power lines and caused prolonged power outages for millions of Americans. After the weather cleared in the Pacific Northwest and Midwest, it still took several days to restore electrical service. Recharging a phone under these conditions can pose a challenge, but if the sun is shining, a solar charger can get the job done. Beware though, that many solar chargers have small, inefficient collector surfaces that charge very slowly. The Innergy Power 22W Solar Binder sports a whopping four square feet of solar collector surface area cutting charging time considerably.
The solar binder consists of three lightweight fiberglass solar modules packaged in a zippered, ballistic nylon case. When closed, it’s a slim attaché case with a comfortable handle and shoulder strap that makes the unit easy to tote. There’s also a side pouch where you can stash your cell phone, adapter cord and a first aid kit or other items.
The binder comes with a cigarette lighter receptacle at the end of a 10′ cord. Take it on a wilderness trip in your backpack and you will be able to stay in contact with the world you left behind if an emergency should arise.
How it Works
Operating the solar binder is a snap. Simply place it in a sunny spot, open the panels and plug in your cell phone or PDA using an auto power adapter. This winter with the sun at a relatively low angle to the horizon, I oriented the panels to maximize solar exposure by placing the open binder on a board resting on a pair of sneakers. You can place it flat on the ground or on your patio deck in the summer when the sun is higher.
As soon as sun hits the modules, they start generating electricity and the charging light on the cell phone glows green. There are no moving parts, no noise, and no mechanisms to wear out.
What Else You Need
If you don’t already have one, you will need an automobile power adapter cord and power tip to connect your specific model cell phone to the solar binder. You can buy them at most stores that sell cell phones or PDAs. The model I use is made by iGo and it lets me plug my cell phone into my car’s cigarette lighter. You can also order one for your specific phone from iGo.com. Mine cost about $40.
What to Expect
The time needed to fully recharge your mobile phone or PDA depends upon the amount of solar energy available, which in turn depends upon latitude, time of day, season and the amount of cloud cover. I did performance testing using a Sony Ericsson T610 in December on the deck of my apartment on the Central California Coast. Lux levels were recorded hourly.
Test 1 was initiated on 12/19/06 at 11:30 AM under clear skies. Lux levels ranged from 86,500 to 98,000 with a mean of 93,250. Charge time was three hours.
Test 2 was initiated on 12/20/06 at noon under high cirrus clouds. At 3:30 PM the sky was overcast and the test was halted. It rained over the next two days. The test was resumed at 12:15 PM on 12/23/06 under overcast conditions. Over the entire test period, lux ranged from 9,800 to 88,000 with an overall average of 49,496. Total charge time was 5.5 hours.
Conclusions: On a clear winter day, my cell phone was fully charged in three hours. The charge time rose to 5.5 hours under overcast conditions.
How Much it Costs
The 22W solar binder is priced around $170. You can also add an auxiliary battery, which lets you to capture and store solar energy during the daytime then charge your cell phone at night, for around $100.
Using the Innergy Power 22W Solar Binder charger makes the case that you support energy conservation and you are doing your part to reduce global warming. Definitely cool; maybe someday we will all be Talking on Sunshine.