Digital gadgets like iPods, iPhones, Androids, and the like can regenerate via the sun, with the new crop of solar chargers hitting the market. In the past couple of months several products have been introduced which make it easy to use those powerful rays to recharge your electronics, and they’re perfect for boaters who leave the dock and stay off.
The Solo Rocsta is one I tested lately which was quite impressive; it plugs into any iPod, iPhone, Android, camera, or gadget which charges via USB, mini USB, or micro USB, and it comes with a wide selection of adaptors to fit other gadgets as well. It has an internal 3.7-volt Li-ion battery, which becomes fully juiced after spending eight to 10 hours in the sun. It’s not cheap at $79.99, but it’s become invaluable on our boat, where three pre-teen kids are constantly fiddling with i-thingies, then fighting over the boat’s single 12-V outlet.
Another I tested lately was the Novathink Surge. The Surge has a 1320mAH Li-ion battery, and it essentially acts as an external add-on solar-powered battery for your iPhone or iTouch. In full sunlight it provides about four hours of 3G talk-time, and eight hours of 2G talk-time. Your iPhone or iTouch slides right into the unit, (the iPhone version costs $79.95 and the iTouch version costs $69.95) so it’s easier to carry around than the Solio, but it only works for the one specific gadget.
You want a solar charger, but these are too expensive for your tastes? Then it’s time for you to build a “MightyMintyBooster”. You can make this solar charger for a total cost of about $45. All you’ll need is a single-cell lithium charger, a 3.7-volt lithium battery, a palm-sized solar cell, some tape, a strip of Velcro, and an old Altoids tin (hence the name). Instructions for making a MightyMintyBooster can be found here.