It’s Not Easy Being a Green Recharger

Published on March 30, 2009
by Willa Plank

My iPhone needs charging every night. Even then, it dies on me by the end of the day, cutting off important conversations. Coming upon solar- and wind-powered portable chargers, I wondered if I found the perfect solution to keeping it going while helping the environment.

How these chargers work is very simple. They take sunlight or wind power to charge their internal batteries, thus able to recharge a cellphone, MP3 player or digital camera through a connector. They are a part of a growing market of products that power up mobile devices on the go.

“For the first time we are seeing innovation,” said Shawn DuBravac, economist and director of research at the Consumer Electronics Association. He said the newest power solutions for portables are in the infancy stage.

I chose the Devotec and the HYmini devices because of their futuristic, sleek looks. The Devotec solar charger, with its cover, can easily fit in a pocket or purse.

I left the Devotec near my windowsill the whole afternoon to catch some rays. The device charged my iPhone, albeit not completely. The most frustrating thing with this device is that I don’t know when it’s done charging. The solar indicator light doesn’t turn off. Also, I don’t know how charged–i.e., quarter- or half-full–the battery is.

The manual says that an hour of sunlight should suffice to start charging. But after speaking with the company, I was told that the battery needed 24 hours of sunlight, equating to a couple of days near a windowsill, for the internal battery to be fully charged.

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