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A Portable Solar Charging Station That’s As Fast As A Wall Outlet

Portable solar chargers are notoriously slow, but, with its larger panels and iPad-like folding setup, the SunVolt Solar Power Station claims to work as fast as what you’d get at home.

The last decade or so of conscious consumerism has ushered in all sorts of solar gadgets (and even clothing) designed to power your mobile electronic devices. The problem? Most of them take hours and hours to charge.

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Dan Cayelli of Gomadic thinks that’s not good enough, which is why he created the SunVolt Portable Power Station. About one-and-a-half times the size of an iPad, which it mimics in how it unfolds, the SunVolt can, according to Cayelli, charge a host of mobile electronic devices just as quickly as a wall outlet.

“Most of these old solar chargers have internal batteries, so you’re not really using the panels to charge your device. You’re using a battery,” says Cayelli. “So as soon as the battery dies, it takes forever to recharge using the panels. We figured if we could use larger panels but still package it in a way that would be convenient–and it’s really going to work. That was our goal: to make a solar charger where you didn’t need a battery in between.”

“What we’re doing is comparing the power of the panel versus the power of the charger. iPhone chargers are 5-watt chargers. With our 10-watt panel, even on a cloudy day, it’s still going to function like plugging it into the wall. The reason: the panel is large enough to be meaningful.”

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According to Cayelli, the station will work for all varieties of smart phones, iPads and other tablets, GPS devices, MP3 players, digital cameras–anything that takes a USB (though it can accommodate other plugs). It comes in two sizes, 10- and 15-watts, and can charge multiple devices simultaneously. It can’t handle a laptop–that would require 65-watt output and, well, would be too big to be portable–but compared to other solar chargers on the market, it seems like a step in the right direction.

The SunVolt Portable Power Station is currently raising funding via Kickstarter, and as of today needs to raise about $10,000 more to reach its goal of $30,000 by September 13, 2012.

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