Solar Panel Fashion!

As we discussed in class this morning, there seems to be an emerging fad in wearable solar panels. I found a variety of wearable and even just personal solar energy devices on sites such as Amazon, where the items ranged from a relatively inexpensive backpack by Sunforce for $49.99 (weighs 3lbs and can charge 4 AA batteries) to more expensive products like another backpack by Greenforce for $249.99 (weighs 2lbs, can charge fully in 2 hours, has a 4400 mAh battery capacity and universal charging stations). Several designers have taken this fad to the next level- Elena Corchero, for example, has incorporated minute solar panels and LED’s into her clothing and accessories that charge during the day when exposed to solar energy and light up when they are worn indoors. Another intriguing company was Noon Solar, who create bags and clothing with eco-friendly procedures.

Other, non-fashion related products included personal solar panels available from a 3.4 amp capacity ($38.24) to 15 amp capacity ($384.00). There were a number of personal charging stations such as ReNu energy solutions which are meant to be placed in a window. The ReNu system can recharge completely in 9 hours and can give 8 hours of playing time, 2 full iPhone recharges or four hours of light. Another company, Powcell, has developed an iPod/Blackberry sleeve with power cells on it that capture solar energy, but there have been a number of issues with the test models. While the sleeve was shown to provide a “gentle” charge that extended battery life, it wasn’t recommended to leave the phone in direct sunlight to achieve a quicker recharge- that would fry any small electronic.

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