by Joe Wallace
Freelance writers who want to reduce their carbon footprint, save on their electricity bills and go completely portable should take a long look at a range of products from companies including Xantrex and Wagan, both offering solar-powered accessories that can run your laptop and cell phone charger.
Xantrex offers a portable AC/DC solar-powered charger featuring a 400-watt inverter, USB ports, and two AC outlets. This unit is completely self-renewing, which means if left in the sun long enough, you can completely recharge the 10 amp battery. Chances are you’ll wind up recharging it via wall socket if the customer reviews on this are any indication. One reviewer says 45 hours of sun charging is required doing it the green-friendly way.
Wagan’s Solar ePanel 12 power supply is advertised as being good to trickle charge laptops and cell phones, but customer reviews warn not to use this without the benefit of a solar charge control add-on to prevent burning out your devices (depending on the construction of those devices, feh.)
Both of these products are exciting developments–especially for freelancers who want to connect while camping, hiking, or covering outdoor festivals. But it’s extremely important to read the customer reviews on these green-friendly gadgets before you buy. The marketing hype may be true, but learn what other users have discovered the hard way before you invest.
Me personally? I’m tempted by the Voltaic Solar-Powered Messenger Bag, but it has one major drawback–it will keep my iPhone charged but can’t charge my laptop. That’s a major design flaw and one that keeps me waiting until a more suitable, powerful model comes out that can handle my computer’s power needs. Then I’ll be one seriously green freelance writer and editor.