It is fair to say that portable solar chargers have not lit the world alight since they first came on the market, but that could all be about to change.
As technology continues to advance and solar chargers become smaller, the concept of charging on the move could well become more desirable. A new product called Yolk Solar Paper is aiming to transform the market by launching a Kickstarter campaign to get it past the prototype phase. The project has already received US$869,987 in pledges, which is vastly higher than the original target of US$50,000.
The product itself is flexible and can be customised to fit different types of mobile devices. The charger is made from solar cells that are connected to each other with a magnetic edge, which means the structure is detachable.
Two solar panels will charge an iPhone 6, producing around five watts of energy. For something larger, like an iPad, the user will need to invest in an additional two panels to provide up to ten watts of energy.
It doesn’t have to be a sunny day for the charger to work. An iPhone 6 can be charged in two hours in bright sunlight or five hours if it’s overcast. An iPad will take 4.5 hours to charge if the sun is out and nine hours if it’s cloudy.
Yolk designer Sung Un Chang is pleased with the possibilities but insists that production will remain in Korea for now.
“Everything is at risk of being copied in China, you can’t avoid it. So even though there are thin and cheap solar chargers in China, we compete on quality instead,” she said.
Once the product moves beyond Kickstarter, the two-panel charger is expected to sell for around US$125; the four-panel version could be priced at US$200.
Chang is becoming known in the solar panel industry after successfully launching another product, Solarade, on Kickstarter last year.