One Laptop Bag to Charge Them All

Voltaic makes a line of gear and laptop bags with built-in solar panels, like this Generator Solar Laptop Charger. The bag is made of 600-denier fabric made from recycled soda bottles; the fabric is waterproof, lightweight, and UV resistant. Inside is a padded laptop sleeve that fits up to a 17″ MacBook Pro. Wire channels allow you to route your headphone cables and other wires. The handle has an LED logo that lights up when sun shines on the solar collector panel. The front of the bag is a 15W solar panel; inside is a battery that fully charges in about 8 hours of direct sunlight. It has a 50Wh capacity, and it can output 19V, 16V, 12V, and 5V for device charging. The bag comes with a variety of tips that will allow you to charge most laptops, tablets, handheld devices, and phones. A special tip may be needed to charge some laptops. Voltaic says 1 hour in the sun will provide between 12 and 45 minutes of runtime, depending on your laptop. 1 hour in the sun is typically sufficient to charge most cell phones and other handheld electronics. See the list of compatible devices at the above link. The Generator Solar Laptop Charger bag is black, and it is available with silver, green (shown), or orange accents. It’s $499 at Voltaic.

Ha! I wrote this post before I saw Ian’s post just below this one. What a happy coincidence with the Fellowship of the Ring references!

Posted in: Gear, News, Outdoor Gear

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • jaamgans September 28, 2011, 6:47 am

    I notice there is no comment on weight. Can’t help thinking its got to be heavy – add in a decent journey or walk and you are going to dump it.

    I find mine is pretty heavy just loading my work (probably the main culprit as I work a couple of days from home and thus have to carry some of the stuff I am working on around with me) and tablet in it.

  • jhon September 28, 2011, 12:17 pm

    Jaamgans:

    A solar panel doesn’t add much weight, but the battery would. Not A lot, but it would be noticeable.

    Save weight and remove the battery and have the panel charge the laptop directly. You’d most like need to do more than just a direct connect, but not much more…

    Personally, I don’t carry just a laptop bag unless I’m going to be reasonably close to power. When I camp, I’ve got a 50 AH power station packed in a case that’s not much bigger than a laptop bag and on wheels (because THAT is heavy) — and that includes a 20 watt solar panel to charge it (mostly to maintain, but it will charge from near zero in ~3 days). That keeps me powered for a good 2 weeks in the “bush” with modest conservation.

    Some don’t consider that “camping”. All I have to say is that if I’m “disconnected” from work related emergencies for too long, I’d be unemployed. Better to camp with power than pay for groceries with food stamps.

  • James September 28, 2011, 8:14 pm

    Whole bag, including the panel and battery, weighs 4.5 lbs total. So not too bad considering the benefits.

    Leaving the battery out though has to be weighed against reliability of solar power in the area, whether you want any night time use, and whether the panel can actually charge your device.

    For example, many laptop batteries require 1v more than the output voltage to charge, which is not counting the power to power the system if you don’t have a direct battery charger for the battery. So unless you’re using a netbook then 15W may not be enough.

    You also have to be far more careful charging lithium batteries. While the case battery helps ensure more consistent and better regulated power.

  • jhon September 29, 2011, 11:36 am

    James:

    Yeah… I edited my post — Left out a part about making a custom circuit to charge the laptop properly (was too technical, IMO and my post was already way too long). You can up the voltage off the panels at the expense of amps — slowing the charge time. But charge it will.

    I wouldn’t expect a 15 watt panel to keep your laptop topped off after a full day of work, but if you use your laptop ~1 hour a day , it would extend the life of your battery a few days.

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