There is one power source that is available to everyone, almost regardless to
their global location. This power source that doesn’t require sending humans
into the bowels of the earth, the use of fossil fuels, nuclear reactors or the
creation of pollution as a by-product. Of course I am referring to solar energy,
and today I am writing about one of the many products Holland-based
Soldius has created in order to harness
According to their website, Soldius "manufactures and
distributes aesthetically-pleasing solar charging products of the highest
possible quality." Their vision involves "consumer-use solar chargers [becoming]
the dominant interface for mobile devices" and with that goal in mind they have
created a line of easily portable universal solar chargers as well as a few
specialized chargers built into everyday objects.
I first became a believer when we installed a solar powered water well at one
of our more remote ranches last year. This particular place had a previously
drilled well that had been powered by a windmill for decades. Unfortunately, the
windmill’s location in the bottom of a protected valley meant that there were
always certain parts of the year when the wind could not be counted upon to blow
as strongly as needed for continuous water production. Any problem with the
tank, trough, or well itself that caused a sudden drop in water production would
guarantee terse monitoring of the livestock’s water and costly hauling of water
from other locations. I had explored having an electrical pump installed, but
the cost of having the co-op run a power line was unreal. My water well
repairman suggested a solar well because even if the wind isn’t always blowing,
the sun is almost always shining. Ever since the solar wells installation I have
been extremely pleased with its reliable and near trouble-free operation. So why
not use the same type power source for my electronics?
Think about it – no need to worry about what plug will fit in a country’s
power outlet and no need to worry when the nearest power port is miles away.
With a portable solar charger and the sun’s bountiful energy, an electronic
device can be charged in the middle of nowhere, or in the park while enjoying a
picnic lunch. Obviously there are some limitations to solar energy, but for
those living in generally sunny climates, this is an idea that should be
Because I have an assortment of devices which need powering, I was most
interested in the Soldius 1
Charger With iPod Kit. The Soldius 1 includes the solar charger, a miniUSB
cable, seven tips which will fit a variety of Apple iPods, Nokia, Samsung, Sony
Ericsson, Siemens, Motorola and Blackberry phones. Not all devices are
compatible, but they can be checked against
Soldius’ online list.
Those that have devices charged by a miniUSB cable are in luck – they can use
the charger without an adapter tip.
The solar charger is a very slim device that when folded measures 5.4" tall x
3.2" wide x 0.4" thick and weighs just four ounces. This pocketable charger can
fit almost anywhere because it is so slim, so finding it a spot in a gearbag
should be no trouble at all.
When opened, the charger measures 5.4" tall x 6" wide x 0.2" thick, the
thickest points are still 0.4" due to the hinged design. Shown in these pictures
is the miniUSB port on the thicker end of the charger.
Here is a closer shot of one of the two rain and splash-resistant panels
which are revealed when the charger is opened.
These panels will soak up any available sunlight – whether it be direct or
indirect, through a window or on a sunny deck. The chargers will still gather
energy on cloudy days, but the best performance is found when they are placed in
direct sunlight on a clear day. The Charger will produce 6.58V – 320mA (max) in
How about some down and dirty testing? Since today was so sunny and in the
mid-fifties, I decided to conduct all tests on the backyard deck.
I tried the Soldius on several devices including my iPod, PPC-6700 and my
recently purchased JasJar. The 6700 had an 80% charge when first plugged in, and
in less than an hour it was at 100%. For much of the time I did the charging
with the device turned off. When charging, I did not see the usual orange light
blinking in the corner of the 6700, but turning on the PDA and tapping on
the Battery screen revealed that the battery was charging and the charger was
My JasJar arrived today with a completely dead battery, and the Soldius was
not able to revive it. However, once the JasJar was at 30% I was able to
complete its charging with the Soldius; with the device turned off, charging was
complete in four and a half hours. The moral of the story is that it is better
to not allow power hungry devices to run too far down.
My iPod was only down two bars, and it took a little over an hour for it to
reach full capacity using the solar charger.
According to the Soldius site, it can take longer or shorter periods of time
to achieve a full charge based on the amount of cloud cover. They give a general
rule of three to four hours for a total charge on a mobile phone, which is
similar to that of a car charger.
The only downfall I can see to using solar energy is that here in West Texas
temperatures can easily reach 100 and up. Depending on whether the wind is
blowing or not, the heat index may be even higher. On those type days I would
not recommend laying any electronic device on a sunny deck. However…the
charger will work just as well from a sunny window ledge in an air
conditioned room. In other words, as long as it receives direct sunlight it will
produce the juice necessary to charge your electronic device.
Unfortunately the charge produced is not enough to power a laptop, but
according to the Soldius site there are plans to produce a strong enough
charger. In the meantime, consumers that don’t want to unfold a solar charger
every time they need to power their devices can
explore the Soldius line of
solar-enabled backpacks, travel bags and golf club bags.
The Soldius 1 Universal Solar Charger With iPod Kit is available from
Think Geek and
Read the FAQ on the Soldius
site if you have any questions that weren’t answered by my review.
Additional tips and replacement cables may be