I’ve been on a long quest for ways to charge my many gadgets without needing mains power. This quest has three separate drivers:
- When I travel with lots of gadgets I don’t really want to carry lots of power adaptors too
- I’m a good-hearted soul who wants to use the earth’s resources as little as possible
- Quite simply, using natural resources to charge gadgets should be a hundred percent reliable by now
But I’ve never found a fully reliable solution. The latest to hit the test pile is the Freeloader Pro
This is an impressive piece of kit comprising a double solar panel, plentiful array of connectors and a separate charging unit that copes with camera batteries. But at £70 it is quite an investment. So it has to work, and work well.
Put it in the sun for 7-9 hours and the internal battery is filled says the blurb. I never managed to get it to show itself more than three quarters full, and finding 7-9 hours of sun sometimes proved a challenge partly because of the English weather, partly because of the practicalities of getting it outdoors for that long.
No, it doesn’t need to be in full sunlight, but duller, overcast conditions will make charging that bit slower. You can resort to using the provided USB charger and mains power if necessary, but that rather defeats the object.
The charging part worked well, and I’ve charged various devices including camera batteries successfully. But the Freeloader Pro and the various bits of cable and extras you need are a bit bulky to carry around, and I found I could only hope to boost the battery of one item every day. Having to maintain a rotation system has been a bit of a chore, and on occasion things have run out of juice before it is their turn.
The consequence is that I’ve not actually fully relied on the Freeloader Pro. I’ve tended to couple it with mains power chargers and/or portable battery units pre-charged from the mains.
Now, I readily admit that I tend to want to charge a lot of kit, and I may be asking too much of the Freeloader Pro.
However, the quest continues, and I’m moving on to a wind-powered charger that mounts on my bike next. I’ll report back when it has been fully tested.
In the mean time I’d like to know, has anyone reading this tried a charging device powered by natural resources and found it to work well?