No outlet in sight? These solar kits keep your notebook charged

Treehugger features 5 solar charging kits configured for laptop computers, but be prepared for the privilege of harvesting more battery life from the sun.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

Some of us have probably fiddled around with the various solar charger technologies that have been available for smartphones and tablets over the past year, but I never realized there were so many options emerging for notebook computers until I came across this updated piece about the category from Treehugger, "5 Best Portable Solar Laptop Chargers."

The article by Treehugger's tech writer Jaymi Heimbuch features the latest kits from several different companies, including Goal Zero, Voltaic Systems, Brunton, EarthTech Products and Go Power! These things aren't cheap, ranging from $459 for the Voltaic offering (which comes in the form of a laptop case) to a whopping $1,815.28 for the Go Power! Weekender product (which includes a 125-watt solar panel and 1,500 watt pure sine waver inverter).

Mind you, these gadgets aren't exactly all that efficient. For example, it takes up to 10 hours for the solar panel in Goal Zero's Sherpa Adventure Kit to fill the battery pack, which in turn feeds what is attached. Compatibility is also an issue with the products listed, you need to research your purchase carefully to make sure that there is an adapter that works with your notebook or (if you're inclined) your table computer.

If the geek in you is starting to think about all the fun outdoors vacations you can take starting this spring, but you know you don't want to completely leave your notebook computer behind, this is definitely a list you should consult. Of the offerings featured, I'm inclined to opt for the Voltaic one, not just because it is least expensive but because it is one of the lightest (the Brunton one is lighter) and because it doubles as a carrying case. It is, however, also the least powerful of the options. So that's the tradeoff.

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