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Green On-The-Go: A Portable Solar-Powered Electrical Outlet

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"Green On-The-Go: A Portable Solar-Powered Electrical Outlet"

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Credit: Yanko Design

Mother Nature Network just flagged a fun diversion in the solar technology world: the Window Socket.

It’s a portable solar charger, roughly the size of a hockey puck, which uses a suction cup to attach to any available window. It also has a standard electrical plug — though right now it’s only the European standard — so once it’s done charging you can plug an appliance into it right there on the window, or carry it around as a portable electrical outlet.

Obviously, the device would be most useful on a trip, in a plane, a bus, a car, or outdoors — circumstances in which an outlet might be hard to come by.

Besides the lack of an American outlet version, the Window Socket also has a few weaknesses. It takes five to eight hours to charge completely, which is a serious chunk of time, especially in travel situations — though it lasts ten hours after that. Furthermore, as Mother Nature Network notes, the design currently doesn’t deliver enough power for anything other than small electrical devices:

As pointed out by more than a few commenters — the device’s initial appearance over at Yanko Design impressively garnered more than 300 comments — the big drawback here aside from the slow charge time is that the Window Socket’s battery is currently at 1000mAh which isn’t enough juice to really power anything save for a smartphone or other low-voltage mobile gadget.

Though again, if travel situations are what’s primarily under discussion here, than enough juice for your smartphone may be all you need. And presumably, further improvements in technology will bring down the charge time and boost the power delivery.

Other developments in the world of portable solar power include roll-up panels for the military, and a new ultra-thin solar panel design that may be able to fit directly on smartphones and other such devices.

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13 Responses to Green On-The-Go: A Portable Solar-Powered Electrical Outlet

  1. While there is a lot of interesting work going on in this space, this particular gadget seems to be a gimmick that hasn’t been fully thought through: http://www.kcet.org/news/rewire/solar/photovoltaic-pv/viral-solar-window-outlet-cant-possibly-work.html

  2. I would also note that the use of the term “charging capacity” indicates that whoever drew the picture isn’t that familiar with electricity units and conventions. Charging capacity (power) is measured in watts, battery capacity is measured in milliamp-hours, and the latter is what I believe the graph to be referring to here.

  3. Merrelyn Emery says:

    A great idea, opens up all sorts of possibilities, ME

  4. Though the gadget has a number of issues like its long charging time and limited compatibility, the idea behind it is brilliant and can be real handy while travelling. Hope on-going research may make it more usable in near future.

  5. Earthling says:

    Just another useless gizmo, not fit for purpose.

  6. Adam R. says:

    @ Earthling:

    Just another useless gizmo

    Indeed. How did this silly thing make it into Climate Progress?

    For a thorough fisking, see http://tinyurl.com/ck6xf37 .

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      ‘Fisking’ is an odious term, invented by the extreme Right to smear Robert Fisk, one of the few half-decent journalists left extant. If you mean ‘criticism’ sans hard Right ideological posturing, I’d say that it would be the preferable term.

  7. Brooks Bridges says:

    I see things like this and solar powered walkway lights for $3.85 and it makes me sad.

    I think of the billion or so people around the world for whom something like this could be incredibly important. For instance, check out this site (FINCA) for a much more practical application via micro-credit loans to allow people to have safe light at night and charge their cell phones (previously had to use kerosene lamps):

    http://www.kintera.org/cms.asp?id=4009137&campaign_id=713054&msource=SOLAR&enString=ggSERAUvKlKPJXPsG6KOK5PDLeLzFESmPRRIM6NwH6KOIZPwHgJ0H

  8. Earthling says:

    Brooks Bridges
    “charge their cell phones (previously had to use kerosene lamps)”

    Priceless! Ö¿Ö

    • SusanJ says:

      Really? You did note that he said “safe light at night” as opposed to kerosene lamps, I hope. Or maybe you never read complete sentences.

  9. neville charlesworth says:

    Think outside the box… This is not a gimmick, it was intended for use with low power led lighting and those in remote areas who may not have a reliable power source to light their homes. Not everyone has access to lighting during the night or phones and other self gratifying appliances that burn precious energy and resources.

  10. Hotpulp says:

    This is a great idea and a useful tool. This would be great for hiking and camping trips. There are many low wattage items in our homes. For example, it generates enough wattage to run the air pump on my fish tank. Kudos to the creators for their creativity.