I spent a few hours at the MacWorld Expo 2010 and I saw a lot of innovative and cool products. But many of those devices were really only the “nice to have” kind. However, one device in particular stood out in my mind as something that every household should have: the Scosche solBAT II which is a solar powered backup battery and charger.
I must admit, I did see some other solar powered chargers at the show, but most of those were iPhone cases. It seems that Scosche decided to keep things simple by not tying their charger to a particular device and to actually decouple it from proprietary sizes or cables. In fact, they simply include a standard USB plug where you can fit other USB connector types that come with your device.
If you use an iPod or iPhone doc connector, just connect the USB end into the solBAT II. Have a Nintendo DS? Use the the cord that came with it to plug into the solBAT II. Basically, any device that you have that is USB powered or uses a USB cable to charge can be used with the solBAT II.
The tech specs are simple:
- Battery Capacity – 1500mA
- Output – 5V / 500mA
- Battery Type – lithium-ion
- Continuous charging of internal battery via solar power
The solBAT II comes with a USB charging cable that you can use to quickly charge the battery within the solBAT II instead of waiting on the free power of the sun, just attach it to a computer via a USB port. As I mentioned earlier, I think every family should have one of these, in fact, because of the design, you really should have a solBAT II in every car as an emergency device.
My testing process was pretty simply. I unpackaged it, slipped the solBAT II into the clear plastic holder that it comes with and stuck it on a sliding glass door in my home that has full sunlight most of the day. The holder has two suction cups on the back which allows you to attach it easily to windows and they nicely provide an extra suction cup in case you lose one. This is ideal for securing it to a car windshield or a window pane in your home. There is also a carabineer that can be used to hang it from a backpack, making it a great camping necessity. That way, as you hike, you can always be sure to have a standby battery and charger at the ready.
The only disadvantage is, you have got to have sunlight. I did try charging during a cloudy day and it seemed to charge (at least Charge In light was lit) but it took a lot longer to fully charge up the battery. But heck, the sun is free so you can save a few pennies a day just by using the solBAT II to charge your phones!
The great thing is, the solBAT II is affordable, in fact, I think with a price of $30, it’s quite reasonable for peace of mind, especially as an emergency/standby device. (Do note that as of this writing, you can pick up a solBAT II on Amazon for $19.99 which is a steal!) A few summers ago, we lost power in our neighborhood due to a blown transformer. The outage lasted a few days and during that time, I took some solar powered lanterns from the backyard into the house to provide light during the night. Having a solBAT II during that time would have helped tremendously in keeping my kids’ gaming devices charged (no TV remember) and provide us parents with the ability to not worry about conserving our cell phone batteries.
There is also another version that includes a Bluetooth speakerphone which makes it a win-win for any commuter called the solCHAT II. The solCHAT II retails for $99.99. I expect that once it is available on Amazon, it will be $20 less.
When I tested this out, I simply stuck it on my sliding glass door in the sun and immediately saw the Charge In light turn red, meaning that there was enough sunlight to start charging the battery. Later, after leaving it in the sun for a few hours, I plugged in my iPhone to the USB connector and the Charge Out light turned green. I didn’t test the time it takes to fully charge either the solBAT II via the sun nor how long it takes to charge my iPhone. The real concept here is that you simply put the solBAT II out in the sun and walk away and a few hours later when you come back, you are good to go! I wish I had 3 of these!
Disclosure Text : I have a material connection because I received a gift or sample of a product for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was/am not expected to return this item or gift after my review period. More information can be found in my About page as well as here .
HTD says: The Scosche solBAT II is an essential emergency device for any household with a USB-powered device like a cell phone.