Using the Sun to Power your Gadgets & Light the Way – WAKAWAKA POWER

In Cellular, Consumer Electronics, Gadgets, General, Hardware, Mobile, Opinion, Review by Michael Sheehan2 Comments

If you look up into the sky, assuming it’s sunny and daytime, you will see a vast energy source that is incredibly untapped – the sun. Solar power technologies have been evolving a break-neck speeds and the size and costs have been reduced dramatically to the point where you can throw a solar panel, charger and battery into your backpack and never worry about plugging your smartphone or tablet into the wall again. The WakaWaka Power, is no exception. This small device, in my opinion, is critical to have for camping trips or in your emergency kit or just quietly charging in a sunny windows somewhere.

WakaWaka Power - Lights on

WakaWaka Power – Lights on

I actually really like this little “gadget helper” for a variety of reasons. Let’s start with the name, “WakaWaka” which means “shine bright” in Swahili. WakaWaka is created by Off-Grid Solutions (OGS) which is a company that develops and manufactures solar-based portable charging and lighting solutions. They got their start via a Kickstarter.com initiative (which raised over $419,000 – 838% over their initial $50,000 funding request) and are now a global brand. In fact, in 2012 they made it their mission to deliver 1 million WakaWaka’s worldwide as part of a pledge to the Clinton Global Initiative.

WakaWaka Power - packaging

WakaWaka Power – packaging

But OGS and WakaWaka haven’t stopped there. For every WakaWaka Power charger that they sell, they are donating $10 to the WakaWaka Foundation which has been set up to finance entrepreneurial education, micro-loans to women energy entrepreneurs and also subsidies for poor countries like Haiti, Nepal, Nigeria, India and others. One of their goals is to replace dangerous, expensive and polluting kerosene lamps with their solar-powered solutions. You can read more about their mission here. With initiatives and dreams like this, what is there NOT to like?!

It would be one thing to be a champion of the impoverished or under-privileged and try to sell a shoddy product to finance that. But let me say this, from my testing, the WakaWaka Power is solid, well-designed, and incredibly useful to have. While there isn’t a huge amount of functionality built into the WakaWaka Power, it has enough compelling features to make it a worthy product to have.

Let’s take a look at the features of the WakaWaka Power. For starters and most obviously, it is solar powered. The entire back of it is a solar panel.

WakaWaka Power - Solar Panel

WakaWaka Power – Solar Panel

From a size perspective, it isn’t much taller (a bit wider though) than a smart phone, although there are some smart phones that are almost the same size nowadays. It is about 4.8″ high by 4″ wide by 0.8″ thick and it only weighs about 7 oz. With the solar panel facing up, it is water resistant but they don’t recommend exposing it to water on the other side. It feels quite durable and I feel that it could withstand quite a bit of abuse.

The front, when closed, almost to me looks like a little face. The two “eyes” are actually light bulbs, the “nose” is a convenient hole (and large power button) that you can use in many ways like put over a bottle to hold the WakaWaka up, and the “mouth” is the main hinge.

WakaWaka Power - folded

WakaWaka Power – folded

When the WakaWaka is closed, you can use it as a flashlight. And let me tell you, this light is blinding. It has 4 light modes of differing intensity (and battery consumption) and has an SOS mode that you can automatically activate.

WakaWaka Power - folded & lights on

WakaWaka Power – folded & lights on

While the most environmentally-friendly way to charge the internal battery of the WakaWaka is to use the built in solar panel, they realized that there isn’t always a bright, shinning fire-y orb in the sky. So, built into the WakaWaka Power is a micro-USB charger that you can use to charge up the internal battery using your smartphone charger in about 2 hours. You can see it in the middle of the side in the picture below.

WakaWaka Power - micro-USB

WakaWaka Power – micro-USB

If you want to charge a smartphone or tablet, on the other side of the WakaWaka Power is a regular USB port where you can connect your energy-thirsty gadget and charge it fully in a matter of hours.

WakaWaka Power - USB

WakaWaka Power – USB

And you can see that the innovative design uses the cover to create a stand which is adjustable. You can pivot the lighting up (see the above picture) or pivot it down easily for reading (see the picture below).

WakaWaka Power - standing

WakaWaka Power – standing

On the top, there is a set of LED lights that indicate either the charge level or the battery level (green or blue lights respectively).

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HighTechDad Ratings

The WakaWaka Power has a price of $79 and you can buy it directly from their site here. You can also pick up the WakaWaka Power on Amazon for $65. Remember that $10 of your purchase (whether directly or via Amazon) goes to the WakaWaka Foundation. The WakaWaka Power comes in either black or yellow. They do have flashlight-only solutions as well. The WakaWaka Power with the micro-USB charger but you can use one that you may have with your smartphone. Of course, you can always charge using the sun, what WakaWaka’s tag line refers to – “share the sun.” There is absolutely no confusion as to how to use the WakaWaka Power which makes it useful by all members of the family and the price point is reasonable. I view it as one of those family essentials to have handy at all times.

EASY TO GEEK FACTOR – is the device easy to get up and running
HTD_4_half_star
FAMILY FRIENDLY – does the device fit well into family environments
HTD_4_half_star
RECOMMENDABILITY– would I recommend it to others (more means “yes”)
HTD_4_half_star
PRICE POINT – does the price reflect the product function
HTD_4_star
OVERALL – my general rating
HTD_4_half_star

If you are looking for a solar powered charger for your devices, be sure to put the WakaWaka Power at the top of your list. It simply works, it’s got a useful design and the company seems to have some grand ideas to fulfill.

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. All opinions within this article are my own. More information can be found in my About page as well as here.

HTD says: Harness the power of the sun for your mobile devices with the WakaWaka Power.