Solio -- My Newest Solar Gadget

Last summer I happened to be watching a CNBC segment about a solar powered gadget called Solio that recharges all sorts of hand held devices like cell phones, cameras, etc. I was so impressed at the time, I used the notepad function on my phone to record the web address -- the one and only time I've ever used that feature.

I really wanted Solio, but my cell phone wasn't on the list of compatible devices. I have the lowest end, no frills, virtually free LG model cell phone available at the time we renewed our contract; it suits my needs, so I have no complaints about the phone.

Anyway, since I don't really have any other hand held devices to charge, I couldn't justify the expense (about US$100 in 2007) without being certain about compatibility.

About a month ago, Cablevision's Optimum Store sent me an email advertising a solar charger for cell phones . . . and it turned out to be an offer for the Solio at a discount. And I just had to have it.

From Picasa Album Going Even More Solar

My cell phone still isn't on their list of compatible devices, but what I didn't realize last year is that Solio comes with a 12 volt universal adapter that works just like the cigarette lighter in your car. The adapter connects to the Solio and the car charger for the phone plugs into the adapter:

Cool, huh?

In addition to the 12 volt adapter, Solio arrived with 4 tips for charging most Nokia, Motorola, Blackberry and Samsung cell phones (tips for other makes and models can be purchased separately) and a female USB adapter for use with iPod and other devices. If I ever get myself an iPod, I'll be all set. Until then, I'll be using Solio to recharge my cell phone.

Solio takes about 8-10 hours in the sun to fully charge or it can be plugged into a traditional electrical outlet for 6 hours. I suppose that would be a good option for carrying a portable charger on cloudy days, but I don't see myself using that method.

The first time I charged Solio, it took several days to reach a full charge, but we only had a few hours of good sun those first few days. I took Solio with me when I was out driving and left it exposed to the sun on the back dashboard of my car. At home, I used a pencil to prop it up on an angle to directly face the sun. The second time I charged Solio, we managed to get a full charge after only two days in the direct sun.

I charged my cell phone for the first time using Solio just the other day. My phone received a full charge and Solio still had a 25% charge when finished.

Our weather pattern has been very inconsistent this past week, with passing clouds and thunderstorms mixed with bright sunshine . . . I didn't want to take a chance that I'd leave Solio out in the rain, so decided to try the window sucker suction cup mounted on a southern facing window:

So even if it takes a few days to charge, at least this way I won't worry about it getting wet or damaged or stolen. And by the time my phone needs another charge, Solio will be ready to plug into the sun!


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