So you're thinking about trying solar energy? Get a little thrill by charging off the grid? The Charged Up ™ SolarPak with 20 watt portable panel and lithium ion battery, is an entry level portable kit often referred to as a "gateway" kit. Sure you'll get free solar energy, and yes, you will lower your carbon footprint, but be careful, because the satisfaction of off-grid charging can become a steady habit. I know, because it happened to me!
I got my Charged Up ™ SolarPak and couldn't wait to test it out. Being in New Hampshire, in the winter, and working in an office no less, was not the ideal time or place to run my new “toys” through their paces, but I had a window, patience and hope. Then, one day it happened, … I was getting warm; it was the sun shining through the window, alas, it was time to play!
I unfolded my solar panel and laid it out where the sun was shining brightest (this happened to be across my partner's desk, but thankfully he was in the field, so commandeering his desk in the name of 'Solar Independence' went off without a fight). I plugged my panel to the charge controller, male cigarette lighter adapter into that, and the other end into my lithium ion battery. (Sounds more complicated than it is, but the enclosed Quick Start Guide with pictures, even made ME look like I knew what I was doing). I clicked ON the battery, and lo and behold, the indicator light was showing that the battery was being charged! I was harnessing the sun through my office window; shut the front door, who'd have thought it possible? I declared my first test a success, and I was starting to see where my little “solar habit” could begin to have a mind of its own.
I kept window charging, but as the battery also had a wall charger, I often just plugged it into an outlet to charge, as I started taking this little battery everywhere with me; drives, trips, and flights (as I often fly for business, in the “cheap seats,” where the luxury of USB ports are just not offered) this always kept me charged and ready for anything!
The weekend was coming, and winter was turning into spring, so it was time to test my portable solar kit outdoors! Saturday morning, bright and early (and who says miracles don't happen) and I am in the backyard unfolding my solar panel onto the back deck and in the sun. I again was charging my battery, so that I could use my power later, and tucked it under the panel to keep it in the shade. Before I knew it, I was sucking up solar watts like free cake at your neighbor's kid's birthday party. Within a couple of hours my battery was fully charged and ready; I was on a contact solar high!
Spending less time with family and friends as I surfed the web learning everything I could about solar energy, as well as all of the USB gadgets that used miniscule amounts of power that I could run off of my battery when camping, and I was off to the races! My first two gadgets were the Voltaic Touchlight and USB Reading light so that I had concentrated light to be able to download my pictures off of my camera at night, during my summer camping trips. (I do have my eye on a USB fan that I wished I had on a boat-camping trip to Lake Powell years back, where I discovered what a meat loaf feels like in an oven (if a meat loaf could feel, that is); so if anyone wants to know what I want for Christmas, hint, hint, wink, wink; you've got your answer!)
If you had asked me months ago if I could ever turn into a solar geek, I would have fought you tooth and nail on the subject, but it happens to the best of us – I can attest to that. I just wish that I had been this much of a solar geek back while on a long-distance, cross-country, motorcycle ride, when I left my lights on, and drained my battery. Nothing gives you the eebie jeebies more than being stranded on the side of the road, alone, in the seemingly middle of nowhere, waiting for your riding buddy to bring back jumper cables? You see, if I had the Charged Up™ Solar PowerPak in my T-Bag, I could have jump started my own battery all by myself (as it comes with jumper cables that attach to the lithium ion battery), and we'd have been on our way in no time. It all worked out well, and makes for a great story, although I could have lived without re-playing every horror movie I'd ever seen in my head, while waiting for my friend to get back with cables. Live and learn, and although I don't ride any more, I do take my Charged Up ™ SolarPak with me when driving on long trips, just in case. Greatest part is that I can lay the solar panel in the back deck of the car during the day, and charge my little battery while I drive; all for free!
~ Desert Diving Diva