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Solar Power via Power Hotspot

Hotspot from Regen ReNuSolar panels frustrate me. It seems like size, cost, and efficiency are at that tipping point where they’re almost practical, but not. Given the rapid evolution of solar technology, it’s just a matter of time. Perhaps, that time is near.

I just spotted Regen ReNu’s new “Power Hotspot” over on Engadget. This isn’t the microwave sized device that will power your house. We’re not there yet. However, this fairly portable device is great for recharging anything with a battery. From the press release:

At work, the Power HotSpot™ can recharge tools, notebooks and cell phones, or provide power to inverters for AC power. At home, it can power a shed or gazebo light, an aerator or fountain. And for recreation, the Power HotSpot™ brings convenience to the campsite, from re-charging lights to continuous play for radios and iPods to running boat aerators and re-recharging batteries on a dock.

One thing I don’t see on their website just yet… A price!

A Sunny Day for iPhones

How many times have you been at a coffee shop, in the airport, on a plane, or just walking around when your iPhone or iTouch starts flashing a “low battery” warning and there’s no electrical outlet in sight? It happens to me all the time, and since I’m pretty much addicted to the devices, it’s a major problem.

Fortunately, SolLight has come out with a simple and relatively inexpensive solution – solar charging. Now we can harness the power of the sun to make sure that we always have access to the information and entertainment we crave. Plus, the energy is absolutely free and leaves no carbon footprint whatsoever.

The SOLiCharger is a “solar-powered backup/emergency iPod charger.” It’s small and light at just 1.4 ounces, so it’s easy to take wherever you go. Unfortunately, it’s not very fast and needs up to 16 hours (!) of exposure to the sun to reach its maximum charge. That’s enough to charge the iPhone only halfway, but that’s sure better than nothing when your alternative is a dead battery. A 50% charge should last for at least a few hours, and of course you can always charge it again as long as there’s some sunshine to be found. Plus, you can charge your iPhone while you’re using it.

The really nice thing about the SOLiCharger is that it plugs directly into the iPhone or iTouch, so you don’t have to worry about losing or forgetting cables. And it comes in either black or white, so you can get the one that matches your other gadgets.

If you live in a place without much sunshine, or if you need extra battery power at night, you can charge the SOLiCharger from your laptop or desktop computer and use it like a back-up battery, but obviously the main idea is to charge it with sunlight. Fortunately, charging it through an Apple USB cable is faster and takes just under two hours.

Check out the online slideshow for more information and then decide whether you’d like to buy it. SolLight is currently sold out of the $39.95 device, but you can use the company’s website to find retailers near you.