Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Here Comes the Sun

Summertime is fast approaching, and this year I was really interested in purchasing a solar power supply for use with various portable electronic gadgets. Between Magnum's annual Canada Day picnic, and Tito's annual Luau, there does seem to be a need for portable, clean electrical power. Big V usually has a battery powered assembly for musical entertainment, so I felt perhaps I could augment his setup with a little AC/DC from the sky!

The only problem being that I know squat about electricity other than "don't stick metal things in the electrical outlet". So the research was rather slow going.

Many of the items seemed to be distributed by Asian companies, which did not bode well for their reliability. Slogging through many poorly translated manuals only helped reinforce this perception (honestly, couldn't they hire someone to check the grammar?).

Finally I found the device I was looking for, the Brunton SolarPort 4.4. It is made in the US, but there is a Canadian distributor in BC. Boy was I happy. I read the product specs and found that it had some handy features:

  1. Clam Shell design - The unit unfolds like a book to expose its solar panels

  2. Built in Cigarette-lighter Socket - If you have a car charger, just plug it directly into the device.

  3. Built in USB Outlet - use your device's USB cord to charge your iPod, PalmPilot, mp3 Player, or anything else that charges via USB.

  4. Standard Power Adapter Plugs - the device includes standard power adapter plugs to charge or power other devices like CD players as if they were using AC power.

  5. AA and AAA Battery charger included - The package also includes a second unit that attaches to the panel portion that charges AA and AAA NiCad and NiMH batteries.

  6. 12V and 6V switchable - what this means, I don't know. It sounded good, but I'm a Chem, not an Elec, so what do I know.

  7. Multi-Unit Co-operation - link multiple units together to add additional power. Not sure how useful that is, since I'm only planning on buying one. I guess if one of my buddies likes it so much that they buy one for themselves, then we can take advantage of this feature.
The main product page is at and the Canadian distributor is Modern Outpost. I really am looking forward to buying this baby, but I'll probably wait until closer to summer time when I can give it a good run-through with full sunshine.

When this happens, I will definitely post a follow-up review to fully describe this product.

Until next time, keep on having fun!

"bah weep graaagnah wheep ni ni bong"