I am often stopped on the street with questions about the solar panels on my backpack, so I figured that I'd write an article about it.
Shortly after the big northeastern blackout in the summer of 2003, I began looking at alternate power sources to keep my devices going when traditional power was unavailable.
I came across a backpack that was fitted with solar panels and a battery for storage. The backpack is by a company called voltaic systems and is equipped with adapters for many common small appliances including cell phones, IPODS, Iphones, Blackberries, Digital Cameras, USB and more. The battery is also equipped with a built in light, which is helpful when the power goes out.
Also included is a wall adapter and car charger to charge the battery in low – sun environments or the winter.
There is also an adapter that will charge devices with a car light adapter (GPS, Auto charger or other)
I recently installed the optional water bladder, which allows you to add up to 3 Liters of water to the bag. There is a drinking tube that can be run down one of the cable channels on the shoulder straps. I fill mine with Ice and water to provide for a convenient cold drink, when walking , or riding my bike in the heat.
I am very impressed with Voltaic’s customer service. Recently, after owning the bag for almost 7 years, one of the zippers got damaged. The company sent me a replacement bag (sans the solar panels and battery) free of charge. Swapping out the battery and solar panels was achieved within a matter of minutes.
While the backpack is only suitable for lower voltage devices(phones, pda, mp3 players) Voltaic now offers a bag called the generator that can charge laptops and other devices up to 15 Watts. For more information go to voltaic systems website.