The future is bright at Voltaic Systems. When company founder Shayne McQuade drained his phone battery while in the middle of Spain, he appreciated the convenience and importance of having a portable solar-powered charger, especially in this age of digital information and wireless communication.
Although he had a solar charger in his bag, carrying them everywhere was painstaking. He realised that integrating solar panels into the outside of his bag would be a better solution.
McQuade designed a solar backpack and founded Voltaic Systems in 2003. He launched the product in 2004. Since then, the portable power company based in Brooklyn, New York has rolled out a range of solar-powered chargers and solutions for different devices and uses.
The solar backpack has gone numerous iterations and several editions since it was first introduced. For instance, the Converter Solar Backpack that retails at $129 can juice-up smartphones and 7-inch tablets with a 3.5-watt solar panel system—perfect for commuting and short trips. A 4.5-hour sunlight exposure can fully charge a smartphone while a 1-hour exposure can give a smartphone two hours of usage.
Retailing at $199 is the Offgrid Solar Backpack designed for smartphones and 7-inch to 10-inch tablet devices. Equipped with a 6-watt solar panel system, the bag can fully charge a smartphone under 3 hours of sunlight exposure or a 4-hour usage under a 1-hour exposure.
Both the Converter Solar Backpack and Offgrid Backpack models are equipped with Voltaic USB batteries and come with micro USB adapter, USB output cable, and USB charging cable.
The most expensive among the backpack lot is the Array Solar Laptop Charger, which retails at $389. This particular model can charge not only smartphones and tablet devices but also DSLR cameras and laptops with an 11-watt solar panel system at 6 or 18 volts. This is perfect for professionals and travellers who spend a considerable amount of time outdoors.
Included inside the Array Solar Laptop Charger model is a V72 laptop lithium-polymer battery with a capacity of 20,000 mAh and an option to select between 12, 16, and 19 volts. It also has a DC input for charging the battery, a DC output to charge laptops, and a 5 volts USB output for charging smartphones and other USB devices.
The company also manufactures and sells portable power devices including standalone chargers, solar kits, portable and universal batteries, solar-powered and solar-charged lighting fixtures, and adapters and cables.
It is safe to say that Voltaic Systems offers apocalypse-ready products.
But the company has a social responsibility apart from promoting the use of solar energy. Accordingly, across the product lifecycle, Voltaic Systems considers conservation of natural resources, particularly by identifying and using materials that are eco-friendly. The bags for instance use recycled PET instead of nylon. Products are also easy to repair to minimise disposal. In addition, the company sourced out high-quality solar panels that have longer lifespan.
Voltaic Systems has also sponsored American documentary photographer Kristin Lau, particularly in a project that involves documenting remote and energy-poor regions in Nepal. The company also launched a sales promotions in October 2014 in which it pledged to give solar kits and solar chargers to Ebola aid workers in West Africa whenever customers purchased the promoted products. They also sent batches of converters and Offgrid Solar Backpacks without the panels with slight cosmetic defects to students in Nueva Ecija, Philippines.
More information about the company and their products are available on their official website. Online ordering can also be coursed through their website. Photo credit: Voltaic Systems/Adapted