Solar chargers haven't taken off the way creators have hoped, but as technology allows designs to get slimmer and more efficient, that could change.
Korean designer Sung Un Chang's flat charger called the Yolk Solar Paper has just under a week to go on its Kickstarter campaign, and by funding indications, it's got an eager audience. The project has already reached US$869,987 in pledges — 17 times more than its US$50,000 goal.
The charger is made with detachable panels of solar cells that stick onto each other with a magnetic border.
Two panels are needed to reach an output of 5 watts, sufficient to charge an iPhone 6. You'll need to buy two more panels to make a four-panel 10 watt charger for an iPad. The company says you'll be able to charge an iPhone 6 in two hours under bright sunlight, and it'll take five hours if it's overcast. For an iPad setup, it's 4.5 hours under the sun and 9 hours if the clouds are out.
Chang claims she thought about manufacturing the product in China, but eventually decided to keep manufacturing in Korea because of "quality control."
"Everything is at risk of being copied in China, you can't avoid it. So even though there are thin and cheap solar chargers in China, we compete on quality instead," she said.
The company expects its two-panelled charger set to retail for US$125 and US$200 for four panels when it graduates out of Kickstarter.
This isn't Chang's first jaunt around the solar-charging block. Her earlier solar panel, Solarade, was also successfully funded on Kickstarter last year.