The Voltaic Converter is primarily designed to be charged through the solar panels in as much direct sun as possible. You can try charging it indoors, but Voltaic says the charge will be negligible. When the solar panels get hit by light, a small red LED in the center of the pack’s Voltaic logo will glow to tell you a charge is being produced. The only problem is that light also goes on when indoors under lighting, which, based upon the previously mentioned power collection difference, may throw some off into thinking the battery pack is actually charging up at a decent hourly rate.
The actual charging of the panels to produce electricity for the charger is a bit tricky. Voltaic mentions that for best results the direct sunlight exposure should occur with the panels angled towards the sun. It is also mentioned the battery will fully charge in seven to eight hours, which might require you to keep up with the sun’s movements in the sky to keep your bag best positioned. Our tests of the solar panel’s charge time on a typical sunny day showed that it took around the previously mentioned time to charge the battery.
For those who are inpatient, or perhaps lack access to hours of direct sunlight, other options do exist to charge the Voltaic bag’s battery. These include a USB power cable which can be connected to a USB port on a computer, as well as optional AC and DC chargers. These latter chargers cut the full charge time down to under four hours (you can check battery charge status via LEDs) but if you are using them on a regular basis, what’s the point in owning a solar-charger bag in the first place?
In regards to charging attached devices, the Voltaic Converter bag fully charged the Blackberry’s battery in an impressive under three hours, which was less than the company’s projected four to six (charging estimates will vary depending upon the type of small electronics device you are needing recharged). One charge, however, did drain somewhere in the neighborhood of half the battery pack’s power. That’s something to keep in mind if you have multiple devices to charge and are in situations where sunlight is not optimal or outlet power sources aren’t available.