We just took a look at a solar backpack from Ralph Lauren that is stylish, waterproof and $800. A price like that tends to get one thinking about how much portable solar charging gear can be had in the $800-$1K neighborhood. Well, we’ve stumbled on another hip, waterproof, portable solar power station and it starts at $800. The difference here: performance. Check out this solar surfboard by Tony Jones of Coral Reef Wetsuits.
Jones’ invention takes a solar panel and plants it right in the middle of one of his custom boards. In a video presentation, Tony shows off his board and points out some of its finer features. The solar panels used in the boards are lightweight and integrated to be flush with the top of the board and water-tight. A small plug covers the charging outlet and is removed with a small tool. The board comes along with a compact, 2200 mA lithium ion battery which Jones claims holds enough juice to charge a phone several times over. Included with the battery pack are three adapter cables. The battery should be able to charge all manner of digital devices including cameras, flashlights, phones, and portable radios.
Jones stresses that the solar panel does not need direct sunlight to charge efficiently. The use of a panel that can charge while in the shade was a necessary design point because prolonged direct exposure to the sun can damage the board’s laminate.
Moving up the product line, the boards feature larger panels capable of charging the provided battery incrementally faster. The smallest, 3-watt panel will reportedly charge the provided battery to capacity in 4-5 hours. The 5-watt panel will do the job in 3-4 hours and the largest 8-watt version will charge in 2-3 hours. An optional car charging kit is available for use with the 5 and 8-watt boards that will apparently trickle charge a car battery.
Jones’ says he has fully tested his technology in extreme conditions. He indicated an interest in seeing the technology integrated in all manner of small watercraft and is seeking like-minded business partners that could help bring the invention to the “next level.”