Solar Phone Charger Aims At The Poor

Noting that “500 million of the world’s cell phone owners have no access to electricity,” a Hong Kong and Denver-based company is touting its solar-power charging panels as specially designed to remain affordable and viable “to users who live in off-grid, often impoverished regions of the world.”

Nokero International said its two new panels remove cost in part by having no battery. The 1-watt P101 can directly charge a typical cell phone in three hours, the company said, while the 2-watt P102 powers up a similar phone in 1.5 hours. The pocket-sized panels are USB compatible and come with phone adapters, but if you’re looking to charge a smart phone, nope, look elsewhere. You’re not the customer Nokero is focused on with these products, as it attempts to differentiate itself in the crowded solar-charger market.

image via Nokero International

“We’ve heard stories of villagers traveling by foot and by boat, sometimes for days, to reach a place where they can charge their phones,” Nokero founder Steve Katsaros said. “In other places, people pay exorbitant prices to have their phones charged by vendors who use diesel generators and car batteries.”

So, what do these panels go for? On the Nokero website, the P101 is offered at $29, while the more powerful P102 is priced at $49. Nokero notes, however, that “these ‘sample-only’ prices are well above the target MSRP for the product as it goes to market.”

Sports columnist, newspaper desk guy, website managing editor, wine-industry PR specialist, freelance writer—Pete Danko’s career in media has covered a lot of terrain. The constant along the way has been a fierce dedication to knowing the story and getting it right. Danko's work has appeared in Wired, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.