By Evan Ackerman
Look out the window. See all that? See it? That, my friend, is electricity going to waste. Solar power is the new green, and you can get a piece of it to feed your gadgets with this solar powerstation thingy from Xantrex. It’s got a detachable (whatever that means) 5 watt solar panel that charges an integrated 10 amp-hour battery. You can plug your stuff directly into a couple standard 120 volt wall sockets, a 12v socket, or even a USB port. A little LCD lets you monitor the status of the battery, and for those of you who live in Oregon, it comes with an AC adapter to charge it the old fashioned way.
It won’t surprise you that a 10 amp-hour battery plus a bunch of electronics is not the sveltest thing in the world; it’s portable but heavy at nearly 18 pounds. The Xantrex Xpower is just over $140, and is available from Amazon.com.
So what does 5 watts and 10 amp-hours mean when it comes to powering your gadgets? I’ll tell you (or try to) after the jump.
So, 5 watts is not a heck of a lot, but the 10 amp battery isn’t bad. My Eee, for example, uses 24 watts, so it definitely wouldn’t run directly off the solar panels. It only needs 2.5 amps, though, so it could run for a respectable 4 hours off the battery. I can’t find detailed specs on the solar panels, but I imagine that they charge the internal battery at about 12 volts, meaning that you’d need… Umm… Like 25 hours of sun to fully recharge the battery. I could very well have screwed up that math, though, so feel free to correct me. 25 hours may seem like an impractically long time, and it is, if you want a fully charged battery. But who really needs that? 5 watts is easily enough to keep your iPod and cell phone going indefinitely if you get reliable sun for most of the day