Brunton Solar Panels : A Moveable Office
Unlike most people I know, who like to be unplugged when they're on vacation, I have to have my PowerBook with me whether I'm visiting friends in Minnesota or road tripping around New Zealand. I don't have time to worry about adapters and power converters, or finding a power source. I have the sun.
With my Brunton Solar Roll (12" w x 57" long, 14 watts output), I can power my PowerBook and charge my digital camera so I have a little home office with me at all times. All I have to do is take the photos, download them into my computer, and type, type, type.
That's my idea of a perfect day! Of course I enjoy the scenery, the quiet....but I'm even more excited that I can bring some work along with me!
Brunton's Solar Roll comes in a handy plastic tube that can easily be strapped to the back of my pack. At only 17 oz, it's hardly any weight at all; when in use the flexible panel can be draped over a tent, hung from a tree, or rolled out onto a picnic table. The roll is waterproof, too, except for the plug-in mounting at the end of the roll. For more power, I can attach another solar panel to the first one.
These handy roles are ideal for professionals and anyone who's interested in safety (my friend is currently using another model, the Solar Port, on her boat to keep her satellite phone charged at all times while she sails around the world) or productivity. Ed Viesturs carried a Solar Roll on his ascent of Annpurna last spring.
Solar Rolls come in two other sizes for smaller appliances, The Solar Roll 9 (12" x 40", 9 watts output) for smaller items, such as digital and video cameras, and the Solar Roll 4 (12" x 22", 4.5 watts output) for charging the smallest electronic devices, cell phones. All Solar Rolls have built-in reverse current protection.
The Solar Port also comes with a set of rechargeable batteries. So it can power a cell phone and charge AA batteries for use in other small appliances.
My only concern with this product--I wish Brunton included more comprehensive instructions, as well the names and illustrations of the different adapters/converters necessary to use the roll with various devices. (For my laptop, I need to get a male cigarette lighter adapter to connect the Solar Roll cord to my Teleadapt CD to AC converter. Then all I had to do was plug my computer into the Teleadapt AC socket.
Bottom Line: The largest Solar Roll, for computers, is a bit pricey, but if you're a professional, it's worth it to keep your machines running no matter where you are. Personally, I'm ready to build a solar powered house and live off the grid on a small lavender farm in New Zealand. --E.D. (September, '05)
Manufacturer's Site: www.brunton.com