Sunslice is a small folding solar charger that can fit into a pocket, while still producing enough electricity to compete with much larger offerings.
With large numbers of portable solar charger models now on the market, and the fact that they’re no longer a fringe-y off-grid item but are instead readily available both online and in brick and mortar stores, it’s getting harder and harder for new models to stand out. There are oodles of folding solar chargers on the market with a USB port or two, and maybe a battery pack, all wrapped up in a rugged yet lightweight covering. Many of them have the same dimensions, the same basic design, and very similar electric outputs, with the defining difference usually being the brand of solar cells used in the chargers, or in the electronics, such as the charge controller.
The limiting factor for new solar charger designs tends to be the efficiency of the solar cells themselves, which then defines how large of an area of cells it will take to deliver a usable charge for the intended application. And with the increasing reliance on smartphones and tablets, which require quite a bit more juice than yesterday’s mobile devices, the size of the solar charger that feeds them has to be larger as well. However, not everyone wants to carry a notebook-sized solar charger with them (a portable power pack carrying an extra charge is so much smaller), even if it would mean portable electricity independence.
A Belgian startup has a solution for that, as it has developed a way to slim down the physical size of its solar charger to its bare minimum, by using ultra-thin solar cells configured in a way that allows it to be folded up into a credit card-sized unit. The Sunslice, which measures 2.4″ by 3.4″ (60 x 87mm), is much thicker than a credit card at .32″ (8mm), but its small size and light weight (2.5 ounces / 70g) means that it can fit into just about any pocket or bag, and yet unfold into a 3W charger capable of producing a 5V .6A output. According to the company, the unit can charge an average smartphone of 50% in 2 hours, and two units can be chained together to double the charging speed.
Here’s the pitch video, which is kind of amusing in a ‘first world problems’ kind of way (which is to say not really funny at all, given the current state of the planet):
The company is running a crowdfunding campaign to finance the initial production of the unit (which is currently a functional prototype) and is offering backers pre-orders of single units for €79 (~US$94), which are expected to ship in June of 2018. The campaign also offers an option that puts a gift card under the tree for the holidays, good for future delivery of a Sunslice unit.