Solar charge your mobile: sounds good, but how practical is it?

Charge your mobile for free while out and about, and also do your bit to save energy: the new Freeloader Classic from Solar Technology International has obvious appeal. But how practical is it?

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The Freeloader has two solar panels, and measures 123 x 62 x 17mm when folded. After 8 hours in the sun, it can deliver power to an Apple iPhone for 18 hours, a Nintendo DS for 2.5 hours, and an Apple iPad for 2 hours. Take care that it does not walk while your back is turned.

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It comes with all sorts of tips, and can also be charged via USB in 3 hours in the event that the sun is not shining. For example, if you are in the UK.

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While I like the idea of solar charging a mobile device, it is another gadget to pack, and could end up as more of a burden than an asset. Instead of just charging your mobile, you have to think about charging your Freeloader and then charging your mobile. 8 hours in the sun is far from instant.

Still, if you are planning a long hike in a remote part of the world, this could be just what you need.

Update: I have now been sent a Freeloader for review. The good news: the unit looks great. The bad news: initial tests are disappointing. It arrived 75% charged … I left it on a windowsill for several days and by the end it had lost all its charge! I am not giving up though and will report in due course.

Freeloader Classic costs £39.99 including VAT.

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