Object of Desire: Array Solar Laptop Charger

January 25, 2012

By Dan Havlik

Photographers who cover adventure sports know that the very nature of their work means they spend long periods of time away from “civilization.” While that may sound “fun” to some people, no civilization also means a lack of modern essentials such as a power source to charge up your digital SLR, laptop, smartphone and iPad when you decide to go “off the grid.”

A company called Voltaic Systems has a pretty nifty solution for these types of situations: The Array, which is a rugged backpack with three 3.4-watt solar panel chargers embedded on the rear. The solar cells are encased in a clear, UV- and scratch-resistant coating and backed by tough aluminum composite. The panels are also waterproof and built to stand up to outdoor wear and tear.

The Array pack provides up to 30 minutes of laptop runtime for every hour you’re out trekking in the hot sun. When the sun goes down, the pack’s internal battery holds enough juice to more than double the runtime on most laptops. You can also re-charge the battery from a traditional power socket via the included wall charger.

The V60 (60-watt) battery has two ports: one for charging notebook computers and other high-voltage devices, and a 5-volt USB port for charging phones, tablets and other low-voltage gadgets. To charge a DSLR though, you have to attach a car charger (not supplied) to the backpack’s solar-powered battery.

This is a bit inconvenient for photographers but DSLR batteries do last a lot longer than most laptop batteries so the need is not as eminent. And since you’ll be helping the environment (and yourself) by providing clean and renewable power for your gear while hiking in the wilderness, it’s a small price to pay.

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