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1/9/2012
11:06 AM
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Solar Panels Charge Phones, Laptops, Even Refrigerators

Goal Zero demonstrates at CES solar panels with heavy-duty rechargers for a variety of portable (and not so portable) devices.

CES 2012: Elegant Gadgets Abound
CES 2012: Elegant Gadgets Abound
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Portable solar panels are catching on as a convenient way to recharge all of the devices that seem to go everywhere with us. Solar panels even engulf backpacks now. Goal Zero has combined its solar panel technology with portable rechargers as a way to capture and then store that energy.

Goal Zero makes a variety of portable power solutions, from solar panels to rechargers, some of them beefy enough to light up an entire base camp (that would be the Extreme 350 Explorer Kit), and others, like the company's seven-watt solar panel (the Nomad 7), that can recharge a simple smartphone. The company was showing off a variety of these products at the CES this week, including a 90-watt solar panel that can run a refrigerator for a couple of days.

[ What's new at CES? Check out CES 2012 Preview: 16 Hot Gadgets. ]

One of Goal Zero's newest products is the Sherpa 50, a compact, lightweight recharger with 50 watts of power capacity. It can charge laptops as well as smartphones, and includes a port for directly connecting a laptop, eliminating the need for an AC inverter. It includes a 12-volt port (it can be charged from a cigarette lighter), the laptop port, a power port, and a USB port. An optional inverter adds a $60 price tag to the $250 battery unit. The Sherpa 50 will be available in June.

The Nomad is the portable solar panel, and comes in a variety of sizes. Goal Zero was demonstrating its compact Nomad 13.5, which provides 13.5 watts of power and folds up into a convenient case. This solar panel runs about $200.

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