What would you do if your phone’s juice was running low? Most of us would probably try to find the nearest wall socket. But what if you were nowhere near an electric outlet? Or what if the power was out?
Considering our modern world’s amazing technological capabilities, the way we power our gadgets and gizmos hasn’t changed much since, well, ever.
And that’s where Harold Tan, the founder and CEO of SunJack, (aka the world’s most powerful solar charger), comes in. His device can power up eight iPhones with only five hours of sunlight. Granted, solar chargers have been around for some time now (we’ll explain why the SunJack packs such a powerful punch later). But more than just giving us the convenience of quickly juicing up our smartphones during outdoor camping or music festivals, what makes this 34-year-old entrepreneur important is that he’s also bringing light to people in need — across the globe and here in the United States.
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The Los Angeles-based Tan told NationSwell that he’s currently in discussions with the Red Cross, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and Smokejumpers (airborne firefighters) to donate units for local emergencies or other natural disaster situations, like Hurricane Sandy. “At those times, cell-phones are not just a luxury, but a lifeline to communicate medical emergencies or even to provide lighting at night,” he said.
Additionally, Tan said that his start-up is working with homelessness organization PATH to help provide energy independence to those of the population without homes, so they can power cell phones and apply for job interviews or stay in touch with social workers.
Not only that, the London-born Tan teamed up with Greg Cooper (who heads philanthropic tech company Dome KRB) to help the rest of the world achieve energy independence. “So, what TOMS Shoes does for shoes, we do for energy. So with every purchase of a SunJack we’re donating solar chargers out to Papua New Guinea and other third world countries, so that these huts can have energy independence and be able to power their lighting needs,” Tan told Gather Green. “Without these lighting sources, rural areas are currently resorting to kerosene lamps and indoor fires which are causing serious health issues.”
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SunJack recently completed a successful Kickstarter campaign more than a week early, raising thousands more than the initial goal of $33,000. The company is now pumping out 300 units for an initial production run.
So how exactly does the SunJack work? The charger runs on monocrystalline solar cells — the same type of solar cells that go on rooftops. As Tan says, what’s different about his product is how its proprietary USB port and lithium-polymer battery optimizes the power of sunlight. (It’s like getting “more water out of your faucet faster.”) The charger is extremely powerful for its size (it can be folded up and toted around like an iPad), plus it’s virtually indestructible, as demonstrated by the car that runs over it in the video below.
As we’ve seen multiple times before, solar power is changing the face of conventional energy. In the long run, solar power might just be the cheapest form of energy. Not only is harnessing the clean, green power of the sun a smart financial move, but it also allows anyone anywhere the ability to create power just with the sun’s rays.
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Along with our growing consciousness of protecting the environment is a simultaneous move towards energy independence; solar chargers allow us to slowly cut ties from Big Power and peel ourselves off the grid.
Funny how something as old as the sun is changing modern electricity.