This article was originally published in November 2012
When Hurricane Sandy hit last week and the power in my lower Manhattan apartment went out, my first thought, as I dug around for candles and LED lamps was “Well this will be a fun little off-grid adventure!” I naively harbored some romantic notion of the coziness of eating dinner and playing board games with my family by candlelight, and even actually enjoyed the first 24 hours without electricity for the chance to disconnect. However, when my gadget batteries started to die one by one, the water dried up, the food in the fridge started to spoil, and contact with the outside world began to shut down, the novelty started to wear off and the reality of the situation finally began to hit me. First my computer battery died, then iPad, then finally my phone, and I think I never fully realized until that moment how much of a lifeline these mobile communication devices are. Without even a working cell phone – my last vestige of communication – to call my family or look at the news, I had no idea what was going on around me, how much longer the power outage was supposed to last, and whether there was any help available, and I started to get desperate.
Fortunately, as a clean tech writer and editor, I am lucky to have bunch of solar charging devices just kicking around my apartment, and that was the first place I turned to for a bit of renewable energy charging juice. I probably have at least 10 different solar power chargers in my apartment and I brought them all out on my windowsill in a desperate attempt to try to charge my mobile devices. Out of the 10 odd solar-charging gadgets that I happen to have lying around, only one of them would generate enough charge through my window on an overcast day to charge my phone, and that device was the Nokero Pro Power Panel. Nokero had graciously sent me the power panel the year before as a product sample, and I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t happened to have this nifty little gadget in my house. The Nokero packaging claims that the photovoltaic panel in the Power Panel is 30% more energy efficient than standard solar panels, and the evidence of that was clear to me, as this device was the only thing in my house that could draw enough charge through a window to breath life back into my sad little phone.
And what a difference a charged phone made! Once my phone was finally charged I was able to check the news, find out that power would be out for probably at least a week, and then, subsequently, make arrangements to hightail it out of the dark, cold & desperate SoPo (“South of Power”) zone to a friend’s place uptown to enjoy a hot shower, clean water, warm food and news! Because of this, I’m eternally grateful to Nokero and seriously won-over by the high-quality of their products.
The Nokero SunRay Pro Power Panel is both compact and lightweight, and its panels are able to provide a full two watts of power – this is enough to charge several phones in a matter of hours. You can juice up your phone and other gadgets while the panel is in the sun, meaning you won’t have to worry and waste time waiting for the panel to charge up a separate battery before you can start to draw power. With a handy USB port, nearly any device (including my busted old Blackberry) can be connected to the panel, and if you have a Sony, Nokia, and Samsung phones you can easily attach one of the included adaptors to quickly get your phone up and running. This is a lot of peace of mind for something that costs just $39! Nokero also makes ingeniously designed solar powered LED lamps which are great for camping, emergency and disaster situations, and just general low-footprint, cutting-your-energy-bill, being-green-at-home applications.
With the threat of climate change causing more devastating hurricanes and natural disasters in the coming years, I would highly encourage everyone living in a potential disaster area (and between earthquakes, storms, flooding, tornados and hurricanes, that is just about everywhere on the planet) to think seriously about what you would do if your electricity went out for a week or more, and make some plans to be prepared for it. You don’t just need to worry about food, water and heat (although obviously those are critical) – but loss of communication is also a major issue that requires advanced planning and preparation. For $39 for this handy little solar gadget charger brings some serious peace of mind, and it’s also great for more mundane everyday uses such as camping or just charging your phone on the go. Might be a good thought for holiday gifts this year – after all, what’s more useful and appreciated than disaster preparedness gadgetry!?