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Solar Charging Options Brighten With CES Intros

1/26/2014 07:00:00 PM Eastern

LAS VEGAS — Solar charging technology took a large step forward at this year’s International CES, with retail prices dropping and charging times shrinking significantly.

New from Third Wave Power is the mPowerpad 2, which the company claimed captures solar energy faster than any solar charger on the market, enabling it to charge an iPhone after just more than an hour of sun exposure.

Third Wave said this is due to a highly efficient 5.4-watt solar panel, which is capable of providing a constant current flow to the batteries and proprietary Maximum Power Point Tracker technology that enables the solar panel to charge the batteries in an optimal way, even in low light or shady conditions. Once plugged in, the mPowerpad 2 charges an iPhone as quickly as from a wall outlet, the company said.

The mPowerpad 2 also features expandable lithiumpolymer battery packs, sold separately, that can extend the charging paower to 11,600 mAh – enough to charge an iPhone eight times.

Besides the sun, it can also be charged from the wall or USB.

Snow Lizard’s SLXtreme 5 is a solar-powered, waterproof battery-boosting ruggedized case for the iPhone 5.

The unit’s 2,550 mAh battery more than doubles the life of an iPhone and includes a built-in exterior solar panel for emergency charging on the go. Designed to be waterproof up to 6 feet with a rating of IP68, the SLXtreme 5 maintains full functionality of the iPhone’s features for underwater photography.

The polycarbonate case slides over the iPhone via a top-loading lid and secures the seal with a quarter-turn thumb screw. It has a military-standard PEC 810G rating for protections from 6-foot falls, dust and sand. The new model has also been updated to include a watertight 3.5mm audio input jack.

The SLXtreme 5 is now available in black, orange, yellow, white or hunter camo with a retail $149.

EnerPlex showed a number of solar chargers for portable devices, including specialty models for Apple and Samsung flagship smartphones.

The Kickr series is a line of lightweight, flexible and durable portable solar chargers designed with Ascent Solar’s proprietary solar technology, giving it the highest power-to-weight ratio of any solar charger on the market, the company claimed. The Kickr series comes in a variety of colors and sizes, ranging in capacity from 2 watts to 6 watts and is designed to fit in a bag, be attached to a backpack, or strapped to a bike or tent. The chargers can power up any USB-based portable device.

The Surfr-series solar-powered charging phone cases feature a multifunction battery that more than doubles the life of the average smartphone battery. There are models the Samsung Galaxy S III, Galaxy S4, iPhone 4/4S and iPhone 5.

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