Suntrica's solar charger: not just cool and wearable

If you follow green gadgets at all, you may have already heard of Finland-based Suntrica‘s solar-powered charger for personal electronics. Numerous blogs wrote about the company and its products last May after the company won second place in the CTIA’s E-Tech Awards‘ “Green – Consumer Hardware” category, and nearly all framed Suntrica’s solar chargers as cool, cutting-edge, green consumer technology.

After listening to a presentation today from company VP of Sales Kenneth J. Jönsson as part of the Finnfacts cleantech blogger tour, I realized the company was meeting one of its marketing goals — receiving recognition from consumers with green values. That’s great… and I’ll definitely enjoy using the charger Suntrica gave to me. But I was even more intrigued by some of the other markets for which the company wanted to create value.

As you might imagine, cell phones are hot in the developing world since landline infrastructure can be spotty or non-existent. Charging those phones can be challenging, though: Jönsson noted that, in some parts of Africa, it’s not uncommon for someone to travel 10 miles or more to pay to charge their phone on a generator. For these people, a solar charger isn’t just a cool gadget… it’s pretty close to a necessity.

Suntrica’s website mentions still another use that goes beyond trendy: field professionals, including those involved in safety and disaster management, can charge the device’s battery while on the job. Perhaps to demonstrate that point, the company donated 200 chargers to the Italian Civil Protection Agency for use in the aftermath of earthquakes.

Of course, you could argue that Suntrica’s chargers may not be any better for these situations than products from its competitors… and you may well be right. I can’t offer a positive or negative review at this point. It was great to hear these issues addressed, though. Gadgets are cool… open lines of communication are often critical.

Please note: Finnfacts paid for my trip to Helsinki this week.

Image credit: Suntrica