Freeloader Globetrotter Solar Charger Kit review

Posted on Sep 8 2009 - 8:53pm by Richard Sharp

With climate change and the environment currently at the top of the political and business agenda, there is now a huge demand for products that can be used ‘sustainably’. Unfortunately, this is also occurring at a time of insatiable demand for the latest power hungry gadgets. For the ordinary person, the ability to use your favourite electronic toys without harming the environment is probably preferable, but becomes extra appealing when combined with saving money and making life easier. Enter the Freeloader Globetrotter Kit, which is designed to recharge a massive range of gadgets on the move, with no need for mains powered or battery electricity.

freeloader-globe-trotterThe product works by collecting light energy from either the sun or an artificial light source. This is then converted into electricity and stored in the supplied battery. The battery itself is 1000mA power, meaning that it will charge a large proportion of mobile phones and MP3 players to full, although it is really designed to give a ‘flash’ part charge to allow you to use your electronic devices whilst on the move. The battery is of the modern lithium ion type, which is environmentally friendly and can withstand two years of constant use. If you happen to visit somewhere with a computer, but no compatible wall socket (or if you don’t have it with you), the battery can also be charged directly via a USB connection, providing a further option. The solar panel itself is around eight inches wide by six inches tall, which is bigger than the original FreeLoader Portable, but offers a much more reliable charge time, of as little as four hours in direct sunlight.



on-bag-transportThe solar panel comes housed in its own smart carry case, which is made of canvas and so protects from light bumps and from scratches, without adding any significant carry weight for when – as expected – you’re travelling with the device. The solar panel is also designed to be actually used whilst moving and offers two lever secured clamps to attach to a strap, a bicycle or a bag and there is also a velcro strap for extra security. This means if you plan on spending the day, for example, walking or cycling, you needn’t worry about finding somewhere that you can leave the Freeloader unit to charge. As well as the main large solar panel, the Globetrotter kit also comes with two smaller panels, which can be more easily transported if this is an issue for you. They also fold up neatly into the same style as the brushed metal battery pack and the best bonus of having these extra chargers is that they can be used in combination with the main charger to collect more light and therefore maximise your recharge times.

If using artificial light as a charging method, its likely you’ll have a longer charge time, unless the lights are especially strong, or the unit is close to the light source. However, this still remains a great way of charging your phone or MP3 player for free, as you can always leave it charging, wherever you are, even if you don’t think you’ll be needing it – allowing you to reclaim some of the cost of powering your lights at home or in the office. The unit does not have a dedicated indicator to tell you when the battery is full, as the assumption is that you will leave it on charge for as long as possible at all times. However, it does have an indicator telling you if the battery is being charged at full rate (i.e. from direct sunlight), or at a lower rate (e.g. if it is cloudy or you are using an artificial light source). The device holds its charge for up to three months, so you can easily make sure you always have the battery fully charged before you even know you’re going to need it again.

attached-devicesBecause of the wide range of phones this device is compatible with, it is stocked by leading retailer and makes a great purchase alongside an LG Chocolate, Motorola V3, or any Nokia phone, as well as others from Samsung and Sony Ericsson. However, while its most useful application is probably phones, it can also be used with any iPod or iPhone, a range of satellite navigations systems as well as hand held gaming consoles, such as the PSP. The unit is designed to be incredibly easy to use, with different cables included in the box for the range of compatible devices and simple ‘plug and play’ functionality.

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