6 power stations & battery chargers

Tis the season to charge batteries. Electrify your gift giving with our top picks



Photo by Gary Davidson

Global Solar Sunlinq 12W

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1. Voltaic Systems Converter Solar Backpack | $205 ($515 for the Voltaic Generator)

The solar panel on this bag charges the built-in Li-Ion battery to run your cellphone and other handheld electronics; one hour of sunbathing cranks up an iPod for three hours of tunes (or on rainy days, charge the backpack’s battery in a wall socket or in your car). And for about $300 more, you can get the Voltaic Generator, a solar bag powerful enough to charge laptops. voltaicsystems.com

2. PowerSource Mobile 100 | $160 [pictured right]

Run or charge up to three gadgets simultaneously with this wall-, car-, or solar-charged power pack. As small as a paperback and equipped with an AC outlet and two USB ports, it can charge a laptop (two hours’ running time), an iPod (44 hours), or a cellphone (12 days in standby mode). To use small power tools, such as a #/8″ drill, power a 30-watt cooler, or jump-start a car, opt for the large tool-box–sized XPower Powerpack 600HD. xantrex.com

3. Global Solar Sunlinq 12W | $200 ($1,100 for the 62W) [pictured left]

Roughly the size of a DVD case when folded, this thin-film solar panel opens to 75 cm by 23 cm to harness the sun’s rays and charge your camcorder, iPad, GPS, batteries, cellphone, and the like. Opt for the 62-watt panel and a voltage limiter if you want to make sure your laptop glows on even a bleak winter day. globalsolar.com

4. Energizer NiMH Family Battery Charger | $50

Light up your nighttime biffy trips with juiced-up flashlight batteries, no matter their size. Plugging into a wall socket, this charger fits up to eight AA or AAA, four C or D, or two 9-volt NiMH rechargeable batteries. energizer.com

5. Moixa Energy USBCell | $22

This AA battery plugs into a powered USB port on a computer, so there’s no need to bring along a separate charger. Flip open the plastic cap to reveal the USB connector and recharge the cell hundreds of times over. usbcell.com

6. Brunton Sustain Portable Power Device | US $200

Charge this device in a wall socket at home, or the 12-volt socket in your car, and you’ve got a little power station to go. About the size of a paperback, this water-resistant unit packs enough power to run a laptop, an iPad, or a smart phone. And with USB, 12-volt, 16-volt, and 19-volt outputs on hand, you can finesse that Great Canadian Novel on your laptop, even at an off-grid cottage. brunton.com

This article was originally published on December 14, 2010

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