HYmini Deluxe: A Solar Powered Option for Portable Devices
Easy Ways to Go Green recently reported on Sharp’s solar powered cell phone that was set to be released in Japan this past summer.
There are not any self-contained solar powered cell phones in markets outside of Japan, but consumers do have an option that can help them reduce the amount of electricity they pull from the grid in order to power their portable devices.
HYmini Uses Solar Energy or Wind Energy to Charge Its Battery
MiniWiz’s HYmini is one of the most innovative of these portable solar energy chargers. Its adaptability allows its battery to charge from a standard outlet, wind power and solar cells. The option to use its small wind turbine makes it useful on cloudy days as well as sunny ones. A new hand crank also allows people to make emergency phone calls when they don’t have any sunlight or wind.
Tiger Direct Video Shows the HYmini in Action
HYmini’s Solar Cell Performance
The HYmini is an impressive device, but there are some discrepancies about how well it actually works. Every report seems to think that it’s a good idea for certain situations, but it seems unlikely that it will replace the standard outlet charger for power-hungry devices like iPhones and BlackBerries.
Willa Plank reported in her WSJ blog that the solar cell charger’s manual “says that an hour of sunlight should suffice to start charging. But after speaking with the company, [she] was told that the battery needed 24 hours of sunlight… for the internal battery to be fully charged.”
She also claims that using the solar panel for five hours gave her a 25 percent charge for her BlackBerry, which would certainly come in handy on days when you have several conference calls and you’re out of the office.
Plank notes, however, that the solar indicator light does not turn off when the battery is done charging, which makes it impossible to know when it has been fully charged.
Charging the HYmini Solar Powered Battery Completely
Julia Layton at HowStuffWorks.com says that she plugged her HYmini into a wall outlet for about four hours before it was fully charged. If that’s the case, then it seems unlikely that the solar energy panels would be able to charge the phone in that amount of time.
Using Multiple Solar Panels With the HYmini
One of the many interesting things about the HYmini is that consumers can hook up to four solar panels to the battery, making it possible to charge it faster. Purchasing four solar energy panels will cost more than one, but it might be worth the extra expense for those who are eco-conscious and have some disposable income.
Using Wind to Replace Solar Energy on Cloudy Days
It is also interesting that MiniWiz includes a small wind turbine in their solar panel powered battery. One of the chief complaints about solar lights, solar water heaters, and other solar energy products is that they cannot work well in cloudy weather. The HYmini’s wind turbine can be affixed to a bike or jacket while skiing to generate power while you’re on the go. The turbine is a little finicky, though. It generates about 1 watt of power, but only in winds over nine mph, making it pretty difficult to use if you are not on a vehicle of some sort.
The wind turbine also allows a maximum speed of 40 mph. You could conceivably mount it on your car while driving in the city, but using it on the expressway could tear it apart. Since most cars have electrical outlets, though, it seems reasonable to assume that MiniWiz designed the HYmini for those who use bikes more than automobiles.
Realistic Uses for the HYmini Solar Cell Charger
The HYmini solar energy and wind turbine battery charger would be useful for long days and travel where it is difficult to find an outlet to plug in your portable devices, but it does not produce enough power for you to give up the socket forever. As these products become more popular, though, they should become more powerful because companies will be encouraged to pour more money into portable renewable energy devices.
The HYmini Deluxe package, which includes one miniSolar panel, a wind generator, and other used items, costs $74.98. The basic HYmini package, which does not include the solar cell panels, costs about $50. Bike holders, cranks, extra miniSolar panels, and other accessories are extra.