About this project
My name is Don Cayelli and for the last two years I’ve been working on perfecting the portable solar charger. What started in 2011 on a sail boat in the middle of the Chesapeake bay with a cell phone's dying battery has led to countless solar charger ideas, designs and prototypes. My goal then and now was to build a solar charging solution that could not only charge my gadgets, but could do so at speeds similar to a wall outlet. At last, I think I have created the ideal solution; a perfect compromise between charging flexibility, power and portability. I am proud to introduce, the SunCache.
The SunCache is my most flexible solar charging product yet. It can charge multiple devices direct from the sun, store power away for the future or perform both functions simultaneously! The integrated solar control circuit has been re-engineered, design tweaks have been made to the customized case and, most importantly, two different unique, battery storage options have been integrated into the solution. Let me explain.
Multiple Charging Modes = Flexibility
The SunCache gives users the flexibility to operate in three different manners: direct charge mode, battery stash mode or combo charge mode.
In "direct charge mode", multiple USB charging ports are available to connect directly to your electronic gadgets. Simply connect the devices, zip up the case’s front pocket and they are ready to go. When in full sun, the devices will charge at approximately the same speed as if they were plugged into the wall
In "battery stash” mode, there are two available options. Users can select between a high capacity, lithium, rechargeable battery pack or our external NiMh AA/AAA battery-charging tray.
To use, simply connect the selected battery option to the panel’s output connector, zip up the pocket and begin charging. With the panel in full sun, each battery storage option will take only a few hours to fully charge.
In combo mode, a device can be charged and power can be stashed in the high capacity battery pack at simultaneously. To operate in combo mode, simply plug the battery pack into the panel’s output, connect the “gadget” to the full sized USB output port of the battery pack, push the activation button, zip up the pocket and the system is ready. Once in the sun, the battery pack will be stashing excess power while recharging your gadget at the same time. Charging times will vary depending on the type and battery state of the connected device.
Convenient Options for Storing Power
The high capacity, lithium battery pack, stores a great deal of power (approximately 20 Wh!) in a surprisingly small form factor. The power pack is used by simply plugging any USB charging cable into the battery pack’s full sized USB output port. The front facing LED display clearly indicates the percentage of remaining charge capacity in the battery pack. When the device is fully charged, the battery pack will automatically shut down so that the remaining charging capacity is preserved for a future use.
Additionally, the SunCache will also include a handy NiMh external charging module as well. Using the new external charging tray, SunCache owners can charge either 4 AA or 4 AAA batteries (or a combination of the two). Unlike most NiMh charging trays that require all four batteries to be charged simultaneously to function, this tray can charge any number from a 1, 2, 3 or all four at the same time. The tray can even support recharging standard alkaline batteries too!
Unique Feature Rich Components
The core of the system has maintained the proven Monocrystalline photovoltaic solar panel. The front facing panel is available in two sizes which can generate either 10W or 15W of total output power
The updated carrying case continues to make the system amazingly portable. Features include: Angle adjustment slots for precision panel alignment Big front pocket with internal sub pockets for easy organization of your gear. Enlarged, non-slip pads on bottom keep the panel in place even on windy days Both handle and shoulder strap carrying options Solid construction inside and out. Functional, stylish design that protects the system both while in use and while in storage.
At the core of all solar systems is the carefully engineered circuitry that regulates the transfer of power from the sun to usable direct current. The more efficient the circuit, the more usable power for your devices and the less energy wasted. Our circuit has routinely been benchmarked at over 90% efficiency!
Using Renewable Energy is Easy!
I’m sure we can remember a time when an off-the-grid solution would have been very useful. Samples include:
- Storms / Disaster Relief
- Boating / RVing
- Off-the-grid living
What is included in the SunCache System?
The SunCache system includes the following items:
- Solar Panel (10W or 15W)
- Customized Solar Carrying Stand/Case
- Splitter cable and two female USB ports
- Solar Power Regulation and Control Circuit
- High Capacity Lithium Power Pack (20W)
- AA/AAA NiMh / Alkaline Battery Charging Try
- Quick Start Instruction Guide
10W versus 15W Panel Size
The SunCache Charging Kit comes available in two different panel sizes; 10W and 15W. As you can imagine, the bigger the panel, the more power it can harness from the sun. The 10W panel measures 13 x 12 x 1.5 inches (330 x 305 x 38mm) and the 15W panel measures 17 x 12 x 1.5 inches (430 x 305 x 38mm).
SunCache Manufacturing Plan
All the pictures on the project page and in the video are of our fully functioning SunCache production prototypes. Over the past several months, we have worked closely with our trusted manufacturing and design partners (in Taiwan) to polish every detail of the complete system to get it to its current production-ready state. As of now, all the core components are finished, fully functional and ready for mass production. All the factory needs is for me to say "go" (and send them a sizeable payment, of course)!
With your help on launching the first production run, the SunCache will soon become a reality. The last step is to send payment to the factory to buy the materials in bulk (in order to get economies of scale) and finalize the tooling for the production run. Final tooling will take 2-5 days to complete and the end-to-end production of the turnkey system will require approximately 14 additional days. I feel entirely comfortable with shipping the system within weeks of the project end date.
Risks and challenges
SunCache is more frequently used during the spring and summer seasons. As such, we have commitments from our factories for enough material to build 800 units of these systems for quick delivery (within 30 days). Subsequent batches will take additional time as the materials need to once again be procured and some have longer lead times. As such, we have adjusted our delivery dates for the orders in excess of 800 units to reflect longer delivery times of approximately 120 days. The delivery times for your pledge basket will be clearly displayed to represent accurate delivery times.
Each SunCache system has some light final assembly and testing prior to shipping to the end user. The entire process takes minutes to assemble, test and pack each order. FedEx has committed preferential ground and international shipping rates and has provided us with software to easily handle the shipping, tracking and notification processes of shipping.
FedEx has provided us with preferential rates on their FedEx International Priority delivery service. Transit times takes typically around 3 business days to arrive including customs clearance. Of course, this can vary from country to country, but overall, this is the norm. Please be sure to note the international shipping premium that must be added to international orders. Failure to include this amount, could result in shipping delays.
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