About this project
Power your next adventure, no matter what the world throws at you.
Ugh, another Kickstarter Solar Charger?
Thanks to your support, we were able to bring to market the Ultra Compact Solar USB Charger in 2013. Since then, we've been asking our backers and customers what they wanted from a modern USB Solar Charger. We took the three most requested features and created The Badger: Waterproof USB Solar Panel.
- Waterproof, super durable, with protection for gadgets.
- High amperage USB output for insanely fast charging.
- Watt Meter to track charging speed and power.
Why would I need this?
If you're just looking for a Solar USB Charger to use through your apartment window, this probably isn't the charger for you.
We designed The Badger to go where you go, do what you do, and keep charging even in the worst possible conditions. This means the beach, the trail, the mountain, the river, or the ski slope. If you're using a gadget somewhere rough, The Badger will be there charging it up.
Disasters strike when we least expect them. Events such as hurricanes, tornados, floods, and even the occasional zombie invasion can knock out power for days. Keeping The Badger Solar Panel in your emergency preparedness kit or Bug Out Bag means that all your basic power needs will be met.
Water-Proof or Water-Resistant?
The most requested feature from our backers and our customers was a degree of waterproofness. We didn't just make these panels "water resistant", we made them full-on water-proof. To illustrate this, we stuck a panel in a fish tank for two days. Then we took it out and started charging our phones with it.
In more technical terms, we managed to snag an IP65 rating (how industry measures water proof and dust proof levels in gadgets), the best of any solar panel we could find. What this means to you is that you never have to worry about The Badger failing you due to water damage. Ever.
Much like a kangaroo protects its joey inside of a pouch, we started by protecting everything inside of a highly water resistant nylon zipper pouch. Keep your gadgets secure inside to protect them from the elements.
To make things extra fun we engineered some awesome elastic holders to secure your gadgets, organize your cables, and keep accessories handy.
The main problem with nearly every other USB Solar Panel is that the USB port and circuit board are directly exposed to the elements. A bit of water gets inside, goodbye solar panel.
We solved this problem by engineering a tight rubber cap over a separated USB port. When the cap is in use, nothing will get inside. Not even an aquarium's worth of water. If for some reason you leave the cap off and get water in the port, no need to worry. We've separated it from all the important electronics which means you just need to let it air dry and you're back in business.
To make sure that the all important circuitry is protected, we've encased it inside several layers of plastic, rubber, and sealant to make sure nothing gets inside.
High Output, Fast Charging
The second most requested feature from our backers was a higher output USB port for faster charging of gadgets. A high output fast charging USB port is even more important now due to the ever increasing size of gadgets.
If one USB port isn't enough for your charging needs, add on a hub. Due to the extremely high output of The Badger you can actually split the power between multiple devices at once. We're partial to bringing along a little Travel 3 Port USB Hub when we're out on the road so we can charge multiple GoPro Cameras.
(While not necessary for the vast majority of people, it is possible to daisy chain two of our panels together to double the output or provide even more power to a hub.)
What Meter? Watt Meter?
One thing that has always annoyed us about solar chargers is that you're never able to tell how much solar energy they're actually generating. While many people are not concerned about the exact numbers, it's often helpful when positioning a solar panel or figuring out how long a gadget will take to charge. Instead of integrating a meter into the Badger directly, which would have made water proofing difficult and expensive, we're including an easy to use, removable, USB Watt Meter.
If you want to use it, use it. If you don't want to use it, leave it at home or secured in its elastic holder. It's a handy gadget to help you optimize your solar output.
Even today, many commercially available solar chargers are plagued by a rather annoying flaw. When a cloud or shadow passes over a solar panel, any gadget plugged in will cease to charge.. Completely stop. Dead. At least until you unplug and replug it back in. This leads to many gadgets failing to charge, and a lot of unhappy campers.
Our Auto Restart technology makes sure that you'll never have to unplug and replug your device to keep it charging. If your panel does suffer from a cloud or shadow, it will stop charging. However, it will automaticity start up again without any intervention on your part. It's an important fix to a very frustrating problem.
How Fast Does It Actually Charge?
Judging the speeds at which solar chargers actually charge gadgets is tricky. It all depends on the speed at which your gadget is designed to charge (every gadget is different), the size of your gadget's battery, and the output of the USB port. Many companies play fast and loose with their numbers (shame on them!) You won't find any of that from us. Below you'll find real-world charging times for gadgets using our panels.
Is It Durable?
You may be wondering how tough The Badger really is. Well, we hit it with a bowling ball, ran over it with a car, shot it with a shotgun, and it STILL worked. (Not at the same time, that would be silly.) Many solar USB chargers only protect their panels with glass or epoxy, both of which are prone to shattering. The Badger features a tough plastic coating on its solar panels to prevent scratches, cracking, and breaks while still allowing for excellent charging.
Compare how The Badger holds up to other solar panels.
The sun isn't always shining, and there's that pesky thing called "night" that happens every 12 hours. Since our panels don't store energy like a battery, we're giving you the option to add on an actual battery. Not just any USB Power Bank, but a Power Bank that's just as tough and water proof as The Badger. The two make a great pair. Use The Badger, or any other USB power source, to charge up your Power Bank so that you can take your power with you.
We're giving you two options to choose from; Our 6,000mAh Power Bank has enough juice to charge up a smart phone 3-4 times as well as being a kick-butt flashlight. Rated IP66 for protection against water and dust. (That's a good thing.)
Our 15,000mAh Power Bank is built like a brick. It has two 2.4A USB ports for insanely fast charging of two gadgets at once, it has enough power to charge up a smart phone more than 10 times or even charge up an tablet, and you can run it over with a car or drop it to the bottom of a lake without destroying it. All this in a form factor that still fits inside of The Badger's protective pouch.
Grab a Power Bank if you want one. They're handy for when the lights go out, you want to play some cards in your tent, or anywhere you need power.
Because it wouldn't be a Kickstarter Campaign without stretch goals, we figured we'd give you some extras that would actually come in handy.
Why Do Kickstarter Again?
We've had a blast designing these panels, but our main day-to-day job is designing and making solar projects for the education market (you know, for kids), not mass manufacturing super tough solar panels. We want to bring this product to market but need some funding to do so. We also wanted to continue to give back to the Kickstarter community and continue to innovate and improve solar chargers.
If nothing else, this project will help support our educational solar electronics business as well as allow us to put on workshops to share our knowledge of solar energy with teachers and educators. Your support will go well beyond just funding a super tough solar charger.
Risks and challenges
Our biggest challenge will just be logistics. We've got our manufacturing, shipping, and distribution all lined up. We learned a lot from doing our first Solar USB Kickstarter campaign two years ago, and from the several stupid mistakes we made along the way. We'll avoid those issues this time around and get these panels to our backers immediately. The last thing we want to do is leave you high and dry this summer waiting for your solar panels to arrive. We're bringing on extra help to ensure that things run smoothly.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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