Kickstarter Project Offers Big Solar Energy On The Go

According to The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, the answer to life the universe and everything is 42. Now it looks like 42 will also be the answer to all of your gadget battery woes. Created by South Dakota's Peppermint Energy, the Forty2 kickstarter project hopes to offer users a source of personal, portable solar energy. So what makes the Forty2 different from all of the other solar chargers out there?

In an interview with Gizmag, Peppermint Energy said:

"Most days, the solar power will flow directly to the electronics," CEO Brian Gramm told Gizmag. "Unlike most 'solar chargers' or 'solar batteries/kits', the solar power actually powers the electronics. The battery is kicked into service when the electrical load is greater than what the solar is providing at the moment. In that way the solar is the power generator, and the battery is the backup or extra kick. Obviously, when the sun isn't available, the battery is called on full-time."

The Forty2 device is composed of two large photovoltaic panel arrays in a shell-like casing. Weighing in at 25 pounds and measuring 2 by 3 feet, the Forty2 isn't exactly the most portable solar device. But with big size comes big power. According to Peppermint, the unit can supply 180-200 watts of continuous power using lithium ion battery packs rated at 350 watt-hours.

The developers plan on increasing battery capacity, but the current Forty2 features onboard power inversion to make enough power available for three onboard AC outlets. A small fridge, LED TV, and multiple mobile devices are noted as several of many devices capable of being powered by the device.

With 25 days left to go, the project is close its $25,000 goal. A contribution of $500 or more gets you a first run of the device, while $100 and $199 contributions get you a miniature smatphone charger or solar backpack charger. The team hopes to begin shipping its initial batch of 250 devices sometime in December. For more information or to donate to the project, head on over to the Forty2 Kickstarter page.

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Tuan Mai
Tuan Mai is a Los Angeles based writer and marketing manager working within the PC Hardware industry. He has written for Tom's Guide since 2010, with a special interest in the weird and quirky.
  • master_chen
    Oh. My. God.
  • goodguy713
    at 350 watts i could see this powering a low end computer like the imac or E-pc just off of solar power for the size thats a pretty high output for power something like that would be great for emergencies and charging laptops or powering laptops with out being plugged into the wall outlet .. I would how ever try and find a way to store that current into a battery though it would be worth it to have something like that that could provide enough power to supply a 750watt computer system ..
  • Pennanen
    Its a shame kickstarter is now full of scams and bad wannabe game makers that it has defiled the whole meaning of it. Cant take anything related to kickstarter seriously anymore.
  • edogawa
    Solar panels are really cool, a great way to utilize the sun, I'd love to see it used more often.
  • mjflis
    This is actually pretty cool. If it could power some speakers and a stereo, you could have a daytime party just about anywhere that their is enough sun
  • fb39ca4
    How many watts does the solar panel by itself produce?
  • jkflipflop98
    Unless they're packing some technological breakthrough that they've managed to keep secret, this thing is smoke and mirrors. There's no way they're generating ~200 watts with 12 sq.ft. of solar panel.

    Off Grid Solar Trainer
  • alextheblue
    fb39ca4How many watts does the solar panel by itself produce?I'm guessing around 50, in optimal lighting conditions. Good for powering electronics for a while, especially if you let the battery charge up fully first. But a fridge? That better be one really tiny fridge. I'd be curious to know the peak watt output of the unit, that's important to determine if it can kick on the compressor.
  • master_chen
    alextheblueThat better be one really tiny fridge.
    They probably were testing that charging panel's early prototype on this one, or even maybe on something like this
    I'd say - first one.