TreeHugger has delighted in watching solar grow as a technology, both from small to big -- as the claim to "the world's largest" solar park is almost continually one-upped by bigger and bigger solar arrays -- and from big to small, with more and more nanosolar in the news and a host of portable solar chargers, solar-powered bags and even solar textiles and the odd solar bikini or two. The big ones provide lots of juice, but you can't exactly put it in your back pocket, while the smaller chargers and such are quite portable, but can't charge anything much bigger than your iPod, or cell phone.
Enter Sun Table, a project of Brooklyn-based Sudia Design Labs, as the happy medium. The outdoor table is small enough to take home with you, but attracts enough rays to power your laptop and various other home office peripherals, and even a television and DVD player.
Like many of the other solar gadgets designed for home use, the solar panels charge a nickel metal hydride battery, which, in turn, power your gadgets. The battery's max storage is 13 amp hours at 12 volts (that's 156 watt hours), with a max output of 150 watts; the system charges in 3 hours in full sunlight. Depending on the exact specs of your gadgets, those numbers translate to about three hours of laptop use, and a couple hours of television (if watching TV outside is your thing...) thanks to the included inverter that provides 120V AC (that's what everything in your house plugs in to, in case anyone was wondering).
A handy LED display (pictured below) tracks the battery's charge level for you, and the inverter beeps at you if you load it up with more than 150 watts, making it easy to both track your battery's performance and keep it from getting overloaded. The table itself is mostly aluminum (for easy recycling at the end of its life) and comes flat-packed in recycled materials, making it easier and more compact to ship and store.
About the table, designer Devang A. Shah (who created the table along with Michael Low) says they wanted to create '"A product that pushes people to spend more time outdoors will be beneficial for humanity. Let's get rooted in nature again, even if it's in a 21st century kind of way." We think it's a great example of combining technology and design to create a forward-looking product; lots of tech ideas (like solar) that are difficult to integrate into our daily lives, and it can be very helpful and meaningful to be shown that it actually works.
In this case, the table brings context and a personal connection to solar power, bringing it down from the heavens to your backyard, with the potential to change the way your life works every day. Imagine shifting your home office to the sunny patio for a few hours every afternoon, or having to apply sunblock and wear sunglasses while sending emails (and reading TreeHugger). In the midst of the cold, dark winter, that sounds pretty great to us.
Such fun and convenience won't come cheaply. The table, available for pre-order now (it'll ship in March 2008), will cost $3600. But can you really put a price on something that allows you to get a tan at your desk job?
Get all the details and specs at ::Sun Table by Sudia Design Labs