Published on April 14th, 2017 | by Greg0
Yolk Solar Paper: Thin, Light, And Ready For Summer Sun
Solar charging has definitely come of age- it’s reaching parity on a commercial, industrial, and retail level, meaning that utilities in many parts of the world are considering it over less green sources of power, even without tax credits. You can install panels on your roof and even sell excess energy back to the grid, and as battery prices fall and capacities increase, you’ll be able to store more yourself for less-sunny times. Sure, it will be a long time before we’re all driving electric cars, but in the meantime, there are easy ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
Yolk Solar Paper seems like a funny name, but the product is certainly nothing to laugh at- it raised over $1 million on Kickstarter in 2015, followed up by an Indiegogo campaignthat hauled in another cool $1 million in mid-2016. And the project delivered too, creating the ‘world’s smallest solar charger for the amount of potential wattage it can generate’. Now, it’s not as light or thin as regular paper, but it is mighty compact and impressively tiny- they claim it is one-third of the weight and one-eighth the volume of some competitors. At 2mm thin, and a base weight of 75 grams, you can pack it in a purse and barely notice it.
We’ve seen quite a few solar panels, and this one is clearly the next step forward thanks to some nifty features. A simple USB output means you can plug in and charge just about anything, from tablets and digital cameras to e-readers smartphones, and your average smartphone will charge in 2-3 three hours in bright, direct sunshine. It folds, like many do, for protection and portability- but offers magnetic clasps for expandability, meaning you can take one panel or attach up to six total (at 2.5W each, for a total of 5-15W). Solar Paper is IP64 water-resistant for your backyard or back trail trips, and best of all, there’s a built-in amperage indicator that shows you how much power you’re receiving from the sun. This small addition is critical, as it allows you to better direct, aim, and position the panel. It might seem tiny, but it’s the sort of thing that makes so much sense, you can’t imagine why others don’t include it.
As with most solar chargers, you aren’t meant to charge your laptop directly- smaller netbooks might work, but there isn’t enough amperage to power them up (or to run most larger electronics either). Unlike some, there is no rechargeable battery included with the Solar Paper- you can certainly find external USB-powered packs easily enough, but this is a trickle charger meant for constant, regular supply so you’ll have to keep your phone plugged in (and near the sun, which can be an issue as phones can overheat if you keep them off). We recommend turning your device off while charging. Ours was the four-panel (10 watt) version, the suggested format for most smartphone charging, and it worked quite well even in New York City now that Spring has cleared most of the clouds. For anyone looking for pretty sturdy, ultra-light solar panels, these are some of the best we’ve seen. Expect to spend around $120 for the basic Yolk Solar Paper two-panel version, or move to the four-panel variety as tested for around $200.