7 Ways to Power Up

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A picture of the e-rope battery charger

The E-Rope turns your workout routine into an actual powerhouse to charge your batteries. Image: TechChee.com

It’s no secret that rechargeable batteries are touted as great green upgrades for your tech. Less trips to the store, you save money and resources over time, they’re always on hand. In the right circumstances, they’re fantastic.

But aren’t we all getting bored with typical charging stations that just plug into the wall? This writer sure is. They’re not super-portable and can be (occasionally) a bit of an eyesore.

In an age of constant innovation and a time where designers are leading the new eco-tech craze with brilliant ideas, we went out to hunt the coolest new ways to recharge your rechargeables. Sure, most of them are still just concepts, but we’re jazzed about them all the same.

Rechargeables make you wanna jump, jump!

While you’re enjoying this sweet reference to a favorite hit from 1992, why not jump rope? This is probably our top pick for new ways to recharge your batteries, and the E-Rope concept design gets it done both physically and electronically.

The idea is that you can juice four AA rechargeable batteries using the energy generated from about 20 minutes of vigorous exercise using the high-tech jump rope. Indicator lights on the handles tell you how much power your batteries have so you know when you can take a breather. Workout fiends rejoice!

Here comes the sun

There’s nothing worse than enjoying a nice afternoon out at the beach, only to have your music give out because your batteries lost their get-up-and-go. If this happens to you (or if you experience any other kind of outdoor power loss), try the Energizer Solar Flip.

The Flip is weather resistant and can charge two AA or AAA NiMH batteries. It also comes with a built-in LED flashlight and a USB outlet that can power various devices when two charged batteries are popped into the unit. Its solar panel can rotate so you catch maximum sun exposure as well, and if you do happen to be inside, it can double up and plug into a typical outlet. Next time you’re at the beach, open the Flip and let the beats roll.

Cuppa Joe on the go

A power inverter styled after a coffee cup

This cafe-cool inverter turns your car into a mobile charging station. Image: ThinkGeek.com

Note that earlier this writer noted her boredom with typical wall chargers. Well, she is not bored with cool devices that mimic coffee cups and can cruise on the road with you.

The Coffee Cup Power Inverter is a fine addition to any road trip or general commute, and turns your car’s DC power into a cafe-style powerhouse that can run a charge to two AC plugs and a USB port at the same time.

So, you can always take your boring wall charger on the road. We are not responsible if you subconsciously want to buy more coffee, though.

Bask like a cat

What we love about the SunCat Batteries is that they’re devices you could make at home…theoretically. A project by Knut Karlsen, the typical rechargeables utilize an added flexible solar cell to reboost. The ‘Cats are aptly named because you are supposed to let them “just bask in the sun like a cat” so they can slowly recharge.

The downside: Karlsen worked with a scientist at the Institute for Energy Technology to acquire the flexible solar cells, so unless you have a hidden stash somewhere, they may be hard to come by if you want to try to make your own. But, stealing a phrase from Gizmodo, the design is so simple it’s “obvious,” and future mass-produced versions of these babies would be ideal.

Shake it up

We wish we were talking about tasty, frosty, blended ice cream treats, but the “shake” in this battery isn’t one you can eat. Recently, Japan’s Brother Industries unveiled Vibration Energy Cell batteries at the Techno-Frontier 2010 show in Tokyo. And to charge one of the units (you guessed it), simply place the battery and its generator in a device like a remote control and shake away.

At the show, the batteries powered typical household items like a remote control and an LED flashlight and came in both AA and AAA sizes. They are not yet out for general consumers, but we hope the day will come soon.

It’s OK to be cranky

These wind up rechargeables have a built-in generator

These wind-up rechargeables have a built-in generator so you’re never without power. Image: Gizmodo.com

If you’re feeling that there’s an exercise-oriented theme with some of these charger concepts, you’re on the right track. Another of our human-powered faves is the Wind Up Battery. The AA unit houses a little crank that you can turn to generate your own electricity.

Like the E-Rope, this battery concept claims a 20 minute charge time, which may be a bit much for the ol’ forearms. But hey, if you’re jumping rope, shaking your gadgets and cranking your batteries, you can probably cancel your gym membership.

All right…one for the singles

Hey, we’ll admit it: single-use batteries are still in full-swing, and there’s definitely an appeal to opening a brand-new pack. But! Continually having to buy new batteries all the time is a drain on your wallet and on natural resources. So, we can’t finish off an article about rad rechargeables without mentioning a rad way to recharge, well, your non-rechargeables.

The Battizer is a cool little gizmo that can recharge AA and AAA zinc carbon, zinc chloride (Heavy Duty), alkaline, NiMh and NiCD batteries. According to Battizer’s website, zinc carbon batteries may be charged up to five times or more, and alkaline batteries may be charged up to 10 times or more.

The company even claims that they can recondition and restore rechargeables. We haven’t had a chance to try the Battizer (or any of these cool gadgets, for that matter) yet, but it could be the best choice if you still go for the single-use route.

Related articles
Single-Use vs. Rechargeable
The Ultimate Battery Guide
It’s On! The Call to Recycle 1 Million Pounds of Batteries

Earth911 partners with many industries, manufacturers and organizations to support its Recycling Directory, the largest in the nation, which is provided to consumers at no cost. Call2Recycle is one of these partners.

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