After we proudly figured out how to compost scraps from our kitchen without decorating the room with fruit flies, I’ve been looking for other ways to get more eco-friendly. And as a true tech mama, it seems that decreasing my family’s dependence on the electricity grid is one way to do it.

Turning off lights, buying reusable batteries, using eco friendly electric outlets that help decrease electricity consumption have been great starts. And in an eco experiment gone right, I also took a test run of the JOOS Orange portable charger, which helps you start solar charging your way off the grid.

The JOOS Orange is a portable solar charger that’s very efficient. Place it outside facing the sun and it collects up to 20 watt hours of battery. (Evidently you can charge it using any light source, even a bulb.) It comes with plugs to fit most electronics and at just 1.5 pounds, it’s so smart for travel.

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JOOS Orange portable solar charger dashboard

If you’re wondering how the battery is doing, you can actually get all sorts of stats on it in real time with the companion desktop app. Very convenient. It runs on both Windows 7 and Mac OSx, but I am really looking forward to the iPhone and iPad apps that are in development for future use.

One of the best features however, is the tough waterproof outer case that held up even after I left it outside in a big, two-day rain storm. Luckily, I did plug in the handy plastic USB cover tightly so water did not seep in. But for what you’re spending–about $149–you kind of want the JOOS Orange to be durable.

Of course it’s not perfect. It should be easier to check the battery life in a way besides counting the number of blinks on the usage indicator. Also, I’d love an easier way to determine how long the battery takes to charge in my sometimes sunny and sometimes overcast California October backyard. Still, I’m in love with the idea that I may never experience a dead cell phone or tablet battery again. I’m willing to count blinks for that.

The JOOS Orange portable solar charger can be purchased for $149.00 on the Solar JOOS website.

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