'Jenni' Lets You Charge Your Cell Phone With Solar Power

Big solar solutions aren't available for everyone, but Jenni hopes to make a difference with their smart charging system. This new charger has a solar panel and panels for window hanging so it can charge its battery and power your phone.


May 24 2019, Updated 5:55 p.m. ET

As solar demand grows, some people are finding out that they aren’t eligible to equip solar panels onto their property due to their location or can’t pay the upfront costs. Others renting an apartment or condo have restrictions when it comes to installing an array. Every little bit of renewable energy helps, and a new product from Better Current provides small-scale solar charging to mobile devices.

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Jenni is a charger and battery pack that uses solar power to charge electronics. It features a five-watt solar panel embedded on the charging system, a 20-watt solar panel to place on the window, and a 12-volt lithium-ion battery pack that can store energy. That gives it a little more juice to power mobile devices even when the sun is down.

In describing who Jenni is, the Toronto-based company explains on their Indiegogo product page that it’s a smart device that won’t change how your lifestyle, but will fuel it with sustainability: “Combining smart, connected technology, solar photovoltaics and energy storage, Jenni allows you to intelligently harness the sun. Charge all your tech devices using clean energy, all without changing your habits.”

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The product weighs just 2.2 pounds, and is 10 inches horizontally and only two inches tall. Its integrated solar panel can be propped up to catch the sun’s rays. For meeting all charging needs, the system features four USB ports, one USB-C port, and the extremely handy onboard Qi wireless charging pad.

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While Jenni could have stopped at charging our tablets and phones, it has plenty of unique features that makes it stand out more than a typical battery bank. It can be equipped with multiple 20-watt window panels that also double as something useful. This could be a picture frame, a whiteboard for notes, a corkboard to pin things on, or a calendar.

What makes the product a “smart” device? The customer can always be connected to Jenni with a mobile app. When it’s connected to a Wi-Fi network, it can be accessed anywhere to find out how much energy has been created, what it currently has stored in the hub, and estimated savings when using the hub instead of connecting to the grid. If needed, Jenni can get extra power from another 12-volt battery or it can be connected with an AC adapter to the grid.

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“We built Jenni to be intelligent,” Better Current explains on the Indiegogo page. “She anticipates charging needs assessing weather and charging patterns to make appropriate re-charging decisions to make sure you always have power. Jenni takes advantage of the sun and off-peak times to ensure you pull the most environmental and economical energy available.”

The company hopes to reach a goal of $100,000 in a month’s time. An early-bird special of $229 US, which is a big savings off the $349 retail, is currently available. Others that want to support the device but not necessarily buy it now can opt for a $10 donation or get a T-shirt or phone case. It’s estimated to be shipped worldwide by May 2018.

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