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Solar suction cup is handy phone charger

The next time you're flying above the clouds, put the bright sunlight streaming in your window to good use.

solar charger suction-cupped to airline window
Even on the stingiest airline, sunlight is free.

Plenty of gadget-charging solar panels come with suction cups so you can mount them on windows. A compact solar charger from design collaborative Quirky does the combination one better. It puts the solar panel inside a suction cup, making it easy to stick on small windows: think cars and jetliners.

The $40 solar charger, dubbed Ray, measures a tidy (though not exactly pocketable) 2.5 inches by 2.5 inches by 3 inches. It comes with a kickstand so you can harvest light without sticking it on a window. The solar panel charges an internal battery, which in turn charges a phone or other mobile device via a USB port.

The charger is a good option for traveling, whether you're 30,000 feet up in a window seat or off the grid somewhere. My first thought about using it in a car is why not just use the car chargers most of us have? Then I thought of the times my wife and I have climbed in the car after a long day of phone use and simultaneously reached for the 12 volt socket. And it could be handy on tour buses and trains.

Using Ray on an airliner could get interesting, though. Given how jumpy some folks are these days, it might be a good idea to let your seatmates know how convenient it is to be able to the use "this here solar charger" before sticking it on your window.

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Ray is the 137th product developed by since its launch in June 2009. The company's model is to have the site's community members submit, vote on and develop product ideas. Ray was proposed by member Brandon Craven. The company kicks back 30 percent of a product's sales to the community members who thought of and developed it. is taking presale orders for the solar charger. When enough orders are in it will go into production.

solar charger on car windshield