We’ve always thought that wind-up energy makes sense but wind-up energy pioneer Freeplay is now taking things to a whole new level.

The company’s wind-up radio offers telecommunications in a single package – turn the handle a few times and you can radio where even electricity didn’t exist before. The allure of 20th century technology is immense and in 2002 this was demonstrated when thousands of people in Niger traded their guns for Freeplay radios in a ground breaking initiative of the Government of Niger, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Freeplay Foundation to encourage peace and stability in the region. Freeplay specialises in delivering electric power to self-powered devices such as radios, torches and mobile phone chargers, and two ingenious new human-powered products from the company are the Freecharge Weza portable energy source and the Indigo self-sufficient lantern. The lantern burns for three hours for a modicum of work and is a wonderful invention belonging in every home for a myriad of reasons. The Weza is however, a category buster – it is a small, foot-powered energy source that generates electricity at up to 40-watts to charge its own internal battery for direct 12-volt power. To charge it, pump the pedal and the generator spins. Combine the Weza with the Xantrex XPower Powerpack 400 Plus and you can run emergency lights, small power tools, a computer system or watch a mid-size TV for hours while burning a few calories. It will also juice-up from a cigarette lighter adapter in a car, serve as an emergency power source for home or a backup generator for not-at-home. An absolute must-have accessory for any self-respecting technophile who refuses to stop having fun when there’s no readily available electricity supply!

The FreeCharge Weza, the portable energy source, is a versatile, robust energy source providing totally dependable power for emergency situations and everyday use in remote locations. The FreeCharge features an internal rechargeable lead acid battery capable of jump starting a range of vehicle and outboard engines, as well as powering a range of other devices. The FreeCharge can be recharged from either an AC or DC source eg wall, solar, wind (solar and wind options not supplied) and, in emergency situations, using the step treadle. The FreeCharge will accept up to 110V to 240 AC and DC inputs from 10.7V to 21V.

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The FreeCharge has an output rating of 400 amps and can jump-start a wide range of automotive and marine engines. FreeCharge can also be used to power electronic equipment, including navigation devices via its 12V DC cigarette lighter output socket. The FreeCharge has foldable stabilizer arms, making it easily portable and able to be stowed neatly, making it ideal for boats, motor homes and campers.

The Indigo is the latest addition to Freeplay’s extensive range of market leading devices powered by self sustainable energy and broadens our product portfolio in portable lighting, an area which is growing significantly. The lantern, with its two-way and environmentally friendly charging system, power adapter and human power, incorporates Freeplay’s world leading self-power technology and is available through all major retailers in the UK. Freeplay is always seeking good international distributors. Exissting distributors can be found here.

Since the production of Freeplay Energy’s first radio product in 1996, over 300,000 Freeplay Energy radios have been brought to communities in at least 40 developing countries. Radios can reach those isolated by conflict and provide knowledge and practical life skills to build safe and sustainable communities.

This theme is reflected in the naming of Freeplay Energy’s products which highlight the plight of communities in the developing world and link the beneficiaries of Freeplay Energy technology to other global users. The company’s technology is already benefiting HIV orphans and child-led families in Africa, through the lifeline radios which are distributed through the work of the Freeplay Foundation.

The Nigerian Tuareg – often called "The Blue People" owing to the colour of the dye used to colour their clothes – formed a significant part of this amnesty and Freeplay’s new Indigo LED lantern was named in recognition of this.

An exceptionally detailed review on the Freeplay Weza can be found here.