If you’re in New York and your smartphone or tablet runs out of battery right when you need them the most, don’t panic. All you have to do is find one of the city’s new solar charging stations to breathe new life into your gadget.

Under the name Street Charge, the public solar charging kiosks were developed by telecommunications provider AT&T together with Goal Zero, a developer of solar power systems, and Brooklyn-based design studio Pensa. The charging stations are free to use.

Street Charge: New York Gets Solar Charging Stations

Every Street Charge station is equipped with three 15 W solar panels mounted on microcrystalline PC blades at the top. These solar panels charge up a powerful 168 W/h lithium-ion battery pack that can charge up to six devices at the same time.

The included Li-NMC batteries can also store the collected energy, which means that the units can be used during the night but also on cloudy days.

All the units are equipped with Lighting and 30-pin connectors for iPhones, along with USB and micro-USB plugs for other phones and mobile devices to accommodate Androids and BlackBerrys as well. The stations also come with female USB ports in case you’re carrying your own cable.

Developers say that the charging time for the solar power stations will be roughly the same as when you plug your device into a wall socket, providing a full charge in a couple of hours.

The idea of setting up these solar charging stations came in the wake of superstorm Sandy, which left many parts of New York without electricity for several days and New Yorkers having to share generator power to charge their mobile devices.

Pensa created the first Street Charge prototypes last year and then teamed up with Goal Zero and AT&T to develop the project. The first solar charging units were set up last month at Riverside Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Governor’s Island and Fort Green Park. There are plans to open at least 20 more stations the following months, all of them in pedestrian-heavy areas of the city.

What do you think of the idea? Would you like to see such charging stations in your town?

[Image via fastcodesign]