We live in a digital world. Our need to be connected at all times has driven a market where accessories for our mobile devices are major expenditures for us and a booming industry for manufacturers. Chargers for our mobile devices are a necessary convenience, as we are not always stationary. That’s why choosing a charger to fit your unique charging habit and style is important.
Benefits of Solar Chargers
Regular power banks can charge your smartphones and tablets just fine, but they do require connectivity to an electrical outlet to recharge themselves. This is where solar powered chargers outshine the competition. They can be charged by the sun, which is a renewable energy source and accessible anywhere. Solar is free, clean, and environmentally friendly.
Solar chargers allow you to power your electronic devices in even the most isolated areas. Direct sunlight is usually best, although ambient lighting can still be utilized. These solar chargers also allow you to recharge them through a Micro-USB charging port during times when there is no light. Most importantly, these solar chargers will allow for storage of power for those cloudy days or for nighttime use.
Solar chargers would be beneficial to the U.S. military. Our troops often perform missions in remote areas and have to carry additional bulk in the form of extra batteries as backup to power their equipment. Since solar is free and accessible anywhere in the World, our troops would be able to perform critical functions unhampered and without worry about having no juice.
For emergency situations, solar chargers are good in a pinch. Oftentimes, you may not need a full charge for your phone. A solar powered charger can top off your phone just enough to make an emergency call. It is especially beneficial should you find yourself in a remote area where no other power source is available. Particularly in areas where there are prone to be blackouts or in cases of natural disasters, solar chargers can be a lifeline.
Solar chargers are portable, making it a major convenience to have when you are out somewhere and do not have access to a standard power source. Ideal consumers would be outdoor enthusiasts. They would already be out in the sun so charging wouldn’t require much effort.
For those who aren’t outdoor adventurers, a solar powered charger for their mobile devices is still a good option. You can just as easily use it in an office environment or even in your car as long as you have access to sunlight or ambient lighting. Some solar chargers can even be considered an art form as some innovative manufacturers have created solar chargers that resemble sunflowers (e.g. XD Design) and trees, perfect for desktop use.
Types of Solar Chargers
Innovation has brought forth a plethora of solar products to enhance our everyday life. Many of them are portable and lightweight, but most importantly have the capability to provide power for the electronic devices that we use every day. Some solar chargers can be attached directly to your phone while others are battery banks with the solar panel on it.
On average, solar chargers need about 2 to 3 hours of direct sunlight in order to provide a full charge for a smartphone. Typically, tablets require more time to charge, even with traditional charging methods. Some chargers can charge more than one device at a time. You can also recharge them while they are charging your smartphone or tablet at the same time. Keep in mind that if you should use your phone while it is charging, it may take more time to reach its full charge. Also, there is a charging loss in terms of efficiency with continued use of the charger over time.
There are many different types of solar chargers out on the market. Deciding which one is right for you depends on several factors such as portability, compactness, charging capabilities, and habit.
Miniature Solar Panels
Miniature solar panels are environmentally friendly. Although comparatively smaller next to their rooftop solar panel brethren, mini solar panels possess greater versatility in that they are portable and can service a greater range of products. The con is that they are not as compact and may be additional bulk to carry. They are generally made in a foldable structure.
Compact Solar Chargers
Compact solar chargers, on the other hand, are not cumbersome and quite portable. They act like a battery bank, where the sun power gathered is stored in the battery. You will need a USB cord to link the solar charger to your smartphone or tablet. There are versions where you can attach a solar charger directly to the back of your phone as a back cover.
Integrated Solar Chargers
Integrated solar chargers are directly attached to your phone. This is a seamless use of the technology. Puma has developed a mobile phone (Puma Phone) where the solar cells are integrated directly onto the device itself. This device marries green technology and modern convenience. A negative may be added weight and bulk to the unit that may not be desirable.
Drawbacks of Solar Chargers
Though solar chargers have upsides to them, they also have some downsides that may deter people from jumping on the bandwagon. The current limitations of solar chargers are their ability to provide full charges to completely depleted phones, the amount of time it must have access to sunlight to charge, and the cost. Compared to their non-solar counterparts, solar chargers do cost quite a bit more. Also, high energy use devices such as desktop computers, are not ideal for solar chargers. With time, the solar technology for chargers will improve in efficiency, performance, and cost. Another factor for people to consider is whether there would be enough of an environmental difference to justify the expense.
So now the question is whether solar chargers fit your unique charging habit and style? Are you ready to jump on the bandwagon?