Batteries are used for mobile power and will run out of electric charge when you can't recharge them. Solar power battery chargers use solar cells to convert light into electricity. They produce the most power in direct sunlight but will work in less intense light as well, producing less power. These solar-powered chargers can recharge a large variety of items such as car batteries, flashlights, cell phones and laptops. You just have to make sure you get the charger that matches the batteries you want to charge and with characteristics that let you use it the way you want.
Solar-powered battery chargers can be used to charge your 12-volt batteries like those in your car, boat or camper. Purchase one with a charge controller to prevent the battery overcharging. The controller is either integrated into the solar panel or comes as a separate box. You can purchase such chargers online from Sundance Solar or Battery Mart or from an electronics store (see the Resources section for these links). Look for a charger that is specifically designed for charging 12-volt batteries or one that delivers the 14 to 18 volts required to charge 12-volt batteries. Check your battery for its amp-hour rating to get a rough idea of the rating your charger needs. If you have a 100 Ah battery, it will take a 5 A charger about 20 hours to charge it.
Charge your household batteries with solar battery chargers. Get either a charger with solar cells integrated into the lid for compactness and ease of use, or one with a separate solar panel for more battery charging power. Household batteries are the 1.5 V re-chargeable cells that go in flashlights, some digital cameras or toys. Make sure you have identified all the sizes of batteries that you want to charge, such as AAA, AA, D, 9 V, etc. If you have NiMH batteries that you want to charge, such as batteries for digital cameras, check that the charger has that capability. Amazon is another good online source for these chargers and many hardware and electronics stores carry them (see the Resource section for a link).
Get a solar battery charger for your smartphone, tablet or music player. A charger that supplies solar power to a standard USB cord can charge devices that use a USB or micro-USB socket. Buy a small charger that you can carry in your pocket or purse and charge your devices while away from a computer or power plug. These chargers can take several hours to fully charge a device, but can quickly supply an emergency charge, allowing you to use your device for a short time. Sundance Solar carries these chargers online and you can get them in electronics stores.
Buy a portable solar charger. Camping and hiking in remote areas often means you have to carry batteries for flashlights, GPS, cameras and other items that need electric power. Get a charger with a solar panel that is light and folds up for easy carrying. Check that the charger can charge all the different types and sizes of batteries you will be carrying and that the charger has enough power to keep your batteries charged while you are on the trip. For online shopping, Sundance Solar has chargers for this specific purpose while Amazon carries fold-up chargers that accomplish the same thing. Camping supply stores have these chargers as well.
- Chargers whose solar panels work in low light conditions are especially useful for camping and hiking.
- Many solar panels contain glass, plastic and silicon chips that scratch easily and can break. Place the unit in a bag or container when carrying it.
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