FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) About Solar Panel Chargers
What is a solar panel and how does a solar charger work?
A solar panel takes energy from the sun and converts it into electricity through an electro-chemical process. A solar charger uses solar panels to collect and store energy in an integrated battery. That stored energy can be used to charge a variety of USB compatible devices, even if the sun isn't out. The amount of electricity a solar panel can produce depends on the size of its surface area, the efficiency of its cells, and the quality of sunlight. Some solar chargers can also be charged via AC power supply or USB port.
What devices can I charge with a solar panel?
Solar chargers can power most USB compatible devices including your smartphone, laptop, MP3 player, GPS unit, and digital camera. The charging speed from a solar charger is similar to that of a normal wall charger and usually takes an hour or two to completely charge your smartphone.
When would I use a solar charger?
If you're constantly on the go, chances are you'll benefit from a solar charger. Portable solar chargers keep your devices powered throughout the day so you don't have to deal with a dead battery. They come in handy during camping trips and when travelling to foreign countries as well. In these scenarios, access to power outlets is limited making solar chargers a great solution if you need to keep your GPS system powered or if you forgot your travel adapter at home. Solar chargers can also be used as an emergency power source when a power outage occurs.
What are the benefits of using a solar charger?
Not only do solar chargers offer convenience, they are also great for the environment because they reduce your electricity consumption. You'll also save money in the long run because your utility bills will cost less.
What do I need to consider before buying a solar charger?
Consider what devices you want to charge and how many watts of power they require. A 4 or 5 watt solar panel charges small electronics such as simpler cell phones, MP3 players, and headlamps quickly. However, if you have more power-hungry devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops, you'll need a 7 to 15 watt panel to efficiently charge your electronics. Another factor to consider is size and weight. If you're constantly on the go and don't want to be bogged down with bulk, opt for a solar charger that’s compact and lightweight. Finally, if you plan on exploring the great outdoors often, consider a waterproof or weather resistant solar charger.
Want more info? Check out some of our resources:
Plug-in Blog: Goal Zero gives you solar power for home or anywhere you go
Plug-in Blog: How to keep your electronics powered up when you're off the grid