Solar Battery Charger

A solar battery charger is invaluable in situations where standard AC power is not readily available, and can also play a key role in creating a more sustainable future. Are you constantly on the go, but finding that the batteries in your essential gadgets just can't keep up?

happy woman holding a solar battery charger

As our lives become increasingly mobile and connected, this problem may become more than just an inconvenience and might instead result in missed connections or lost business.

A solar battery charger harnesses the power of the sun to charge a battery, which in turn, powers a separate device.

In some cases, flexible panels recharge standard cells, while in others the battery is self-contained. Chargers also come in a variety of form factors, from foldable panels to backpacks.

It is sometimes necessary to purchase a Solar Controller which helps prevent overcharged batteries from damaging the charger. Below you'll find a brief overview of some of the more popular solar battery chargers.

Popular Solar Power Battery Chargers

  • The Solio Charger: Rather than channeling power to a separate battery or device, the Solio contains its own internal battery from which small devices such as MP3 players or PDAs can be powered or charged.

    The advantage of this system is that, when it has fully charged after eight to ten hours of exposure to direct sunlight, other devices can be recharged at night. The Solio can also be charged via standard AC power, and charges devices at the same rate at which a wall socket would.

    The average cell phone can be charged twice on one full Solio charge. Devices can also charge directly from the sun, albeit less efficiently, and the Solio holds power for up to a year without use.

  • Brunton Solar Chargers: These are foldable panels made of highly efficient yet flexible materials. When folded, the charger is the size of a notepad.

    Despite its compactness, the Brunton Solaris 26 can recharge the average laptop battery in four to six hours. A solar controller is necessary to protect equipment from overcharged batteries when using this unit.

  • Sunsei Charger: These chargers are intended for vehicular or other heavy-duty uses. At the lower end, the Sunsei Solar Charger 135 trickle charges car batteries, preventing them from discharging after unuse. The Sunsei Solar Charger 1200 can revive dead batteries in adverse conditions, even when the panels are beneath three inches of snow.

    The 4000, 6000 and 8000 offer the most power, can drive 110 and 220-volt appliances and chain together for even greater power output. Most of these also require a solar controller.

  • Coleman/iSun Chargers: These portable chargers are designed for backpackers or campers. The iSun portable charger is intended for PDAs and other small devices. If more power or other options are necessary, the iSun can easily connect to the Coleman BattPak, a backpack-style unit capable of charging up to ten NiMH AA or AA batteries.

    For larger portable devices, such as laptops, the Sunlinq Portable Solar Charger/Power Supply features a panel-based design that folds to the size of a sheet of paper and can charge a variety of gadgets via cigarette lighter-style connectors.

  • Premium Solar Charger by XTG Technologies: perfect for charging small handheld devices like iPods, iPads, cameras, cell phones, or other USB driven gadgets. Suction cups are included so you can mount it on the inside of your windshield, taking full advantage of the sunlight while driving or sitting still. Extra perk of this solar battery charger – an attached reading light.

  • Solar 11-in-1 manufactured by C. Crane receives high praise for charging batteries of several different sizes using the sun. The top lid is adjustable so you can angle it toward the best sunlight. You'll be able to charge 7 GUM size batteries with this charger or your traditional size batteries including C, D, AAA, and AA.

  • Sunforce makes a battery charger called the Sunforce 50022 Solar Battery Trickle Charger: charge batteries for your boat, automobile, feeders, electric fences, 4-wheeler, or farm equipment. It can create up to 5 watts of electricity, is constructed of heavy-duty plastic, and has a solar panel that can charge even on overcast days as long as the UV rays are still pretty strong. All the hardware is included in case you want to mount it somewhere permanently.

Whether your needs are as simple as driving a cell phone or PDA, or as complex as powering appliances off of the grid, there is a charger designed to meet them. The above are only a few of the choices available to you.

Related Resources

My Cool Electric Car. Beginner's guide to electric cars and other electric vehicles. Learn how to dump the pump and drive green!

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