1 What is a solar phone charger and how does it work?
A solar phone charger is a portable device that allows you to transform photovoltaic solar energy into electrical energy, which you can then use with devices such as smartphones or tablets. These solar devices can charge batteries up to 48 volts (V) with a capacity of hundreds of amps per hour. They generally integrate a smart charge controller.
1.1 What types of solar phone chargers are there?
The low power output of most solar chargers means that manufacturers often attach several small panels parallelly. These are then unfolded to capture more solar radiation. Keep in mind that solar panels aren’t all necessarily the same, and their performance will decrease as the temperature rises.
1.1.1 Monocrystalline solar panels
Monocrystalline solar panels have a rather dark color and attract more radiation. They are suitable for use on cloudy days with low radiation.
1.1.2 Polycrystalline solar panels
Polycrystalline solar panels have a bluer color and can sustain very low temperatures. Still, it is recommended that they are used on sunny days.
2 Shopping Criteria for Solar Phone Chargers
Until we can develop cell phones with unlimited batteries, we will always need external chargers to avoid running out. Nowadays, solar phone chargers are an efficient alternative that will get you out of trouble when you’re traveling or performing outdoor activities. In order to choose the model that best fits your needs, we recommend that you pay close attention to the main criteria that we have detailed in the following section.
Power and charging time
2.1 Power and Charging Time
The power of a solar phone charger is the first criterion that you should evaluate before making your purchase. It is expressed in milliamps per hour (mAh). In fact, this aspect will determine the time it takes to charge your battery. Basically, if the power is high, you will see your battery charge more quickly. As a general rule, you should opt for a model with at least 1000 mAh.
2.2 Simultaneous Charging
On the solar phone charger market, you can find specific models that allow you to simultaneously charge several devices. This is extremely useful when you are going on trips, excursions, or doing sports outdoors with your friends or family. If you opt for this type, make sure that the model you buy can perform this function while maintaining adequate power.
Solar phone charger designs often vary from one brand to the next. Since you will be carrying this device with you everywhere, you should avoid large and heavy models for greater comfort. That being said, remember that the larger the surface of the solar panels is, the greater the reception of solar radiation will be. Consider these different aspects carefully; the final decision is yours.
2.4 Material Quality
Since they are portable, solar phone chargers are continually exposed to falls, shocks, and other accidents. After all, their dependence on the sun means that they must remain outdoors for long periods of time. This is why they must be made of durable and resistant materials. It is all the better if they are also waterproof and dustproof. As for the solar panels themselves, silicon is the most suitable material.
3.1 What do solar phone charges consist of?
A solar phone charger is made up of one or more solar panels. Each one itself consists of small photoelectric cells, usually made of silicon. This material is best suited to transmit electrons. One of the major limitations of these solar panels is the small amount of energy they can collect per individual cell.
3.2 How do solar phone chargers work?
When you leave your charger in the sun, the photovoltaic panels absorb the energy, which they can then transmit to other devices, such as your cell phone. Solar chargers are generally connected to other electronic devices through a Micro-USB cable. The time it takes to charge will be determined by the efficiency of the solar panel and its overall surface. The larger its surface area is, the faster it will charge.
3.3 Why do I need a solar phone charger?
The market for power banks is increasingly popular among people who are always afraid of their cell phones running out of battery. Solar phone chargers are gaining more and more ground within the industry because of their ease of use and their sustainable quality. They promote greater economic and energy savings since they do not depend on electrical networks.
Solar phone chargers do not require any special maintenance beyond precautions, such as not exposing them to excessively cold temperatures. You can charge your battery virtually anywhere, anytime while walking, cycling, or performing other outdoor activities.
Their sustainable character means that manufacturers often include extensive guarantees (generally at least two years). In fact, the durability of the transformer can reach up to 25 years, even when it is subjected to consistent use.
3.4 Do solar phone chargers have an internal battery?
There are still relatively few models that integrate an internal battery, but it is becoming more common. An internal battery gives you the possibility to connect it to the power supply in case there is no sun. This can undoubtedly be seen as an advantage, as you will always have the possibility of charging your device in any situation. However, you have to know that these models are not as effective as exclusively solar-powered chargers.
3.5 What is the capacity indicated by manufacturers?
The capacity of a battery is measured in mAh (milliamps per hour), which refers to how much electrical charge passes through the terminals of a battery when it provides an electrical current of 1 milliampere for 1 hour through those terminals. While mAh is used as a reference, the actual capacity of the solar charger is generally inferior.
Experts estimate that the batteries on the market achieve an efficiency of 60 to 70% of their theoretical capacity. You also have to take into account factors such as the limited life of the lithium-ion cells that make up the battery and their overall temperature. The higher the capacity an external battery has, the more energy it will be able to provide.
3.6 Can solar phone chargers be used in any situation?
This is not advised. While these chargers offer many advantages, they cannot provide the same performance as models that rely on the electricity grid. Solar phone chargers are small in size, and the amount of energy they can store is therefore limited. That being said, they are convenient emergency chargers, especially if you are outdoors.
Keep in mind that their small size means that they cannot charge devices quickly. This means that you could wait for hours before your smartphone is charged again. So, once again, this is more of an emergency system for small devices rather than an everyday charger. As long as the sun is out, they will always get you out of trouble!
3.7 What makes solar phone chargers so sturdy?
A solar charger has to be robust and compact with an easy-to-grip design, as people often use them during travels, holidays, and outdoor activities. In other words, they are constantly exposed to potential falls and blows when they're on the go. If the manufacturing materials were of poor quality, they wouldn’t last very long.
It is also essential that you opt for a waterproof model, especially since you will have to leave it in the open to charge. Remember that a charger with a greater surface area will fill up faster, reducing the risk of damage. This is, of course, provided that you have the appropriate solar conditions.
3.8 Are there maintenance measures to take for a solar phone charger?
While solar phone chargers are ideal because of their low maintenance, you will still have to take proper care of them to increase their operation and overall performance. Cleaning one of these devices is very straightforward. All you have to do is spray water on it. To prevent a thermal shock, you are advised not to use water that is too cold when cleaning in the sun.