How to Select Portable Solar Chargers

Tips and Recommendations on Selecting Solar Chargers

Portable solar battery chargers have been a great benefit to individuals that spend time outdoors or city dwellers that are  constantly on the move and disconnected. Portable solar chargers are used to charge cell phones, MP3 players, GPS devices, goal zero solar chargertablet computers and laptop computers. The chargers today utilize various types of solar panels, ranging from thin film to monocrystalline panels. With the myriad of choices and applications, there are several things that should be considered when evaluating a solar charger purchase:

  • Built-in Charge Controller – The charge controller monitors the amount of charge supplied to the batteries. Once the batteries reach full charge, the controller will halt charging to prevent overcharging.
  • Device Tip Compatibility – Confirm that the charger is compatible with your electronic devices. There is limited standardization among electronic manufacturers and there are a large variety of tip options.
  • Charge Time Requirements – The more solar cells on the device, thee more watts that can be generated. Most solar chargers have only one or two solar cells and so put out a relatively small amount of power in a short period of time. It is going to take some time in the sun to charge your device. The more solar cells the charger has the more watts of power it can generate and the faster it can charge your devices. When comparing chargers look for the charger with the most output in watts for its physical dimensions and price.
  • LED Charge Indicator – Many solar battery chargers offer a LED indicator that will enable you view the see how near the unit is to a complete charge. if the unit is still charging or full. There are also units that will automatically block sunlight whenever the battery is full. A typical solar charger has adaptors and charging clamps for the batteries.
  • Panel Dimensions & Charger Voltage – The larger the solar panel is typically translates to more solar cells. As the number of solar cells increase, the the more charge that can be transferred to the charger’s battery. For comparative purposes, a solar charger with a 2 watt solar panel has twice the current generating capabilities of a 1 watt panel and a battery rating of a 4 amp hours (Ah) has the capability of holding twice the charge of a 2 Ah battery.
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