How Long Do Solar Chargers Last?
The adoption of solar energy continues to ramp up. One way people accomplish this is with the usage of solar chargers. Not only are they environmentally friendly, but they are also convenient for outdoor adventures. This article discusses more solar chargers and how long they last.
The lifespan of solar chargers is between 3 to 25 years. How long they last when charging depends on the battery capacity, the number of devices it charges, and their capacity. Fortunately, these chargers have indicators that show how much power is within the batteries.
There’s a lot of variation in the market, depending on which brand, capacity, model, purpose, and many other factors. I’ve done the research and dived deep to find the answers, so stick with me, and let’s get to the bottom of this.
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How Long Do Solar Phone Chargers Last For?
Solar cell phone chargers are combination units that use solar panels to charge phone batteries. In the absence of electricity, these chargers prove very useful. You can still charge some chargers with traditional electrical outlets. Some chargers have a rechargeable internal battery, while others charge cell phones directly. (Source)
Public solar chargers are available, and you can even find them in public spaces. These include squares and parks. Other than the possibility of having them permanently installed or carried from place to place, these chargers are available in different configurations and shapes. These include foldable and un-foldable designs and those in strap form.
The efficiency and solar panel size determine how long you charge a phone. Another factor that determines charging time is the battery capacity. It is safe to say that fold-out designs charge faster as they have larger solar panels.
While the lifespan of solar panels tends to vary, the range of time you can expect them to work effectively is 3 to 25 years. This life expectancy is guaranteed as it accounts for 80% of the rating published on solar panels. It differs from manufacturer to manufacturer, and buyers should be wary of cheap panels. (Source)
The diminishing world resources have caused different organizations to push for greener solutions. It has led to the creation of solar-reliant gadgets such as solar chargers. To ascertain high efficiency, laboratories continue to work on perfecting the best solar panel. The most efficient solar panel is known to have a conversion rate of 44.7% of the sun it receives into energy. (Source)
Solar phone chargers help one to charge phones on the go. The rate that the solar charger transmits this energy is vital. Scientists experimented to determine how efficient wall chargers were, compared to solar chargers. The result indicated that the efficiency of solar chargers was 69.33%, while that of wall chargers was 71.85%.
They also charged a 1220mAh battery. The results showed that the solar charger took 2 hours and 40 minutes, while the wall charger took 2 hours. A clear indication that solar chargers are slightly slower.
As with traditional chargers, the care and maintenance provided play a role in how long they last. You should avoid harmful substances such as fluids to ensure their lifespan extends.
Do Solar Chargers Stop Working?
One can face difficulties when attempting to charge phone devices. One of the challenges is the solar charger failing to charge the gadgets. It can prove frustrating, especially when you have no other energy source to depend on for your needs. For example, when camping. It may be a result of the poor setup of the solar system, a damaged solar charger controller, faulty batteries, or poor weather conditions.
With the necessary precautionary measures and proper care of solar panels, one can ensure they don’t stop working. Their lifespan ranges from 3 to 25 years. The cycle of use will affect how much longer or shorter the solar panels work. (Source)
Access to sunlight is necessary for solar chargers that are directly charging devices. When shading or poor positioning of the system happens, this may prevent phones from getting charged. Fully opening the charger and directing it to an area where it will receive full light is necessary to ensure it doesn’t stop working.
Generally, solar panels (placed on roofs) can work on rainy and cloudy days. However, they aren’t at their peak performance. Cloud coverage will determine how effective they are. Any element that blocks direct sunlight from reaching solar panels reduces the power produced. These include tree shade, clouds, and fog. The amount of sun reaching solar panels on cloudy days depends on cloud thickness. (Source)
However, weather changes immediately mean inconvenience with solar chargers that directly charge phones. These chargers require sunlight to charge appropriately. Also, during rainy conditions, portable gadgets are at risk of spoiling.
Faulty batteries are also a cause of the solar bank ceasing to work. Understanding solar batteries are, therefore, the first step to understanding proper charging. Batteries have separators, electrodes, and electrolytes. Batteries have two electrodes on each side of the positive/cathode and negative/anode terminal. (Source)
The electrolyte is a liquid with electrolytic properties (it can conduct electricity). This liquid supports the flow charge between cathodes and anodes. Separators maintain the separation between cathodes and anodes, preventing any linkage.
Lead acid batteries are made up of electrodes in the form of lead plates and electrolytes in the form of a solution of dilute sulphuric acid. During the discharging process, oxygen atoms in lead oxide/PbO2 (positive lead plate) react with hydrogen atoms in sulfuric acid (in the electrolyte).
Combining oxygen and hydrogen results in water production. At the same time, the anode and cathode produce lead sulfate. Water forms and sulfate ions exit the electrolyte during the discharging process.
During charging, however, the reaction occurs in the opposite direction—lead oxide forms at the code. Whenever the battery is faulty, this process fails to take place effectively. As a result, the solar bank may not charge the portable devices.
Which Portable Solar Charger is Best?
Generally, solar chargers that are the best are those that are compatible with one’s devices. These include digital cameras, PDAs, and mobile phones. Power banks with multiple charging ports support charging more than one device at a time. Potential solar charger owners should take it upon themselves to ascertain the power banks they purchase are compatible with their instruments (Source).
There 4PATRIOTS portable solar power bank and the BioLiteSolarPanel5+ are two great solar chargers that potential buyers should consider. The 4PATRIOTS power bank has 2 USB-A ports and a capacity of 8,000mAh. This solar charger supports charging both from the sun and from regular outlets.
Included with the charger are a flashlight and a battery indicator. All necessary components, particularly when one is camping outdoors. One should look for a blue light to determine if the power bank is fully charged.
This indicator will assist in determining the sun’s strength and measure the panel’s capacity. With a battery status button on the solar charger, one can also tell the amount of power available in the battery.
One can use the integrated sundial when trying to align the solar cells to the sun. Like the 4PATRIOTS power bank, you can also charge the BioLite SolarPanel battery in a regular outlet.
What Should I Look For In A Solar Battery Charger?
Solar battery chargers are a great asset to have. It is when traveling, camping, or during disasters. Not only that, but it also has a positive effect on the environment. Therefore, it is in individuals’ best interests to purchase this device. However, it would be best if you didn’t buy it blindly. There are several factors that one should first consider.
- Efficiency and power output
- Size and solar panels
- Coupling options
- Depth of discharge
Efficiency and power output
Various battery chargers have multiple designs and are not all created equal. The most common difference is the battery size which one should look out for when shopping. People often measure the charging capacity of power banks in Wh (watt-hours) or mAh (milliamp hours). Watt hours tend to give the best estimate of the number of times power banks can charge one’s portable device. (Source)
Milliamp hours are more useful when comparing different batteries and their capacity. For example, a 12,000mAh model would provide more charges than a 5000mAh battery. Larger power banks also have higher energy demands.
Size And Solar Panels
The number of solar cells on a power bank determines the amount of power generation. More solar cells mean that a charger has a higher power generation. Power banks with a single solar panel have limited power generation. However, larger cells indicate larger bank sizes. One should, therefore, consider if power or size is their priority.
Before purchasing a solar power bank or even utilizing it, you should ensure it is compatible with the devices you intend to charge. It avoids scenarios where either device receives damage due to poor use. By contacting one’s electronic supplier, one can get the necessary advice on the best device to purchase (Source).
Power banks tend to be compatible with digital cameras, PDAs, and mobile phones, especially if they contain multiple connectors. Being sure, however, is necessary.
The current generated by solar systems is direct. It needs converting to alternating for it to charge home appliances (DC to AC). In an AC-coupled system, it’s at the inverter that there is energy conversion to AC electricity. It is converted to DC for battery storage and back to AC when charging home appliances (Source).
When you have new solar installations, you should use DC-coupled batteries. It is because of their efficiency and ability to charge when grid systems are down.
Depth Of Discharge
The DOD of a battery affects how long you can use it. DOD, subsequently also known as depth of discharge, is the percentage that a battery can be discharged compared to its overall capacity. When a battery regularly discharges at a low rate, the valuable cycles, in the end, tend to be more. The inverse happens when a maximum DOD battery is often drained, minimizing lifespan.
What are the Maintenance Practices for Solar Chargers?
Solar chargers can serve their users correctly. However, just like any other equipment, they require the necessary care and appropriate usage to ensure they last as long as possible.
When you purchase the battery chargers, you should fully recharge them before using them for the first time. The mobile phone’s voltage should have compatibility with the power bank. It is to avoid damage or money wastage on a solar charger that may be effective, but not on one’s phone. You should carefully read instructions before starting any operation (Source).
How To Troubleshoot Solar Chargers
During usage, one may need to troubleshoot when charging doesn’t occur, or slow charging occurs. In these scenarios, one may take a couple of steps to ensure the solar charger is working as required (Source).
Suppose the USB chargeable device doesn’t charge when connected to the solar bank, and they are compatible. In this case, one should try using the USB connector one uses when charging their device with the main switch. If charging occurs when this change occurs, the USB that comes with the power bank will be a problem.
Another issue one may face the solar charger flashlight failing to turn or off. It may get stuck on SOS or bright mode. In this case, one should long press the power button for at least two seconds. It should turn on the flashlight. Once on, one should click the power button to sift through the various modes. To switch off the light, one should long press again.
Another problem likely to be faced is the charger failing to show the green light when charging out in the sun. In this case, one should ensure the charger is placed directly under the intense sun. The green light showing will be dependent on the strength of the sun.
Other Precautionary Measures
Another precautionary step one should take is keeping the charger in a dry place. Placing it in dirty or wet conditions should be avoided. Some solar chargers are waterproof; however, this only protects the inner parts in case water is accidentally splashed. (Source).
Throwing these batteries into the fire should also be avoided. Disconnecting the 3.5mm DC connector from the power bank when it isn’t in use is necessary. It will assist with power conservation as the charger will change to the power-saving mode.
It would be best to avoid altering or disassembling the product at all costs. If one experiences a product problem, one should contact their dealer for assistance.
When the battery charge is less than 10%, internal controllers will switch to the power-saving mode. For a reset, one should first disconnect the load. Then disconnect and reconnect the input plug. You should charge the device for about 30 minutes before reconnecting the load.
Since solar batteries are most of the time deep-cycle, they can only discharge 80% before they require to recharge. The lifespan of most batteries is four to seven years. The lifespan of these batteries, however, can be significantly reduced by abuse.
One way they experience abuse is by being stored in temperatures of over 77C. It is because they discharge faster. Overcharging is another harmful practice. Using the power banks as intended, keeping the temperatures steady, and avoiding excessive draining will ensure they work effectively.
Solar chargers are a great addition to anyone’s electronic collection. They prove helpful in myriad situations, including school, work, camping, or during blackouts. With the installation of public solar chargers, more individuals benefit from this rapidly growing source of energy.