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What You Need To Know About Solar Panel Phone Chargers 

Are you wondering if you can safely use a solar panel phone charger with your phone? Having your phone go out of battery when far away from a power outlet can be highly inconvenient. In some cases can be a severe problem if you need to call for assistance. 

The beauty of a solar phone charger is that you can use unlimited energy as many times as you need, as far as sunlight is available. But do you need to connect the plug and forget it, or is there more to know about it?

This article covers all there is to know about solar panel phone chargers.

What Is a Solar Cell Phone Charger?

A solar cell phone charger is a device that uses sunlight as a source of energy. Typically, solar panels of various sizes, depending on the charger, collect the energy emanating from the sun and transform it into electricity. 

The evident benefit of such a solar charger is that you can use it while hiking or camping. In addition, some solar chargers can be placed on the back of a backpack and will charge while you walk. 

Typically, a solar charger can store energy to be used at a later time, for example, at night. Most solar chargers use photo-voltaic cells to convert solar energy into electricity. 

In addition, solar cell phone chargers are lightweight, portable, and easy to use due to their engineered designs. Modern chargers have USB power sockets to connect a mobile phone and charge it, and in some cases, they have even more than one port. 

How Does A Solar Phone Charger Work?

A solar charger uses photons present in the sunlight to generate electrons in the solar cell materials. As a result, the electrical current will flow and charge a battery in the connected power bank. 

The mechanism is very similar to any solar power system used for more extensive purposes, such as powering houses or even industrial installations. However, solar chargers for mobile phones are much more compact and built purposely to charge smaller devices. 

In addition, solar battery chargers are generally DC devices without any AC power output (with a few exceptions). The parts composing this system are:

  • Solar panel
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Printed Circuit Board (PCB)

You can expect a solar panel phone charger to have solar panels, rechargeable batteries, and electronic components to make everything work. 

Solar panels (for mobile chargers) come in different sizes and forms, depending on how much energy they are supposed to collect and store. 

The most common solar cell materials used are silicon and monocrystalline. 

Photo of iPhone and portable solar charger on rocks in sun
Solar energy portable device charging a smart phone.

Not all solar phone chargers have a built-in battery, which means you can only use them when receiving sunlight. It is better to get a model with a built-in battery, so you can store energy and use it when you need it, which can be at night, or when it is cloudy. 

Although solar panel phone chargers can charge your mobile phone directly, you need to be careful. If you don’t optimize the charging, you can ruin your phone battery. 

The last component of a solar charger for mobiles is the PCB  (printed circuit board) that connects electronic items necessary to make the charger work. 

It can include:

  • LEDs
  • Resistors
  • Diodes
  • Wires
  • USB ports

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Solar Mobile Chargers?

While solar panel phone chargers promise mobility and flexibility, they also have some disadvantages. 

Here are some of the main advantages:

  • It is portable
  • It is lightweight
  • When using a built-in battery, it can store energy
  • It can be charged “on the go”; there is no need to stop
  • It uses clean and renewable energy
  • Minima maintenance 

Here are some of the main disadvantages:

  • Not so helpful in winter or with bad weather
  • The size of the pane can affect the charging capacity
  • It cost more than a regular phone charger 
  • It needs a lot of sunlight
  • More time is required to charge a phone

What To Look For When Looking For A Solar Panel Phone Charger? 

Suppose you are looking for an excellent solar panel phone charger. In that case, you should consider specific characteristics and avoid cheap, low-quality chargers. High-quality chargers will last longer and are more reliable when you need them the most. 

Here are some things you should consider when getting a solar charger for your phone:

  • Power output
  • Size 
  • Weight
  • Direct solar charger or with a built-in battery 
  • Compatibility
  • Additional features

In general, it is better to opt for a solar phone charger with a built-in battery to use at the most convenient time for you. The power output needs to be powerful enough to charge your device. Typically a wattage between 10-15 watts is sufficient. 

The size and weight are essential and should be considered based on what you need to do. For example, suppose you plan to do a lot of walking and outdoor activities. In that case, a lightweight and compact phone charger is better. 

Some solar phone chargers are only compatible with a brand. So it is good to verify if your device can connect with it. Another thing you want to verify is the number of USB ports. 

If you have more than one device you need to charge, you could get a Solar phone charger with two or more USB ports. You can get a universal solar charger to charge laptops, tablets, and other devices if you want to go the extra mile. 

How Long Does A Solar Phone Charger Last?

Solar phone chargers can last up to 5 years if not used every day. Therefore, it is better to think about how many times you can charge your phone before it loses efficiency to have a practical idea of its durability. 

In this case, you could think about an average of 400 charges. 

Each brand may have specifications on how long you can expect to last a solar charger. It is better to spend a little more and have a charger that can last an extra year. 

In addition, you can make sure your solar charger lasts longer by doing regular cleaning and storing it or folding it correctly. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does solar charging damage the phone battery?

Solar charging can damage the phone battery in case of direct charging. However, suppose you have a solar panel phone charger that has a built-in battery which is the one connected with your phone. In that case, there is little to no danger of battery damage. 

Use a solar charger connected directly with your phone battery. You must ensure that the output is correct, such as not too much power. 

Do solar phone chargers work?

Modern solar chargers work well, have great functionalities, and are very efficient. They can charge multiple devices and store energy with a built-in rechargeable battery. 

How long does it take a solar charger to charge a cell phone?

In general, a solar charger can take up to 12 hours to charge the built-in battery. However, once the solar battery charge is complete, you can charge your phone, and it takes the same time as charging it from a regular charger (2 to 3 hours). 

Do solar chargers work when cloudy?

Solar chargers may not work on cloudy days, or they have significantly reduced efficiency if they work. One of the downsides of solar energy is the weather changes. Most solar chargers require direct and clear sunlight to work correctly. 

Sources

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_cell_phone_charger
  2. https://ecotality.com/how-solar-battery-chargers-work/
  3. https://sciencing.com/disadvantages-solar-battery-chargers-8113725.html
  4. https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home-products/g27322216/best-solar-phone-chargers/

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