Why Portable Solar Panels?
While most of us understand why solar energy is a good non-sustainable source of almost free energy (after the installation costs, that is it) and we often see solar panels on houses, etc. nowadays, many of us are rather unsure about the uses and practicality of portable solar panels.
Well it turns out that portable solar panels have so many uses, it’s a wonder that not all of us are taking advantage of them. Basically these small solar panels get energy from the sun and can then store that energy, just like the big panels. They come in all shapes and sizes but the thing is they are all small enough for you to carry them around.
People who are hiking for the day but want to use or charge their phone or their tablets have no problem carrying these portable panels around. They are also really useful if you are doing other outdoor activities such as biking or even mountain climbing. Some are larger than others; some weigh more than others and some are easier to carry. Also there is a difference in wattage and output power. At the end of the day, you need to purchase the solar panel system that works for your needs.
Some panels with only 3 watts were able to charge iPhones and iPads very well. These include Joos Orange (which charged the fastest) and the Solar Monkey Adventure, whose output power is 5 watts and 3.5 watts respectively. Others like the Goal Zero Nomal 7 have 7 watts but couldn’t charge an iPad successfully. This is because its output power is only 2.5 watts using a USB connection.
If you want to charge a laptop, for example, you should look at devices that have a high output power. The Goal Zero Nomad 13, the Power Traveller Solar Gorilla and the Instapark Mercury 10 (this one even had two USB outputs) would fit the bill.
You should also consider weight and how easy these devices are to use. It’s no use lugging around a heavy pack and then having to do some complicated procedure just to charge your phone. The Solar Monkey Adventurer, for example is weighs only a little more than half a pound and can easily fit into a jacket pocket and while nice and compact it’s really a bit too big to easily fit into a pocket in your jeans. It also comes in a nice padded case for protection. However the Instapark Mercury 10 is also really good as it is very versatile, easy to use and the price is great as well.
If you want to do your electronic charging while you are on a boat, for example, then weight is not such a huge consideration.
Still there are lots of options on the market and doing research is the way to go. Some websites like outdoorgearlab.com, for example, do good reviews of portable solar panels and give those star ratings. These reviews are very detailed and are a great place to start your quest.
There are other options too. For example Yank Design (yankodesign.com) has brought out a cute looking round solar panel that is small enough to hold in your hand. It may have a small solar panel but you can fix it to your window, for example, and plug in the charger. Then, not only do you have instant solar energy but the charger stores the energy for up to ten hours of use. Mind you it will take five to eight hours of charging to do so. Still it is nice and small and you can take the charged unit with you (it is really small enough to get lots in your purse, for example) when you want to charge your phone and there is no other possibility. It’s a great device to have around.
Portable solar panels give us another way to harness energy while we are on the go. In today’s world none of us want to be without a functioning smart phone or tablet and these handy solar devices enable us to use a sustainable energy source (for a change) instead of spending most of our time hooked up to the electricity grid.