Is It Worth Getting a Solar Phone Charger?
Over the last few years, a lot of solar phone chargers have appeared on the market. Do those chargers really work, or are they a waste of time? Unfortunately, there’s no one clear cut answer to this. Whether you’ll be happy with your solar phone charger or not depends on what you want to use it for, and where you live.
Who Needs a Solar Phone Charger
If you travel frequently and take a lot of gadgets with you, then a solar charger might be a good idea for you. This applies to all kinds of travellers, not just people who like to go camping. Digging out the chargers for your mobile phone, tablet PC, MP3 player and GPS unit, and then finding an available plug socket for them at the airport can be an irritating experience. Things rarely get much better when you get to the hotel. Even high-end hotels tend to have a limited number of plugs per hotel. This isn’t a deliberate decision on the part of the hotel owners. Most hotels were built many decades ago, when mobile phones, MP3 players and portable computers did not exist. The architects who designed those hotels had no idea that within a few decades the average person would be carrying handheld computers more powerful than the average mainframe of their time.
Carrying a solar phone charger, or, even better, a solar multi-device charger, frees you from needing to carry so many plugs with you. It also means that you can charge your devices wherever you are, as long as it’s day time. This means that your holiday or business trip will be relaxing once again.
Good For The Office Too
More and more businessmen are opting to take a solar charger into their offices. If you are sick and tired of fighting for the last remaining space in the power strip near your desk, then it makes sense to charger with you. In an office environment, even a ten plug power strip can quickly fill up. You have to worry about the plugs for all of the computers, monitors, printers, desktop phones, and the fax machine, photocopier and free-standing fan. Instead of plugging your phone in and hoping that someone else won’t decide that charging their device is more important than letting you charge yours, why not simply leave your phone on the windowsill, connected to a solar charger?
The Types of Solar Phone Charger Available
There are several different solar chargers available, from simple, incredibly affordable units that come with only one kind of connector, to more expensive multi-charging devices that will charge AA batteries and almost any kind of device as long as it has a mini USB connection. There are even some solar chargers that can handle laptops as well as phones. The Solargorilla is an example of this kind of device. It can handle most phones, iPods, tablet devices and laptops, however it weighs 820g, so it’s not something you’d want to take with you every time you left the house.
Lighter devices such as the Freeloader, the Solio Solar Charger and the Uvee Solar Charger are a better option for people who want to be able to recharge their phones on the move. Many laptop bags now have a clear panel on the back to hold such chargers, allowing you to recharge devices inside the bag while you’re walking around town. There are even some solar charging phone straps, that work with basic “feature phones”, and offer a constant trickle charge to your devices.
Do Solar Chargers Really Work?
Solar chargers have come a long way in the past few years. It’s true that the first generation of panels were not very good. Those panels required direct sunlight in order to work properly, and had very poor output on cloudy days. The solar technology that we are using today is similar to the panels of the 1960s, but it is more efficient, and it will work on cloudy days, and even if it is foggy. The lightweight, portable solar chargers that you use to recharge your mobile phone are incredibly reliable, and will not break down or require lots of maintenance if you take good care of it. All you, as the end user, need to do is plug your phone in to the charger, leave it somewhere that sees sunlight, and forget about it.
The performance of each model of charger varies, but in general most solar chargers will fully charge your phone within six hours. This is a far slower charge than you would get by plugging your phone into the mains, but it is more than good enough for someone who just wants to keep their phone charged while they’re at the office. Solar charging phone straps can keep your battery levels topped up while you’re outside, too, helping you get more than half a day’s usage out of a sophisticated smartphone.
Should You Buy a Solar Charger For Your Phone?
A solar charger for your phone won’t save you much money on your electricity bills in the short term, but it will reduce your load on the national grid, and the convenience and flexibility that it offers is a nice bonus. If you’re interested in green living, want to break away from depending on traditional energy providers, or just want to feel more confident that you’ll never be stuck with a flat phone in the middle of nowhere, then it is worth buying a solar phone charger.
There is little difference in the performance of the cheap chargers compared with the more expensive ones. The main difference is in the number and type of devices that can be charged. If you’re on the fence about whether or not a solar charger will be a good buy for you, why not pick up one of the basic models that supports phones only, and see how it works for you. If you like it, you can always upgrade to a more sophisticated model at a later date.