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Solar charger

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by Alexandoy, Sep 29, 2018.

  1. Alexandoy

    Alexandoy Survivalist

    May I know your experience with gadgets that have solar chargers? I have 3 emergency light with a solar panel on top that is not really functioning. A nephew gave me an electric fan that can be charged via the solar panel but it's fake. I remember a Christmas gift that is a solar charger for phones. It would be great for a camper if those solar chargers are real.
  2. Northern Dancer

    Northern Dancer Survivalist

    It's a difficult question because I can't see that kind of product that you are dealing with. The solar stuff that I have has been working fine for years. I don't know what the longevity of the various items might be but I guess they come to an end like everything else.

    My latest addition to my inventory is an excellent AluminAid lantern. I also have the two flat ones that still work perfectly after five years. The panels all work well; it may be that your battery is dead or dying.

    upload_2018-9-29_15-9-33.jpeg upload_2018-9-29_15-10-28.jpeg
  3. GetPreparedStuff

    GetPreparedStuff Novice Camper

    My general experience is that any gadget that has a built in solar panel, the solar panel is woefully undersized to meet the demands of recharging the device. Exceptions to that generality are the luminAid lanterns and the d.light lanterns. However, in northern latitudes even these lanterns will need a good day of cloudless skies to recharge fully so in day after day use it is a real possibility that you will not always have enough power to run the light for a full nights use.

    My portable solution has been to find a good USB folding solar panel like the Anker or Ravpower (21 or 24 watt or greater model) and a good USB power bank (preferably a power bank with duel inputs like the Anker PowerCore 26800 Portable Charger so it can charge faster with two lines plugged into the solar panel)

    With this larger yet portable solar panel and larger power bank I can keep up with the demands of power needed to run USB lights and even a small USB fan in a camping environment. This solution can also work with some solar devices like the new luminAID lantern (pictured above left) which has a USB charging option. (The old model, pictured on the right is solar charge only).

    I still prefer the flashlights and lanterns I have that use batteries as they don't have to compromise their light output to fit into the requirements of being charged by a built in solar panel. The solution I described however, lets me recharge batteries such as 18650 cells that I use in my flashlights and lanterns.

    The sun is hard on most materials and degrades them quickly so I'd rather buy and use a solar panel that can handle it as opposed to a all-in-one type solar lantern or flashlight or other device that will die an early death because it had to pack the solar panel, battery and LEDs or other electronics inside a small plastic case with no circulation that gets left out in the sun to bake and overheat the battery and electronic inside it like an oven. The longevity of these solarized devices will always be suspect because of the design compromises that have to be made to add a solar panel to them. This is why buying a larger portable solar panel that can collect more power in less time and a battery pack that can at least be hidden in the shade or shadow of the larger solar panel to protect if from heat maybe the better long term solution which lets you recharge and use better flashlight, lanterns and other devices that are designed for light output and long runtimes without having to compromise those things to add a solar panel.
    Northern Dancer likes this.
  4. Alexandoy

    Alexandoy Survivalist

    Thank you for the inputs about solar chargers. I will check on them the next time I visit the electronic store. My idea about solar chargers like the one for the phone is you can save on electricity by charging your phone using the solar charger instead of plugging the phone's cord into the electric socket. Think if majority of phone users will do that then that is a big savings in electric power.
  5. GetPreparedStuff

    GetPreparedStuff Novice Camper

    Power consumption to recharge a cell phone if combined with millions of users certainly adds up. For an individual however, to recharge an empty cell phone battery would consume I'd guess about 15-20 watt hours of power depending on battery size of the average smartphone. Unfortunately even at the highest calculated cost of electricity per KW, it would cost less than $1 per year to recharge your cell phone everyday using the power grid. In other words, it would take over a lifetime to recoup an investment of buying even a $100 worth of portable solar panels and battery power banks.

    It also points out that we value power much more in places where there aren't electric outlets around as we will spend a lot more than a $1 per year to keep our phone and other devices powered up for our use. The phone I can do without but my LED lanterns and flashlights would be tough to leave behind especially because they are brighter, safer and longer lasting than candles, kerosene or any other old school solution.
    Alexandoy likes this.
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