Using a solar-powered charger to charge your mobile phone, iPod, hand-held console
Solar-powered chargers aren’t perfect. We have been mentioning and championing the benefits of solar-powered chargers, but there are aspects of them that are not quite as convenient as traditional mains-powered plug-in chargers.
Having said that, what they lose inconvenience they make up for in savings and conscience-boosting environmental friendliness!
What’s more, in many cases they are the ultimate in convenience – sitting in the middle of the desert or on top of Mont Blanc, what could be more convenient than having a reliable source of electrical power?!
How effective are solar-powered chargers?
Solar-powered chargers are dependant on sunlight to work. Depending on the quality of charger you decide to buy (i.e. its efficiency at converting sunlight energy into electrical energy), you would be able to charge batteries in as little time as 2-3 hours in bright sunlight. When compared with expensive mains fast-charge chargers, which take around an hour, this is pretty impressive.
High-capacity batteries such as the NiMH rechargeables used in many digital cameras will take longer than less capacious NiCad batteries, but the speed of charging is nonetheless impressive given the size of the charger.
Solar-powered chargers are generally designed to be used outdoors, and often in places far away from civilization. Being able to charge your phone or sat nav from the dashboard of your Land Rover as you traverse the Sahara is amazing! For that reason, many solar-powered chargers are designed to be very small for maximum portability.
One brilliant feature built into every solar-powered charger is that when you are traveling, you no longer need international adaptors, nor do you have to worry about differences in voltages between countries! As long as there is the sun, you have a ready source of free and clean energy.
When backpacking or interrailing, money is often in short supply, so having to buy expensive international adapters for the numerous countries you might find yourself in can become a budget-busting exercise. Solar-powered chargers help reduce the outlay.
The portability of most models of solar chargers means you can be hiking in the Andes or traveling on the Trans-Siberian Railway, all the while charging your cell phone or iPod without any worries about costs or availability. In the former case, having a good source of energy could even save your bacon – having a charged mobile phone on a mountainside could be a lifesaver!