Although the constant storms of the last few weeks are not letting the sun shine with energy, I have decided to get a solar charger. There is a whole world in Amazon, a good part of them functioning as batteries attached to small solar panels.
My goal was to avoid this: I just wanted a solar panel connected to the phone, see what happened and what possible use scenarios arose. I searched with my team for one of the cheapest and this is what I found.
A solar panel and a USB, nothing more
As I told you, if you search for “solar charger on Amazon” the most common thing is to find Power Banks to which solar panels are attached. This one is much simpler: just a solar panel with a USB cable. Here comes one of its main drawbacks, since the vast majority of my electronic devices connect via USB-C. The plates have IP67 certification to withstand water (this protocol can withstand up to 1 meter of immersion, although I do not recommend getting this device wet).
The main limitation of this charger is that, in the best scenario, it can charge at 5W
The second limitation that this product has is its output: it only has a power of 5W. This knocks out all my portable Bluetooth speakers, almost any type of LED light I want to use as a prop to read a book, or to power any device that has a certain power demand.
Its main function is to charge devices, so let’s talk about how it works. This solar panel has a USB port, so it is incompatible with the fast charging systems of current phones. In fact, if we add that I had to use a USB-A cable on a phone with a 5,000mAh battery (Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra), you can imagine the charging figures.
At 45W, this mobile charges in an hour. with solar charger It has not been possible to load it completely. This happens because the final power is 5W, in ideal conditions of full incidence of constant sunlight. The reality is that applications like Electron showed that it barely reached 1W, with the solar panel in the window, so it would have to be practically a whole day to charge. Yes, we can gain a small percentage of autonomy if we are not in a hurry, but with the huge batteries that currently exist, it is unfeasible to charge between 1 and 5W.
Although it works with ambient light, if we want charging power we need direct sunlight. This will make us have to be somewhat careful with the electronic devices that we are charging, mostly enemies of the sun
The other point to take into account is that, as you will see in the photograph, I had to manage to put the charger in the window and protect the phone on a table so that the sun did not hit it directly. this charger “does not need” the sun to hit it stronglyIn my case it has worked even with ambient light. However, if even with sunlight it is sometimes difficult to reach 5W, with ambient light it becomes unfeasible to charge any device.
Despite this, this device is quite portable. In fact, it comes with a carbine that allows us to hang it from any backpack. It seems to me an ideal complement, as can be seen in the image, to protect the phone or portable battery in the backpack and to gradually feed it.
Excursions in the mountains, a day at the beach… As a solution to gain some energy while enjoying free time, it is an ideal complement for the summer. It has significant limitations on charging times, as we have seen, but if we do not want to depend on a Power Bank and want to use cleaner energy, it is a great alternative.
Image | xataka
In Xataka | Spend zero electricity and have everything turned on: this is how I set up my own solar installation (with advice and recommendations)