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Resources, Guides and Plans For Getting Cheap Solar Panels
~ Updated December 11, 2012
A solar charger uses the same principles of electricity as a standard electrical charger. But among other advantages of solar energy, here rather than drawing electricity from a wall socket, a solar charger uses an arrangement of solar cells to collect energy from the sun, and then convert that energy to electricity either for immediate use, or for later use as stored energy in a battery.
Whether or not the right solar charger for you will need an internal battery will
be determined by the type of devices you intend to charge and your intended use.
Smaller devices, such as cell phones or digital music devices might run fine directly
from the sun. However, larger devices may require a battery because of the power
needed. While solar chargers without internal batteries are cheaper, one important
consideration to note is that if the sun is not available when you intend to use
the device, it will not work. Consequently, having an internal battery is much more
convenient as the device can be run at any time, regardless of the level of sunlight.
Solar chargers come in a wide variety of sizes and power output capabilities. Some are designed to be larger and mainly for running household devices and appliances. These come in the form of solar powered generators for the home. Others are designed to be compact and easily portable. For example, we all love the convenience of being able to run many of our portable electrical devices from batteries when we are not close to conventional wall sockets. Fortunately, that type of convenience also applies with regard to solar powered portable devices. It is crucial, though, to correctly match the solar charger you are considering to the types of devices you intend to run for power requirements.
To compare, with standard batteries for portable devices this is an easy process
with which we are all well familiar. Everyone knows that to run a portable stereo
(boombox) you will probably need several D-
The three main electrical units you are likely to encounter in your shopping comparisons are watts, volts, and amperes (amps). A common analogy used to describe the relationships between these is that of a garden water hose.
Volts would represent the water pressure of the water coming out of the hose, amps would be the rate of flow of the water, and watts would be the total power or strength of the water coming out.
Watts equals volts multiplied by amps. So, for example, if you increased the water
pressure (volts) then the flow rate of the water (amps) would also increase. Consequently,
when both of these numbers are higher, so is the water power produced (watts).
For our purposes, then, we need to know that the most important unit is watts. We need to know how much power (watts) our device needs to run, and we need to know how much power our charger can produce. The other unit we will consider is amps. Once we are satisfied that our charger is powerful enough to run a given device we can also look at the flow rate of electricity (amps) and that will tell us how long the device will run on a single charge. This can be a little confusing at first, but the important thing is if these questions are not answered in a description of the charger it is always a good idea to find out.
Through common experience we are all reasonably familiar with about how long a regular dry cell battery will last in a given device. However, most of us do not have that same experience with solar energy. That is why it's a good idea to have all the information about power and how long it will last before we make a purchase.
One important thing to remember here is that you should always have the proper connectors
with you at the time of need. This includes both to connect the solar charger to
the computer and to connect the charger to the device later. Some mobile devices
have USB ports and some do not, so you might need a different cord to connect them.
This is an added benefit to the solar charger since it can be used as a power source
without actually needing any sunlight.
Some of the most common mobile devices that use stored battery power are Iphones, Ipods, Ipads, and laptop computers. Depending on what you have, you may have the need to charge any or all of these products and may wish to use a solar charger. It could be easy to assume that one charger could handle all of these devices, but that might be very far from the truth. Again, it is absolutely critical that you match your charger to the devices you are using.
While the general size of a device can be a loose guide as to how much power it needs,
by no means is it conclusive. In many, many cases two devices of approximately the
same size have different power requirements such that a given charger will work with
one but not the other. For this reason it is always a good idea to make sure a given
charger is specifically rated to charge your specific device. Many chargers advertise
that they are "great for Iphones" or some such. Just make sure that if what you have
is instead, say, an Ipod that it will also work for that.
As you might imagine, laptops use much more energy and need more power to run than the smaller devices. Therefore, you will need a larger solar charger. Fortunately, these are still very convenient because today laptop flexible solar panels can come in the shape of a rolled up newspaper. Just roll out the panel wherever you are and let the sun start storing energy to power your laptop.
Of course these larger solar chargers do cost more, but the good news is that because of their power ratings you may be reasonably confident that one laptop charger may also be able to charge all of your other small mobile devices.
The only extra thing is that you might have to make an adjustment for voltage as
laptops sometimes have different needs. Many appropriate solar chargers come with
a switch to make this easy. Again, double-
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