The title seems somewhat contradictive doesn’t it? Even for solar power, recharging is required for the down times that will occur. These unique chargers are available in a range of sizes depending upon the type of equipment you are utilizing solar power for. Therefore the need for Solar Power Battery Chargers comes into play.
Store Bought Solar Power Battery Chargers
The store bought options are typically for smaller batteries. The typical batteries that are required for your smart phone, digital camera, TV remote, electronic toys or other items (which I am sure you can think of a number of products you use on a regular basis that require batteries). Stronger and more powerful units are available as well. Below are some great options to consider for both low and high powered units.
Low Power Units
This model is a great charger to consider as it can charge ELEVEN (11) different sizes of batteries. For under $40.00, this solar battery charger will charge either NIMH or NiCad batteries. The downside is that only two (2) C, D, AA, AAA or GUM batteries can be charged at once but due to the chargers output of 150mah or 5 volts.
The length of a full charge will vary upon how much sun is available. However, the bottom stand and adjustable lid (where the solar panel is located) assist in maximizing every sun ray possible. A blocking diode is built-in to prevent a possible reverse flow of electricity from the charging batteries. The weather resistant case is perfect for the car, camper or boat .
Another solar battery charger to consider is more compact and will charge either four (4) AA or four (4) AAA batteries at one time. The pros are that this unit will fit in your pocket (a belt clip is included), includes a blocking diode and weighs about 3 pounds. The cons are that even though connectors are included, a USB cable is sold separately and there is no indicator light to let you know when charging is complete. This is a great option for backpacking or hiking especially if you need to charge your GPS while out in the wilderness.
High Power Portable Units
This first high powered option is USA made, offered by Portable Solar Power, and priced around $3,000. The system is weatherproof and expandable. Other features include automatic low voltage disconnect, automatic solar restart, on/off/reset switch and AC inverter.
Peak measured at 640 watt with a continuous 12 volt to 120 volt AC inverter. Weighs approximately 50 pounds and measures 20 inches x 20 inches x 20 inches. MMPT Solar Tracking provides the ability for more power to be stored in the same load time of a typical solar panel.
Moving up the power ladder, this system also offered by Portable Solar Power is priced about $4,000 and weighs around 65 pounds with measurements of being 4 inches greater than the last model in length, width and height. Even using this model daily, you will still get a lifespan ranging from 5 to 10 years depending upon how hard you use this mobile power plant. The power accessed can be from wind, solar or hydro renewable sources.
The Pelican case is military grade which keeps the 1,000 watt generator protected at all times. Maximum output by the 12.8 volt LiFePo4 battery stores and provides power available through an AC inverter while the DC maximum input is 150 volts. The Battery Fuel gauge is digital and displays the current voltage, state of charge, charging time left and usage. Two (2) solar panels are included and have a built-in carrying handle with durable latches. Plug and play make this option one to consider when going off the grid just about anywhere you have access to the sun.
Backpack Solar Power Units
For under $200 bucks, you not only get a sturdy backpack, but you get your very own energy generating system. The solar module is made from a then and flexible film. Weighing about 3 pounds, this USA made solar backpack offers up to a maximum of 4 watts to charge your devices. A 12 volt cigarette power cord and universal USB battery are not included. The backpack has plenty of room in the main compartment. An accessory pocket, zippered, on the front can hold keys, CDs while a side mesh pocket can hold your water or other items.
For about $50 bucks less, this solar infused backpack comes with a removable 5 watt solar panel. A 12,000 mAh LiOn battery provides the power for your various mobile devices. Just under 3 pounds, this durable solar powered backpack will charge indoors and out. A top padded handle and padded shoulder straps allow comfort while worn; a sternum strap is also included to provide optimum safety. Options include a one (1) liter water bladder and colors are either black and red or black and blue.
DIY Solar Power Battery Chargers
Yes, you can make your own and the process is super easy for a quick version with low cost. This is a perfect way to determine if you are willing to spend more for a better product; however, you may be surprised how well your DIY solar battery chargers work. Below are two options to consider:
1. Making Use of Dollar Store Solar Garden Lights – You will need several, start with several for your first attempt to make things easier. A basic charger uses four (4) solar panels and two (2) battery holders. Keep in mind that the batteries that come with the lights, their strength is about half of your typical AAA battery. A basic description of the creation process is noted below.
Begin by twisting off the top where the “light” is located from the lights post. Disconnect the batteries from the circuit board and then remove the circuit board itself. Next cut and strip the wires and remove the LED light and set aside. Take the solar panels and the battery holders and attach them to a board. Then connect the negative wires together and then the positive wires tighter. Don’t forget to include a diode between the solar cells and the batteries. Sauder all of the connections you have made. Now your solar battery is ready to be charged by the sun.
2. Another simpler but more expensive version – This is a quicker version making use of a battery cradle, cables with alligator clips and a solar panel. Obtain a solar panel that is 6 volt 1.5 watts and this will provide 250mah per hour to charge four (4) AA to four (4) C batteries. Connect the cables to the solar panel and to the battery cradle and you are ready to charge some batteries.