How to Use a Solar Cell Phone Charger: A Green Option for Your Mobile

Solio solar cell phone charger.  Photo courtesy of cogdogblog at http://www.flickr.com/photos/cogdog/3583355309/ under Creative Commons Attribution License.
Solio solar cell phone charger. Photo courtesy of cogdogblog at http://www.flickr.com/photos/cogdog/3583355309/ under Creative Commons Attribution License.

A solar cell phone charger can lend some "green" to your mobile by giving juice to your cellphone in the event of an emergency or when you don't have access to a traditional electrical outlet. A solar charger is not only more energy-efficient, but also cheaper to use than battery-operated chargers.  Many solar cell phone chargers are lightweight, weighing only a couple of ounces, use LED lights, and contain no batteries. Some chargers can be used to charge an MP3 player and PDA as well as a mobile phone. Use one to charge your phone's battery to make your emergency call or to ensure that you can receive incoming calls. Your supplies will simply be the charger, cables, adaptor tips, and sunlight.

How Do Solar Cell Phone Chargers Work?

Solar chargers for moble phones use solar cells to convert the energy from light into electricity, a process known as the photovoltaic effect.  The arrays of solar panels in these small, portable chargers are made of semiconducting materials.  They receive sunlight, convert the photons to electricity, and channel it into a direct current.

Most solar mobile phone chargers accommodate a wide array of cellphone brands.

General Instructions for Using Solar Cell Phone Chargers

Don't be one of those people who never read instructions. Each solar charger is different, so verse yourself on the specific operating instructions for your particular model--Motorola, Sony, etc.--first. In general, this is how you use solar cell phone chargers:

  • Leave your solar-powered cell phone charger in the sun to ensure it's prepared to charge your mobile phone. Even an hour a day of exposure to sunlight or, if it uses true photovoltaic cells, a 60-watt incandescent light bulb, can keep the batteries charged. If it's lost its charge completely, give the charger a 2-day spell in sunlight to recharge it.
  • Attach the connector of the solar cell phone charger to your cell phone to provide an hour of emergency cell phone use. If it comes with different adaptor tips, use the appropriate one to match your Siemens, Samsung, Ericsson, Nokia or other model of mobile phone. How much juice will you get? Depending on your model, a minute of recharging may yield a minute of talk.
  • Optionally, use the USB connector on the cell phone cable, if it comes with the device, to plug your cell phone into a laptop computer to do the charging.
  • If there is an LED light in the device, it can be used as an LED flashlight which may last through two days of continuous use.

What is the Best Solar Cell Phone Charger?

One of the most popular, bestselling solar cell phone chargers, and rated highly (8) by CNET for its compact convenience, versatility of charging options (plug-in or sunlight), and charge yield, is the Solio Universal Solar Charger. CNET notes that it doesn't fit in a pocket and is a little loosely connected and tricky to handle since it can't be laid on its side. Their experiment charging it for 45 minutes yielded the power to talk for just under half those minutes, which is they say is excellent.

CNET also liked the Cellboost for its low price, small size, power, and the ability to use your cell phone while it's attached. A disposable charger that seems to be only available used at this point, it is designed for specific models, such as Samsung, Nokia, etc.

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Comments 2 comments

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Mobile Phones 7 years ago from India

I am glad you wrote this article. Not too many people about this kind of alternatives.


Cheeky Girl profile image

Cheeky Girl 6 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

I saw a solar charger for British and Irish mobile fones in the Argos catalog. Rumour has it that Maplin Electronics also have at least one in their catalog too! I aim to buy one of these, as my darn iPhone batt goes down awful fast! This is a very useful item to have! Appreciate this Great Hub!

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