Portable Solar Power: Convenient Battery Charging for All Your Devices
Don't Leave Home Without Portable Solar Power
Do you own a cell phone, camera, mP3 player, computer or GPS device? Yes? Then certainly you've worried about losing battery charge at a critical time. You want to videotape your son's home run. You'd like to be able to find your way home along a new trail. You need to be able to make an emergency phone call.
With portable solar power, you can make sure that your devices' batteries are always fully charged, even if an electrical outlet is not nearby. Quite frankly, any outdoors-person should have one of many solar power chargers on the market!
If you enjoy hiking, bicycling, camping, hunting or fishing, its easy and convenient to stay fully charged. Even students can take advantage of the new solar technology. Walking across campus or studying outdoors are prime opportunities to re-charge your phone or computer - especially with a solar backpack or handbag.
What types of Portable Solar Power Chargers are Available?
With solar panels dropping in price at huge rates (50% over the past 2 years), its clear that photovoltaic (PV) panels are here to stay. Solar technology has made significant strides recently, too. Efficiency (aka conversion) rates are climbing, allowing for greater energy from the same amount of exposure to UV light.
There are many portable solar power chargers on the market now. And each year, more new models are made available.
With two solar blogs and an environmentally-based blog, I've reviewed a number of solar power chargers! Perhaps the most stylish and easy to use are the Voltaic Backpacks, which are fitted with thin film PV panels. Prices range from $199 to $499. The fabric is also eco-friendly, created from recycled soda bottles!
For women, solar handbags are starting to gain prominence, as well. Both types of bags have solar panels incorporated into the fabric and also include USB ports for easy plug-in and charging of a variety of devices.
Love to camp, hunt or fish? Then I'll suggest either the roll-out solar panels, or a solar strap. Again, thin film solar technology is incorporated to allow for flexible, light and very portable solar power.
Obviously, convenience is a key consideration when it comes to keeping your batteries charged. When you don't even notice your power source being toted along with your other gear, that is a huge plus, in my book!
Voltaic Solar Backpack
Why Go Solar?
Solar recharging devices are clean, green and convenient. Who could ask for anything more?
When you plug in your cell phone or mP3 device overnight, the charge is usually complete long before the night is. But you are still drawing on (and paying for) electricity thereafter. With portable solar charging devices, you can power up on the go, instead. You'll never waste energy when you use your daily UV exposure to recharge.
Obviously, solar power is a smart move for people that spend many hours outdoors. If you are already getting ample UV exposure, why not use it to energize your devices?
Beyond convenience and practicality, it makes sense to use solar energy instead of grid-based electricity, which is usually coal-based. Did you know that unplugging just a single device overnight each day for a year will save you nearly $100? That's right. Your computer can snooze when you go to bed, and you can charge up that baby during daylight hours as you commute to school or work.
Lest you think that you need bright, full sunshine days for solar energy - think again! Exposure to UV light is enough. Sure, an overcast day may result in a longer recharging time than otherwise, but fog, clouds and even rain should not dampen your solar power goals.
In short, solar energy is 100% clean, renewable and just there for the taking! Its time to put that sunlight to good use.
Beyond Solar Backpacks
Each month, I come across another new solar item on the market. Backpacks and fold-out solar panels are convenient and easy to use for individuals. But, beyond solar backpacks you can think portable solar power in many other situations:
- Recreational Vehicles (RVs) - instead of looking for a place to plug-in overnight, or using a gas-powered generator, keep your appliances running with easy to install solar panel kits (usually $200 or less)
- Boating - Same idea as for RVs! You're already outdoors... keep the GPS and cell phone charged up with portable solar
- Camping - Some solar chargers include multiple ports so you can plug in a camera, phone, mP3 player and also charge up a flashlight, if necessary!
- Construction sites - Saws, lights, etc. can be powered up without the need for extension cords with some of the more heavy duty - but still portable - solar charging devices.
- Military operations - Not surprisingly, troops can use fold-out solar blankets like the one pictured to the right to keep devices charged and ready
Solar Power Can Save Lives
Not all people in the world have easy access to grid-based electricity. Impoverished regions in Third World Countries literally rely on portable solar power to save lives.
Cell phones can be re-charged with solar devices so that villagers can make emergency calls. Perhaps more importantly, solar lanterns provide safer, cleaner illumination than kerosene lamps.
In order to refrigerate medicines needed to treat diseases in developing nations portable solar powered refrigerators are trekked across the desert on the backs of camels.
There's even solar powered systems to help filter and clean drinking water! We might take that basic human need for granted, but millions of lives can be saved each year simply with the provision of safe, potable water.
Kind of makes you think twice about the incredible power of the sun, doesn't it?
© 2010 Stephanie Hicks