When you’re out in the bush with no access to electricity, having plenty of rechargeable batteries on hand can be a matter of life and death. But a new crop of solar-powered consumer battery chargers are claiming to give campers and outdoorsmen the ability to recharge in the middle of nowhere. read about whether or not solar power can really give your batteries the boost they need.
There’s no doubt that solar power has been making its way into the rechargeable battery market for some time now. In response to the age-old problem of mobile phone batteries going dead at the worst times possible, many mobile phone battery companies have attempted manufacturing replacement batteries with solar panels of their backs, allowing users to leave their phone out in the sun to give it an emergency charge. While the reviews for these batteries are spotty at best, the idea in an of itself remains attractive to consumers, so much so that there have even been rumors that Apple’s iPhone could someday get the technology.
Now, however, we are beginning to see solar-powered battery chargers of consumer-based rechargeable batteries creep into the marketplace. Are these battery chargers any more reliable?
I came across an interesting review of a solar powered battery charger on a survivalist website called Modern Survival Blog. Their focus has nothing to do with being eco-friendly or novel; the notion of a solar battery charger is purely about survival. They explain that “Being able to charge batteries from solar energy for your flashlights, AM/FM/Shortwave radio, your emergency weather-alert radio, or your walkie-talkies or most any other communication device, is ‘insurance’ that you will be a step ahead of the rest during black-out.”
What’s particularly impressive about this solar battery charger is that it is relatively feature-rich as well: “When I came across this small battery charger, I liked the fact that it includes a meter-gauge, whereas the similar units that I currently own do not have a built-in gauge. It is nice reassurance to see the meter-reading of the energy being charged, and helps to optimize that angle facing towards the sun.” In addition to the meter, it also offers users a built-in blocking diode to prevent reverse flow of electricity from charged batteries during storage.
The reviewer does admit that, in spite of the fact that this particular solar powered battery charger works rather well, “All of the other solar battery chargers we tested were unsuitable because their voltage was too low.” Herein lies the problem with solar power.
Granted, Modern Survival Blog does have a work-around for the typically underpowered battery charger: the PowerFilm F15-600 10w Folding Solar Panel Charger, which accounts for unfurling what looks like a shower curtain-sized solar array in order to get a proper charge for your batteries. But in the end, the best approach to surviving a long period of time away from electricity is a good stock of fully charged batteries.
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