More and more lovers of outdoor activities prefer to spend holidays and weekends closer to the pristine nature. But modern man finds it difficult to refuse the benefits of civilization - who among us does not take a mobile phone, laptop or camera on a journey?
But if you have a solar-powered charger in your luggage, the problem with powering the devices will be solved. It remains only to figure out how to choose the right device. The article submitted by us will provide effective assistance in clarifying all issues.
The content of the article:
What is solar charging?
- Design features of the device
- Principle of operation of the device
- Types of solar charge
How to choose a suitable option?
- Basic parameters and nice additions
- General recommendations for the use of memory
- How to make a charger with your own hands?
- Conclusions and useful video on the topic
What is solar charging?
These chargers are capable of converting solar energy into direct electric current. They can work with various models of navigators, music players, laptops, phones, cameras and other portable devices.
But the charging time directly depends on the power of the device itself and the type of the discharged device, therefore, to pick up a really practical and versatile device, you should understand its characteristics.
Design features of the device
The device itself consists of a crystal panel, a charge / discharge level controller and a solar-to-electrical energy converter.
Some models are also equipped with a lithium cell buffer battery, which allows the device not only transforms, but also accumulates energy in order to give charge even in the dark.
Just a couple of years ago, solar chargers were quite expensive devices, and today it is a massive product with an affordable price.
Advantages of solar charge:
- Universal - adapted for various devices (USB connectors are provided on the case, and most models are additionally equipped with special adapters for different types electrical engineering).
- Take up little space in travel luggage.
- There is a wide choice of shapes, colors, sizes and capacities for various needs and aesthetic taste.
But the most significant drawback for all solar charges is the long time they need to accumulate "power." In addition, it should be understood that if virtually any model can cope with the power of a mobile phone or camera, then an active “absorber” of laptop-type energy will already require the impressive power of a solar cell and capacitive battery
Principle of operation of the device
Portable solar charging is a stand-alone system that can recycle energy from both rays and from the electrical grid, fluorescent lights, or a computer. And many models do not necessarily have an intense sun - they accumulate a charge even on cloudy days, although the efficiency, of course, decreases (from 20 to 70%).
If you buy a device with the ability to connect to the mains, you can significantly save time on the accumulation of charge in cloudy weather
The device works as follows: the crystals on the panel absorb solar energy, the converter "processes" it into electric current, which is supplied to the power source. When a mobile phone or other device connects to this source with the help of a cord, the accumulated energy gradually flows into a discharged device.
Types of solar charge
As for the appearance - here manufacturers have already tried not only to diversify the color gamut and shape of devices, but also to make the device as convenient as possible for use in various situations. Consider the most popular options.
Monoblock - a compact device of the panel and the drive, enclosed in a solid housing made of metal or plastic. Such a device will “save” a discharged phone on a beach or a picnic and will not take up much space in a regular bag.
Monoblocks are convenient for everyday life - they do not take up much space and can be charged not only from the sun, but also while working on a laptop or computer
Flexible panel - thin folding or unfolding panel with photocells. It takes up little space in the baggage, and it weighs much less than its solid competitor, enclosed in a case. But despite the decent coverage area, flexible plates solar charge accumulates almost twice as slowly as monoblocks.
In addition, most of the panels only work from the direct rays of the sun, without accumulating energy for the future - they do not have a built-in battery. However, you can always retrofit your charge with an external drive of the required power.
So flexible panels are a good option for resolving the issue of charging low-power devices for “stationary” rest - in the country, fishing, with a tent. But for hiking travel is better to look at another option.
While driving, the flexible panel can be folded compactly and placed in the trunk or attached to the roof of the car, and on a halt - just spread under the sun's rays.
Built-in charging - the device consists of solar cellthat attach to the outside of bags or travel backpacks. They allow you to recharge devices directly on the way or accumulate a charge in the built-in battery.
And this accessory can be used for its intended purpose - to carry any items or that electronics, which is very convenient for those who are keen on hiking or working under the open the sky.
Although the "energy backpacks" look attractive and stylish, but with the same success, you can temporarily attach to the bag and any other type of charging (many models are even equipped with special carbines) and do not worry about the safety of the device during rain or cleaning
Cots - these can be either several flexible panels, compactly folded in a “stack”, or a variation of two monoblocks, enclosed in a rigid case in the form of a drop-down book.
The main goal of such a device is to minimize the "capture" of the usable area in the volume of your luggage and increase the efficiency due to the greater number of photocells. A nice bonus - most models are equipped with mounts on a backpack or car glass.
The size of the "clamshell" can be selected based on your needs: in order to charge the mobile, it is enough devices the size of the phone itself, but for laptops and tablets, even when folded, the panel will not less sheet A5
But regardless of the design, all solar charges work on the same principle, so we will consider important technical nuances that will help with the purchase of the device.
How to choose a suitable option?
To get started is to determine the number and types of devices that you plan to charge from solar charging. The power of the device and the type of output port depend on these parameters.
If the device has several USB ports, you can simultaneously connect and charge different devices, as long as the battery power allows
The characteristics of various devices can be clarified by looking at the instructions for their use, and in some devices, the operating voltage is indicated on the charger, which is included in the kit, so it will be not difficult. In extreme cases, the desired adapter can always be purchased.
Basic parameters and nice additions
From the characteristics of the charging current depends on the time it takes the device to recharge various devices. This indicator is measured in amperes and is indicated on the instrument ports.
- 1 amp - designed for mobile phones, electronic cigarettes, watches, music players.
- 2 amps - suitable for tablets, smartphones, digital cameras and video cameras.
- 2.5-3 amps - cope with charging netbooks and laptops.
It is also important to know the output voltage, because the charged devices can exceed the capacity of solar charging in terms of power. So, for most phones and simple tablets, an output of 5 volts is required, for digital cameras and gadgets - 9, and for laptops and car refrigerators - 12-24.
But still the main characteristic of the charger is the power of the solar panel. From this indicator is directly dependent on the battery charging time. And here everything depends on the characteristics of the light-catching panels.
For example, elements with a power of 5 W (the standard budget option) will have a current of 900 ma hours, and at 10 W - 1500 ma. That is, to charge the phone from solar charging at 5 W, it will take 2-3 hours, but a 10 W panel can handle it in one and a half.
For powerful devices such as gaming tablets and laptops, it is better to buy folding models from several panels that quickly generate charge
In addition, devices with panels whose power does not exceed 2 W are used only to accumulate the charge of the built-in battery. And in order to directly charge devices from sunlight, we need panels with a capacity of 3 W and more.
Other important parameters:
- Battery - if a device is not provided with a drive, it will be able to work only while it is in a lit place. Devices with batteries are capable of delivering charge at any time of the day, as well as being charged from other sources - a laptop's USB port or sockets with a 220V connection.
- Type of photo cells - it is considered that single crystals absorb sunlight more effectively (their efficiency at the level of 13-18%). In polycrystals, this indicator is lower - about 10-12%. You can even distinguish them with the naked eye - polycrystalline panels have a dark blue tint, and their competitors are black.
- Interface - universal chargers from the sun are equipped with informative USB, where you can choose the desired option, depending on the type of discharged device. Some devices are equipped with an indicator of the intensity of the sun's rays, which will help determine the optimal location for a quick charge.
- Protection - a priori, on all devices there is a security system that allows their operation in nature. But for fans of extreme adventures it is worth looking for a device with enhanced protection from rain, dust, dirt, shock and other force majeure.
Additional features are most often represented by the "flashlight" or "lamp" function. This may be relevant not only for outdoor enthusiasts, but also for motorists - when changing wheels or repairing on a night road, bright light will become an indispensable assistant.
From other bonuses, manufacturers can offer a USB hub or a Wi-Fi hotspot. But, of course, any additions significantly increase the final cost of the product. And whether they are needed - you decide.
General recommendations for the use of memory
Devices with a built-in battery before the first operation must be fully charged, and not in the sun, but from the mains. Then connect any device to the memory so that it receives energy and discharges the drive.
After that, the panel can be substituted under the rays and compensate for the lost charge. For models that work directly from the sun, this rule does not work - they can be immediately installed on illuminated areas and connected to instruments.
Most solar charges are designed to operate in temperatures ranging from - 20 to + 45 degrees, but there are special models that work in extreme climates, only they are made under the order
To maximize the efficiency of solar charging, we recommend the following:
- Position the device so that the rays fall on the panel at right angles. Even if the sun is not at its zenith, you can charge the correct position by lifting it at an angle of 40 degrees with the help of some kind of support. So you can collect a charge of 20-30% more than if you put the panel horizontally in the lit place.
- Use the device together with the drive, not only on halts, but also during the trip by car or on a hike. Such a tandem will be able to collect energy for 2-3 charging the phone even in cloudy weather without direct sunlight.
- Keep in mind that in most folding devices the panels are connected in series, so it is important that all elements are evenly lit. For example, even if the shadow covers only half of the first of the four panels, the battery capacity will fall by half.
- In order for high-capacity batteries to reach the stated parameters, they are recommended to be “overclocked” - completely discharge, then charge up to 100%. And so 3-4 times.
- For a long break in work (a month or more), store the charger at room temperature. If it is a device with a built-in battery, it must first be charged up to 50-70%.
And the last piece of advice - even if the charging has become worse to work or is completely out of order, do not disassemble it yourself so as not to damage the elements of the system and the case itself. The disassembled device is automatically removed from the warranty, so it is best to contact an authorized service center or the supplier.
How to make a charger with your own hands?
Although modern charging devices have already ceased to be premium-class devices and are quite affordable for the average consumer, if you want to save money, you can always make such a device yourself.
An example of a self-made device in a rigid metal can housing equipped with a USB connector and an energy converter for charging low-power devices
To make a simple solar memory you need to purchase several basic elements:
- poly or single crystal panel;
- battery holder;
- Schottky blocking diode;
- socket for connector;
- charge controller (however, if charging will produce 0.5-5V, you can use a cheaper boost converter by 5V instead of the controller).
As for the panel itself, here you need to make a small calculation of the number of elements, based on the power of the device that you plan to charge.
For example, if the charge current for a battery is about 10% of its capacity, then a current of 2A is needed to charge 20,000 mA, and it will take about 14 hours to power the device. If you double the current to 4A, the time to recharge will be reduced to 7 hours.
Replacing the controller with the converter will allow you to collect the memory even with the help of a low-power battery from solar lawn lantern - anyway at the output we get the required 5V (true, it will charge long)
Depending on the current parameters for future charging (2 or 4A), crystalline elements are also selected. Usually, 1 part produces about 0.5V, that is, to get at least 5V you will need 10-12 elements.
Then they need to be consistently soldered together. If a flashlight panel is used, then even a standard 70 * 70 cm can produce from 2.5 to 4.5V, so it is best to check with a voltmeter.
The final stage is to make self-made charging in any suitable frame (even a candy can bank is suitable) and equip with a USB connector. Then you need to solder the blocking diode to the connector, as well as the wires from the solar panel to the converter and the holder according to the diagram below.
The Schottky diode is needed so that when the device is turned on, the batteries are not discharged through the solar battery. You can buy it, like other components, on the radio market or on the Internet
It remains to check the operation of the device in the sun with any discharged device. If everything is in order, you can use the appropriate adapters and charge various devices.
With the rules of selection of solar panels for the arrangement of a private house or cottage will introduce next articlededicated to this interesting question.
Conclusions and useful video on the topic
To get a visual idea of solar chargers and how they work, we suggest watching our selection of videos:
Practical tips and tricks on how to choose charging for various devices. You can look inside and study the monoblock scheme together with the author of this video:
How to build a charger, working from the sun with their own hands:
Thanks to the technical progress and the bright heads of the inventors who made the solar energy available to ordinary users. Thanks to these chargers, you can not worry that on vacation at the right time you will be left without communication with civilization.
Well, if there are difficulties with the selection of the device, you can always seek advice from professionals who are knowledgeable in electrical engineering.
Tell us about how to use solar exercises in field conditions, at a picnic or on the road. Please write comments in the box below. Ask questions, share your impressions and useful information on the topic, publish photos.