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Guide to Solar Chargers

We realise that we have a large range of solar chargers so if you can send us an email with the answers to the following questions we can assess your information and come back with just one or two options. Or just simply give us a call on 1300 883335.  

Information we need in order to help you find out which solar charger would suit your needs best.

What devices do you want to charge?

What are the model numbers of your devices?

Can your device be charged via a 12V car charger or a USB port?

What is the size of the batteries that you want to charge i.e. 1500 mAh?

How often do you want to charge each of the batteries?

On a scale of 1 – 10, 1 being the least important, is it important for the solar charger  to be lightweight?

Will you need to attach the solar charger to a backpack?

Would you like a direct feed from the sun or would you prefer to draw power from the solar charger’s internal battery when the sun goes down?

This section aims to cover a few things to consider when buying portable solar chargers or panels.  It also has a bit of background information on calculating your portable solar power needs.

Which type of Solar Charger should you choose?

How much electricity do computers use?  

What are amps, volts and ohms?

Which type of Solar Charger should you choose? 

Solar charging small items such as mobile phones, ipod, camera battery, gps..... 

a) Solar chargers with an internal battery such as Voltaic,Solio, Powermonkey. Freeloader etc. These solar chargers have the capacity to store solar power for use at time when the sun has disappeared.  One other consideration is the size of the battery on these devices the mAh indicates how much solar power the charger can store. (See point 2 below for other considerations) 

b) Another type of solar charger such as the Global Solar SUNLINQ range is the small thin fold up or roll up or even a small ridge panel. These can be more powerful as they often have a larger panel however you need to charge your devices from the sun directly.  They don't have a built in solar storage facility.

c) There is also a third option with the solar backpack or bag these usually have an internal battery, and some may be able to charge laptops, but keep in mind that laptops need a lot of power, starting from around 30 watts of power.  Please feel free to call us on 1300 883335 to discuss these options.

2. Using small battery type solar chargers.

Most small solar chargers have a battery capacity around 800 to 2500 mAh, and an output of 5 or 6 volts. These solar chargers are good for small handheld devices such as mobile phones, GPS, sat navs, ipods etc.  If solar charging a camera battery with a Lithium Ion battery (a rectangular camera battery) is a big priority they you might be better looking at the Freeloader Pro with Camcaddy, as it's probably one of the only dedicated portable solar chargers that handle this type of battery. Alternatively if you have a Digital SLR camera with a car charger cradle you could look at one of the Voltaic Portable Solar Chargers with a Car Charger socket.  Something like the Voltaic Fuse Portable Solar Charger would be ideal for power whilst backpacking as it just clips on and has storage space inside also.


Just to note that these small solar chargers do NOT have enough solar power for laptops or notebooks.  You would need to look at a larger solar solution such as the Global Solar Flexible Solar Panels and a Tekkeon battery to store the power. 


These smaller solar chargers can be usually be charged by mains or USB, in effect giving a second phone or device battery. In good sunlight it takes 6 to 10 hours to fully charge most small chargers. For best results keep your chargers solar panels face on to the sun as much as possible.If you need to charge while on the go you will need to select a charger that can be secured or carried whilst charging. 


3. Avoid overheating your solar charger by charging in areas where excessive heat pockets can develop such car interiors or window sills ehere heavy curtaining can trap excessive heat.


4. Shop early


If your main reason for using a solar charger is for travelling partially to remote places it's best to give yourself plenty of time to become familiar with your solar charger and understand it's workings and limitations, and importantly to sort out any compatibly issues with charging devices. 


 How much electricity do computers use?

A typical desktop computer uses about 65 to 250 watts. You may need to contact your manufacturer to find out the figure or purchase a simple plug in energy monitor.

An LCD monitor would add another 15-70 watts for an LCD monitor. There are also related devices to consider such as the modem.  

Most laptop computers use about 15-60 watts, much more energy efficient than desktops.

You can often look at the label to see how much energy devices use.  However be mindful that but that a label can often give the theoretical maximum, not the actual amount used. A computer with a label that states it's usuage is 300 watts might only use about 70 watts when it's running, and even only 100 at peak times

Although your computer doesn't use much energy when it's in standy or sleep mode (relatively speaking) you should still make sure your computer is set to sleep mode when you're not using it after a set period of time.

How much it costs to run your computer

Watts  x  Hours Used x  Cost per kWh = Total Cost

E.G. If your calculate that your computer uses about 100 watts including monitor and you have it on for about 8 hours a day, every day of the year that would be

100 watts x 8 hours x 365 days = 292,000 watt hours, or 292 kilowatt-hours. If you're paying $0.45 per kWh, you're paying $131.40 a year to run your computer.

What are amps, watts, volts and ohms?

­The­ three most basic units in electricity are voltage, current and resistance. Voltage is measured in volts, current is measured in amps and resistance is measured in ohms.

What happens if you increase the pressure in the tank? You probably can guess that this makes more water come out of the hose. The same is true of an electrical system: Increasing the voltage (more pressure in a water tank) will make more current flow.

Electrical power is measured in watts. In an electrical system power is equal to the voltage multiplied by the current or simply


Watts = Volts x Amps

A nice analogy that came from the How Stuff Works website is if you take a hose and point it at a waterwheel like the ones that were used to turn grinding stones in watermills. You can increase the power generated by the waterwheel in two ways. If you increase the pressure of the water coming out of the hose, it hits the waterwheel with a lot more force and the wheel turns faster, generating more power. If you increase the flow rate, the waterwheel turns faster because of the weight of the extra water hitting it.