Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

CleanTechnica

Clean Power

Benefits of Using Solar Panels to Charge Small Devices

 
Apart from major appliances that you need to wash clothes, preserve food, and heat water, you may want to stay connected to the internet and keep your phones/tablet PC charged during power outages.

This article is primarily about long power outages caused by hurricanes that last days or even weeks (Hurricane Ivan left me without power for two weeks).

If you don’t want to spend much and just want to keep your phones charged, then you could do so at a lower cost by using a small solar setup (depending on how many devices you want to charge) instead of a typical gasoline-powered generator that would cost hundreds of dollars.

This is due to the fact that generators are normally larger than necessary (often over 1,000 watts), and therefore more expensive than necessary.

Before you buy a factory-prebuilt solar charger or set one up yourself, you should know the power consumption of the devices you need to sustain.
 

 
To sustain your wi-fi internet connection, you probably need at least 10 watts of power. As an example, the DSL modem that I have uses 6 watts, and the wi-fi router uses 4 watts.

Cell phones use a fraction of a watt, and tablet PCs use less than 3 watts. Cellphone chargers, however, draw about 5 watts (example: Blackberry 8320) if they are smartphones — generally, for less than an hour. The power consumption averages out to less than 1 watt.

Parts list (to sustain 1 smartphone and wi-fi internet connection only):

  • Inverter — all the inverters I have seen are over 100 watts, and those cost very little (less than $30).
  • 12 volt, 7 Ah deep-cycle lead-acid battery — this size has much better than average value ($20).
  • 20 watt solar panel with a charge controller if your area enjoys more than 10 hours of sunny weather daily ($70).

Total cost: $120.

Other notes:

The inverter will beep when the battery is low. Start conserving stringently as soon as it starts occasional beeping.

Fast beeping means that your time is up. Turn off the modem and router first so you can save the battery for the phone.

Cost of phone-only USB solar charger: less than $30.

Image: solar panel via Shutterstock

 
Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality and cleantech news coverage? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.
 

Don't want to miss a cleantech story? Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!
 

Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.
Advertisement
 
Written By

writes on CleanTechnica, Gas2, Kleef&Co, and Green Building Elements. He has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, and geography. His website is: Kompulsa.com.

Comments

You May Also Like

Buildings

CleanTechnica has had numerous articles on companies and organizations that are supplying off-grid electricity to consumers in Africa. Since I live in western Kenya...

Clean Power

The Swedish International Development Cooperation Council is expanding its off-grid solar initiative in sub-Saharan Africa and backing its commitment with $50 million in seed...

Cars

Wanting to drive a zero emission vehicle that runs on sunshine, Doug White decided to do an ICE to EV conversion. He wanted to...

Clean Power

Greenlight Planet, one of the world's leading off-grid solar providers, this week announced that it has successfully raised $60 million in new funding led...

Copyright © 2021 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.