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Direct Solar Charging of Small Devices

Direct Solar Charging of Small Devices

Many devices can be directly solar charged using compatible 12V DC Chargers or car chargers. Most of the small portable chargers already come with the female lighter socket, other solar panels can be ordered with one.

Here are some examples of small devices that can be directly solar charged:

DC Battery Chargers: We have a large variety of battery chargers available depending on how fast and what types of batteries you'd like to charge. Please see our battery charger packages: Solar Chargers for AA/AAA/C/D/9V Batteries.

iPods, MP3 players: If you do not already have a 12V DC iPod charger please see here: DC iPod Charger. Please keep in mind that there are different sizes of iPod batteries. For example, an iPhone has a 3.7v 1400 mA internal battery, using a 6.5-watt solar panel (433 mA hours/per hour) you would need about 3.5 hours of perfect sun to charge a completely dead battery. A 5th generation iPod video has a 3.7V 400 mA battery and would take about 1.5 hours to charge using this same panel.

Cell phones: Most cell phone companies have available a 12V DC car charger as an accessory when you purchase your phone. If you do not have one, they are available at most of the "big box" stores. Using the car cord, most cell phones can be charged using any of our 5-20 watt solar panels. A few cell phone batteries are higher voltage and may require more than a 5-watt solar charger. It's always better to have a higher wattage panel anyway. You will be able to charge your device with less than perfect sun conditions with a higher wattage panel.

Digital Cameras: Want to keep your digital camera, video camera or other lithium-ion battery charged up with solar energy? We sell a variety of solar camera charger packages. Please contact us if you do not see your charger listed. Please note that camera batteries over 3.7V require at least a 10-watt solar panel to charge.

PDA and GPS: Please contact your manufacturer if you do not have an existing 12V DC car charger. If your battery is over 3.7V you need at least a 10-watt solar panel to direct solar charge.

Weather Fluctuations: Please keep in mind that the speed of which your solar panel will charge your device depends on the weather. A cloudy day can decrease your charge rate by over 30%. If you have a minimally sized solar panel for your device you may not be able to charge at all in overcast or cloudy conditions. Please consider over sizing your solar panel or using a battery bank or storage device if this concerns you.

What solar panels can be used for direct charging applications?

Please see our: Solar panel section. We recommend using any of our 5-20 watt solar panels to directly solar charge your device.

Here is a quick breakdown of the types of panels we recommend for use with the devices mentioned above:

Rigid: Rigid panels are best when portability and weight of the panel is not the most important factor. These panels are less expensive than the foldable and rollable technologies. The weight of our rigid 5-20 watt panels range from 15 ounces to 6.5 lbs. Rigid panels typically have a longer Power Warranty than foldable and rollable panels.

Foldable: These panels are more expensive per watt. However, they are very lightweight, and fold up nice and neat like a book. Foldable panels are ideal for those looking to solar charge while backpacking, traveling, camping or where any small, lightweight solar charging is necessary. Foldable panels are extremely popular with Peace Corps volunteers, extreme hikers, backpackers, travelers, boaters, or anyone looking for a compact solar charger they can just fold-up and put away.

Rollable: Rollable panels use most of the same technologies that foldable panels do, however they roll up rather than fold. These panels are outfitted with Marine Grade components and are extremely popular with boaters, hikers, campers, and travelers. All of our rollable panels come with a plastic tube for nice, easy storage.

We recommend giving yourself ample time to test your solar charging solution before embarking on your next adventure.

please email us at: with any questions.


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