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Portable Solar Power: Convenient Battery Charging for All Your Devices

Stephanie is always looking for ways to lighten her carbon footprint. She is enthusiastic about solar power and solar gadgets.

Don't Leave Home Without Portable Solar Power

Do you own a cell phone, camera, mP3 player, computer or GPS device? Yes? Then certainly you've worried about losing battery charge at a critical time. You want to videotape your son's home run at his baseball game. You'd like to be able to find your way home along a new hiking trail. You need to be able to make an emergency phone call when you are away from home. If you can imagine any of these scenarios in your life, then you need to make sure you can keep your gadgets powered up when you are away from a plug or traditional power source.

With portable solar power, you can make sure that your device's batteries are always fully charged, even if an electrical outlet is not nearby. Quite frankly, any outdoors-person should have one of many solar power chargers on the market!

If you enjoy hiking, bicycling, camping, hunting or fishing, it is easy and convenient to keep necessary gadgets fully charged. Even students can take advantage of the new solar technology. Walking across campus or studying outdoors are prime opportunities to re-charge your phone or computer - especially with a solar backpack or handbag.

Portable solar power gives us freedom to remain untethered and yet connected!

The freeloader is one type of convenient, easy portable solar charger

The freeloader is one type of convenient, easy portable solar charger

What types of Portable Solar Power Chargers are Available?

With solar panels dropping in price at huge rates (50% over the past 2 years), it is clear that photovoltaic (PV) panels are here to stay. Solar technology has made significant strides recently, too. Efficiency (aka conversion) rates are climbing, allowing for greater energy from the same amount of exposure to UV light. This means that solar panels - whether stand-alone or integrated into portable solar power devices need less time in sunlight to create useable energy.

There are many portable solar power chargers on the market now. And each year, more new models are made available.

I have spent a lot of time researching and writing about solar power on two solar blogs and an environmentally-based blog. I've reviewed a number of solar power chargers which are both affordable and effective. Perhaps the most stylish and easy to use are the Voltaic Backpacks, which are fitted with thin film PV panels. Prices range from $199 to $499. The fabric is also eco-friendly, created from recycled soda bottles!

For women, solar handbags are starting to gain prominence, as well. Both types of bags have solar panels incorporated into the fabric and also include USB ports for easy plug-in and charging of a variety of devices.

Love to camp, hunt or fish? Then I'll suggest either the roll-out solar panels, or a solar strap. Again, thin film solar technology is incorporated to allow for flexible, light and very portable solar power.

Obviously, convenience is a key consideration when it comes to keeping your batteries charged. When you don't even notice your power source being toted along with your other gear, that is a huge plus, in my book!

Voltaic Solar Backpack

Are Solar Panel Charging Devices Reliable?

Solar recharging devices are reliable, clean, green and convenient. Who could ask for anything more?

When you plug in your cell phone overnight, the charge is usually complete long before the night is. But you are still drawing on (and paying for) electricity thereafter. With portable solar charging devices, you can power up on the go, instead. You'll never waste energy when you use your daily UV exposure to recharge.

Obviously, reliance on solar power is a smart move for people that spend many hours outdoors. If you are already getting ample UV exposure, why not use it to energize your devices?

Beyond convenience and practicality, it makes sense to use solar energy instead of grid-based electricity, which is usually coal-based. Did you know that unplugging just a single device overnight each day for a year will save you nearly $100? That's right. Your computer can snooze when you go to bed, and you can charge up that baby during daylight hours as you commute to school or work.

Lest you think that you need bright, full sunshine days for solar energy - think again! Exposure to UV light is enough. Sure, an overcast day may result in a longer recharging time than otherwise, but fog, clouds and even rain should not dampen your solar power goals.

In short, solar energy is 100% clean, renewable and just there for the taking! It's time to put that sunlight to good use.

Flexible and portable solar panels are great for outdoorspeople and the military

Flexible and portable solar panels are great for outdoorspeople and the military

Beyond Solar Backpacks

Each month, I come across another new solar item on the market. Backpacks and fold-out solar panels are convenient and easy to use for individuals. But, beyond solar backpacks you can think portable solar power in many other situations:

  • Recreational Vehicles (RVs) - instead of looking for a place to plug-in overnight, or using a gas-powered generator, keep your appliances running with easy to install solar panel kits (usually $200 or less)
  • Boating - Same idea as for RVs! You're already outdoors... keep the GPS and cell phone charged up with portable solar
  • Camping - Some solar chargers include multiple ports so you can plug in a camera, phone, mP3 player and also charge up a flashlight, if necessary!
  • Construction sites - Saws, lights, etc. can be powered up without the need for extension cords with some of the more heavy duty - but still portable - solar charging devices.
  • Military operations - Not surprisingly, troops can use fold-out solar blankets like the one pictured to the right to keep devices charged and ready
Solar Gorilla is another easy to use solar power charger

Solar Gorilla is another easy to use solar power charger

The power cube is useful both here and abroad to help keep lights on and important appliances running.

The power cube is useful both here and abroad to help keep lights on and important appliances running.

Solar Power Can Save Lives

Not all people in the world have easy access to grid-based electricity. Impoverished regions in Third World Countries literally rely on portable solar power to save lives.

Cell phones can be re-charged with solar devices so that villagers can make emergency calls. Perhaps more importantly, solar lanterns provide safer, cleaner illumination than kerosene lamps.

In order to refrigerate medicines needed to treat diseases in developing nations portable solar powered refrigerators are trekked across the desert on the backs of camels.

There's even solar powered systems to help filter and clean drinking water! We might take that basic human need for granted, but millions of lives can be saved each year simply with the provision of safe, potable water.

Kind of makes you think twice about the incredible power of the sun, doesn't it?

Solar power can be toted to campsites, on boating trips or to construction sites

Solar power can be toted to campsites, on boating trips or to construction sites

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2010 Stephanie Marshall

Comments

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on April 30, 2015:

Great ideas Stephanie. It's really clever on how you can use solar power and save money for your own devices. Voted up and awesome!

Bruce Cannon on December 06, 2014:

I'm retired on a budget and want to know why you don't post prices for the poor man. I'm along ways from being rich and need to buy cheap. Can you post any cheap solar prices or sites that sell solar for laptops, tablets or cell phones. Most of my stuff came over with Noah on the Ark....lol

azheruddin on February 13, 2012:

how to recharge gadgets' batteries when u are travelling???

cant we have a solution on cloud for it....??

Ryan on January 02, 2012:

Great selection of portable solar power systems in this article. Also check out http://www.PortableSolarPower.Biz they have alot more portable solar power solutions also.

Oscar Lewis on November 01, 2010:

I support renewable energy, for this is economical and Green Living.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on October 31, 2010:

Cool Ken - thanks much! You'll see more and more solar charging gadgets in the future, I believe.

KenWu from Malaysia on October 31, 2010:

Actually this is the first time ever come across such devices. This is truly an amazing recharging device!

yousef on September 11, 2010:

great ,but still its not widly used.

Ken Ghosh on September 05, 2010:

Take a look at Ascent Solar's modules being sold by FTL Solar at Amazon. They are real light and very good value. The same are available on large structures like tents, tent Flies, etc. through FTL Solar.

Solarmade also sells the ascent solar modules (without the FTL packaging) for significantly less.

Top 10 MP3 Players on September 03, 2010:

Good post. You knew that someone had to invent this before too long. Everyone needs to have a solar power device to keep all the new gadgets running. No longer can you use the excuse when you are in the nature that your cell phone died.

Katie McMurray from Westerville on August 21, 2010:

Great gadget the Portable Solar Power: Convenient Battery Charging for All Your Devices, I know I could def use a few of these about. Our electronic world will is better served with the great products you've highlighted. Thanks for the heads up on portable solar power.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on August 04, 2010:

I'm with you Nifty - there is enough to be anxious about when you are enjoying the outdoors. Losing critical power need not be on your mind with the solar charging devices. :)

nifty@50 on August 04, 2010:

Out hiking, a phone or GPS can be the difference of life or death! Having a dependable charge source is critical. Great hub!

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on August 04, 2010:

Thank you NN! I love the Solio too, cool design and it works great for recharging your cell phones.

Nancy's Niche on August 04, 2010:

Excellent info and slections; thanks for sharing! I rather like the Solio.... :o)

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on August 04, 2010:

Thanks vocalcoach - its so nice to have the convenience of solar charging devices. We are out and about so much, we're constantly re-charging our batteries.

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on August 04, 2010:

Terrific hub! Informative and like the photos. You have given us very good choices in products. I was not even aware that solar batteries were available. Time for me to order! Thanks and voted up.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on August 03, 2010:

Thanks Lilly - using solar chargers is so easy and affordable. I hope that more people are encouraged by this hub :)

Lori J Latimer from Central Oregon on August 03, 2010:

Nice! Thank you for all of the good info on Solar Chargers, and other devices

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on August 03, 2010:

Thanks Write On! There are so many portable solar power chargers on the market, its easy to take your pick!

Write On! from United States on August 03, 2010:

Great post. Very informative. I want one!