How Does a Solar Laptop Charger Work?
The best solar chargers come as part of a kit. Since they are meant to charge multiple devices, they have different adapters and plugs that will allow you to charge up just about anything you want. Most of the time, you will be using a USB-type plug to charge your mobile devices. In some cases, you will need a solar laptop charger with a battery pack because you will have to charge your laptop directly from the battery. With other types of chargers, you may be able to use your adapter to charge directly from the solar panels. It depends upon which you buy, and you should research your purchase carefully to make sure that they will fit your specific purpose.
The Solar Laptop Charger Buying Guide (500)
There are a lot of things that you need to consider when buying a solar laptop charger. We have taken these things into consideration when doing this review, but you should know what these factors are and have a good idea which things to evaluate or determine when you are buying yours.
- Solar chargers with battery packs
- Solar chargers without battery packs
Let’s start with wattage. The range of laptop chargers that are fairly standard are 5 watts to 21 watts. The more watts that a laptop charger has, the larger the solar panels are going to have to be. But they are not that much larger, and if you are carrying them in your car or can handle the extra weight then you should probably go with a larger wattage.
One of the things that many people do not think about when buying laptop or usb solar chargers is the surface area of the laptop. The surface area of the actual panel where rays from the sun enter the panel is important because the larger the surface area is, the more efficient the charger is.
Whether or not a laptop charger has a battery pack is less important. Even if your charger doesn’t have a battery pack and you need it for your laptop, you can always get an external battery. The fact is, most of the chargers out there do not come with battery packs, and even among the ones that do, very few of them have widespread compatibility with all of the different adapters out there.
How quickly your charger can fill your battery to capacity is another consideration, but many of these chargers do not list these specs simply because there are so many different adapters, batteries and conditions that control how quickly a battery fills up, it would be impossible to measure to a standard. The best way to determine charging time is to read reviews and find out whether people comment on how fast the charger was or whether there is a consensus that they are slower than average.
Understanding Amperage, Voltage and Wattage
Think of your charger as a sort of plumbing system. The electricity running through the wires from the panels to your device is like the water in this system. The voltage is the water pressure while the current is measured in amps and the resistance is the size of the water pipe, measured in ohms. The amps are the voltage (water pressure) divided by the resistance (pipe size). Watts are the result of the voltage times the current.
Make sure that your output power is high enough so that you will be able to charge all of your devices. The only way to do this is by checking each one individually.
There are three standard materials that are used in the construction of solar panels. The first is CIGS (copper, indium, gallium and selenide) and it is less expensive to manufacture but does not last as long as other materials. Another is Monocrystalline. This is a heavier material that is used on most older solar panels. It is rugged and lasts for a long time, but they do not perform as well in low-light situations. These panels are black. Finally, polycrystalline is used in many of the newer panels. These are better performing panels but they are also more expensive. They are also more efficient than monocrystalline panels.
Voltaic Systems Arc 20 Watt Rapid Solar Laptop Charger
This is a 20-watt solar laptop charger that comes with a battery pack and a two-year warranty, and it will charge a variety of different devices including laptops Including Apple MacBook, phones, USB devices and more. Some of the features that this charger includes the aforementioned battery pack which allows you not only to charge your laptop quickly, but it also stores power so that you can even charge your laptop or other devices after the sun has gone down. This is a terrific laptop charger for camping. It is fairly portable, although you should probably use it in conjunction with a car. It also includes a two-year warranty in case anything goes wrong.
These are high-performance monocrystalline panels that will charge the power bank completely in about six hours as long as it is in direct sunlight. This charger only weighs about three pounds and it fits into a small travel bag. It is designed to be compatible with all of the following: laptop computers, DSLR batteries and USB devices like the Apple Macbook, iPhone, iPod, iPad, Samsung Galaxy, Sony, Nikon, Canon, GoPro, Blackberry, Android devices, and other smartphones. Some of these might need an additional adapter.
SUAOKI Solar Charger 60W
Next up is the Suaoki 60-watt solar charger. This is a 5-volt to 18-volt DC dual-output charger that will work for Apple devices, laptops, tablets, smartphones and much more. There are a lot of cool features with this laptop charger, including the 60 watt output and up to 20 percent higher conversion efficiency. That means that this dual output charger is providing enough power for you to charge two devices at the same time the USB power sources five volts and the DC dual output is 18 volts. You don’t have to worry about being around electricity when you have this charger. This is a little bit bigger charger than some of the others on this list, but it still folds up compact enough to where you would be carrying a lightweight briefcase basically.
This solar charger also has some neat features as far as construction, allowing you to hang it on the side of your RV or tent as well as spread it out on a picnic table or the ground. It has built-in smart IC for the USB port and the charger identifies the current of whatever device you are charging and can speed up the charge whenever possible. What is really great about this charger is that it includes just about every adapter that you could possibly want for all of the mobile devices that are out there. There are literally thousands of devices that can be used with this USB and DC dual-output charger.
X-DRAGON Solar Charger 40W
Our second runner-up is from X-Dragon, and this 40 watt solar charger really packs a punch plus has a number of smart features that make it easy to use on all of your devices. You can use it for your smart phones, notebooks, tablets, Apple devices, candles and other reading devices and a whole lot of different brands. It is highly rated and features SolarIQ technology, an exclusive technology with this brand that features a smart IC chip that automatically adjusts the voltage and charge the device faster whenever it possibly can. You can get up to 2.8 amps under direct sunlight in some cases.
In addition, this charger is extremely efficient, with a rating of up to 25 percent efficiency compared to the standard for laptop and USB charters which are only at 15 percent efficiency. In addition, this also is a dual port output just like the previous one so you can charge two devices at once as long as one of them is a 50 USB and the other one can be a laptop for anything DC. This is also really rugged charger and can easily be used for camping or outdoors.
Anker 21W Dual USB Solar Charger
Now let’s look at one of the two budget options. The first is the Anker 21 watt dual USB solar charger. You have to understand that these budget options cost a lot less than some of the other ones on our list, but they may not be able to charge everything. In fact, these are intended basically to charge smart phones and they have the ability to charge just about any smart phone out there. But you’re going to need an extra battery pack if you want to use them to charger laptop. They are included on this list because some people are looking for budget options for solar panels and already have external laptop batteries that they can use for the purposes of charging via solar panel. This is an extremely portable and compact charger featuring industrial-strength PET polymer and a rugged polyester campus that is weather resistant and appropriate for camping even for long trips.
Solar Charger 24000mAh Solar Power Bank
Finally, the last item on our list is the other budget option, and while this is an extremely affordable solar charger, it may not work for everyone. This is basically a power bank that has a solar charger. What that means is that you will be able to charge a lot of different things with the power bank, but the solar charging capability is a lot less than the other items that are on this list. It is intended for smart phones, portable videogame devices as well as laptops, MacBooks and more. That’s definitely an advantage with this budget option. You do not need to get an external battery pack or go a complicated route in order to charger laptop. This has the ability to do it, but you are going to get a lot slower charge with this then with some of the others on this list. However, you do get the added bonus of the power pack, so you can allow this to charge all day long and then it will have the power that you need when you’re ready to charge a device.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that there are a lot of laptop chargers out there to choose from. Most of the technical things that are listed within product descriptions are not things that you need to be too concerned about. What you really want to know is how quickly it will charge various devices, how long it is going to last in comparison with how much you have to spend and whether it is compatible with your device both in power output and through the actual connection itself.
Your budget is also a consideration. If you use a solar charger often, then you may want to spend a little more. But if you’re getting a solar charger for emergencies, then a small battery pack charger like the last budget option may be perfectly reasonable.