Portable Solar Electronics and Gear

Buying Tips - Some Thoughts and Considerations Before Buying A Solar Recharger

September 19, 2015

At PhotonBuzz.com, we offer a variety of portable solar rechargers with varying solar panel sizes and shapes. Our devices also come with onbard batteries and other connecting features that can make purchasing one of these devices a little complicated. If you're still deciding, take a look at this set of buying tips to get you on the right track. Don't forget to reach out on our store Chat Service with your questions or leave us an e-mail. We WILL get back with answers or advice.

Things to consider:

Battery Packs Offer Support, Not 100% Guarantee: Never assume that these products will bring your cell phone, GPS or camera device’s battery up to a full charge. It is possible, but you need to be aware of the fact that all rechargeable batteries have a usable life that is usually measured in discharge/recharge cycles. Not all manufactures provide this figure for their products, but you CAN assume that a rechargeable battery pack will have a minimum life of 500 cycles, with up to 1,000 cycles being common. The portable solar rechargers offered at PhotonBuzz are no different. Many have on-board batteries that may be charged at home on off the grid, but they also offer the benefit of charging with the clean energy of the sun. Together, you can improve your personal energy needs while on the go and off the grid.

Also see our Product Guide article on battery/charging capacity.

Trip Duration and Size of Solar Recharger: When you are searching for a solar recharger, it is wise to also thank about the kind of trips you take and the kind of personal energy demands you've experienced. Have you ever been on a bike trip and lost smartphone connection while on the trail and tracking your distance and route via the internal GPS? You could have used a boost to keep you connected. Or, how about a weekend trip? If you are accessible to indoor power, you may be fine. But if you're hiking into the forest on a remote action photography weekend, a battery pack may not be enough and then becomes unproductive weight to carry around. For trips lasting a week or more that are off-the-grid, you are much more likely to need a solar charger with ample battery storage.

Mode of Travel and Use of Solar Recharger: Solar chargers can be recharged from a USB connection or the sun. When your're thinking about buying a solar recharging device always remember that for it to be effective, it requires lengthy exposure to direct sunlight. Some activities like cycle touring, sailing and sea kayaking are well suited to “on-the-go” solar charging. Backpacking in open country can be suitable too, if you can orient the panel to face the sun when you're walking or setting up camp. The fact is that if you are hiking under a deep forest canopy, there may not be much point in strapping a solar charger to the top of your pack. More efficient solar panels are entering the market each, but you still need to think about your mode of travel, length of time in the open, and the environment you will be in when you need a recharge.

Battery Types for Your Device: Most of the portable solar rechargers available at Photonbuzz.com come with an on-board battery that you connect to when your recharger. Keep in mind that if all or some of your electronic devices use only AA batteries, you may also wish to consider a solar charger that can boost up a spare set of rechargable AA or AAA batteries while others are in use. In this scenario, you can rotate 2 sets of batteries instead of carrying spare disposable batteries. 

Connector Types for Your Device: Make sure you take a close look at the type of connector your electronic device uses to accept a recharge. Is it USB input, Mini-USB input, or a special input from Apple? This is critical as you compare devices here at PhotonBuzz. If you buy a battery pack or solar recharger with a USB output only and you don't have a USB input (like you would normally find on a lap top or tablet), you've got to find a conversion connector or your going through the hassles of a return. We've tried to provide this information in the "Description" or "More Details" tabs on each product page. Please chat, e-mail or call if you have any doubt about this so that we can assist. 

Size, Shape and Weight: All solar and non-solar chargers take up space and add weight. Based on how you will use the device and some of the factors above, is the size and weight worth it in you backpack? Are you really in need or unlimited power no matter what, or is one emergency charge enough? Keep in mind that the bigger (and heavier) a power pack, the more storage capacity it has to provide for multiple charges. For solar chargers, consider their built-in attachment points for strapping, or whether the solar recharger has single or multiple panels that can be folded or rolled.

We hope these basic consideration for purchasing a portable solar recharger are helpful. Please do not hesitate to give us your thoughts and ideas.




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