So you’ve finally got the gadget you’ve always wanted, a small solar charger that promises to power your handheld with clean renewable energy. But now that you’re free of the plug, you find yourself wondering, ‘do I really want to leave this laying around outside?’
That’s actually a really good question. One that leads to even more questions.
What if it rains? Will someone take it? Will I forget it? What if it gets too hot?
All of a sudden, the freedom of being unplugged has got you feeling trapped.
Eventually, the idea of putting it in the window will come to mind, as this is probably the most secure option for keeping it safe. But this, in turn, leads to another question, ‘do solar chargers even work through windows?’
Solar chargers will work anytime sunlight strikes the solar panels. However, it should be understood that the higher the level of interference between the sun and your solar charger, the less efficient the solar panels will be.
And believe it or not, a single pane of clear glass can cause a fair amount of interference for your solar charger – thusly reducing its ability to work.
Solar Chargers & Windows: Is It Worth It?
To make a definitive answer as to whether or not you should actually try charging your solar charger indoors, you should first identify the variables.
• How many watts of solar power does your solar charger produce? Not all solar chargers are the same. While shopping for mine, I came across a solar charger that had 18,000+ reviews, most of which were more than 4 stars.
A person would be forgiven for assuming that a solar charger with so many good reviews must be fantastic.
But as someone who lives Off-Grid, it quickly became apparent that this solar charger was not the one for me.
Because while the device had a solar panel built in, I doubted that this small singular solar panel would perform as the ‘emergency power’ that was being advertised. My concerns were latter confirmed as I searched through the reviews and found a number of customers calling the solar panel, ‘a gimmick’ that did not work as expected.
• How many hours can you leave it in the window? For those of us who live on solar power, we know how rare it is for solar panels to produce at their maximum. There are a whole host of variables that are involved and it only takes one of these variables to be out a little bit to see a significant drop in power production.
For this reason, the longer you can leave your solar charger in the sun, the more power you are likely to generate.
• What are your expectations from the solar panels on the solar charger? – As discussed in the article, ‘Do Solar Chargers Work?’ so much of our opinion on how well something works depends on what our expectations are.
Realistically speaking, sticking your solar charger in the window for 3 to 4 hours a day is probably not going to be enough for your power needs – especially if you are on vacation where everyone is using it.
However, if you have a sizable array of solar panels and a prime location to place it, it is conceivable that your solar charger will keep you charged for the length of your stay (especially if you had a full battery before vacation started).
Solar Chargers And Heat
One thing that should be noted when considering whether or not to place your solar charger in a window is how hot it will be.
The vast majority of what is on the market for solar chargers today, actually include a battery. And heat can be detrimental to the longevity of your battery.
For this reason, I recommend periodically checking how hot your solar charger is before leaving it unsupervised to charge in the hot window.
I’ve read of people leaving their solar chargers on the dashboard of their vehicle. In the right conditions, a person would probably be fine. In the wrong conditions, a person could return to find that a fire has a occurred.
## Note ##
For those of you using a solar charger that does not include a battery, (such as the one in the ad below) you will have more ‘wiggle room’ with regards to heat. However, I still recommend regular checking until behavior of your solar charger has been established and you have a pretty good idea of what to expect.
Tools To Help
The range of options for solar chargers is wide and sometimes daunting. What might look like a really awesome feature actually may have no long term value at all. For an in-depth look at solar chargers and what might serve you best, please read: How Do I Choose A Solar Phone Charger?