Much like the proverbial expression ‘glass half full or glass half empty’, so much of what we know as fact is quite often influenced by our own personal perspective.
For example, where I live in Michigan, we consider anything less than three inches of snow to be a ‘light dusting’. However, if those same three inches of snow were to fall in Florida, I would imagine the Floridians would see things as ‘apocalyptic’.
This is important to keep in mind when considering the question, ‘do solar chargers work?’
Technically speaking, solar chargers will work when placed in direct sunlight. Their performance, however, may or may not meet your personal expectations as the science behind them is generally not understood by most.
Solar Chargers Compared To An Electrical Outlet
Arguably, the best way to understand how well solar chargers work is by comparing them to something we know; like an electrical outlet.
For the sake of comparing numbers, in this article, we will use the Feelle Solar Charger (with 4 panels and a internal battery).
The documentation that came with this device shows a combined 6 Watts of power production @ 1 Amp from the 4 solar panels. This would translate to 6 Volts (Watts divided by Amps = Volts)
In comparison, if I were to use the USB plug to charge the battery in my Feelle Solar Charger, documentation shows 5 volts from the plug, which is less than the 6 from the solar panels, but would do so @ 2 Amps. This translates to 10 Watts of power production (Volts times Amps = Watts).
From this we can see that the USB plug – in my case connected to an electrical outlet – will charge the internal battery of my Feelle Solar Charger at 10 watts versus the 6 watts from the solar panels.
Solar Chargers And The Sun
It would be reasonable for someone new to solar power, to look at the above numbers and assume that it would take roughly twice as long to achieve full charge using the solar panels, than it would by using an electrical outlet.
However, this would be inaccurate.
As someone who lives off-grid, I can tell you that solar panels rarely produce at maximum output.
There are simply too many variables that need to be ‘just so’ in order for panels to generate power at their best.
Some of these variables include the quality of sunlight, angle of the panels and the seasonal aspect of the sun (as to its position in the sky).
Without all of these being in their prime condition, it is unlikely that you will achieve the maximum possible output from the panels on your portable charger. (If you do, then give yourself a pat on the back, because you have really accomplished something!)
So to revisit the question, do solar chargers work, the answer is yes, solar chargers will work so long as their panels have access to direct sunlight.
However, I think the real question that most people are asking is, will solar chargers work like an electrical outlet? To that, I answer, absolutely not.
Even with your larger and more expensive units, solar chargers are not the limitless source of electricity that you are accustomed to. Remember, there is an enormous power generation facility on the other end of your electrical outlet. And it doesn’t need prime conditions from the sun.
But, if you understand the basics of solar chargers and obtain one that fits your needs – using it properly – a solar charger can benefit you greatly.
## Note ##
If you are uncertain as to whether or not a solar charger will work for you and do what you need it to, then I would recommend posting a question on your online store of choice.
The overwhelming majority of solar chargers that appealed to me, had their own internal battery. This was ideal as it would allow me to charge the solar charger to 100% at home, and then use the solar panels to extend the performance of the solar charger when a plug was not available.