Solar Energy for Mobile Phones

Battery life is an important worry for smartphone users. Because the phone is in constant use, batteries most times can’t take us through a whole day. Little wonder why people carry extra batteries around.

With the world looking at renewable energy sources, the idea of solar energy keeping our devices ready for action is an interesting one.

Imagine that you have a flat battery. With a standard mains phone charger, you know that if you are outdoors, there is little or nothing you can do. However, should you be indoors, you plug in to the mains and then wait a while for your phone to get charged. During the charging process, you consume electricity which costs money. As such, at the end of the day you are not only paying your service provider to use your phone, you are also paying the electric company to charge your phone.

With solar cell phone charges, these issues are sort of handled differently. If your phone’s battery is flat while you are outdoors, no worries as long as the sun is shining. Strike that. If you are outdoors, your phone battery should not die out on you at all, but consistently receive a trickle of charge to keep it alive.

samsung solar

Samsung already has the E1107 Crest Solar and S7550 Blue Earth in the market since 2009. Both have built-in solar charging panels on the back of the phones. Of course, the solar panels of these devices are not capable of powering them. They only top up the battery if it’s running low and you’re away from your charger. Still, that’s not bad.

Apple was awarded a patent this year for a solar charging system for portable devices. Now, fashion icon Ralph Lauren has come out with a stylish solar panel backpack. Stylish. But wieldy. Just to power a phone!

The backpack uses a solar panel to produce about 3 watts of power, enough to charge a phone for about three hours on a sunny day. Although this cannot charge a tablet due to its hefty battery.

Ralph Lauren’s RLX solar backpack comes at $800 for U.S. Customers. Expensive; yes. But this luxury item may just be a forerunner of a growing trend in harnessing solar energy for mobile technology. Time will tell.

In the meantime, there are already several portable solar charging packs on sale that can be used to charge a wide variety of phones. Many of them go for below $50, so they are quite affordable. They are an extra package to carry, but perhaps you might need one someday.

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6 comments

  1. I have often wondered why solar-powered items are not more prevalent in this part of the world.

    We have the sunshine almost round the click, our conventional source of power has been unreliable for ages!

    Years back, we had solar calculators. They are hardly seen around anymore!

    We talk continually about renewable sources of energy these days.

    The tropics should take better advantage of this God-given inexhaustible source of clean energy..

  2. We have seen improvement in practically all aspects of Smartphone but unfortunately we have not seen any in the battery department.

    Waiting for something revolutionary.

    In the main time, I prefer to have a phone like the one above, than carry extra luggage except if am travelling anyway.

  3. Thats right, I charge my phone so much like 2wise on weekends and once on weekdays… I work you know, lets keep solar out of this. Have tech not gotten to the point where the we can have batteries with the current size but doing at least twice the current job?

  4. Interesting article but once again the Chinese have beaten us in this game. I’ve been seeing many Chinese phones with solar charging back panels (like the type we used to have in calculators). These little cheap things actually work though I can’t vouch for their durability.

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