It’s a fact of life that we’re using more portable devices all the time. Whether you’re traveling for business or fun, you probably have your smartphone, maybe even your laptop, and more. This is especially true for your average business phone user.
Battery life can be a big concern; if you’re using your device a lot, it can lose charge too quickly. When this happens, we’re forced to seek out a charging point. This can pose problems if you find yourself in a place without plug sockets.
Enter the solar power bank, a portable, lightweight power solution that can provide charge wherever you are.
What is a Solar Power Bank?
These portable power banks are charged by solar power to provide USB charging for mobile devices, using new photovoltaic technology. They work like a small-scale version of a solar panel. It stores energy from the sun in a rechargeable battery to allow charging on demand.
The technology has developed to the point where several sizes, and capacity options exist. You can even get solar power banks that are light, and compact enough to go right in your pocket.
How Does a Solar Power Bank Work?
The process is similar to a regular power bank. The difference is that the solar power bank converts energy from the sun instead of charing from mains power. It does this using a photovoltaic cell in between layers of silicone.
The silicone is treated to give it a positive charge at one end, and a negative charge at the other. The electrical field this creates causes electrons to move around within the circuit. When photons from sunlight hit the solar cell, they displace these electrons.
This process creates an electrical charge, which is then collected, and stored in a rechargeable battery. Lithium-ion batteries like those found in modern electronics are the most popular type.
The 7 Key Advantages of Solar Power Banks
Solar power banks are still underutilized even though there are many advantages compared to other charging options.
1. Environmental Sustainability
Solar power offers a truly sustainable source of electricity. There are no harmful byproducts like those from fossil-fuel-based energy. You’re not going to replace your dependence on domestic electricity with a few solar power banks, but they can help you consume less.
Charging a solar bank throughout the day will let you charge your phone or other devices overnight. Saving just that tiny amount of energy can make a difference over time.
2. Lightweight Power on the go
Solar chargers are designed for use outdoors, primarily. That means the designs of the most popular options combine durability with portability. Lightweight options are not much bigger than your smartphone, and weigh about 1lb.
3. Low Cost, High Convenience
These solar power banks are now common enough that you can pick one up on Amazon for around $50. Even the smaller 25000m/Ah options can hold enough capacity for up to seven phone charges.
That’s not to mention the cost saving on power. If you have a business where many of your employees need to charge on the go, you can save long-term costs with solar power banks. It makes tasks like testing mobile app performance in the field more cost-effective.
4. High Compatability With Mobile Devices
Most portable solar power banks are designed for use with phones, tablets, and other devices. This means they’re compatible with common USB types, including Apple, and Android devices. Some options even take advantage of wireless charging compatibility.
5. Hybrid Devices for Reliable Backup Power
While solar is the cleaner and greener option, most of these solar power banks can charge from the mains, too. This means you can store energy, then keep it topped up with the solar input while you’re away from the mains.
6. Charging Off-Grid
This makes them great for use in places where you might have an unreliable or intermittent power supply. If you’re hiking or camping, having solar power banks can keep you connected to the outside world.
If you need to be in meetings, even during your time off, you’ve probably been looking for Zoom meeting alternatives for a while. There’s no better way to liven up an earnings report than attending while you’re halfway up a mountain.
Solar power banks aren’t limited to these smaller, pocket-sized devices. Larger-scale solar generators can provide reliable power when no power source is available.
7. Capacity to Suit Your Needs
The smaller, low-cost, consumer power banks we’ve been talking about here tend to come with between 10000 mAh, and 30000mAh capacity. That’s enough for most use cases, but if you need more robust power solutions, there are higher capacity options.
Foldable solar panels, with or without integrated batteries, can generate up to 120w of power. That’s enough to charge a laptop or other high-capacity portable device. These solutions are more costly, but they’re still small enough to be portable.
Choose the Right Device for You
There are a lot of options when it comes to solar power banks. Choosing the right one will come down to what you use it for.
Size & Weight
Consider when, and how you will deploy the battery. Do you want to wear it on a backpack? Then it would need to be lightweight. If it’s something you’re going to transport, and set up on-site, then you can go for more extensive, higher-capacity options.
Capacity & Device Type
The types of device you want to charge will determine the capacity of the battery that you need. You’ll need a higher-capacity battery to keep a laptop charged for long periods. The power output of the power bank is also important, so check it against your device.
Materials & Manufacturer
As you’re likely to use your solar battery outdoors, it needs to be durable. Although the technology is developing rapidly, some leading brand names are already in the market. Blavor, Goertek, Hiluckey, iWalk, and Lensun are all popular names.
Your budget will, of course, decide what kind of solar power bank you buy. Consumer models with lower capacity are inexpensive. Yet, if you have a business use case, you might want to look at higher-end options.
Your field consultants might just need a standard option for charging their mobiles. What if you need remote help from the engineer in charge of your cloud tenant architecture? They would need a laptop at least.
It might seem like an unnecessary expense. Remember that long-term energy savings can offset the cost of higher-end batteries.
Solar power can be a hard sell in the business world. We need reliability when it comes to power. On top of that, we all know our average sales executive is more interested in partner management than power management.
Nevertheless, switching to more sustainable options wherever you can may lead to long-term savings. With solar power banks, you can offer a reliable option for business continuity. On a personal level, we’re all trying to reduce our energy consumption, and every little helps.