Here at A Self Sufficient Life we rely on solar power for all our day to day energy needs. After the initial set up power is harvested free of charge, a delightful way to make the most of a sunny (or indeed not so sunny) day. But Solar Power and Solar Panels are not just for the Off Grid Living brigade. Everyone could (and indeed should) make use of the power of solar panels.
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Take a look at some of the great solar backpacks via the links above. The prices range quite considerably so there is sure to be one that fits all manner of budgets.
A simple Solar BackPack is a great way for those with more conventional lives to cut bills and carbon by charging up certain items ‘on the go’. Of course if you are into camping or hiking the appeal of the solar charger come backpack is pretty obvious. Always having a battery charger to hand, that is lightweight and completely portable makes great sense on trips into the great outdoors. No fear of mobile phones losing their charge and so on. Knowing you can always make an emergency call is one of the biggest draws for many choosing to Buy a Solar BackPack both for themselves and as gifts for environmentally aware friends and family. It makes sense to keep your mobile charged wherever you end up going.
So hikers, campers and those that live off grid can take advantage of solar power but what about ‘ordinary’ city dwellers? Well, this is probably the greatest market for Solar BackPacks. All those personal electronic gadgets so many folks carry around are reliant on plugs, adapters and chargers. That means they cost you money and the earth’s energy, to keep charged. But, if you spend any of your day outside, even just wandering around town, or as part of your commute to work or school, you can charge your personal gadgets for free. Well I say free, but this is not a post about how to make a solar backpack, though I would not be surprised to see one in the future. This is free in the ‘its free once you’ve made the initial investment. kind of way. Once the Solar Charger-BackPack is bought, then you can recharge your personal electronics to your hearts content, without emitting another gram of carbon. So, these portable solar chargers seem like a pretty good idea, but be warned, you do need to do a little research before buying.
Solar BackPacks & Power Storage
If you really want the most from a Solar BackPack it makes sense to buy one that has the capacity to store excess power that you do not currently need. That way, you can absorb all that free solar energy to use later, perhaps even in the evening to recharge your gadgets. All it takes is a simple battery pack.
Voltaic Solar BackPacks
The best selling solar powered backpacks at amazon are these Voltaic Solar Back Packs. They aren’t the cheapest, but they do provide a significant area of solar panel material, critical to getting the most of all the available sunshine. Even more crucial, they incorporate a battery pack to store excess energy when you are not charging up your appliances. This means more solar energy is utilised and less wasted.
Another boon is that this includes an AC travel charger, USB connection and DC car charger. So if the sunshine fails you, you can still charge the battery via your car cigarette lighter or simply with your homes electricity supply. Obviously this method of charging is only for emergency overcast times as you are in danger of destroying your eco credentials. But, back in the real world this makes the Voltaic solar powered backpack a much more practical item than much of the competition.
Cheap Solar BackPacks
Solar BackPack prices vary considerably, and the general rule is the bigger the item you hope to be charging, the more you will need to spend on your backpack. If you opt for the cheapest solar chargers you will really need to double check its capacity and the amount of power required by your electronic gadgets.
The really cheap solar backpacks such as this Helius model are great if you only want to charge small items during the day. The capacity for solar collection is more limited than with the Voltaic, but ample for phone charging, iPods and so on.
If you want to store the solar power to recharge things when you are not out in the sun, you do need to ensure you buy a solar charger with a battery included. If you don’t have a battery you can only charge things whilst you are outside and the panels are receiving solar power.
Solar LapTop Chargers
The solar backpacks above provide enough solar energy to charge mobile phones, blackberries, iPods and other small handheld electronic gadgets. But to charge a laptop you will need something far more powerful. Portable solar backpacks that can handle charging a laptop are more expensive as they need much more powerful panels and battery storage to cope with the higher demands of a laptop or notebook.
The Voltaic LapTop Solar Messenger Bag can create nearly 15 watts of power (three times as much as most solar backpacks). So you can charge a laptop with a day of sunshine. And, if that wasn’t green enough for you, your Eco credentials will benefit from the fact these solar charger messenger bags are made from recycled soda bottles too!
There is one issue though, not all laptops are built to enable recharging from an external battery source. The manufacturers of the laptop solar charge advice owners of Apple, Dell, HP, IBM and Panasonic laptops should be okay. But Sony, Fujitsu and Toshiba often will not charge with such a device. Probably the only way to be sure is visit a store, with your machine to double check. But, of course then you will want to buy yours online where it is cheaper!
These solar laptop chargers are probably only worth the extra expense if keeping your laptop charged on the move is a real issue. If handheld gadgets are really all you are concerned about regularly choosing a cheaper solar backpack might be the best option. You could always spend the difference on a more powerful and more flexible portable solar charger with higher quality panels that is not part of a bag or laptop case.
Portable Solar Charger
The SolarGorilla offers far more power for your money than most of the solar backpacks currently available. But of course it is a static product, great for use at home or camping but not quite so handy on the daily commute. The solar panels are far more efficient that those incorporated into flexible backpacks, so though small it can easily cope with 5watts.
But, disappointingly again there is no battery included. If you are looking at utilising a little solar energy at home or in the office and happy to charge your electronics during the day, it is still a pretty useful piece of kit.
Choosing Your Solar BackPack
Choosing which Solar BackPack to buy is pretty confusing. You can get a lot more solar power with portable systems that are not incorporated into messenger bags and backpacks. But, if you really want to charge on the move they can be extremely practical. Prices, power and benefits vary enormously. Key, is determining what you really need to be charging on a regular basis. That will narrow down your search hugely. Then consider whether the flexibility of battery storage is necessary. With an integral battery you have a lot more flexibility, as the product becomes an emergency power source.
Looking at customer reviews about these portable solar charger bags really made me smile. One might assume they are designed for people hiking up mountains as an emergency product, to ensure they are never unable to call for help. Not so, the majority of people writing about using these products are young urban types, professionals and students. The kind of people who walk a bit, as part of their commute and also enjoy an array of electronic gadgets they can’t bear to be without. The right Solar BackPack is the one that copes with the demand of your gadgets and the amount of time you spend walking out of doors (plus the little matter of budget).