Introduction to solar charge batteries

Thirty years ago, most of our time was spent at our jobs or in our homes. When we weren't at one, we were usually at the other. Occasionally, we would take vacations from both, leaving the stresses and monotony of our daily lives behind. Today, many of us spend as much time away from our homes and offices as we do within them. And when we're away (even during much-needed vacations), we take many of our mobile devices with us. This presents the need for a reliable - and mobile - power source.

Today's society places greater demands on the need for flexibility, both in terms of scheduling and location. Whether we're taking our RVs out for a week-long road trip or carrying our laptops with us during camping expeditions, we're no longer satisfied with the power limitations of yesterday. Our tools use batteries that expire quickly. Solar charge batteries offer a convenient solution that can extend the sessions during which we use these tools.

Uses for solar charge batteries

Solar charge batteries are used in a wide range of applications. People who own RV's often use paneling systems to convert the sun's energy into usable electricity in order to recharge their RV's batteries. Cell phone users who use their phones throughout the day often exhaust their batteries. They can recharge them easily by using a solar battery charger. Likewise, professional photographers may need to charge the batteries in their digital cameras (especially in remote locations). Boat owners can use solar energy to charge the batteries which power their TVs and other appliances while they enjoy the ocean.

Solutions and prices

Because solar charge batteries are often small and don't require a significant amount of power, they're relatively inexpensive. For example, a 5 watt "trickle charger" will usually cost less than $100 (and commonly, less than $50). A small solar charger for your cell phone or iPod can be purchased for $40 or less. By contrast, a 10 watt charger that is sufficient enough to power a Sony digital camera can cost more than $200. Voltaic solar backpacks that are designed for portability can be used to power nearly all of your small devices while you're traveling. The convenience will cost approximately $200.

Can you make your own?

If you're on a limited budget and can't afford "off-the-shelf" solar charge batteries, you can make your own (though it requires patience and a level of mechanical ability). You'll need several supplies, including a copper stripboard, an Ohm resister, a solar panel and wires. While the step-by-step instructions for building your own solution are beyond the scope of this article, you can find them easily online. It's important to note that most people would be better served by simply investing in an "off-the-shelf" solution.

Battery power without an outlet

Our need for a dependable source of usable electrical current doesn't dissipate when we leave the comfort of our homes or offices. On the contrary, while we're on the road, traveling, boating, or camping, our need for a power source grows. Fortunately, technology has allowed the application of solar charge batteries to provide a reliable current for our laptops, PDAs, cell phones, televisions and other appliances. Robust solutions can even recharge RV batteries when necessary. Over time, these solutions will become more powerful and compact, less expensive and widely available to anyone who has the need.