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A review of some of the innovative small solar chargers to have available for emergency situations.
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The chargers in this article are high-end, expensive, fancy - some are ultra-lightweight systems designed for backpacking. The smaller versions are often too low powered - with recharge times longer than one day's worth of sun - not too practical. They are very expensive compared to a budget charger you can put together that will work just as well at home.
Solar chargers are pretty simple. Here are some practical suggestions that will provide a reasonable recharge time and enough power to run devices for many hours.
You need three items:
for charging cellphones:
for charging laptops:
Larger solar panels charge the battery faster. This can be important. Get the largest panel you can afford/transport/fit in your space. 100 watt panels with charge controller have been seen on ebay for $200. These would make a very robust laptop charging system that will work even on days with variable sunlight and quickly (a few hours) bring the battery back up to full charge in full sunlight.
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