We have been on the lookout for a solar powered battery charger. We currently have a self-charging multi-radio that can recharge our cell phones with solar power, but nothing that can do the batteries that we need done. We settled on this version from Amazon to try.
Here is the Product Information from Amazon up front:
C.Crane Universal Solar 11-in-One Battery Charger with Meter – This high powered solar charger charges two Rechargeable Batteries of the same type and size (D, C, AA, AAA). It puts out about 150mah and about 5 volts. All of the other solar battery chargers we tested were unsuitable because their voltage was too low. Weight: 11.8 oz. Size: 6.8″ W x 4.5″ H x 2.3″ D. This is the most versatile battery charger available on the market today. The solar panel is incorporated into the hinged cover which can be angled for maximum sun exposure. It goes beyond ordinarily employing the sunlight strength to charge your Ni-Cad batteries. Its in-built meter shows you the following conditions: -The strength of the sun -The strength of the current out-put from the solar panel -The time required to fully charge the different types of batteries This battery charger incorporates a built-in blocking diode to prevent reverse flow of electricity from charged batteries during storage. It is environmentally safe, cost efficient and trouble free. The polycarbonate transparent cover makes the charger weather resistant. This charger is an ideal gadget for camping, fishing, boating, and picnics. It is equally suitable for home use. “D,” “C,” “AA,” and “AAA” size batteries. Batteries D-Size (UM-1) 1500mA 5.6×16.4×66.2mm 600mA C-Size (UM-2) 1000mA 5.6×16.4×66.2mm 720mA AA-Size (UM-3) 500mA 6.1x17x67mm 650mA AAA-Size(UM4) 180mA 7.8×16.4xx66.5mm 850mA 8.3x17x67mm 900mA 10.5x17x67mm 1200mA 10.7x17x67mm 1750mA Specs Voltage (VOC): 5V (maximum in full sunlight) Current (Isc): 140 mA (maximum in full sunlight).
- It charges fairly quickly – you have a battery charge meter on the front to let you know how long you’ve got. In the evening sun, we were able to recharge our AA’s in 3 hrs instead of the 4.5hrs suggested on the meter.
- Fairly compact design makes it easily package – not too heavy, and not bulky.
- Free recharging! Will we ever be able to pay back what we spent on the investment? I don’t know, but I do know that right now, it’s nice to have some sunlight charging our batteries rather than the electric company!
- Too few batteries – You can only charge 2 batteries at a time, even AA. It hardly seems worth it for 2 batters. What you give up in broad selection of available charging sizes you give up in quantity. Had we read that fine print and all the reviews, we would’ve chosen a little more wisely for our family. We don’t need D and C’s…we need lots of space for AAA and AA. So now, just to recharge the batteries on my camera takes a full day in the sun, whereas sticking them in the wall on the small recharger is about 2 hrs at most. Even in a grid-down situation, having the ability to recharge flashlight batteries a little faster will be heaps better with a AAA/AA dedicated unit.
- Trade-off – The relatively compact size (considering how large we thought it might be) is lost with the fact that it’s a big space and weight to have to only be able to do 2 batteries at a time. Granted, it is STILL better than nothing, and we’re glad we have it, and have it out recharging even more now, but the disappointment in knowing that we don’t have a quicker means to recharge our best flashlights without 2 sessions (up to 8 hrs if it takes the full time for only 1 flashlight).
- Wanting to look on the ‘brighter’ side of this situation, we at least have a means of recharging a broad range of batteries now.
Solar Powered Unit to charge an equivalent of 4 AAA, AA or D’s at a time
If you want to learn to recharge your batteries using those nifty solar powered yard lights, check out this video:
Or try this!