Saturday, October 26, 2013
Solar power has long been considered one of the best sources of alternative energy that humans have the capacity to harness. However, when people think of solar power they tend to think of huge panels or dishes that collect sunlight and use it to create super-heated steam, or channeling the light directly into electricity via photovoltaic cells. While those still exist on a large scale, the wave of the future might end up being smaller, more portable solar power.
Solar Powered Chargers
The idea of portable solar power is not a new one. Calculators that run on solar power have been around for decades, and there was a trend in the 1980s for watches that would run off solar power. However, technology has come a long, long way since then. As a result the things which are possible with solar power now have grown beyond gimmicks.
These days most portable solar power systems look like small window-clings, or a paper weight. The user simply sets the charger up, and then connects whatever device needs juiced to the cord. This is an ideal solution for those who have a window at work, or next to their desk at home. It will even work in the car, particularly if it's a sunny day out. Whether it's a GPS or a cell phone, a laptop or an iPod, these solar chargers can collect sunlight and convert it into a full battery.
Efficiency and Time
While portable solar power is definitely more possible now, making it easy to play music at the beach, or keep one's cell phone charged while out in the middle of nowhere, they still don't have the capacity to work as quickly as a wall outlet or generator would. Not yet, anyway.
With all of the research being done into solar panels there are changes being made by leaps and bounds. Windows which can absorb light and create a charge, as well as paint that can do the same thing, have been proposed as ways to turn every structure into part of the electrical grid. Those changes have made portable solar power possible, but they have yet to make it truly powerful.
Even with the most efficient solar power charger, chances are that it will take most of a day just to charge up a cell phone. That same day's charge might be enough to juice up a small but efficient laptop or notebook computer. They are, in this respect, good for those who want to have a way to make sure they can keep at least some of their daily gadgets up and running as long as there's going to be sunlight.
They aren't yet a suitable replacement for car chargers and generators for those who are going out on an archaeological dig or heading into the mountains on vacation. But it's very likely that these chargers will one day reach that point. In fact, it's likely that solar power will soon be able to power all kinds of devices all by itself. As such hundreds of daily power sinks will be eliminated, meaning there will be less consumption overall.
Jesse L. is a professional blogger for www.BobHeinmillerSolar.com. Jesse earned a perfect 800 on the Math S.A.T. and is currently studying Computer Science at Stanford University.