Solar Panel Power Banks (Are They Worth It?)

Solar power is rapidly becoming one of the most popular and eco-friendly ways to power gadgets. For the longest time, solar power was restricted to bulky solar panels that had to be installed in fixed locations. In recent years, this has changed with the invention of solar panel power banks. 

A solar panel power bank combines the convenience of a portable power bank with the solar charging capabilities of a solar panel. These devices are perfect for hikers and people who love the outdoors and want to keep their technology charged.

They also offer an excellent backup power supply in the case of a natural disaster or bad weather. In this article, I’ll cover everything you need to know about solar panel power banks, including:

  • What is a solar panel power bank?
  • How long do they last?
  • How much do they cost?
  • How long do they take to charge?

Keep reading to find out how solar panel power banks can keep your technology charged up and ready to go. Solar panel power banks will keep you plugged in, no matter what. 

How Does Solar Power Bank Work?

A solar power bank works the same way that a traditional solar panel does. It incorporates the same technology in a much smaller, more portable package. Solar panel power banks have solar cells that convert sunlight into electrical energy. This electrical energy is then stored in a built-in battery for later use. 

Most solar panel power banks come with multiple USB ports so that you can charge multiple devices simultaneously. Some power banks also have an LED light that functions as a flashlight or emergency light. Some solar panel power banks even come with a built-in compass, making them the perfect tool for any adventurers. 

A solar panel power bank is a great way to keep your devices charged while you’re on the go. They’re also eco-friendly. Most importantly, they can keep your devices charged and ready to go in potentially dangerous situations.

Exposing Batteries to Sunlight

Exposing batteries to the sun can cause them to overheat in hot climates. If a battery overheats, it can lose some or all of its ability to hold a charge.

On the other hand, exposing a cold battery to the sun may “increase” its change. The sunlight is not charging the battery. Instead, batteries discharge their stored energy more effectively at specific temperatures. If your battery is too cold, it will not discharge appropriately.

A solar charger or solar panel is the only way to charge traditional batteries by using sunlight effectively. Some scientists are working on developing a lithium-ion battery that absorbs the sun’s light. However, this battery is still in development and unavailable to the public.

See also: Best Solar Power Banks (Camping + Home For Phones)

Will a Power Bank Explode if Overcharged? 

Power banks will not explode if used properly because they have software limiting their charge. If you use the appropriate charger, the charging circuit will cut once the battery reaches its maximum capacity, and it will no longer send electricity to the power bank.

This safety measure does not mean you can always leave your power bank plugged in. There are several reasons why you should not do this.

First, charging your power bank for long periods will shorten its lifespan. If you continually charge your power bank when it isn’t empty, the battery can develop a memory. Consistently leaving it plugged in and charging can also cause damage to the battery cells, which will decrease the storage ability of the power bank.

Second, it is a waste of electricity. Third, if there is a power surge, your power bank could overheat and explode. If you plan on leaving your power bank plugged in for long periods, it is recommended to have a surge-protected power strip to protect your electronics from potential power surges.

To avoid these risks, it is best to charge your power bank when it has little to no charge, and you can check on it regularly.

Safety Concerns of a Power Bank

There are several scenarios where your power bank might explode. The primary culprits are poor battery quality, faulty circuit design, and improper usage.

As we mentioned, all power banks have a charging circuit designed to stop charging once the battery reaches full capacity. However, if your power bank is not of good quality or has a poor circuit design, this feature may not work as intended, and your power bank could overcharge.

Additionally, if you use the wrong charger to charge your power bank, it could also overcharge. Power banks typically use a 5V/2A charger, but some may require a different voltage, such as 9V/2.4A. It is essential to check the specifications of your power bank to ensure you are using the correct charger.

Improper usage is another common cause of exploding power banks. Power banks are portable, so you can travel with them. However, it would be best if you still handled them with care. 

For example, leaving your power bank in a hot car or direct sunlight is not recommended as this can cause the battery to overheat. Additionally, it would be best if you did not store your power bank in a humid or wet environment as this could also lead to problems.

If you follow these simple guidelines, you can avoid any issues with your power bank and ensure that it lasts for a long time.

How Long Does a Solar Power Bank Last? 

How long a solar power bank lasts depends on the size of the battery and how quickly you can charge it. A solar panel power bank of 10000mAh will last two to three days after fully charging.

This time is directly impacted by how often you use it to charge other devices and variables like temperature, exposure to sunlight, and how fast it charges.

Typically, solar power banks can take four to eight hours to charge. This time can be decreased by leaving the solar power bank in direct sunlight or using a faster charger. Hypothetically, a solar panel power bank could last forever if its charge capacity exceeds your energy needs.

Before purchasing a solar panel power bank, it is vital to evaluate how fast it charges, how much charge it carries, and how much power you need.

How Much Is a Solar Bank? 

Solar panel power banks have become much cheaper in the last several years. They used to be quite expensive, but recent solar and battery technology developments have made them more affordable without losing efficacy.

The cheapest solar panel power banks start at around $30; the most expensive can be up to $500. The price varies depending on the solar panel power bank’s capacity, solar panel output, solar panel efficiency, and other factors.

As solar panel power banks become more popular, the price will only drop. This is good news for those looking for an eco-friendly and reliable way to charge their devices.

How Long Does It Take to Charge a Solar Power Bank? 

The time it takes to charge a solar power bank depends on the size of the battery, the solar panel capacity, the initial charge, and the source of the electricity. 

To be clear, a solar panel power bank will charge faster if you plug it into a wall outlet than if you use solar cells. It is best to have your solar panel power bank fully charged before taking it on an adventure.

A 25,000 mAh power bank will take up to 50 hours of direct sunlight to charge fully. However, location can significantly impact this time, as can the specifications of each solar panel power bank.

If you are charging the solar panel power bank using a wall outlet, you can expect the battery to be fully charged in five to six hours.

How Fast Will a Solar Panel Charge a Battery? 

This depends on the size of the battery and the solar panel. A solar panel power bank with a solar panel output of 2.4 amps will charge a standard iPhone battery from 0 to 100% in about two and a half hours.

It would take about six hours to charge the same sized battery using a 1 amp solar panel power bank to put this into perspective. So, if you are looking for a solar panel power bank to charge your device, pay close attention to the battery’s size and the solar panel’s output.

Location, sunlight, and other variables can greatly impact the speed at which a solar panel charges a battery. It will also take much longer to charge a fully depleted battery than a battery that still has some charge.

How Many Solar Batteries Are Needed to Power a House? 

This depends on the size of the batteries and the electricity demands of the house. Solar panel power banks are not typically used for powerhouses as they cannot store enough solar energy. The batteries used to provide power to homes are typically much larger.

Solar batteries used to power houses typically start at 10,000 mAh and can be as large as 500,000 mAh. These batteries are usually used in conjunction with solar panels to store solar energy for later.

The average American household would need 893 kWh to provide enough electricity for a month. This is way more than what a handful of batteries would be able to handle.

However, short time frames are feasible if there are enough batteries. This number is based on ideal conditions, and the number of batteries may increase depending on the quality of the battery and other factors.

Can I Charge My Phone with a Solar Panel? 

Yes, you can charge your phone with a solar panel as long as the solar panel’s output matches your phone’s electrical input. 

Most solar panels have an output of 5 volts, the same electrical input for most phones. This means that solar panels can charge most phones quite quickly.

However, solar panel power banks are a better option for charging phones as they have a built-in battery that can store solar energy.

How Do You Connect a Solar Panel to a Power Bank? 

Unfortunately, most power banks are not directly compatible with solar panels. Solar panels output electricity at higher voltages than a power bank can accept. However, using a solar charge controller can work around this problem.

A solar charge controller is a device that takes the solar panel’s high voltage output and transforms it into the lower voltage required by the power bank.

Most solar charge controllers have a USB port that you can use to plug in the power bank. Once the solar charge controller is plugged in and receives solar energy, it will start charging the power bank.

This setup must be done with care. If any portion of the circuit is incorrect, you risk damaging the solar charge controller and the power bank.

Some portable solar panels output 5v electricity, and you can plug your power bank or phone directly into these smaller solar panels. Unfortunately, these smaller solar panels will not charge your power bank as fast as the large solar panels mounted on houses.

Which Power Bank Is Best? 

The answer to this question depends on your individual needs. Many power banks are available on the market, and many have specific features that are meant to be used in certain conditions. 

For example, you should consider the size, portability, weatherproofing, and electrical input and output of a power bank to identify which power bank is the best.

Anker, Mophie, Omni, and iMuto are popular power bank brands that produce various high-quality products that may meet your needs. You now know everything you need to go out and purchase the perfect solar panel power bank for your individual needs.

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Elliot has 20+ years of experience in renewable technology, from conservation to efficient living. His passion is to help others achieve independent off-grid living.

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