Can I Use Solar Power For My Laptop?
The size and weight of any laptop have great impact when it comes to considering using solar energy to power the device. Since most laptops will need about 70 watts of power to operate, any solar panels providing this amount of power would be way too heavy to carry about and use where there is no traditional source for household electric current. But, technology can now come to the rescue increasing the opportunity to meet small mobile applications for energy.
Thin Film Technology Reduces Solar Panel Weight
The use of extremely thin film technology creating PV cells has gone a long way toward reducing the weight and size of solar panels so they can be used effectively in conjunction with laptop chargers. Unfortunately, there has not been a breakthrough in technology producing solar cells that can directly power a laptop as has been developed powering a calculator. Furthermore, solar cell technology typically requires direct exposure to sunlight, so any laptop exposed in this manner could easily overheat and malfunction becoming damaged. Furthermore, the concept for direct powering does take away the opportunity to operate the laptop during parts of the day when sunlight is not available, even if it was feasible to do so without damaging the device.
Solar Chargers Provide Power for Laptop Batteries
Present use of solar technology requires using chargers to make it possible to power laptops when there is no available alternate source for electricity. The collection panels for a solar charger can remain exposed to the sun converting energy into the needed electricity to power a battery or bank of batteries. Fully solar charged batteries can power the laptop when out in the wild camping or when located someplace where there is no available electrical outlet.
Two Hour Power Limit
Typical laptops can operate for about two hours on a fully charged battery. There are available portable solar power kits that include a battery to operate the laptop and/or charge the battery that comes with the device. Another method that makes solar power possible for powering laptops is using small portable chargers which will slow down the power drain experienced by laptop batteries, thus extending the actual running time.
Charging Time is a Consideration
Use of solar power may need to take into consideration having multiple batteries for operating a laptop when in locations where a traditional electric source is not available. Most portable solar power kits can produce one-third of the necessary power to recharge a laptop battery. Therefore, it would take three hours on a solar charger to produce a fully charged laptop battery. Consumers going this route may wish to consider the purchase of a backup battery for laptop use out in the wild, for example, when on a camping trip in order to maintain continuous or extended computing use.
Also, climatic conditions impact how long it will take a solar power charger to recharge a laptop battery which will always be much longer than a conventional energy outlet would take. Therefore, use of solar power as an energy source for powering a laptop should more than likely be confined to those necessary moments when out in the wild as opposed to sitting in the backyard without using an extension cord.