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How to Solar Power Your Cell Phone


The Concept of Using Solar Power

  • Use solar panels to collect the sun’s energy and
  • Convert the energy in to 12 volt DC electricity.
  • Store that electricity in a deep cycle battery to be used on demand.
  • Convert the 12 volt DC battery power to 110 volt AC electricity (house current) to charge your phone using your home cellular phone charger.
  • Or use your cell phone’s car charger to charge the phone directly from the sun.

In essence you are indirectly charging the cell phone with the sun’s rays; you are actually keeping a rechargeable auxiliary battery power source charged using solar power.

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This may sound like a lot of work and it is if you want to power your entire house with solar power. However we are looking at a smaller more mobile application. Our goal is to recharge your cell phone while camping or RVing. The techniques described here can be applied to any small electronic devise or appliance. This web page is being written on a laptop computer in the Oregon Cascade Mountains using solar power.
 

Here are some of the devices I run using solar power:

  • Laptop computer
  • TV and DVD player
  • Cellular phone
  • Digital camera
  • MP3 player
  • Sport GPS unit
  • 12 volt electric fan

I also use the same solar battery charger to maintain the RV deep cycle batteries in my 5th wheel RV.



6 Solar Ways to Recharge Your Cellular Phone


The 6 ways can be divided into 2 categories;

  1. Recharging using your home 110 volt AC phone charger.
  2. Recharging using your 12 volt DC car charger.

Within each category there are 3 similar configurations for you to consider.

  1. Use an auxiliary battery source as a 12 volt power supply (recharged using solar power). Recommended.
  2. Simultaneously charge the auxiliary battery source and the phone.
  3. Charging the phone directly without the auxiliary battery source.

The third configuration is okay for this cell phone application but should not be used for devices requiring more power or a steady power supply such as a laptop or TV. I always use a small rechargeable battery pack as an auxiliary power source. I have purchased a Slime rechargeable tire inflator for that purpose. This also gives me the option of recharging any device day or night.

In all scenarios follow the manufacturer’s instructions for charging your call phone.

Please Note: Your Cell Phone and ALL electronic equipment should not be exposed to direct sunlight for extended periods. Position your solar panels in direct sun and all other devices in a shaded area.


Equipment You Will Need

  • Solar battery charger (shown; Uni-Solar 5.5 watt). See wiring modifications! If you intend to use solar power to run devices requiring more power or require a faster recharge time, a larger solar panel should be considered.
  • Portable 12 volt rechargeable power source [Configurations 1 & 2 only]. (shown; Slime Air Compressor)
  • Cigarette lighter 2 way adapter [Configuration 2 only]. (shown; Radio Shack).
  • 12v DC to 110v AC power inverter [Category A only]. (shown; Die Hard 140 watt, Sears).
  • 12v DC car charger [Category B only].
  • Cellular phone.

Recharging using your home 110 volt AC phone charger.

Alternating charging times using an AC cellular phone charger.  Charging both the auxiliary battery and the cell phone simultaneously using an AC phone charger.  Charging the Cellular phone directly from the solar panel using an AC phone charger and the power inverter alone.







A1  Home Charger & Auxiliary Battery

  • Plug a solar charger into the auxiliary battery to maintain a full charge. This can be done any time the sun is shining and your auxiliary battery will always be ready when you need it.
  • When your cell phone needs recharging; plug the DC to AC power inverter into the auxiliary battery.
  • Plug your home phone charger with cell phone attached into the DC to AC power inverter.

A2  Simultaneously Charging Both

  • Plug a cigarette lighter 2 way adapter into your portable 12v DC power supply.
  • Plug a solar charger into one receptacle to charge the battery.
  • Plug the DC to AC power inverter into the other receptacle.
  • Plug your home phone charger with cell phone attached into the DC to AC power inverter. You can remove the phone at any time and continue to charge the auxiliary battery or remove the solar panel and continue to charge the cell phone.

A3  Direct Solar Phone Recharge

  • Plug the DC to AC power inverter into the solar battery charger.
  • Plug your home phone charger with cell phone attached into the DC to AC power inverter.


Recharging using your 12 volt DC car charger.

Alternating charging times using a 12 volt DC cellular phone charger.  Charging both the auxiliary battery and the cell phone simultaneously using a 12 volt DC phone charger.  Charging the Cellular phone directly from the solar panel using a DC car cigarette lighter phone charger.



B1  Car Charger & Auxiliary Battery

  • Plug a solar charger into the auxiliary battery to maintain a full charge. This can be done any time the sun is shining and your auxiliary battery will always be ready when you need it.
  • When your cell phone needs recharging; plug your car phone charger with cell phone attached into the auxiliary battery.

B2  Simultaneously Charging Both

  • Plug a cigarette lighter 2 way adapter into your portable 12v DC power supply.
  • Plug a solar charger into one receptacle to charge the battery.
  • Plug your car phone charger with cell phone attached into the other. You can remove the phone at any time and continue to charge the auxiliary battery or remove the solar panel and continue to charge the cell phone.

B3  Direct Solar Phone Recharge

  • Plug your car phone charger with cell phone attached into the solar battery charger.


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Variables to consider

No two solar laptop configurations will be the same so results WILL vary. Here are just a few variables to consider.
  • The output of the solar panels used
  • Power consumption devices.
  • Efficiency of the power inverter.
  • Intensity of the sun.
  • Latitude of the solar charger.
  • Season, Time of day, Weather, Air quality

For your protection and greatest efficiency from your solar configuration; read and understand all the directions furnished with each component of your solar laptop system.


Wiring Modifications See Photos

Some solar battery chargers are not equipped with a cigarette lighter plug; you must install your own.

DO NOT CUT THE EXISTING WIRES ON YOUR BATTERY CHARGER!

With his unit I unplugged the 2 prong battery terminal connectors supplied by the manufacture and added the cigarette lighter plug and a 2 prong wiring harness purchased from Radio Shack or automotive accessory stores. Note that the connector supplied by the manufacture has an inline 3 amp fuse to protect the charger. The cigarette lighter plug has an internal 3 amp fuse that will protect the charger. Also note I have two 2 prong connectors wired to my cigarette lighter plug for an additional solar panel should I choose.



Close-up solar panel modifications.




The cigarette lighter plug was designed as a plug for an automotive accessory not a charger therefore the exposed metal connectors are HOT when the solar charger is exposed to light. That is; any metal object touching the connectors will complete an electric circuit. This low voltage, low amperage current will not cause any harm but shorting out the solar charger may damage it. To prevent this I use a small section of a bicycle handle bar grip to cover and protect the terminals when not in use.



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