Saturday, January 28, 2006

Let The Sun Charge Your Cell Phone

There's nothing to lift your spirits like a nice day of sunshine. It absolutely energizing. Energizing for cell phones, too. Some of that warm solar energy can be converted to electricity to recharge electronic devices, like cell phones.

Solar panels have been around a long time. You see them on roofs, generating power to reduce electric bills. Every satellite in Earth orbit has been outfitted with solar arrays since the Sixties. Solar energy is constant and powerful. Once you build a panel to convert solar rays to electric current, it will run for years or even decades without maintenance. That's because solar panels are a type of solid state device using semiconductors to convert the photons of light energy to electronics of electrical current. All you have to do is point them at the sun and the current starts to flow. Even a cloudy day has enough light available to generate useful amounts of electricity.

Every cell phone comes with a plug-in wall charger. This is nothing more than a small power supply to convert the high AC voltages from the house wiring to low voltage DC that is compatible with phone batteries. You can also buy car chargers which simply match the 12 volts DC power from the car battery to lower voltages used by phone batteries. As it turns out, solar cells naturally generate DC power at fairly low voltages. That makes them easy to use for charging cell phones. All you need to do is pick the appropriate size panel and provide a connecting cable with the right connectors for a particular phone. Each manufacturer has its own style.

One company that is pushing the envelope in applying this technology is Sodius of Holland. What you'll be pushing soon is their solar power golf bag. It looks just any other golf bag with the addition of shiny blue solar panels on the outside of a large pouch. You plug your cell phone into the solar panel and the battery charges while you are busy playing 18 holes. On a bright day it only takes a few hours to give you a fully recharged phone. Plus you'll have your phone handy in case you need to make an important business call on the links. Like ordering a pizza while you're on the way in to the clubhouse.

Not a golfer? How about charging as you hike? Voltaic Systems, Inc. has backpacks and a messenger bag with three solar panels each. These generate up to 4 watts that will charge cell phones, cameras, two-way radios, PDAs, GPS navigation receivers, iPods, MP3 players, and other small electronic devices. Each bag includes a LiION battery to store excess charge so you can plug a device in later. An indicator light in the logo glows to show that the solar cells are charging.

Of course, you can also get just the panels with a connecting cable from Sodius and others. You plug your phone into the panel, set it in the sunlight and go about your business. Four to six hours later, you retrieve your devices and you are good to talk.

So why not just use the wall charger or car charger? Oh, that's so ordinary! Actually, those are often your best methods of getting a recharge... if you happen to have a lot of car time or can wait until you get home. But what if you are out and about? That's where these clever solar chargers come in handy. It doesn't matter if you are a million miles from anywhere. As long as the day is bright, your prospect for generating electricity are equally as bright.

So, do you need a new cell phone for that solar panel to charge? You'll find excellent discounts on the phone of your choice at Cell Phone Plans Finder now.

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