back to article Freeloader portable solar energy charger

The temperamental English weather makes testing a portable solar charger like the Freeloader a tad difficult. Luckily, we were able to grab a day or two of glorious sunshine before the heavens opened and the onslaught of April showers began... in May. Yup, it's all change up there in the atmosphere and as the world warms up, you …

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Not so good.

I bought one of these beasties a while back. So when there was glorious sunshine during April what happened?

Well to put it bluntly nothing. The system is not even powerful enough to keep a Nokia 3210 topped up on just solar power alone. After a full days charging in the sunshine it barely had enough power to boost the battery up by one mark on the scale.

As a portable charger its brilliant. Small and can keep things powered up for a while, but for solar power. Nil points. Needs something a bit beefier.

Incidently I stuck my volt meter on one of the solar units when in full sunshine. Approx voltage 4.1v. Thats fine. But current was at about 2mA which is absolutely hideous.

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No chance!

I'm not an electrical engineer, but I've done enough with solar panels to tell by looking at your pictures that this thing has almost zero chance of working as a practical solar charger. Not in England, not in Greece, not even Arizona or Oz will give you enough rays to use this thing on a charge-per-day basis. The portable battery pack idea is nice enough- they should chop off the panels and focus on the part that does work right.

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Solar charger

Frankly, I'd be happier to find a simple, reasonably priced, solar battery charger; One that I can stick a couple of spare batteries in when the sun's shining, and then use them when I need them. It'd be Ideal for taking with the camera on holiday etc. Just stick it on the balcony and get it later when it's ready.

Significantly, my garden has a whole row of those LED lights, bought from my local Homebase DIY store and all powered by just such a device. And costing around a fiver (£5) each, complete.

So why, among the rows of battery chargers at the checkout ,are there none with the same solar charging capability?

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Anonymous Coward

Solar charger

Terry, you can get solar powered battery chargers (at the bottom of the page):

http://www.greenshop.co.uk/acatalog/Greenshop_online_Household_102.html#aE413

Can't comment on whether they are any good or not though as I don't own one.

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