How Do Solar Power Banks Work?


a high-capacity solar power bank with a single solar panel

More and more people use solar power banks to charge their various devices. This comes as no surprise; not only have these portable energy-storing gadgets become highly efficient but they can literally be charged at no cost a all, which, in this day and age of environmental awareness, has become extremely popular.

Solar power banks get charged when exposed to direct sunlight. Small, built-in solar panels capture the sunlight and then convert it into electricity (photovoltaic effect). This electricity is then stored by the solar power bank’s lithium battery and can be used to charge all types of devices.

To find out how powerful solar power banks really are, how long they have to be charged, and what the best solar power banks models are, all you have to do is keep reading this article.

Pro Tip: Need a solar power bank right here and now? No problem? You can find a really powerful and advanced power bank that is perfect for the outdoors on Amazon here!

How Does a Solar Power Bank Work?

Solar power banks have small, built-in solar panels which charge the lithium-ion or lithium-polymer battery inside the power bank when exposed to sunlight. The more direct and intense the sunlight is, the faster the solar power bank is being charged.

The solar panels capture the energy of the sun rays that hit them and convert them into a flow of electrons via the photovoltaic effect. The panels are made of many smaller units called photovoltaic cells. These tiny units, in turn, are made up of two components of semi-conducting material (most commonly silicon).

The photons in the sun’s rays collide with the free-moving electrons found in between these two components and as a result, electricity is created. This electricity can be used to either power electronic devices or to recharge the power bank’s own lithium battery.

In other words, solar power banks manage to turn freely available energy, namely solar energy, into electricity and battery power that can charge your smartphone, Iphone, tablet, etc. This awesome fact alone makes them pretty amazing and, if used correctly, highly const-effective!

But do not think that you can simply place your solar power bank in the hot sun for a few hours and get a fully charged gadget from that! Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that well (yet).

The vast majority of today’s solar power banks still need considerable time to be fully charged by the sun alone, which is something that most manufacturers tend to mention as well. They further advise you to charge your power bank the conventional way via a wall outlet and to only charge them via the solar panels if you absolutely have to.

Let’s have a look at the actual charging times for this type of power bank.

How Long Do You Have to Charge a Solar Power Bank?

The time it takes to charge your solar power bank with the help of the sun depends on the following three main factors:

  • Its battery capacity (in mAh)
  • The intensity of sunlight that the solar panels are exposed to
  • How many solar panels the power bank has

The first one is pretty self-explanatory; the higher the battery capacity of the solar power bank, the more time it’ll take to charge that battery. Most standard solar power banks (25.000 mAh) will be fully charged after 48-72h. But this amount of time also depends on the other two factors.

Because, regardless of the battery capacity, if your solar power bank is exposed to poor light conditions (mornings, evenings, overcast skies), it will take much more time to fully charge it (we’re talking up to a week here).

Similarly, the more solar panels they are in your power bank, the faster the battery can be recharged. That is why the more effective solar power banks on today’s market have several, often foldable, solar panels, as opposed to just one.

So yes, it does take a little longer to charge a solar power bank with solar energy. On the plus side, a fully charged battery often has superb charging capabilities and will be able to charge e.g. a mobile device up to 10 times or more.

Hence, a fully charged and ready-to-go solar power bank with a high-quality lithium-ion battery in it is the perfect choice for your camping trip!

And if you are at home and have to charge it hastily, you can always just do it the old-fashioned way via a wall outlet, which, of course, will take much less time (only a few hours).

What USB Ports Do Solar Power Banks Have?

Most solar power banks come with USB ports with options for both Type-A and Type-C charging to be able to charge today’s upgraded electronic devices.

Solar power banks are designed to supply the optimum power required by the device connected via the USB port and are often able to identify the voltage setting of the devices they are charging in order to adjust their output current and speed up charging. (Yes, now even the power banks have become smart!)

The USB Type-C port can have a maximum output power of 18W, which means that solar power banks with this type of USB port can charge your devices really quickly. Depending on the number of ports built-in, solar power banks can generally support multiple devices connected via different USB ports.

One of my most effective 25.000mAh solar power banks manages to fully charge 2 smartphones simultaneously in less than 3 hours, which is pretty fast if you ask me!

Some solar power banks also have LED lights or screens to both let you know when your device is charged and how much battery capacity there is left.

What Is the Best Solar Power Bank on the Market?

One of the most powerful and qualitative solar power banks is the Hiluckey 25.000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank. This is an extremely lightweight and affordable power bank with an exceptionally high battery capacity.

If you ask me, you can’t find a better model for the price!

Here are some of its most impressive features:

  • Ultra-fast solar charging (less than 24h in perfect light conditions)
  • Can charge most smartphone models up to 10 times and most tablets up to 4 times
  • Equipped with 4 high-performance solar panels for faster battery charging
  • 2 USB outputs for simultaneous charging of 2 devices
  • Built-in 9 LED flashlight

I can honestly say that this power gadget blew me away when first using it! Unlike most other solar power banks, it can actually fully recharge itself in less than one day, which is really impressive! I did not expect it to be that effective.

That, coupled with the fact that it can recharge most phones and tablets multiple times, makes it the perfect outdoor power bank!

Take a closer look at the powerful Hiluckey Portable Solar Power Bank on Amazon here

How Long Do Solar Power Banks Last?

Depending on the number of charge cycles supported and how often you actually use your solar power bank, the average lifespan of such a gadget is 10-15 years.

Obviously, the battery capacity will decrease over time, as is the case with all power gadget!

Solar power banks are also somewhat more vulnerable than conventional power banks, due to their sensitive solar panel surfaces. Try to avoid dropping or throwing your solar power bank, as this will most likely damage its solar panels and pretty much render it useless.

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