How to Use a Solar Battery Charger

  • Sep 10th 2018

The way you charge batteries with a solar charger depends on what kind of solar charger you got and what type of battery you are trying to charge. Most solar panel chargers use a USB cable to charge batteries, the USB cable connects the same way as to your computer or power outlet charger. There are also chargers that can charge car batteries with alligator clip.

When it comes to charging batteries with solar panels we think it is really important to have a high-quality solar charger. Cheap or small chargers are often inferior and have problems charging fast enough as well as giving any charge at all when conditions are less than perfect. If you want advice about what to look for and how to identify a good solar charger you can read more here.

When charging iPhones and iPads there are few more thing you have to take into consideration so we have made a separate list of instructions for this case.

We have listed step by step instructions for the different use cases below and also some general advice on how to handle your solar panel charger.

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How to Use a Solar Mobile Phone Charger using USB

1. Open and unfold, if necessary, the solar panel and align it so it is directly facing the sun.
2. Plug the USB cable into your mobile device and make sure you see the charging icon in the status field of the device.
3. Place the mobile phone or tablet in the shade or cover it so it does not overheat while charging.
4. Leave the device connected until you have full charge.
5. If charging takes a long time you might have to re-align the solar charger panels as the sun moves across the sky.

How to Use a Solar iPhone Charger using USB

1. Open and unfold, if necessary, the solar panel and put it at an angle so that it is directly facing the sun’s rays.
2. Plug the USB cable into your iPhone or iPad. Be sure to use the original cable as iPhones are really sensitive when it comes to charging and might not charge otherwise.
3. Make sure your see the charging icon in the status field of the device. In some cases you might get an error saying “Charger not supported”. Even if you see this message your iPhone might still be charging, leave the USB cable plugged in and check if the battery has gained any charge after 30 minutes.
4. Leave the device connected until you have full charge.
5. If for some reason the device stop loading you might have to unplug the USB cable and plug it back in to get the charging to start again.
6. If charging takes a long time you might have to re-align the solar charger panels as the sun moves across the sky.

How to use a Solar Car Battery Charger using Alligator Clamps

1. Before connecting your battery to a solar panel charger, make sure it is not raining or that rain is imminent.
2. Park your car at a well ventilated space since the battery will give off explosive gas (Hydrogen gas) when charging which could be dangerous if the battery is in a confined space.
3. Locate a ground location where you can attach the negative terminal alligator clip of the solar charger. This can either be a large bolt connected to the chassis or a part of the frame of the car. Make sure the spot you chose is free from dirt so you get a good connection between clamp and ground.
4. Connect the charger's red clip to the positive terminal. Make sure the two are well connected.
5. Connect the solar charger's black alligator clip to the ground you selected in step 3.
6. Position the charger's solar panel so it is directly facing the sun.
7. Connect the cable with the alligator clamps to the solar charger.
8. Leave the charger plugged in until the car battery is fully charged.
9. If charging takes a long time, as it often do to charge a car battery, you might have to re-align the solar charger panels as the sun moves across the sky.
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How to Use Solar Chargers - General Advice

  1. For best effect use your solar charger in full sunlight without anything blocking the sun.
  2. The solar cells will convert the most solar energy if they are facing the sun directly and not at an angle.
  3. Do not lay the solar panel directly on concrete, sand, rock or other high heat conduction surfaces in direct sunlight. This will cause the solar panel to overheat and significantly reduce the conversion rate and output wattage. In extreme cases it can even harm or destroy the solar cells or electronics in the panels.
  4. Some phones (mostly iPhones) will stop charging if the output gets too low. This might happen if the solar panel temporarily is shaded. Once the charging stops you might have to unplug the device and plug it in again for the charging to start. This is why charging a portable power bank with the solar charger and then charge your devices with the power bank is the best option. You can read our article about portable power banks here
  5. Always try to keep your solar panels clean and scratch free. Dirt and scratches will reduce the amount of energy converted from the sun.