During the past few days, portable solar charging for cell-phones have made the news rounds as a couple of cell-phones with solar panels on one side have been introduced during last weekends MWC (Mobile Wireless Congress) in Spain.
While the idea to make self charging, power grid independent devices is highly appreciative, the sensibility of the design is questionable.
Coming myself from an technical background I know that raised temperature exposure to electronic devices can lead to malfunction and to deformation of the housing materials when exposed for too long and too high temperatures.
As solar panels need sun light to work 100% those cell-phones need to be placed in direct sunlight. Sure, solar panels will charge in bright room environment or on cloudy days but the efficiency and effectiveness of the solar panels go down to 20%.
Another factor is the battery itself: the best charging condition is by around 25 degree Celsius. Higher temperatures will shorten the batteries lifetime as the chemical reaction inside the battery cell will not work in higher temperature properly.
Inside pockets or bag especially during hot summer days the temperature is already exceeding this 25 degrees but now imagine the device is place in direct sunlight.
From my point of view, bags and other fashion accessories including clothing with integrated solar panels make much more sense as they will not only minimize the cellphones’ (or other portable devices) exposure to direct sun light = heat, but also gives additional protection against scratches and cell-phone snatchers.
Bags and clothing provide the solar panels a place where they feeling best: on the outside and in direct sunlight contact where they can harvest all the unlimited, environmental friendly energy.