Solar powered flashlights or solar powered torches are flashlights powered by solar energy stored in rechargeable batteries. Most of these flashlights use light-emitting diodes lamps since they have lower energy consumption compared to incandescent light bulbs.
Solar powered flashlights vary in features and capabilities. A typical solar flashlight can give useful levels of illumination on objects up to 50 metres away, and beam may be visible for much longer distances. The solar cells used for battery charging have an indefinite life expectancy. A solar powered flashlight may give several hours of light after being charged during the day. These flashlights may be designed to be impact resistant, weatherproof, and to float.
Other models include features such as a solar cell phone charger, an AM/FM radio, or a siren to call for help in an emergency. Some models include a hand crank dynamo for charging at night. An experimental solar flashlight the size of a credit card features a white LED powered by 16 solar cells.
Comparison with primary battery flashlights
Solar powered lights need not be manually recharged as in the case of conventional battery operated flashlights. Pollution from discarded batteries used in normal flashlights is eliminated. Solar powered flashlights can be used in remote locations where it is impossible to find any source of electricity except for solar power.
A built-in solar cell array in a hand-held product has a very small capacity. The light output and run time of the solar flashlight are limited by the amount of energy that can be absorbed in a day. Flashlights are usually stored indoors or otherwise out of direct sunlight; consumers may find it inconvenient to remember to place the flashlight in full sunlight for several hours before use. Rechargeable cells self-discharge, so unless the flashlight is stored in a sunny location, the light may not function in an emergency. Rechargeable cells have a finite charge/discharge cycle life, and when the cells wear out it may be difficult for the consumer to replace them. Some of these disadvatages can be mitigated by separating the solar cell array from the flashlight, but then the simplicity of automatic charging is lost.
Solar powered flashlights have been distributed to countries where there is either no or erratic power supply, helping people feel safer leaving their homes at night, and giving children the opportunity to study after sunset. A dual purpose solar flashlight, which also functions as a lamp has helped families in such countries spend more time together, surgeries to be performed during power outages and people to travel in the dark under a halo of light.
A solar powered radio is a portable radio receiver powered by photovoltaic panels. It is primarily used in remote areas where access to power sources is limited.
The solar powered radio first came into existence in the 1950s. An experimental model, developed by General Electric, weighed just 10 ounces and was capable of working without light and recharging. It contained seven solar cells, four transistors and a small battery. In 1954, Western Electric began to sell commercial licenses solar powered radio, including other photovoltaic technologies. In 1957 the Acopian Technical Co. of Pohatcong Township, New Jersey, was reported as manufacturing the first solar radios for commercial sale to the general public.
Solar powered radios eliminate the need to replace batteries, which makes operating them cost much less. Since they don’t require plugs, they can be used in areas where there is no electrical grid or generators. As a result, people in remote areas with little disposable income can have equal access to news and information. Informative radio programs on human rights, women’s rights, the importance of education (especially for girls), HIV and AIDS, animal husbandry, agriculture, food security, combined with solar powered radios, can be a powerful tool for improving the lives of people in remote areas.
Source from Wikipedia