Solar Panels in Cars for Charging Small Accessories

This is a comment about a subject mentioned in a Click and Clack newspaper column on April 17 of this year. The question was about using a car’s cigarette lighter for charging a cell phone or iPod. Tom and Ray’s answer moved on to mention solar panels for the same purpose. The very next thing I read in the paper that day was a special section about Ecofriendly items to spend money on. And one of the items was a portable solar charger. It is called the JuiceBar Portable Solar Charger, retails for $49.99, and can be found at I don’t know if it could also charge a laptop, but if it could, it would certainly be a useful product to own.

Good idea out here in the four corners. But what is the rate of charging compared to home plug in ? Is it comparable time wise or will you be waiting for hours more that you’re used to ?
I cuurently use solar to trickle charge my 79 pickup that is parked for months on end.
works great.

I didn’t read the column, but jeez-louise, talk about absurd eco-marketing. You can charge your cell phone or iPod or whatever small electronic device dozens of times before you even get close to the amount of energy used turning over your car once. Any increased fuel usage is negligible or less. And they want us to drop $50 on some gizmo that will relieve our car of this energy burden? If you really want to save energy from recharging the battery, get a manual transmission car and only do roll starts! Wait, better yet, I’m going to start selling “green” car starter retrofit kits similar to what came on the Model T.

The solar trickle chargers are nifty for maintaining a battery charge because they’re more convenient than a plug-in trickle charger, but the actual energy savings over a plug-in charger are close to zilch. Just because something has a freakin’ solar panel on it doesn’t make it some sort of earth-saving wonder gadget. Are they claiming that solar calculators are “eco-friendly” yet?

I don’t know about that one in particular, but it sounds like a good way to keep small stuff (phones, ipods, etc) charged up. Laptops us way more power, so it would take quite a bit more time for that. If that’s what you want, check first with the manufacturer.

I think we will be seeing more models use their roof surface for just this exact purpose, if not already offered.

Good idea, but some devices won’t charge from the car’s power. I have a 9" DVD player that will run on the power but will not charge with it. It says it won’t charge on the instruction sheet.

for bigger items, sure. if the car is parked it can work. but for cell phones and ipods, its called an alternator.

go ahead, put em on, but it wont be cost effective for a long time.