Many volunteers heading into the Peace Corps want a portable solar charger and ask us what products they should get for their laptop. If you can avoid bringing your laptop, you can save a lot of money and cost as laptops take a lot more power to charge than cell phones, tablets and digital cameras.

If you really need that laptop, we suggest either:
a) Fuse 10W Solar Laptop Charger
b) 17 Watt Solar Laptop Charger Kit = 17 Watt Solar Panel + V72 + Adapters + Corner Mounts

They are both highly portable, about the same price, weight and overall packing size, but here are the major differences.

The Fuse 10W is a packaged product with straps that attach to your favorite backpack and storage space for all your cables. If you have an efficient laptop (runs for about 3-4 hours on its own battery), and you want something that is already completely setup and ready to go, this is a good fit.

Here’s the Fuse 10W and it in use in Cameroon.

Fuse 10W Solar Laptop ChargerPeace Corps Laptop Charger

The 17 Watt Panel Kit provides more solar power for faster charging, but there is no storage area. What we like about this option is that you can mount the panel on the roof of your living space and run the power cable (we recommend our 10ft. Extension cord) inside to your battery. The panel generates power whenever there is sunlight and your battery stays dry. If your laptop is a power hog or you have multiple devices that you want to keep charged, this could be a good fit for you. However, there is no storage space and you’ll have to improvise a tiny bit to attach it to what you need.

Here’s a picture of the 17 Watt Kit and it in use in Tanzania (kit is on right, next to a Fuse 4W).

solar panel kit for laptopTanzania Solar Charger Kit

Additional Recommendations

If you need to charge a MacBook, digital camera or tablet, we recommend you read our guides: MacBook, digital camera, tablet.

In addition to the solar panel, many Peace Corps Volunteers are able to charge their battery from an AC power supply in a local village. While this can be very convenient, an unstable power grid in developing countries can lead to large fluctuations in power that can potentially damage your battery beyond repair. That is why we strongly recommend using a small surge protector between your V72 laptop battery and the AC power supply in the village. It is cheap, small and lightweight, and most importantly can potentially save your electronics from doom.

Note: Starting in January 2016, Voltaic Systems will no longer provide a warranty replacement on batteries that are damaged while charging from an unreliable power grid in a developing country.

 

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16 Responses

  1. Arthur

    I would like to know if it ywould also charge Samsung SLATE-7 (Samsung has specific charging inputs,..)

    Reply
  2. justin

    Hi,
    I am a Tanzanian living in Musoma, I am wondering if you can tell me how I can purchase the 10W monocrystalline Solar Panels in Tanzania. Your reply will be highly appreciated.

    Regards … Justin.

    Reply
  3. alexandria smith

    my daughter (Alexandria smith ) will be leaving for Ghana peace corp in Feb 3., 2014. . any advice on charging a hp Google chrome book 11 and nook,android phone ,stand alone DVD player, DSC-WX300/B 18.2 MP Digital Camera camera

    Reply
  4. vicky furner

    hi, i live off grid and would like to have a solar charger just for my laptop. I would need on that charges well with British sunlight, is not too expensive, complicated and move able. I would not be traveling with it more moving it back into the sunlight when the sun has moved behind a tree, advice would be very greatful11y received. Thank you vicky

    Reply
  5. Jaraspak P.

    Hello,

    I’m interested in your product-16.8 Watt Solar Charger Kit.
    Therefore, I wonder that is there any mounting option for this kit?

    (I’ve seen that you have a folding kit for 18 Watt Solar Charger Kit)

    Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

    Best Regards,

    Jaraspak.

    Reply
    • admin

      Hi Jaraspak,

      You can mount the 16.8 Watt panel in a few ways:
      1. use our ziptie set to semi-permanently attach the panel to a structure. The zipties attach to the corners of the panel
      2. take a few pieces of webbing and attach them to the corner pieces. You can then attach the panel to a backpack or any structure

      Hope that helps,
      Jeff

      Reply
  6. Jo Lobertini

    Hello! Thank you for the Peace Corps information. My son has a Toshiba laptop. What will he need to make the that work with one of these solar chargers? Adapters, cords, etc.

    Thank you,

    Jo

    Reply
    • Tony Kauffmann

      Hello, feel free to reach out to our support team at support@voltaicsystems.com to provide specific details about your laptop model (what type of Toshiba) and we’ll provide a recommendation for adapter size.

      Reply
  7. Gary L

    Can you comment on the durability of the solar charger in the sub-Sahara sun? 10-15 hours in direct sun: could it reduce the life of the charger?
    Peace Corps destination within 10 degrees north of the equator.

    Reply
    • Voltaic Systems

      We use high quality materials on the solar panels to eliminate or reduce this issue. The 17 Watt panel on the 17 Watt kit has a urethane coating that is designed to last 10+ years outside 365 days a year. The Arc 20W is not quite as rugged, but we use and ETFE coating (instead of the cheaper PET laminate) with higher UV resistance for a 5 year lifetime.

      Reply

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