Solar energy is gaining more ground and becoming increasingly popular these days. Its industry is also growing thanks to the output of various solar-powered devices on the market. Initially, manufacturers were producing only solar panels. However, they’ve expanded their product portfolio to include solar-powered products such as solar inverters, batteries, fans, power banks, and even solar-powered radios.
If you haven’t heard about a solar-powered radio before, you’ll probably be surprised that such a device exists. You’ll probably also be curious about it. What is it? How does it work? What are its pros and cons? How does it compare to a standard radio? Read on to find out all these.
Despite the pace at which communications technology is developing, the radio is still a relevant source of information for a particular demographic. A solar radio is the ideal alternative to the standard radio. It’s commonly used in off-the-grid locations where there’s no access to electricity. There are also cases where you may go camping or hiking and forget to take batteries for your radio. In such situations, using the solar radio is ideal.
The solar-powered radio is a type of portable communication device that is powered by a small group of photovoltaic cells. Contrary to popular belief, the solar radio has existed since the early 20th century. General Electric was experimenting with a device that could work without electricity. The first solar radio comprised four transistors, 7 PV cells, and a tiny battery. As early as 1957, the first set of solar radios was on the market.
So how does it work? The process is a simple one. It operates through its photovoltaic cells. These PV cells (which could be either monocrystalline or polycrystalline cells) are linked to conducting layers. When a solar radio is exposed to sunlight, its solar cells absorb and trap sunlight. This sunlight contains photons, and the conducting layers extract the electrons from the photons, generating electricity.
In layman’s terms, the solar panels trap solar energy and convert it to electric energy to power the radio. Some solar radios come with batteries as a backup too.
Normal radio is just a term to classify other radios that don’t operate with solar technology. For instance, we have a mains radio and a battery-powered radio. The former is a type of radio that operates without a battery. It’s powered strictly by AC electricity. Some radios don’t even require electricity, and radio waves power them. On the other hand, a battery-powered radio, as the name implies, is the type of radio that’s powered by a pair of batteries.
Some radios also double as battery-powered radios since they can be powered by electricity and batteries. Normal radios were invented a lot earlier than solar radios. They are more common among radio users than solar radios.
Pros of Solar-Powered Radios
Its Energy Source
One of the most significant advantages of using a solar radio is its energy source, the Sun. The Sun is a limitless energy source, and it’s free. Solar energy is also clean energy and environment-friendly. Solar energy is also available everywhere, so it doesn’t matter where you go or how remote your location is; you can always stay connected to news updates.
The cost of purchasing a solar radio is probably the only money you’ll spend on a solar radio. After that, the radio pretty much takes care of itself. For instance, you don’t need to spend money on batteries to keep radioactive and powered up. That’s what the panels are there for.
This is another quality that makes solar radios cost-efficient. They require little to no maintenance. It’s convenient to own.
Solar radios are designed to be portable devices. So you can take them anywhere with ease.
Cons of Solar Radios
May Need Batteries as Back Up
One of the greatest disadvantages of solar energy is that it isn’t available throughout the day. The Sun sets from dusk, which means no more sunlight until sunrise the following day. If you listen to the news at night, you may need batteries as a backup to power your radio. Better still, buy a solar radio that has space for batteries.
Pros of Normal Radios
Just like solar radios, regular radios are not costly devices. You can get a good radio and listen to news updates with a few bucks.
Can Operate All Day
This is an advantage that standard radios have over solar radios. As long as you have batteries, you can listen to the news all day. Solar radios may not function at night due to lack of sunlight unless it comes with a battery compartment. A normal radio will only run out of juice when the battery weakens and requires replacement.
In addition to affordability, portability is another similarity that both solar and regular radios share. The radio is light in weight. There are even pocket-size radios that weigh practically nothing. You can carry them around without feeling burdened.
Cons of Normal Radios
It’s Not Cost-Efficient
This is a huge minus for regular radios. Apparently, owners of standard radios still spend money to keep the radio running after the initial purchase. A pair of batteries (depending on their quality) will last for a few days, and then you’ll have to insert a new pair. Over time, the accumulated cost of batteries will amount to a lot of money. Being less cost-efficient, a standard radio requires more maintenance than a solar radio.
This is a strong reason to adopt the use of solar radios. When the batteries in your radio get weak and old, they will be discarded. This makes them an environmental pollutant.
Both solar and regular radios have benefits and drawbacks. Both devices even share similarities, such as affordability and portability. However, owning a solar-powered radio offers more benefits. It’s more affordable because, after its initial purchase, you spend little to nothing. Its energy source is free and clean energy. It’s also eco-friendly, and owning a solar radio is one of the little ways we can fight against environmental degradation.