How does WaterLily compare to solar panels for keeping your devices charged while off grid?
While both technologies are an asset to your kit, WaterLily has some distinct advantages over solar that include:
- 24/7 energy harvesting
- Energy harvesting regardless of weather condition such as clouds, fog, rain, or snow.
The 24 hours per day and maintenance free nature of charging with WaterLily allows you to explore, work, or rest and relax while your devices are charging. You can set it up before bed and wake up to a full battery!
But how many watts does it generate and can't you get a solar panel with the same or higher output? All that matters is output rating, right?
Because of the differences between harvesting solar and hydro power, comparing the rated wattage of a solar panel to the rated wattage of WaterLily does not give you the full picture; you must also take into account the challenges of harvesting solar energy listed below:
- Solar panels only work for 4-6 hours per day (and peak output occurs for only a short time during that period).
- The actual output is lower than rated output.
- The angle of the panel relative to the sun affects output. Frequent re-positioning is required.
- Shade, clouds and precipitation dramatically reduce output
You can read more about these challenges in our blog: "The Disadvantages of Solar Panels - They're Not As Bright As They Seem,"
With the nuances of harvesting energy via solar and hydro now understood, you can see that instead of simply comparing the peak wattage, a more meaningful comparison is the amount of energy each can harvest per day. Consider how energy flows into a battery from Solar panels versus WaterLily using the following analogy:
Imagine your battery is a bucket, and stored energy is water in the bucket (watt hours or milliamp hours). The flow of water into the bucket represents the flow of energy into your battery (watts). When charging with solar, the water starts flowing slowly, building to full blast at noon then tapering off to nothing, assuming, of course, there aren't too many clouds that day. If you miss the period of strong sun (which on cloudy days does not even occur) you miss the opportunity to harvest energy. With Waterlily, the tap is turned on and it just keeps flowing. The steady charge rate of WaterLily and variable charge rate of solar are illustrated in the graph below:
Because WaterLily works all day long, rain or shine, its output can be compared to that of portable solar panels with much higher ratings. Check out the table below to see how WaterLily gets you more bang for your buck by providing a steady and predictable flow of energy 24 hours per day.
As you can see in the table above, when comparing the energy harvesting capability of WaterLily versus portable solar panels, WaterLily harvests as much as a solar panel rated at a much higher wattage.
Thanks for reading! If you have a question about this article or a topic you'd like to hear about in a future blog post, let us know in the comments below.