Everything You Need To Know About Solar Powered Calculators

Everything You Need To Know About Solar Powered Calculators

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Solar powered calculators are a must-have if you need to use this tool to make your life easier. They hold many benefits compared to battery operated models.

Most current calculators use mini solar panels and batteries for power storage. However, you can still buy models only using batteries. In this article, I explain what solar calculators are. You’ll also see my comparison of them to battery operated ones.

What Are Solar Powered Calculators?

Solar powered calculators may sound modern, but they aren’t a new phenomenon. They’ve been in use since the late 70s! The inventor tried to find a way to replace bulky calculators that were too big to carry around. In the process, he added solar cells to them.

Most calculators used today are solar powered, which is why we don’t have to recharge them or replace the batteries as often. Solar powered calculators work exactly like regular ones. However, there’s a slight difference. 

While both types use batteries, their batteries work differently. Traditional calculators have batteries that need replacing after a while. Some options available include rechargeable batteries that don’t require throwing away. 

Solar calculators, however, use internal batteries that aren’t their primary power source. The batteries get charged with the energy they collect from the sun.

During the day, the solar cells built into these calculators harvest power from sunlight. Indirect sunlight or other light sources will also do. If you place them in direct sun, the screen could damage. The light the mini solar panels collect converts into a usable form of energy. Once they’re fully charged during the day, you can use your calculator at night. 

solar powered calculators

Battery Powered vs Solar Powered Calculators

Solar and battery powered calculators have a few differences that’ll influence your decision when buying one. 

Solar Powered Calculators Battery Powered Calculators
There isn’t a significant price difference between the two types of calculators. Some retailers sell high-priced solar powered calculators, while others have more affordable options.   Battery powered calculators can be expensive if you consider the extra costs that accumulate over time. Batteries will need replacing every now and then, making these calculators more expensive than solar powered ones. 
You can expect your solar powered calculator to work for 3 to 15 years before the batteries need replacing. The rest of the calculator, from the buttons to the solar cells, should also be fine for years. The batteries in these calculators don’t last nearly as long. Their maximum lifespan rarely stretches past three years. The more you use your calculator, the faster you’ll have to replace them. 
Calculators are designed to be 100% reliable, regardless of their power source. Solar calculators rarely make mistakes. Battery powered calculators are just as reliable and nearly faultless. Small mistakes may slip in when the batteries are nearing flat because they may not recognize the buttons you’re pushing. 
It’s unlikely that your solar powered calculator will ever place you in a difficult spot. Whenever there’s a light source, it’s sure to work.  If you don’t realize your batteries are running out of power, you may be left with a dead calculator when you need it the most. 

Different Types of Solar Powered Calculators

Most of the calculators available today are powered by energy harvested from the sun. Even those that still have battery powered options have solar counterparts. 

Standard Calculators

The most basic calculators are used early in primary school since they’re suited for beginners. They’re the cheapest and widely available. These calculators can only do essential work like adding, dividing, subtracting, and multiplying. They have limited extra functions like percentage and square root. 

Basic calculators were the first type that used solar energy. Creators turned a large and bulky calculator into a smaller version that works with energy from the sun. 

Financial Calculators

Accountants and bankers opt for these calculators because they have many unique functions. You can use them to calculate anything from interest rates to mortgage payments. 

Stationery shops and other retailers have solar powered financial calculators. Even the busiest accountant that never gets in the sun can use them – they’re able to charge with office lighting!

Scientific Calculators

You probably used one of these if you took some high level mathematics classes in high school or college. Scientific calculators are easily recognizable by their SIN, COS, and TAN buttons. 

You can do any math on a solar powered scientific calculator, from algebra to geometry. They cost a little more, but not due to solar power. They have added functions that most other calculators don’t. 

Graphing Calculators

Graphing calculators can make graphs and charts with the data you type in them. They’re mainly used by economists who regularly use statistics. There are solar powered versions of these calculators available. They aren’t cheap, but the price is worth it to the people who need them. 

Printing Calculators

Even the oldest options, like printing calculators, can work with energy from the sun. There are still people who use this innovative tool. They have four basic functions with the bonus of a few financial formulas. When you’re done calculating, you have the option to print it all out on a small piece of paper. 

solar powered calculators

Are solar powered calculators worth it? 

Battery powered calculators aren’t as widely available as they used to be. Solar is taking over the world! If you can choose between the two, I suggest selecting a solar powered one. 

They require less maintenance than battery powered calculators and have a longer estimated lifespan. Since you won’t have to replace parts of them or the calculator as often, you’ll save money. It’s also unlikely that these will put you in a tight spot during an important assignment. 


Solar powered calculators aren’t a new thing. The one you already have probably uses mini solar panels to keep its batteries charged. However, if you’re in the market for a new one, you can choose between solar powered and battery operated calculators. Each has its benefits and drawbacks, so you’ll have to determine what works best for you. I hope this article was helpful! If you have more solar-device-related questions, ask them in the comments and our team here at Solarsena will be quick to answer it! 

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