Touring - Solar Pannel or Hand Crank?
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05-12-10, 06:08 AM
On tour for charging a cell phone battery on the (sunny) West Coast
05-12-10, 06:30 AM
There are some threads on this in the Electronics forum, and I think there's one buried here. Some solar chargers are available off the shelf. A solar panel's peak output only happens on a clear day with the sun at 12:00 relative to the solar cells, but you get very significant power in the shade, and throughout mid-day. And it's better than nothing whenever there's enough light to see by. But don't expect a recharge in 20 minutes - unless there's a battery that's a lot bigger than the cell phone battery, a solar panel that will do that will be pretty big and $$. And then how will that battery be maintained, if it can't get you through the whole trip?
Anyway, some sort of solar is possible, but will take some planning and trials, in the context of the tour plan.
05-12-10, 07:02 AM
Just my opinion, but...
I tinkered with both when sailing and my impression is that neither would be worth the trouble for touring at least in a developed area like the west coast.
The hand crank charger I tried took a lot of cranking to up the charge by just enough to make a very short call. It was barely OK as an emergency item for on the boat.
Solar chargers need to be fairly large, expensive, and heavy to do any substantial amount of charging. I'd just turn the phone off when not in use and plug in when the opportunity presents itself.
05-12-10, 07:38 AM
My cell phone battery will last for several days with light use. Not many, if any, places in the US you could ride for several days with no AC power outlet available. Of course, if you're playing "green", then solar or hand crank are your options. As there is lots of down time on a bicycle tour, go with hand crank for the upper body exercise.
The most practical and wasteful way to keep gadgets charged in remote areas is with a device like this:
05-12-10, 09:46 AM
Yes, if you're going to carry a "tank of electricity" it's hard to beat primary cells. Sad but true, one of the "heartbreaks of power electronics." Plus it's a lot more likely that a convenience store or gas station in the middle of southeast Colorado will sell you some AA's than will let you plug in your cell phone and then cool it in the store for a while.
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