Touring - Care and feeding of batteries while touring?
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I'm becoming more interested in the idea of touring and the question of lighting for both seeing and being seen popped in my head, for those times where you start out before daylight or don't make your destination before dark. I'm curious about how people here deal with any battery needs? For extended touring, do you just carry extra batteries (and replenish when needed) or carry something like a small wall and/or solar charger to keep rechargeable batteries fresh?
I have a handlebar mounted 9-50v LED light but it needs a new battery pack. My choices are a Li-Ion pack (lightweight, EXPENSIVE, requires a special wall charger) or build a AA holder that can provide power (heavier, cheap, flexibility to run almost any AA battery, rechargeable AAs could be charged in the field with a solar charger, already have a large number of NiMH batteries and a wall charger). This light would double as a trail light for night mountain biking and as an exterior light for my campervan. Both Li-Ion and AAs (NiMH) have their advantages but wanted to know what others do.
10-22-12, 08:44 PM
I don't generally plan on doing much riding after dark while touring, but I do carry a bike light and a small headlamp (the latter is mainly for camp use but also as an additional 'be seen' light). I try to standardize on NiMH AA and AAA cells for the lights, GPS, camera, etc. so that I can swap cells between items when needed and only need to carry a single lightweight charger. Many campgrounds have outlets available and other times I've asked if I could plug the charger in somewhere in a restaurant while eating there.
10-22-12, 09:14 PM
I use a typical AA-powered LED headlamp. AA's are ubiquitous, cheap, easy to carry. When camping, I stick to a AAA-powered headlamp.
Something like a Cateye Jido and a red blinkie for the rear should be more than sufficient.
10-22-12, 10:44 PM
The only batteries in my touring setup are two AAs in my bar-mounted headlight, two AAs in my tail light, and three AAAs in my camping headlamp. I only ride in daylight but the lights are there for tunnels and just in case. The lights are a few years old and I haven't changed batteries yet. My headlamp runs 150 hours on one set of batteries so I change them every couple of years. I usually just sleep at night. I don't carry spares, and I have never bought batteries while touring. (I sure like LEDs.)
10-23-12, 12:53 AM
I really donít like leaving a trail of dead batteries in the wake of my touring. I have been using Blackburn Fleas (http://www.blackburndesign.com/lights.html%5dBlackburn)- two 2.0 rear lights and 1 Super Flea headlight. They are easy to recharge using my solar charger or shore power. I see they have come out with a Super Flea tail light, which will get my consideration. The Super Flea headlight is bright enough to see the road clearly at night and be seen when flashing during the day. I tend to have one of the rear Fleas blinking anytime I am on a busy road day or night. The Super Flea can be used with a separate headband kit as a campsite headlamp. I have been using them for a number of years and find them rugged, water resistant and very lightweight.
I really don’t like leaving a trail of dead batteries in the wake of my touring.
That's why you use good rechargeable batteries (i.e. LSD NiMH), which are easier to replace and recycle when they're worn out than expensive, custom shaped, explosive Li-ion batteries :)
On my tourer/commuter I use a hub dynamo with connected lights (B&M Lumotec IQ Cyo R Senso Plus and B&M Toplight Line Plus) which are great to see and be seen. Recharging batteries with the hub is also possible, e.g. with the B&M E-Werk or the Zzing or ... (http://fahrradzukunft.de/13/steckdose-unterwegs-3/) connected to it.
On my other bikes I use LSD NiMH batteries in pretty normal bike lights. Unless you plan to use the front light every night (when in camp) they should last long enough to recharge them somewhere (save energy by running them in blinking mode whenever possible).
If planning to use the lights a lot, like in a Nordic winter, I'd definitely prefer hub dynamo powered lights.
The problem with dynamo powered lights and touring is, you need a separate light to use when in camp and/or fixing the bike by the roadside. In that sense, USB rechargeable lights like the Fleas combined with the dynohub+charging device seem like the best option. It gets expensive though, if you compare to cheap AA/AAA battery powered lights and a small NiMH wall charger.
Pretty much all my electronic touring gear (GPS, lights, radio, camera) operate on AA/AAAs and I try to keep it that way. One notable exception is my phone, but I believe I could find AA/AAA powered USB charger (essentially just an active USB port) to take care of that.
Tourist in MSN
10-23-12, 10:56 AM
I try to carry about a five day supply of rechargeable AA and AAA batteries. Use them in:
- headlamp (to wear on head, not a bike headlight)
- headlight (for bike)
- taillights (I use two)
Some trips also carried a weather band radio and/or a small portable AM/FM/Shortwave radio, both of which take AA.
I carry one charger that will charge both AA and AAA batteries. I generally have stayed indoors or at a campground with a power outlet often enough that a five day supply of batteries sufficed.
My camera and computer and phone will not use AA or AAA. My tablet computer can be charged with a USB charger and I have a camera batter charger (Li Ion) that also has a USB output. My phone is usually off, I do not carry a charger for it. I carry three camera batteries.
I also have some stuff like heart rate monitor and bike computer that take CR2032 batteries, I carry a couple of those but only once have needed to change one of those during a bike tour.
If you are considering a high power headlight and AA rechargeables, you might find that you need two or more AA chargers. I can get by with one that takes four batteries, but after several days I have to swap batteries in the charger a few times per night to get fully charged up.
10-23-12, 12:16 PM
I have a couple methods I can use and have made my standard AA cells and a combination of throwaway and some type of rechargeable AA cells. The advantage of alkaline throwaway batteries is obvious, they hold a charge for 5 years and can be found almost anyplace you go. The disadvantage is cost and environmental. But having them as an option can lighten your load and save you if you are off the grid and needing some power. The plus of AA cells is you can reconfigure them in different holders and get different voltages if needed also. I need USB ability to keep my iPhone going and my headlight is rechargeable if AC is available and doubles as a main camp light. But can also be powered from a battery pack of AA that are configured to make 6V if needed. Below are my first DIY solution to my needs and the second photo is my current device I like best. Shown with a small USB light thatís not part of the unit but works great as a tent light or a cooking task light hands free.
Itís linked here.
I like this unit as it is both a charger and a backup and takes both types of batteries and has USB output as well as pass thru charging.
I carry my iPhone in a Mophie case that doubles the battery life of the phone and the phone runs GPS software but I donít try and view it while riding and keep it safe in the bar bag.
Here are my DIY USB and the tekkeon. The first photo is when I still thought I would like the phone bar mounted.
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