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-   -   Solar stuff? (http://www.bikeforums.net/electronics-lighting-gadgets/878258-solar-stuff.html)

KD5NRH 03-16-13 12:19 PM

Solar stuff?
 
Here's an odd question; I work for a company that sells and installs renewable energy equipment. We've sold a few electric car owners solar-topped carports for their chargers, but it got me to wondering what car-lite and/or car-free folks might want in solar powered stuff.

Obviously a solar shade for an electric bike would be just a couple of 280W modules, (3'x6.5', roughly) maybe 4 at most, (1120W peak production would pretty much need to be grid tied to have something to do with the extra power.) which would be relatively pricey if we actually did the fabrication work, since our projects usually start at 10-12 of those modules. We might offer something as a kit. Shipping sucks on bulky stuff, but even still we've been able to beat other vendors on prices with shipping when we find a good deal ourselves.

At the moment, we generally don't buy any modules under 230W, because the smaller ones cost more per watt. If there was enough interest, we might work up something based on panels that will fit on a typical pannier rack, but we're probably not ever going to be interested in trying to compete with mass-produced solar phone chargers and such. Our business model is more based on finding an unmet need and looking for ways to fill it. So, what needs are there that solar could meet, but that nobody's trying to meet?

(Come to think of it, there might be some demand for just some sort of pannier attachment that would carry one or more midsize 12V modules and double as a stand. Easy to carry on a bike, and freestanding to charge your stuff while camping or picnicking. One of my homebuilt panniers just bit the dust, and I tend to be Captain Dashboard anyway.)

rekmeyata 03-16-13 03:27 PM

I just carry a small 4000 mah solar charger when I go touring and it keeps the cell phone going no problem, and it was cheap at $25. I paid $30 for one that only had 900 mah about 5 years ago, so prices are coming down a bit on the small ones anyways.

KD5NRH 03-16-13 03:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rekmeyata (Post 15394661)
I just carry a small 4000 mah solar charger when I go touring and it keeps the cell phone going no problem, and it was cheap at $25. I paid $30 for one that only had 900 mah about 5 years ago, so prices are coming down a bit on the small ones anyways.

Exactly. The labor to assemble it would cost us about that much. That's why we mostly work with larger systems. I'm just trying to figure out if there's a product that might be useful that isn't already being made. Another thought that came to mind would be a midsize solar charger, say 18" by 24", designed to sit on top of the rack or a load on the rack, and charge AA/AAA batteries. For folks touring when it gets dark early, (or those of us where late evening and night is the only reasonable time to ride in the summer) free power for their lights could be worth it, and all the electronics including the battery compartments should fit within the depth of a typical module frame, so it's basically an 18x24x1.5" box.

lhendrick 03-17-13 01:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by KD5NRH (Post 15394678)
Exactly. The labor to assemble it would cost us about that much. That's why we mostly work with larger systems. I'm just trying to figure out if there's a product that might be useful that isn't already being made. Another thought that came to mind would be a midsize solar charger, say 18" by 24", designed to sit on top of the rack or a load on the rack, and charge AA/AAA batteries. For folks touring when it gets dark early, (or those of us where late evening and night is the only reasonable time to ride in the summer) free power for their lights could be worth it, and all the electronics including the battery compartments should fit within the depth of a typical module frame, so it's basically an 18x24x1.5" box.

18x24 on a bike? Is that what you are thinking of? If so, too big. Nomad makes a nice smaller one that does what you are suggesting.

From Google: http://www.goalzero.com/shop/p/11/No...Solar%20Panel/

rekmeyata 03-17-13 11:20 PM

Then also there are generator hubs on the market that can recharge stuff while you ride. I haven't had any issues with the small solar charger I have, it does the cell phone just fine, I don't take a computer when I ride so no need for anything that can do more. When I go touring I try to escape technology, not see how much of it I bring!


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