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Old 12-01-13, 01:37 PM   #26
chaadster
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GoalZero seem to be the hot choice for solar these days, though I think they work best charging a batterypack rather than a device (e.g. IPhone, GARMIN) directly.

The Joos Orange (http://solarjoos.com/products) looks killer to me, being a powerful, single piece unit that's easy to work with (though it is a bit big).

There are certainly smaller, lighter, less efficient, less durable solar chargers out there, but for cycle touring, I think the Joos Orange is the creme de la creme right now.
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Old 12-01-13, 02:00 PM   #27
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if you tow a Bike Trailer you may be able to get enough square feet of Solar Panel and buffer batteries
to make a difference.
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Old 12-01-13, 03:26 PM   #28
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The Joos Orange (http://solarjoos.com/products) looks killer to me, being a powerful, single piece unit that's easy to work with (though it is a bit big).
2.6 watts in an expensive, 1.5 lb panel? I don't think so.
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Old 12-01-13, 06:45 PM   #29
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Better questions are, what are the minimum and maximum voltages an iPhone needs to be fed for good charging?
The USB standard is 5.00 0.25 volts of relatively smooth (little or no AC ripple) DC current. Go under that, and the iPhone should refuse to charge. Go over that, and you risk damaging it. The stock charger puts out 1000 mA of current, though of course having an adapter that can produce more will not harm it. (But it generally won't charge faster either, as the phone won't accept more current. You might be able to use it to charge more than one device simultaneously, however.)

A PC USB port generally puts out 500 mAh of current ... and iPhone will charge from that even when on, but not as quickly.

Looks like the iPad charger puts out 5.1 volts at 2.0 amps, so the iPhone will tolerate at least 5.1 volts just fine. But more than that becomes risky.

I would not suggest connecting any dynamo or solar panel to an iPhone charger without a regulator or DC-DC converter that limits the voltage to 5.0 volts, either a part of the device or external to it. Fortunately, such circuits are cheap and easy to buy.

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Old 12-01-13, 08:41 PM   #30
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2.6 watts in an expensive, 1.5 lb panel? I don't think so.
Well, I guess it depends on what one needs and values. And to be clear, Orange is a panel+5400mAh battery, so weight is appropriate. The Anker you linked to in the OP is 1.75lb panels only!

I've futzed with folding solar panels that proved to be not only inconvenient, but useless. You've got to unfold them, find a place to position them, plug in a battery pack... If Joos works as well as everyone says it does-- all the reviews say it's top in class, outperforming higher watt units-- I think it would be very good for bike touring and charging iPhone and iPad.

I love that it's a single unit; you just throw it out there, and it charges. Strap it on the rack and ride. It's waterproof, shockproof, and securable, and most importantly, low light performance is excellent so you get juice even in awful conditions. This seems to be a big part of why it works so well compared to other less expensive units.

I can certainly see where the big Anker 3' panel might be great, but I think the versatility, ease of use, and efficiency of the Orange make it real winner on-bike. $150 bucks for this doesn't seem outrageous at all, although if that's over budget, it's over budget; I get it.

I haven't used one, but I'm thinking this would be a good Xmas present to self!
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Old 12-01-13, 10:39 PM   #31
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This past September, we did our annual 10 day backpack on one of the Washington State sections of the PCT. There we see the PCT thruhikers who will be finishers: the successes. Many of them were carrying the Goal Zero panel on their backpacks. We didn't see another brand. I think the model we were seeing was the Nomad 7M.
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Old 12-01-13, 11:37 PM   #32
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Look at the Eton Red Cross Clipray Clip-On Flashlight and Smartphone Charger. Leave nothing to chance. Least that way when your setting stuck in a tent in pouring rain.... you can charge and use your smart phone,
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Old 12-02-13, 07:43 AM   #33
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Look at the Eton Red Cross Clipray Clip-On Flashlight and Smartphone Charger. Leave nothing to chance. Least that way when your setting stuck in a tent in pouring rain.... you can charge and use your smart phone,
Whew! That'd take a lot of cranking, but you're right, it'd be better than nothing. Too bad it's not able to charge any iPhone.

I think the Joos Orange could be put outside in pouring rain and it'd charge.
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Old 12-02-13, 11:40 AM   #34
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Whew! That'd take a lot of cranking,...........
Yeah.... but I've heard the same said about bicycling.

I didn't realize it wouldn't work for all iphones. Although for any phone I think I'd use the intermediate back-up battery/chargers/flash-drive like thingys (like the: Duracell Instant USB Charger + Universal Cable with USB). Then charge the phone from that/those. The iPhones are more low amp/watt sensitive than some phones.

I am just thinking the one rest/rain day with no available power you have.... at least you could depend on yourself.

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Old 12-02-13, 01:00 PM   #35
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Whew! That'd take a lot of cranking, but you're right, it'd be better than nothing. Too bad it's not able to charge any iPhone.

I think the Joos Orange could be put outside in pouring rain and it'd charge.
WHy can't it charge an iphone?
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Old 12-02-13, 01:53 PM   #36
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WHy can't it charge an iphone?
The web page says "*Please note not compatible to charge iPhone 3GS, 4, 4S, or 5. "

The iPhones are picky about their power supplies -- the iPhone 5 whines about its cable, and the iPhone 4 and earlier would refuse to charge with certain AC-USB bases -- presumably because they didn't have the right chip in them or something.

And unless this has a battery inside (and it doesn't seem to), I wouldn't expect much charging from it, as you'll have to crank it 100% of the time that you want your phone to charge, so for hours for a full charge.
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Old 12-03-13, 07:10 PM   #37
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Better questions are, what are the minimum and maximum voltages an iPhone needs to be fed for good charging? Minimum is important because you don't want the charging function to turn off and surprising you with an uncharged phone. Maximum is important because too much voltage can damage electronics - your devices may or may not contain internal protection. Also is it sensitive to unintended reverse polarity?

Then there's current: with the voltage in the range implied by the first two questions, how much current is needed to charge the battery in a reasonable period of time and not compromise battery life? These are actually minimum and maximum questions as well.

Answer these and you can tell if it's adequate to connect up any given battery or solar array, or if you should have a power conditioner of some sort.
in theory, it's all about voltage and current. in practice, those are only part of the equation.

some devices have problems charging from computers, other devices have problems with "dumb" wall chargers. add battery packs and solar panels, and there's more things to go wrong.

then there's thing like my dumb-phone... it charges fine from a battery pack, wall-charger, or computer, but it doesn't do so well charging directly from a panel. if a cloud floats between the sun and the panel, the voltage drops. once the voltage drops, then phone gets "confused", and stays confused until it's disconnected. sometimes it will just stop charging. worse, if the panel isn't providing sufficient power, the phone will discharge through the panel.

some battery packs also misbehave like this. the DX parts i linked, previously, seem well behaved... even though the battery packs sometimes indicate that they're charging while they're not actually pulling any current.

something like these is useful to see what's really happening, although they don't show "reverse current" - when a device is discharging through a panel -
http://dx.com/p/usb-av-usb-power-cur...-silver-235090
http://dx.com/p/usb-terminal-power-a...y-black-245604

ultimately, if you have a device that's known to be "picky" about it's power source, read reviews and ask questions. make sure you test before you hit the road/trail.
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Old 12-03-13, 09:08 PM   #38
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This past September, we did our annual 10 day backpack on one of the Washington State sections of the PCT. There we see the PCT thruhikers who will be finishers: the successes. Many of them were carrying the Goal Zero panel on their backpacks. We didn't see another brand. I think the model we were seeing was the Nomad 7M.
Interesting. Thanks, Carbonfiberboy.
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Old 12-04-13, 10:04 AM   #39
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Interesting. Thanks, Carbonfiberboy.
The 1.6lb, $160, battery-less Nomad 13 is the get-in point for GZ on iPad charging capability. With a suitable GZ battery, price rockets up to $370!

The downside on cyclotouring, I'd think, would be taking advantage of on-bike charging. Even if you could get the panel efficiently aligned across panniers, you'd have to ensure that a connected battery pack stays connected despite road vibrations.

As with all systems, device direct USB charging would probably be extremely unreliable in those conditions just because of the insecure mounting of USB plugs. It would be a big bummer to get off the bike after hours of riding to find a dead device because of a loose plug!
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Old 12-04-13, 01:57 PM   #40
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The downside on cyclotouring, I'd think, would be taking advantage of on-bike charging. Even if you could get the panel efficiently aligned across panniers, you'd have to ensure that a connected battery pack stays connected despite road vibrations.

As with all systems, device direct USB charging would probably be extremely unreliable in those conditions just because of the insecure mounting of USB plugs. It would be a big bummer to get off the bike after hours of riding to find a dead device because of a loose plug!
I know quite a few people (including myself) who charge USB devices while riding. It doesn't appear, in practice, to be unreliable.
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Old 12-04-13, 02:11 PM   #41
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The iPhones are picky about their power supplies -- the iPhone 5 whines about its cable, and the iPhone 4 and earlier would refuse to charge with certain AC-USB bases -- presumably because they didn't have the right chip in them or something.
http://learn.adafruit.com/minty-boost/icharging
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Old 12-05-13, 08:35 AM   #42
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I know quite a few people (including myself) who charge USB devices while riding. It doesn't appear, in practice, to be unreliable.
Ah, good point. I was thinking more about the solar panel/battery pack situation though, where there typically isn't a fixed cable with full sized USB at one end, but rather two plug ends, one often with microUSB or an adapter, even, on top of another plug. GoalZero is an exception. But you're right that people may be running such setups without trouble; I've not, and am just speculating on what may be trouble points, and proceeding from the premise that simplicity is king, fewer pieces rule, and anywhere that a soft connection can be eliminated, it should.
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Old 12-05-13, 12:47 PM   #43
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Ah, good point. I was thinking more about the solar panel/battery pack situation though, where there typically isn't a fixed cable with full sized USB at one end, but rather two plug ends, one often with microUSB or an adapter, even, on top of another plug. GoalZero is an exception. But you're right that people may be running such setups without trouble; I've not, and am just speculating on what may be trouble points, and proceeding from the premise that simplicity is king, fewer pieces rule, and anywhere that a soft connection can be eliminated, it should.
As long as there is a flexible cable between the two masses (the device and the power source), it should be OK. If there's a flexible cable, there won't be any stress at the plugs.

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Old 12-05-13, 09:39 PM   #44
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As long as there is a flexible cable between the two masses (the device and the power source), it should be OK. If there's a flexible cable, there won't be any stress at the plugs.
True. Perhaps.
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Old 12-06-13, 09:40 AM   #45
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As long as there is a flexible cable between the two masses (the device and the power source), it should be OK. If there's a flexible cable, there won't be any stress at the plugs.
True. Perhaps.
Since we are talking about having to charge (in some manner) devices, it's a risk that people will just have to assume. (The risk, as far as I have observed, is rather low.)

(The alternatives are either not using the devices OR using only devices that have replaceable batteries.)

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Old 12-06-13, 07:51 PM   #46
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Since we are talking about having to charge (in some manner) devices, it's a risk that people will just have to assume. (The risk, as far as I have observed, is rather low.)

(The alternatives are either not using the devices OR using only devices that have replaceable batteries.)
Oh, yes, I agree with you there, but my thoughts were towards not the charging of devices on-bike, but to to the charging of batteries on-bike. In that case, I'd prefer a panel with an integrated battery to one that needs plugged in, firstly for convenience, then for removing the risk (albeit low risk) of accidental disconnect.
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Old 12-06-13, 08:14 PM   #47
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Oh, yes, I agree with you there, but my thoughts were towards not the charging of devices on-bike, but to to the charging of batteries on-bike. In that case, I'd prefer a panel with an integrated battery to one that needs plugged in, firstly for convenience, then for removing the risk (albeit low risk) of accidental disconnect.
Inbuilt batteries pose their own risk, not least in the long run when you want to change it to another or simply buy the same, only newer.

I guess you could epoxy it to the back, or use some industrial strength velcro to fasten it, thereby leaving you the option to choose your own battery, and with velcro you can remove it and charge it a bit easier from an outlet without having to also bring the solar.

But I think you are overthinking it - this coming from a guy who tends to overthink things to the extreme.

Edit: I'd sooner trust an USB plug or similar I can keep an eye than some hidden lowest-common denominator soldering job (it should be crimped, if anything).
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Old 12-06-13, 10:22 PM   #48
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I have had great success with the Anker Astro E5 15000ma battery pack. Basically it's a $50 high capacity lithium ion battery pack.

I originally bought it for Cycle Oregon this year, as my iPhone 5 is currently my GPS unit and I wasn't sure what the charging situation would be. I subsequently used it for my annual fall backpacking trip, where it was my only charging option: I got seven full iPhone 5 charges from a single battery pack charge, with a little power left in the tank.

Charging the battery pack from dead to a full charge takes about 10 hours using a standard 12A iPad charger. It will charge an iPhone in a couple of hours using the 2A USB port (there is also a second 1A USB port that can charge another device simultaneously). The 2A USB port will fully charge a completely drained iPad Air overnight. The unit is about the size of an external hard drive, and at 11oz weighs just twice what my iPhone weighs.

Even if you go with a solar cell or dynamo or whatever else, I would take one of these.
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Old 12-07-13, 03:31 AM   #49
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Inbuilt batteries pose their own risk, not least in the long run when you want to change it to another or simply buy the same, only newer.

I guess you could epoxy it to the back, or use some industrial strength velcro to fasten it, thereby leaving you the option to choose your own battery, and with velcro you can remove it and charge it a bit easier from an outlet without having to also bring the solar.

But I think you are overthinking it - this coming from a guy who tends to overthink things to the extreme.

Edit: I'd sooner trust an USB plug or similar I can keep an eye than some hidden lowest-common denominator soldering job (it should be crimped, if anything).
I suppose if there waterproof USB connectors and we were talking only full sized USB, I might agree somewhat, but since we aren't and there's the ease-of-use/versatility issues overlaid on this too, I don't think I'm overthinking it, and in fact, am keeping it simple.

I'm quite satisfied that the Joos Orange would be my choice for cyclotouring to charge phone & iPad as I don't see any advantage to running a stand alone solar panel (i.e no onboard battery) and for the zero fuss setup. All you need to do is have it out in the light to charge; no plugging in, no unfolding, no routing cables, no worry of the weather. I'd probably just strap it on top of the rack and leave it there during the ride, then plug my equipment in as needed at night.

Although I haven't done cyclotouring, I have done trekking, canoe camping, and back country hiking, and I know a few things from those experiences: you "make hay while the sun shines," you keep things simple, and the weather will be awful. I've had mates with the foldout solar panels and I've seen how they can be a pain to deal with, not the least of which is the inability to put out and secure the panels and batteries at camp.

The Joos has, by the way, a user replaceable internal battery.
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Old 12-07-13, 06:14 AM   #50
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I suppose if there waterproof USB connectors and we were talking only full sized USB, I might agree somewhat, but since we aren't and there's the ease-of-use/versatility issues overlaid on this too, I don't think I'm overthinking it, and in fact, am keeping it simple.
No, you are only keeping it simple in the purchase stage.

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I'm quite satisfied that the Joos Orange would be my choice for cyclotouring to charge phone & iPad as I don't see any advantage to running a stand alone solar panel (i.e no onboard battery) and for the zero fuss setup. All you need to do is have it out in the light to charge; no plugging in, no unfolding, no routing cables, no worry of the weather.
Except when you want to use the battery as a battery pack: You will have to carry the solar around with you too. And you also neglect to consider that a Li-ion doesn't really like heat, and I can't think of warmer place than under a black solar panel in the sun.

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I'd probably just strap it on top of the rack and leave it there during the ride, then plug my equipment in as needed at night.
Yes and you'd be able to do the same with a battery pack of your choosing.


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Although I haven't done cyclotouring, I have done trekking, canoe camping, and back country hiking, and I know a few things from those experiences: you "make hay while the sun shines," you keep things simple, and the weather will be awful. I've had mates with the foldout solar panels and I've seen how they can be a pain to deal with, not the least of which is the inability to put out and secure the panels and batteries at camp.
If you are that much against folding solar panels, and not so much against external battery packs, you need to take a look at Voltaic solar panels and battery packs. They are at voltaicsystems.com

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The Joos has, by the way, a user replaceable internal battery.
Yes, but not a choice of batteries, if you see what I mean. And with the heat it will get, you will soon be needing another battery.
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