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Old 06-05-11, 09:28 AM   #1
Mardmakarm
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Anyone use solar panel on tour?

I just bought it few days ago and learn that connect it directly to mobile phone wasn't a good idea at all.(I'll find some portable charger later.)



After 4-5 hrs testing it, i think this will be a great solution for charging my camera batteries and mobile phone.

So i want to know what are your experiences from using it in a long tour, any advice and suggestion would be welcome!
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Old 06-05-11, 02:23 PM   #2
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Panel placement for sun orientation while riding is the most difficult thing to arrange. Each turn changes the orientation positively or negatively and shaded areas limits your output be it from trees or your own shadow. My past use of PV panels was for charging a lighting system, camera batteries and small electronics on tour.

I will be using my 5 watt/.35amp folding panel for electronics battery charging for my next tour this Summer. It is similar in size and design to the one in your photo. I have clipped the panel via grommets like yours to various locations on the bike- on top of a rear stuffer; on the side of a pannier facing the sun; on top of the front rack; and on my back via bungie cords. Remembering to make the needed sun orientation adjustments can be tedious on a long tour. My current electronic needs are low at this point just an iPod Touch, small digital camera and short wave radio.
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Old 06-05-11, 04:33 PM   #3
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Powerfilm makes a charger that charges two AAs and has a USB output. I used it a few times. On a sunny day it takes less than 4h to charge an iPhone, less for an iPod (won't charge an iPad). And it folds into a small package the size of a wallet. It seems to out of stock everywhere I look so I can provide a working link.

I'm thinking about getting another one that has more power and charges 4x AAs, no USB though. They cost around $100 in the US.

Both of them have charge stabilizers built-in and battery cages so they're ready to go out of the box. They also make more powerful - and more expensive - foldable chargers up to 60W that come with a barrel connector (like the 12v car cigarette lighter) that is compatible with car chargers. So you can plug any car charger to it.

Last edited by AdamDZ; 06-05-11 at 04:36 PM.
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Old 06-05-11, 07:11 PM   #4
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Yes, after testing with a cheap mobile phone, the power will stop every times i pass through a shadow.This really gonna broke my electronic gadgets if i not looking for stabilizer or portable charger to plug in the middle between them.
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Old 06-06-11, 09:06 AM   #5
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Yes, after testing with a cheap mobile phone, the power will stop every times i pass through a shadow.This really gonna broke my electronic gadgets if i not looking for stabilizer or portable charger to plug in the middle between them.
Even a solar panel with charge controller/stabilizer will cut its power off when passing through shaded areas. But it won't damage anything as long as the power is stable (no voltage spikes).
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Old 06-06-11, 12:30 PM   #6
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Maybe charge a battery as a buffer between the panel and the devise?
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Old 06-06-11, 07:03 PM   #7
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Just bought this 6600 mah mobile charger, I think this will be a suitable option for me.Another good thing is it able to charge 2 devices at once(USB1:5V/0.5A, USB2:5V/2A) so now i can charge mobile phone and batteries at once.
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Old 06-06-11, 09:01 PM   #8
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What are the specs on your solar panel? I tried one that just wouldn't work with anything but my mp3 player. It was supposed to put out 1 amp but even in full sun wouldn't charge my phone or GPS.
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Old 06-07-11, 01:59 AM   #9
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What are the specs on your solar panel? I tried one that just wouldn't work with anything but my mp3 player. It was supposed to put out 1 amp but even in full sun wouldn't charge my phone or GPS.
Here is the spec of my solar panel.

Product Description
●Solar charger for cell phone, MP3 player, MP4 player, digital camera, and so forth in traveling and outdoor work
●Provide power supply for digital electronics
●Solid panel to convert solar energy into electricity
●High portability
●It can be clipped on the bag, attached on the vehicle window glass, or put on the ground with bracket.
●Mesh pouch on the back of solar charger for your digital devices
●Solar panel output: 6V, 830mA
●Working temperature: -20-80℃
●Working life of solar panel: Above 10 years
●Charging time for handset: 2-3 hours
●Dimension: 330*220*5mm
●Weight: 400g

Source : http://www.sunvalleyus.com/solar-charger/48528.html
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Old 06-07-11, 02:05 AM   #10
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Most of the portable electronic device these day need around 5-6v for charging their batteries, some even need more like 12v.(you better check their mah too.)

You have to check your devices that how much power input in needed before choose your solar panel(and mobile charger, if it doesn't included like in my case.)
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Old 06-07-11, 05:55 AM   #11
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This is the usual story of frustration with solar panels. In practice they are difficult to mount on the bike and just aren't efficient enough. I think the quality of design and construction is also variable. A dyno hub will definitely charge your devices, but I think they are too expensive and heavy, particulalry when you can spend $70 and get a 10000mAh backup battery today. These weigh around 8oz and will charge an iPhone 5 or 6 times. So unless you are going somewhere with no access to power outlets for around a week they are the best solution.
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Old 06-07-11, 10:18 AM   #12
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Here is mine. It worked fine keeping my iPhone charged up.

Here it is mounted over a bear canister with plastic hooks and bongo ties:



And here, mounted to a pannier with the same hooks and bongo ties:

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Old 06-07-11, 07:20 PM   #13
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Most of the portable electronic device these day need around 5-6v for charging their batteries, some even need more like 12v.(you better check their mah too.)

You have to check your devices that how much power input in needed before choose your solar panel(and mobile charger, if it doesn't included like in my case.)
True, but sometimes that isn't enough. My phone's wall charger puts out 850 ma, and the solar panel I tried was supposed to put out 1000 ma. But it wouldn't work. The phone indicated a device was trying to charge it, but it would not show any current going in. In my experience with solar panels the only way to find out if they'll work or not is to hook them up to the device and try it. Seems to be a crap shoot. Too much trouble for me.

AdamDZ - glad yours is working for you. I'm jealous.
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Old 06-11-11, 09:10 AM   #14
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I have one I pulled from one of those stick in the ground lights. It is 6 inches by 8 inches and I have bolted it to the front rack. It produces 6 volts in the shade and 9 volts in the sun. I hooked it directly to a white LED and left it on for 8 hours this should have fried the LED but did not. Batteries make very good voltage regulators if you hook a solar cell to 4 NiMh batteries and run a cord from it should not produce more than 5.6 volts ideal for charging anything that runs on a USB cord. The thing is not to get greedy when using rigged power if you need to charge a phone give it only the charge you need to complete the call.
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Old 06-12-11, 09:42 AM   #15
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I use a Solio (sorry I don't remember which model) that has an internal battery that the solar panels recharge. Charging a phone or camera involves plugging in to the Solio with the proper adapter then transfering the power across. Then I just set the Solio wherever I can to recharge throughout the day (lunch stops, end of the day etc) or try to strap it to the rear rack with the best exposure I can manage.
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Old 06-12-11, 11:33 AM   #16
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I had a Solio (I also don't remember the model) that I brought along on a bike tour last year in sunny, cloudless Eastern Washington. I strapped it on top of the bag on my rear rack while I rode all day in the sun. It would never build up enough of a charge to recharge my Garmin or phone. (It would, however, charge them if I'd plugged the Solio into an outlet to charge.)

I returned it to REI.
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