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Old 01-22-13, 06:23 PM   #1
woodysroad
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solar powered chargers

Any suggestions on a solar powered charger for phone, tablet, etc ?
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Old 01-23-13, 02:23 AM   #2
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you have to stay in one place, out of the shade and the panel needs to be Big, or it takes forever..

To have impressive power, Think solarpanel trailer,that may have room for gear underneath

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Old 01-23-13, 03:10 AM   #3
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I have a GoalZero Nomad 7 and Guide 10 combo. I've found that my devices use more power than it can collect but as long as I find additional power every few days, it can tide me over. Knowing what I know now, I should have gotten a dynohub instead.
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Old 01-23-13, 03:38 AM   #4
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+1. If you need to charge while on the road, dynohub + charging device is the most reliable solution. Or leeching off your lunch break cafe's grid. I've actually asked for permission on a couple of places, the answer has always been yes.
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Old 01-23-13, 05:52 AM   #5
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I don't think solar is practical for bike touring. I use a dynohub to run my lights, iPhone (using GPS and display all day), plus other electronics. My dynohub charges a battery pack which then runs the other stuff while riding or stopped. I ride for a week or more with no need to plug into 110.
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Old 01-23-13, 06:47 AM   #6
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IMHO solar isn't quite there yet. The cells need to be a lot more efficient for a truly practical power source. However, batteries have come a long way and for under $100 you can get a $10k mAh one that will recharge a smartphone 5 or 6 times. So unless you are going on a true expedition I'd just buy a battery
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Old 01-23-13, 09:47 AM   #7
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I toured with a GoalZero Nomad 7 and Guide 10 combo a couple years ago. Unless you can position it angled directly at the sun and it can sit there all day I found it to be pretty much useless for touring. I tried strapping it onto my bob trailer and the thing just wasn't able to store anywhere near enough power. The mAh capacity on 4 AA batteries is too low to really charge much either.

I've since moved on to using a Lithium Ion battery back (7000mah. I just charge it every few days when I have an opportunity. It's lighter and has a much higher capacity than 4 AA in the Guide 10.
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Old 01-23-13, 10:52 AM   #8
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+1 on the battery packs. I have the earlier version of this one and it works great for recharging my phone, gps and mp3 player multiple times. As long as I can plug in the battery pack to recharge it once every week or ten days, all's well. Not a problem since I'm usually in a motel once a week or so while on tour. Simple and no hassle. Fits easily in a corner of my handlebar bag. Charges my devices anytime, anywhere, pedaling or not, sun or not. Relatively inexpensive as well.

Tried solar first (a Brunton Explorer folding panel) but it would only supply enough juice to charge the tiny mp3 player. Sent it back.
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Old 01-23-13, 11:38 AM   #9
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I have a solar house as well as a ton of solar panels. Even run my fly fishing pontoon boat with a solar panel.

You need a minimum of a 10-watt panel to recharge small batteries. For my laptop, I use a 30-watt panel and that also runs my fly fishing pontoon. If I am camping longterm I use a 125 watt panel for the tent trailer. For my solar house I use 18 80 watt panels.

I would look into one of these:http://www.bluepacificsolar.com/pict...ar-charger.pdf

These look like they would work for bike touring and are fairly compact. Get the roll kind rather than the folding. Solar panels tend to break at folds and do not tolerate bending very well. I have only had one panel fail on me and it was due to bending just a little bit enough to break the internal contacts.

Always get a 12-volt panel and then you get by accessories to charge a variety of items. Stay away from item specific chargers.....your panel will easily outlast the item it was suppose to charge. With a 12-volt panel you can just buy the charging accessories at any truck stop.

Solar panels work well, they just are very expensive and inefficient. But in my situations well worth the money. If you have access to a outlet, stay with that.

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Old 01-23-13, 01:02 PM   #10
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+ 1 on buy a Dyno-Hub, it will provide power while you are moving and have the Lights off..

Schmidt hubs are more expensive.. but I cannot tell the difference between the lights on, load, and off.
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Old 01-28-13, 02:14 PM   #11
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The problem with small solar panels is the markup. E.g. the solarroll 14 mentioned above is > $300 at Amazon. The amorphous-type cells it's made of are cheaper than the crystalline cells in rooftop arrays, which are now available for around $2 US per watt. Yet this product is more than $20/watt I'm waiting for some Chinese ebay seller to realize a profit opportunity and make a killing.
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Old 01-28-13, 03:33 PM   #12
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Amorphous cell type, are less efficient as well .. so think watt/square foot in the calculation..
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Old 08-31-13, 02:47 PM   #13
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I just got a Solio BOLT battery pack and solar charger. Weighs 150 grams and measures about 9cm x9cm x3cm. I use hub dynamo lights but the device charging options for the hub dynamo are expensive and/or complicated. I plan on putting this in my map case or to bolt it on top of a bag when riding in order to charge the battery, then top off my devices at night.
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Old 08-31-13, 04:51 PM   #14
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I have this 6 Watt portable solar USB charger.
Its very portable and I can charge my iPhone from around 30% to full charge in about 3 hours of direct sunlight. I've never used it bike touring, but it does work for camping.
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Old 09-01-13, 10:35 AM   #15
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The Goal 0 solar set-up has worked great for me on short tours in sunny Florida and I can also plug the (4) AA/AAA battery pack into an outlet if one is available. It actually charges faster from the sun than the wall! Super durable and also can charge while not moving. Another plus is the crossover to non-bicycle traveling power needs. My only beef is the 4 battery slots are not individual charge circuits, but rather only two that treat a pairs as one.

Perhaps there was a hub or another issue, but on my Pacific Coast Tour I found the hub unable to charge at slow speeds common on large hills and was disappointed.
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Old 09-01-13, 02:39 PM   #16
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I used a Goal Zero for TDA ride through Africa. It worked for me, but I also had limited power usage:
- I charged a Garmin 500, and had more than one Garmin 500 so I could alternate. A few hours of directed sunlight would bring back to 100%.
- I also charged up a cell phone. However, my cell phone use was limited, mostly turn on briefly an do an email sync on places where there was 2G/3G/4G.
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Old 09-01-13, 04:35 PM   #17
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I am planning a trip cross country with a BOB trailer instead of panniers. Since I am not a athlete I plan on adding a Falco motor to the bike for a pedalic assist. This would help me reduce hill grades and head winds. I am planning on charging with solar on the road when I camp and will be using these 240w fold out panels. They are not cheap but can be used to quickly charge batteries http://www.hi-powercycles.com/product.sc?productId=133 these cells have an efficiency rating of over 24%

A 36v 12AH battery would charge in 1:40 mins. I plan to use this power to also charge phones, GPS and so on. Start early in the morning and take a 2 hour lunch break and fully charge the system with the 8 amp solar charger.
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Old 09-01-13, 07:12 PM   #18
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More realistic RV camps have Mains Power..
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