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Solar panel on handlebar bag

Old 09-20-21, 05:53 AM
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gauvins
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Solar panel on handlebar bag

I need very little energy to get my electronics going when touring (less than 1Wh/day). So I'll look into solar.

The plan would be to stick a small panel (2W? 4W?), perhaps as small as those found on garden lights, on top of my handlebar bag (Ortlieb Ultimate 6). I haven't figured this thing yet. As there could be expertise here : (1) I assume removable (velcro?), but perhaps a permanent panel is a better solution. (2) What's the best way to run the cable; (3) The usual recommendation is to charge a battery rather than a device such as a phone, to deal with current fluctuation. Does it apply even if the device is turned off? The plan would be to trickle charge my phone, set to off, and to recharge my watch from the phone when needed (4) Are all panels just the same (i.e. just a few manufacturers yet tons of retail brands). If not, which is best and why?

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Old 09-20-21, 09:51 AM
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Androids might work off. iPhones turn on when charging. All panels are not the same. In the wattage you want there is one some hikers like. You have to do your own research though.
https://www.amazon.com/Lixada-Portab...dp/B06Y655DJD/
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Old 09-20-21, 05:09 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
The usual recommendation is to charge a battery rather than a device such as a phone, to deal with current fluctuation. Does it apply even if the device is turned off? The plan would be to trickle charge my phone, set to off, and to recharge my watch from the phone when needed
Probably. Phones can be pretty sensitive about the charge level they'll accept, and if your charger is providing too little current, the phone may just ignore it. It's more sophisticated and more finicky than hooking up a car battery to a trickle charger.
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Old 09-20-21, 05:45 PM
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maybe look into what solar panels are sold for backpacking.
This is an idea that has been around for decades, and the uninitiated eventually discover that they didn't account for the fact that solar panels need to be oriented at the proper angle towards the sun to get their rated output, the panel temperature needs to be cool, there can't be shade on the panel, the voltage of the device being charged needs to be matched to the panel's characteristics, and need to account for cloudy days and such.

There's got to be plenty of places on the web where this has been hashed out over and over (and possibly here).
Not saying it can't be done, but not as simply and economically as you might hope.

Steve in Peoria
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Old 09-21-21, 07:35 AM
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Originally Posted by steelbikeguy View Post
Not saying it can't be done, but not as simply and economically as you might hope.

Steve in Peoria
Perhaps... but technology is rapidly progressing. My energy needs have been greatly reduced and solar panel technology now delivers more efficiently and cheaply. I'll try a couple of things and eventually report.
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Old 09-21-21, 08:12 AM
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Originally Posted by BikeLite View Post
Androids might work off. iPhones turn on when charging. All panels are not the same. In the wattage you want there is one some hikers like. You have to do your own research though.
https://www.amazon.com/Lixada-Portab...dp/B06Y655DJD/
Thanks for the pointer. I ended up purchasing a smaller (and cheaper) unit that'll fit inside Ortlieb's Ultimate transparent sleeve. Will update when I receive it and have had the time to take a few measurements.
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Old 09-21-21, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
Perhaps... but technology is rapidly progressing. My energy needs have been greatly reduced and solar panel technology now delivers more efficiently and cheaply. I'll try a couple of things and eventually report.
I've played around with solar panels for a long time, both professionally and as a hobbyist, and they really have improved. I currently have a simple 5W(?) automotive panel that I use to charge a battery pack for a radio, mostly just for fun. It's much too big to put on a handlebar bag, and I'd be surprised if I'm getting even 2 watts out of it when it is connected to the 6V battery pack.

There must be some backpacking, or maybe bike packing, forums that have found the best options for this sort of thing. In any case, your search should be an interesting adventure!
I'll be looking forward to a report when you find something that works.

Steve in Peoria
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Old 09-22-21, 06:46 AM
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I do some non-biking trips (kayak or canoe) of up to two weeks long without any form of resupply. Thus, my dynohub option does not work on those trips. And my backpacking trips always have re-supply after no more than six days.

I reassessed solar a few months ago after looking at what Happy Feet was doing. But in my reassessment, I concluded that carrying batteries (in my case mostly AA, not very much Li Ion) was less weight than the weight of solar. And if I am not searching out sunlight, the batteries were more convenient.

I just finished a week and a half long backpacking trip last week, that involved re-supply for food after no more than four day long segments, each resupply of food also included four more AA batteries for my GPS and headlamp, and camera batteries (Li Ion). My phone was either off or airplane mode except a few minutes per day, I carried three phone batteries (an LG phone that has user replaceable batteries), and never needed to change one.

A quick note on Li Ion batteries, if at all possible you should minimize using cold batteries. I learned on my Canadian Maritimes trip two years ago that using my phone for just a few minutes to get weather forecasts and check e-mail with a cold battery in the morning could consume 10 percent of my battery. After that I always warmed up my phone, either in sleeping bag or in a pocket under my down vest before I used it which greatly extended battery life.

I recently learned that my favorite AA and AAA batteries that were Ikea Ladda white NiMH rechargeables have been replaced with different models. I have plenty off the white ones, but I am no longer suggesting any particular brands for purchase, as I have no experience with their replacements.

At this thread if you start at post 53, you find a "conversation" between me and Happy Feet. There may be some useful info for you there.
What's the most reliable hardware choices?

***

For touring, I use a powerbank with 44 watt hour rating, that powerbank will work in pass through mode, meaning it can be charged simultaneously with being discharged to charge up a USB device. My powerbank is no longer made, the company makes bigger and smaller ones. They cost more than many others, but I am sold on them, brand is Voltaic. If you had their smaller one, you could go for a long time with cloudy sky if you were relying on solar.
https://voltaicsystems.com/battery-packs
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Old 09-24-21, 11:35 PM
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If you decide on solar, get a small battery pack that does pass through charging. It'll "collect" whatever charge it can, while putting out a constant charge to your device. Some of them will do pass through wireless charging too (wirelessly charge a device while being charged).

I have one that I use with my Brompton w/Dyno hub.
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Old 10-29-21, 12:54 AM
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I took

Sunway Solar Car Battery Trickle Charger & Maintainer 12V

and have no problems!
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