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Mounting a Solar Charger

Old 08-02-20, 07:06 AM
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KFC
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Mounting a Solar Charger


I recently purchased a 21 watt solar charger for an 11 day tour where electrical outlets would be scarce. I specifically choose the 21 watt variety because I thought the 28 watt would be too large to mount on my bike or on ,my trailer ( Bob Yak) I am looking for some advice on mounting methods and options for this unit. How do you secure it? I used four pieces of thick electrical wire to attached it on top of the dry bag on my trailer, but it made it difficult and time consuming to get into the bag. Any suggestions? Pictures?

Safe Travels....

Last edited by KFC; 08-02-20 at 07:12 AM. Reason: inserted picture of existing rig
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Old 08-02-20, 07:24 AM
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Unless you wear it like a backpack , where else could you put it?
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Old 08-02-20, 07:52 AM
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Here are some ideas...

Bungee cords with hooks would be quicker to hook and unhook, but less secure and put more stress on the panel itself. Perhaps using wire on one side and bungee cords on the other? Then you could just unhook from the bungee side.

Wide velcro straps can be very, very secure.

You could also make a high shelf out of pvc pipe or pvc shelving, or just use a lighweight narrow table like for patio or camping use. This would make a shelf that's hopefully high enough to allow easy access to the dry bag.

What about mounting a rear rack on the yak wheel? Some racks use skewer mounts and then a small stabilizing rail or rails (or straps) could be used in the front. And if the front stabilizer could sit behind the day bag, then you's have very good access to the bag.

Another thought. If you are just interested in easy access to the bag zipper. Would it be possible to lay the bag on its side so that the zipper is to the left or right?

Found this photo on a google search.


Last edited by BobbyG; 08-02-20 at 08:05 AM.
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Old 08-02-20, 07:55 AM
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A point well taken. I am not as concerned about where I mount it as I am on how to mount it. Ideally it would be some way, whether I tour with the trailer or panniers, that would allow reasonably quick and easy access to the bag(s) beneath it, while maximizing its exposure to the sunlight. The unit came with four small carabiners, which proved useless (at least to me).
I thought that mounting it on the trailer would be good in that it provided great exposure, but, being so close to the ground and at the rear of bike, it got covered in dust, mud and road debris - all of which reduced its efficiency. I have yet to use it on a tour with panniers.
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Old 08-02-20, 07:57 AM
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how often do you really need to get into the yellow bag? I'd be in the keep it simple camp and have some sort of light, carabiner sort of clips that are easy to open and move panel, but are secure.
I cant imagine you'll be needing to have the panel out all the time--youre using it to charge a battery bank I presume?
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Old 08-02-20, 07:05 PM
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Generally a solar panel on a bicycle trip is going to be a "fail"... a battery pack, meant as a back up power source is going to be more "efficient" in the long run. IMO...

Last edited by 350htrr; 08-03-20 at 12:40 PM.
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Old 08-02-20, 08:35 PM
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I have a three panel solar panel that charges a storage battery from which I charge my devices: phone, ipod, light. This prevents a common problem of devices shutting off if the charge cycle is interrupted (cloudy weather for example). Works great.

I use 4 small micro carabiners (the panel has 4 loops sown into the corners) and attach the panel across my panniers in the back.

Sorry, away on a trip atm so I can't link a photo.

I chose a solar panel to augment my power needs because I do several genres of travel; cycling, kayaking, hiking, so a dynohub wasn't a comprehensive choice given that.

If you lack attachment places on your trailer bag you can add some small D rings from a camping supply store. If it is urethane you can get glue on ones from a canoe/kayak shop so you don't pierce the waterproof design.

Last edited by Happy Feet; 08-02-20 at 08:51 PM.
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Old 08-03-20, 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by KFC View Post
... I am not as concerned about where I mount it as I am on how to mount it. Ideally it would be some way, whether I tour with the trailer or panniers, that would allow reasonably quick and easy access to the bag(s) beneath it, ...
I try to pack my bags in such a way that my handlebar bag is the only bag I have to open during the day when bike touring. I usually strap my rain gear on top of my front panniers, so do not even need to open a bag to access rain gear. The only common exception is a stop at a grocery store necessitates packing the groceries, thus access to the bags.
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Old 08-03-20, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I try to pack my bags in such a way that my handlebar bag is the only bag I have to open during the day when bike touring. I usually strap my rain gear on top of my front panniers, so do not even need to open a bag to access rain gear. The only common exception is a stop at a grocery store necessitates packing the groceries, thus access to the bags.
I do as well. In fact, on my last journey I carried an easily accessible trunk bag on the rear rack where I kept things I was likely to routinely need during the day. It was in addition to the small handle bar bag where I carried immediate requirements (camera, snacks, small battery. etc.). I found it very inconvenient, at least compared to traditional panniers, for things like picking up daily groceries, retrieving the water filter, getting out so food for lunch etc. In all fairness, my complaint is not entirely with the charger. The BOB drybag has a traditional roll-top design with the 'ears' buckled at the base of the bag, both front and read. The problem is that with the bag installed in the trailer, it is very difficult to get to the buckles in order to release them. Generally, I have to remove the charger from the top of the bag, remove the bag from the trailer, and finally open the bag. The process is reversed when it comes time to stow everything away. I am working on a custom strap that would allow me to buckle the drybag at the top, thereby allowing me to access the contents of the bag while still in the trailer.
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Old 08-04-20, 05:23 PM
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Four pieces of para cord hold mine down. Knots are easy to tie/untie, adaptable to changing size and shape of the support, and don't cost much
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Old 08-04-20, 06:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Pratt View Post
Four pieces of para cord hold mine down. Knots are easy to tie/untie, adaptable to changing size and shape of the support, and don't cost much
Could you combine Pratt's idea with two trailer length tubes to lift the panel (lean to style)?
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Old 08-05-20, 12:48 PM
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I like this idea of solar power a lot, so Iíll probably eventually try something like this. 😎 Too bad someone doesnít just invent a helmet with built in solar panels. High-viz green, of course. 🙄😁
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