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Batteries and Battery Charging on Tour?

Old 03-26-09, 06:56 PM
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Batteries and Battery Charging on Tour?

What are some of the better choices and solutions people have discovered?

Fifteen-minute charging, one-hour charging, slow charging, solar charging, DC adapters?

Last edited by Niles H.; 03-26-09 at 07:08 PM.
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Old 03-26-09, 07:40 PM
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I haven't used it yet, but am intrigued by the Solio solar charger. It's able to charge all kinds of stuff (gps, music players, cell phones, usb devices). Apparently it takes a lot of time to charge, especially if it's overcast.
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Old 03-26-09, 07:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe
I haven't used it yet, but am intrigued by the Solio solar charger. It's able to charge all kinds of stuff (gps, music players, cell phones, usb devices). Apparently it takes a lot of time to charge, especially if it's overcast.
The independence of solar charging is appealing; but the tradeoff is that it seems to be slow. I suppose if you weren't using or needing much battery power, the equation might look different.

***

Very fast charging has its own appeal. It would allow for stocking up quickly on battery power.

There are some AA NiMH batteries and chargers that are designed for very fast (eight minute) charging.

Fifteen-minute chargers seem to shorten the lifespan (charge-recharge cycles) of most NiMH batteries; but it might be worth it. If you get 125 charges rather than 400 charges, it might be worth the time savings for some people or situations. 125 charges at one charge per week (on average) is still quite a bit of use and a decent duration-- it's not like the batteries are being fried quickly.
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Old 03-26-09, 08:14 PM
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I hate to respond.... because I stay in motels so often, but I do have one good idea; I carry an extra cell phone battery, and charge it when I am lounging on a soft motel bed. Also I need to add, taking a shower, dinning out, living it up, etc.

Tom
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Old 03-27-09, 02:24 AM
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Hi,

I was confrontated with this question then a bought a GPS in January. I deceided for a fast charger with enough batteries for 10 days. My experience is that once a week I have access to power (backpacker, camping site, restaurant, ferry, etc.). It charges 4 AA batteries in one hour.

Thomas
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Old 03-27-09, 04:55 AM
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My battery requirements aren't too demanding. I can usually find a place to charge often enough that is isn't a problem. Solar chargers seem like more trouble than they are worth in the type of touring i have done.. It seems they are either very low capacity or large and heavy.

The devices I carry tend to be pretty easy to manage.
  1. Headlamp - a couple AA or AAA batteries that go a month without replacement at the rate I use them. I am not inclined to use the light all that much, generally sleeping when it gets dark and not minding fumbling around in the dark a bit.
  2. Blinkie taillight - A couple AA batteries that last at least a month given that I seldom ride at night on tour.
  3. Camera (DSLR) - Proprietary lithium battery that is good for 800 pictures and has a charger that weights maybe one ounce.
  4. Cell Phone - Typically needs charging once a week and charger weighs a couple ounces. If left turned on when there is no signal it kills the battery quickly so it is left turned off unless making a call. I am not one to be on the phone much so it holds up well.
  5. iPod I have not generally carried one, but may in the future since my Shuffle holds a lot of audio books, weighs almost nothing, and lasts for a good bit of listening on a charge. I have an after market charger that weighs less than an ounce.
  6. GPS- I have not bothered to carry the GPS much, but if I do I would rely on AA batteries and just replace them as I go.

The few items that require charging have pretty good battery life given the way they are used. I am seldom unable to plug in at least every few days. Camp grounds, city parks, hosts homes, and churches we stay at typically offer a chance to plug in. Restaurants, stores, etc. usually offer similar opportunities. The chargers all together weigh about three ounces so it really isn't much of an issue.
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Old 03-27-09, 11:39 AM
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Thanks for the good replies -- it's interesting to see how different people come up with different solutions that are effective.

***

Sanyo Eneloop AA and AAA NiMH batteries appear to offer some advantages.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low_sel...e_NiMH_battery

***

There seem to be some AA/AAA chargers that do away with the extra weight of the AC-to-DC converter unit. They tend to be much lighter, and more compact.
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Old 03-27-09, 12:18 PM
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I use a 15 watt rollable solar panel,a solar panel that is printed on plastic.Weights less then a pound with an 8 station charger,rolls up to 11" long x 4" around,and will charge 8 AA batteries in 4 hours and will charge the ASUS notebook in about 5 hours,as I ride.I unroll it over my rear panniers when things need charging or I charge stuff on rest days.Cost,$175.
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Old 03-27-09, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Booger1
I use a 15 watt rollable solar panel,a solar panel that is printed on plastic.Weights less then a pound with an 8 station charger,rolls up to 11" long x 4" around,and will charge 8 AA batteries in 4 hours and will charge the ASUS notebook in about 5 hours,as I ride.I unroll it over my rear panniers when things need charging or I charge stuff on rest days.Cost,$175.
Interesting approach, especially if you're away from electrical outlets for an extended time. Wondering where these panels are available -- are there any sources you recommend?
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Old 03-27-09, 12:53 PM
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I have used these solar chargers:

SolarMio

https://www.mec.ca/Products/product_d...45524442620595

Solio

https://www.mec.ca/Products/product_detail.jsp;jsessionid=wpFpJNpbWvN0Yhx85Z7RJ2ZQ4yWsGHdnNH74ZQJJT1hhWph2C6Hh!-1357266277!1238179515860?FOLDER%3C%3Efolder_id=2534374302697169&PRODUCT%3C%3Eprd_id=845524442627403

Brunton Solaris USB in combination with Brunton Solo 3.4

https://www.brunton.com/product.php?id=608
https://www.brunton.com/product.php?id=603

Overall, for long touring I would rate these options in the following order.

1. Brunton Solaris + Solo
2. SolarMio
3. Solio

The Solaris and Solo are quite nice. The Solaris has a lot of power compared to the other two. The real gem is the solo, which has quite a good power capacity. The solo can even tide you over on its own, if all you need is something to last between stops over a few days.

Two things to note:
1. The Brunton gear can be bought for much lower than MSRP if you look around.
2. The Solaris has brunton logos all over it. This was the biggest downside of the unit for me.

The SolarMio works pretty well, but it has a small storage capacity.

The one I would avoid is the Solio. It has a really inconvenient design for attaching to things, and its polycrystalline design means that it has to be pointed nearly perfectly at the sun, in optimal light, in order to charge at all.

The SolarMio on the other hand, does not need optimal conditions to bring in power, and neither does the Brunton. The Brunton is large enough that I have not had any problems with power generation even on low light days.
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Old 03-27-09, 06:05 PM
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Has anyone used a dynamo hub based charger?
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Old 03-27-09, 07:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Yan
Has anyone used a dynamo hub based charger?
I have the SRAM i-light hub w/ the ride&charge. It charges up 4 AA's in about four hours of riding, which is fine for riding. However, I'm thinking of not using it on my next tour because of a vibration when the circuit is on. It just makes me think I'm losing lots of power to the thing when I'm trying to chase my skinny friends up hills. I know this is not true, but there it is.

https://www.bikeforums.net/electronics-lighting-gadgets/510817-generator-hub-vibration.html
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Old 03-28-09, 10:40 AM
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I've also thought about a Solio charger, but I'm leery of spending a bunch of money to solve a problem that really isn't much of a problem.

I carry 2 LED headlamps. One fits on a headstrap mount. The other is just "loose". I like to have a backup in case my headlamp fails, or if I need to change batteries after dark. The second headlamp is lighter than any other flashlight I have, and it's nice to have a backup headlamp. I read in bed every night, so I replace the batteries after a week-10 days. The headlamp takes 3 AAA's. I buy packs of 4, which leaves me wondering what to do with the 4th. ????

I have a blinky on the back of my bike. It runs off 2 AA's. I only use it in tunnels, dark stormy days, or fog, which are seldom, so one set of batteries will last the entire tour.

I carry a compact digital camera that uses 2 AA batteries. I carry an extra set, but one set will last 2 weeks.

I also carry a cell phone and an mp3 player. Both have internal, rechargeable batteries. I bring the chargers. When I'm in a restaurant I look for a table by plugs, and ask if I can plug in. I've never been refused. When I'm in a campground I look for plugs. I've found them in bathrooms and outdoor covered picnic areas. I don't like leaving my electronics unattended, so I have to stay close. It's a hassle, but I bring a book and sit and read while I'm waiting for my things to charge. I've also plugged in to the plugs at a full-service campsite that was unoccupied. I've plugged in at libraries while I was checking my email.

The easiest is plugging in at restaurants and libraries - I'm going to be sitting there anyway. It's more annoying to have to sit by a bathroom, or picnic area, or service post and wait, but not horribly so.

I keep my cell phone turned off unless I'm calling. My mp3 player has flash memory, which I think takes a lot less power than something like an Ipod with a spinning hard drive inside. It will last at least three days on a full charge. I don't always listen to music when I ride - probably more like 50-60% of the time, and I don't listen to music once I reach a campsite. I do dictate my journal, and if I'm close enough to a station for my FM radio to pick up NPR, I'll listen to that for awhile.

If I bought a Solio and no longer had to sit by bathrooms, picnic areas, and service posts, that would be helpful. But would it be worth the weight and expense, and how well would it work?
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Old 03-29-09, 08:51 AM
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Those of you using chargers: does the National parks allow you to charge up in visitor shop/restaurants etc?? Must you go to a site w/ electric, ugh!! I gotta think that this only becomes a need on multi-week tours. I only need batteries for my lights(AA) and camera so I can just buy some at the store.
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Old 03-30-09, 02:14 PM
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The company that made mine is called Powerfilm.Available all over the internet.Comes in 5 watt on up.I use a 14 volt panel(15 watt panel) with a 12 Volt,8 station,battery charging station like you would use in your car (car cig adapter).Cut the plugs off and add my own.Works great,even works without direct sunlight.

A person could charge batteries directly with a smaller panel(5 watt or so) but you would have to time them or keep checking the voltage every hour or so.Or you would run the risk of cooking them to death (NiMH) or worse (Lithium) FIRE SCARECROW???

You can power a cell phone,mp3 player,gps,most all small electronics directly off of the panel.The 15 watt panel will directly run anything up to a 1.2 amp draw,up to 12 volts..

Last edited by Booger1; 03-30-09 at 02:24 PM.
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Old 03-30-09, 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Niles H.
What are some of the better choices and solutions people have discovered?

Fifteen-minute charging, one-hour charging, slow charging, solar charging, DC adapters?
I prefer the 15 minute charger. I can recharge 4 AA and/or 4 AAA batteries with it while drinking a soda at a gas store. I always ask permission though before I use someone's outlet.
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Old 03-30-09, 02:47 PM
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I use two AAs for my camera, four AAs for my headlight, two AAAs for my rear blinkie lights, and two AAAs for my helmet light.

I can do an entire 3-month tour with the AAAs I started with in my rear blinkie and in my helmet light. If I were touring longer, I would just buy another package of AAAs.

If my tour includes a 1200K randonnee where I actively use my headlight, I might need to replace those batteries. Again, I would just buy another package of AAs. If my tour did not include much night riding, I could do a tour of several months without needing to charge or replace those batteries.

And if I get good batteries, 6 of them will last me a month in my camera ... so I just keep buying them as I go along.
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Old 03-30-09, 02:56 PM
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I carry a good supply of rechargable AA's. I don't like them bouncing around loose or in bags. I also kept getting the charged and discharged ones mixed up.
I finally came upon this simple solution which has been a lifesaver on tour.

https://focuscamera.com/product.asp?id=964599907
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Old 04-01-09, 02:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Yan
Has anyone used a dynamo hub based charger?
I know some persons who uses a self-built dynamo charger from the German Bicycle-Touring Forum.
I only know three chargers you can buy from a company. The best comes option combined with a good light is produced by BUMM. All I've personally seen work well.

In general most chargers have nearly the same size - but cost more than a fast charger.

Thomas
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