Author Topic: Solar battery/charger?  (Read 2838 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline avman1023

Solar battery/charger?
« on: May 07, 2021, 03:00:32 pm »
Can anyone recommend a solar charger/battery combo? Something that's about the size of a phone, but with solar cells on the top. Expose the solar cells to sunlight and it charges the internal battery, from which you can plug in your own devices for later charging. Doesn't need to be huge, it should have enough storage to charge a standard phone once or twice. A year ago I tried to buy such a thing from LitSolar, but turns out it was a scam with the product never arriving. (Got the charge reversed from my credit card, but it was a hassle and I really wanted the product!) So now I'm wary of the reliability of online searches for tech like this, and would rather get an endorsement from an actual person. Thanks!

Offline ray b

Re: Solar battery/charger?
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2021, 12:18:11 am »
You can check out the new offerings from Anker on their website, but laws of physics do not (yet) accommodate the small, high efficiency energy conversion you describe. For the weight, most folks ride with a spare battery sometimes hooked up to a dyno hub.

With phone battery capacity doubling over the last few y to >3000 mA-h, available panels can't reliably convert enough energy - especially if one throws in GPS, lights, trackers, tablets, etc....

That said, if you enjoy technology, keep reading; there's something new every day - perhaps one reason I didn't include a link to past threads on this topic.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2021, 12:29:32 am by ray b »
“A good man always knows his limitations.”

Offline HikeBikeCook

  • World Traveler
  • *****
  • Posts: 354
  • Touring for over 50 years and still learning
Re: Solar battery/charger?
« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2021, 06:38:33 am »
I bought and have used in a limited fashion the Bear Grylls minis solar charger. It appears to work well and the reviews are good, but I cannot endorse based on personal experience, since I have not used it enough. We do a lot of trail and gravel riding and my phone stays off since we usually have poor reception. We hit a B&B or hotel every day or two can can charge what we need then.

We have a TransAm planned for next spring now so I guess I should test this better. https://www.amazon.com/Bushnell-Bear-Grylls-SolarWrap-Charger/dp/B00AMPJNT2 It appears this has been discontinued as I research. My next go to would probably be https://www.cabelas.com/shop/en/toughtested-roc-waterproof-10000mah-solar-wireless-charger
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline staehpj1

Re: Solar battery/charger?
« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2021, 07:54:51 am »
You will probably be disappointed with any panel that small if you expect it to provide much charging capacity.

Offline avman1023

Re: Solar battery/charger?
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2021, 02:37:48 pm »
Thanks for the advice! This was the kind of real-world input I needed. It looks like solar panel technology isn't where I want it to be quite yet. I'll keep hoping.

I've done cross-country cycling trips with the power banks I currently have, but am going on a week-long whitewater rafting trip where there won't be any opportunities to recharge batteries. I only need power for a camera and flashlight, hopefully with that low power need I can get buy with charged power banks.

Offline HikeBikeCook

  • World Traveler
  • *****
  • Posts: 354
  • Touring for over 50 years and still learning
Re: Solar battery/charger?
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2021, 03:08:48 pm »
This one may have some potential if 21.5 oz is not too much weight
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0882JLJC6/ref=ox_sc_saved_title_1?smid=A3587HXKN8D5H0&psc=1
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline avman1023

Re: Solar battery/charger?
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2021, 05:20:49 pm »
This one may have some potential if 21.5 oz is not too much weight
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0882JLJC6/ref=ox_sc_saved_title_1?smid=A3587HXKN8D5H0&psc=1

That looks promising! More solar panels=more charging ability, but still takes several days of direct sunlight to charge battery bank. That might be fine for what I need!

Offline ray b

Re: Solar battery/charger?
« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2021, 06:16:33 pm »
This one may have some potential if 21.5 oz is not too much weight
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0882JLJC6/ref=ox_sc_saved_title_1?smid=A3587HXKN8D5H0&psc=1

That looks promising! More solar panels=more charging ability, but still takes several days of direct sunlight to charge battery bank. That might be fine for what I need!
(..., though one should take a look at the weight of the battery and panels and think about how that compares to plugging in a quick-charge back-up battery for a few hours every week. I also assume that more reliable options that work on cloudy days, like dynohubs, have been considered and rejected.)
“A good man always knows his limitations.”

Offline wildtoad

Re: Solar battery/charger?
« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2021, 12:12:30 pm »
I have been touring/backpacking/kayaking/canoeing with a Goal Zero Nomad 7 solar panel hooked up to a Flip 30 battery for several years now. The fabric around the panel is super faded! But it still works great after all these years and a fair amount of abuse.  On the bike, I just put the panel/battery on top of rear rack. On a normal, relatively sunny summer day, the panel will fill up that battery every day.  Enough to charge iphone Xr, Garmin, lights.  No problem.  On longer tours, I also carry a slightly larger Anker powerbank that can charge iphone several times. It has usb-c capability...so I can quickly opportunity-charge the Anker at campsites, restaurants, etc. along the way as necessary.

This setup has worked perfectly, and I consider it pretty light weight. The solar panel is also fantastic while at camp or on off days when I can hang it on the tent and charge during the day. 

The success of this system is why I decided to pass on a dyno/usb charging system...just hasn't been necessary for my needs.  YMMV of course. If your are constantly touring in cloudy/foggy/rainy conditions, solar will be less than fabulous.  Or in the winter months w/ shorter days and sun lower in sky....doesn't work as well.


Offline froze

Re: Solar battery/charger?
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2021, 10:04:50 pm »
What you are wanting will not work!  Those little single solar panels connected to a charger does not have enough solar capability to put much of a charge into a phone, in fact from what I've read you would need 4 days of bright sunlight for those to fully charge a phone.  The idea is that you fully charge the charger which is a powerbank, and you charge your phone up with the powerbank, and then charge the powerbank with the connected solar thing, but even after charging the phone you might have 2/3rds or so power left in the battery bank, and that could take a couple of days to charge, so you would be basically always getting yourself into a negative situation till eventually you can't charge the battery or the phone, and that would take 2 to 4 days depending on the size of the solar panel.

But if you get a Anker 3 panel solar 21 watt charger, this thing will charge up your phone as fast as charging up your phone by plugging it in...on a sunny day of course.  The more panels you have the better the thing operates in less than sunny days but you pay the price of weight and bulk.  I have 3 panel unit and it is a bit heavy but it doesn't take up much space, but that weight also includes a Anker slim 10,000 powerbank I bought separately so I could charge up my phone on dark days.  WORD of CAUTION concerning these solar panels and powerbanks, you have to make sure you order one that is compatible with your phone type, android or IPhone, otherwise it won't work and you'll be pissed.   The Anker solar and powerbank combined with taxes and shipping will set you back under $100, and since it is a 3 panel system it will charge faster than a 2 panel system like the Goal Zero Nomad 7 system.  These panels can also be laid open on top of your rear rack, using bungie cords and the eyelets to hold it down you can be charging while riding.  These are generally waterproof as well so even if it rains on your panels you'll be alright.  The Nomad 7 system is no longer made and Goal Zero raised their prices a lot, thus the newer Nomad 10 dual panel unit is $100 instead of just $59 it once was, and their 3 panel unit is $150, so you can see that the Anker is the better deal.  Anker too raised their prices because I got mine for $39, they're now $59, and powerbank prices went up because mine was only $13 now it's $39?!  after just one year??

Offline David W Pratt

  • Road Warrior
  • ****
  • Posts: 85
  • Like bicycle based camping
Re: Solar battery/charger?
« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2021, 08:09:30 pm »
Froze said it very well.  I have the 3 panel Anker and it will charge my phone nicely.  I also carry a battery cache which can charge the phone.  I have not gotten around to trying to charge the cache with the solar panel.  The solar panel will also charge rechargeable AAs for my GPS.  The other thing I haven't gotten around to implementing is rigging the solar panel on top of my panniers, etc. to charge while I am riding.
I like the idea of independent means of charging things.