Author Topic: solar battery chargers  (Read 13708 times)

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Offline Joel-Beckwith

solar battery chargers
« on: January 24, 2004, 07:21:38 pm »
Does anyone use an i sun or other solar charger while touring. I'm thinking about using a zip stove so all my fuel needs would be battery powered. Any advice. Thanks, Peace, Joel.

Offline DaveB

solar battery chargers
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2004, 11:24:16 pm »
I can see two problems with solar powered chargers:

1. Does it make enough wattage to recharge the batteries you will use everyday?  If is does, is it too large to be managable?  A battery powered stove has got to require a LOT of battery capacity.

2. How reliable is the "solar" you will need?  If you are biking in the Southwest desert in the summer, no problem.  If you are biking in the New England or the Northwest you can go days with no direct sun.  Then waddaya gonna do?  

Offline JayH

solar battery chargers
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2004, 02:43:10 pm »
I've wondered the same thing. I've also wondered how "fragile" those solar cells are. Brunton sells a bunch of 12v chargers in various sizes and shapes.  Some that are even nice in that they can be rolled up like a poster and stored that way, rather than being a folded plastic covered unit.  Would be a neat idea to recharge AAs while biking.

However, I haven't heard any reviews pertaining to bike touring and their reliability in real world conditions or when it's mostly cloudy.


Offline wanderingwheel

solar battery chargers
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2004, 07:58:25 pm »
I tried one once.  It was a pretty simple arrangment, just a small box with a few solar cells on top and could hold 4 AA's.  I found that after a full day on top of my rear rack, the batteries would barely last an hour in my radio.  I was also using very cheap rechargeables and they seemed to get weaker after every charge.  In retrospect, disposable batteries would have been a better choice.  Maybe the solar charges and batteries have improved enough in the last 5 years to make it worthwhile.


Offline jnorth

solar battery chargers
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2004, 10:40:19 pm »
hi-i have the brunton 2.2 solarport, it is great for charging gameboys, cellphones, pdas, etc. if i had a chance to do it again, i'd get the solarport 4.4 (includes the AA battery thingy). it is the size and weight of a vhs tape, and has a heap of adapter plugs. i have used it for all kinds of trips-bike, car, boat, with good results.
i don't know anything about rechargable stoves-good luck!

Offline jnorth

solar battery chargers
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2004, 10:48:23 pm »
oops=i read everyone else's replies after i posted my own. addendum-to have successful solar recharging you must have enough extra batteries so you don't get caufght short. recharge one set while the other is in the device.
 i live in alaska, and have no problem using solar power(in my house and on the road), as long as i am prepared for poor sun hour quality-but hey! we make up for it with daylight length!. most small electronic batteries take no more than 4-5 hours to recharge with the brunton.

Offline JayH

solar battery chargers
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2004, 12:36:58 pm »
jnorth, Yeah, I guess you probably find another recharging method in like January, when it's almost all darkness.  :)

Thanks for the advise, I remember checking out Brunton's charges about a year ago, but they are/were pretty expensive, I guess I'll go see if they've gone down in price recently.


Offline dontron

Re: solar battery chargers
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2010, 03:40:01 pm »

I like the the Power Film "USB + AA Solar Charger."  It'll charge 2 AA batteries, then bost their voltage for powering / charging any USB device.  It folds up into a compact package, and isn't all that large unfolded.  It'll take about 4 hours to fully charge completely dead batteries.

-- JD

Offline GCharles

Re: solar battery chargers
« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2010, 08:22:35 am »
I use panels and batteries from Goal Zero.  They have some of the most awesome products, very innovative and rugged.  One thing I especially like is that all of their battery packs can be daisy chained so you are making an investment in a system instead of just a single piece of gear.  With that said, the problem with Solar is that you really do need good sun and you need a lot of it for things to effectively charge.  For my upcoming Bike Around America tour I am going to use my panels on top of my B.O.B. trailer as a way of maximizing exposure to the sun. I will be documenting how this works as well as providing an in depth review of the Goal Zero panels on my site,

Happy Holidays,


Offline EnduroDoug

Re: solar battery chargers
« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2010, 02:27:59 pm »
I've seen mention of the smaller Brunton cells, but has anyone tried any of the Brunton SolarRolls?

They're quite pricey, but they sound perfect, especially if you have a trailer to lay it out on during the day. Would love for this to work to kind of bridge the gap between hostel/hotel stays on longer trips, though I do have to remember that I live in the PNW.

Offline paddleboy17

Re: solar battery chargers
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2011, 01:15:13 pm »
The Goal0 stuff looks interesting, but the battery pack is really expensive.  I will have to see what kind of a toy budget my wife lets me have this year.  Interesting or not, it is priced out of my budget.

Offline schmidtke5

Re: solar battery chargers
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2011, 12:16:58 pm »
This reply is a little off-topic of the original post regarding using solar to power a stove on a bike trip--  Starting in March I will be riding on the Atlantic coast AC trip and then on up to Newfoundland (starting south and going north), and I'd like to use solar to keep a cell phone charged

I looked at hand-cranking chargers online, but it sounds like it would take a ridiculous amount of cranking to keep a phone charged up.

As far as a solar-charger goes, I'm expecting plenty of sun in Florida, but the rest of the trip could of course go either way.

What has people's experience been with laying thin solar cells across their luggage racks to charge up while cycling?

I'm leaning towards getting a solar-powered deal with the expectation that I can charge up at restaurants and libraries when I need to, but I'm wondering if the whole solar thing is overly optimistic given that I won't be riding in the sunny southwest

Just wondering what people's experience is concerning how sunny it needs to be to keep their cell phones/cameras charged using mini portable solar systems.


Offline bogiesan

Re: solar battery chargers
« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2011, 10:09:39 pm »
There are literally hundreds of sites dedicated to solar recharging and hacking solar/battery combos for backups. They're all just a google away. The calculations for insolation, exposure time, efficiencies of various technologies, and mass/performance ratios are all easily researched. Remember your latitude will affect total insolation as much as time of year.

Bit of a Luddite when it comes to this stuff myself. My first tours were done when cell phones were luxurious and heavy so we used long distance prepaid cards and we mailed postcards. We shot 35mm film and used prepaid processing mailers. We rode for days without communicating with anyone. We used maps and we asked for directions. We survived. We had a great time.

david boise ID
I play go. I use Macintosh. Of course I ride a recumbent

Offline DebKirk

Re: solar battery chargers
« Reply #13 on: April 26, 2011, 01:46:21 am »
We started looking into this when we figured our off- road trips would take us away from a place to charge cell phones, GPS units, and other essential hand held devices. The thing we found is that Solarmio makes a portable charger (we got ours from REI) , as does SolarFocus, and so on. Two different types exist, as we saw it. First there were the panels, that supplied a charge directly to the device. Then there were those which took a solar charge from the panels to an on board battery from which you can then charge your device. The one important lesson we learned is that battery power is measured in Milliamp Hours (MiH). Most cell phone batteries put out somewhere between 900 and 1100 MiH, so your source battery on the charger must be at least that to fully charge the device. The charger we have has a battery with a 600 MiH output, so when wo connect it to, say my Blackberry, which was an 1100 MiH battery, I can expect about a 50%-60 % on the device. In that the charger is an emergency device, we are okay with a less than total charge. Our charger cost about $140.00. In case anyone cares, we also looked at powering a full size laptop and the charger for that is about $400.00. Good Luck
After 40, crashing does not hurt as much as getting up