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9/17/2020 5:59:48 PM
Posted: 7/1/2012 12:11:53 PM EDT
I'd appreciate recommendations on a solar charger for small electronics - smartphone, iPod, etc.

Doesn't have to be big enough to charge a laptop.

Thanks!
Link Posted: 7/1/2012 12:28:24 PM EDT
I don't have one yet, but after some research, and wanting the same thing, so far I'm leaning heavily towards Goal Zero's products.  Sorry I can't personally vouch for them, but I'm sure one of their models would fit your needs.
Link Posted: 7/1/2012 1:01:38 PM EDT
I have a Brunton Restore that works very well. Charges by solar, USB,Mini USB, Micro USB,12v outlet. Discharge USB,Mini,Micro. Will recharge my HTC Thunderbolt and still show full charge on the scale.

I paid $40 for mine shipped no tax from the devil(Botach) on a deal. Worth the $100 they go for regularly.
Link Posted: 7/1/2012 1:31:15 PM EDT
Get something big. I have two of the small ones, and they are completely useless.

Don't get one this small.
Link Posted: 7/1/2012 1:41:19 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/1/2012 1:45:15 PM EDT by lasnyder]
I have a Goal Zero 7w panel, and have only used it for charging a couple of sets of Sanyo AA eneloop NiMH cells.. got just the 7w panel first, and the partially charged Eneloops took 2 1/2 to 3 hours for a full charge, using the 12v tubular adapter and another charger... then purchased the Guide 10 pack, and using the USB (5v as opposed to the 12v, so higher current) charged another 4 Eneloops in a little under 2 hours.... I did not check the amount of charge prior to the charge, and the Eneloops come partially charged, and these were from two different orders...I like the Guide 10 pack as it has a miniUSB out and that is what my Motorola Razr uses... I haven't abused the panel...but it is stashed away for hurricane season

the Eneloops are pretty slick, and they offer an adapter that allows their use in a D cell...I am attempting to standardize my batteries to AA and D with the cr123 for the weapons lights... my Grundig radio, Midland Weather radio, Goal 10, Black Diamond LED headlamp, and Fenix E21 all use AAs
Link Posted: 7/1/2012 2:00:05 PM EDT
Link Posted: 7/1/2012 2:42:39 PM EDT
Check out the Tekkeon Tekcharge
Its USB in USB out so its very adaptable to most devices.
The best thing about it though is that it uses 4 AA batteries as the power source, which I use in flahslights, EOTech, radio and more.
I have 2 of these, (total 8 Eneloope XX batteries) powered quickly by a Sunforce 22010 12-Watt Folding Solar Panel http://www.amazon.com/Sunforce-22010-12-Watt-Folding-Solar/dp/B000S2CPTE/ref=sr_1_5?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1341182634&sr=1-5&keywords=folding+solar+panel
Link Posted: 7/1/2012 2:56:41 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/1/2012 2:58:51 PM EDT by fisterkev]
Originally Posted By safe1:
I just picked up a Power Film charger from Amazon for 70'ish with shipping.  I bought some Enloops as well.  It's 5w and seems to work with everything but my Casio Commando.  Kind of a bummer.  I keep the batteries for our camera/s, wife's phone and a Duracell backup battery charged with this and it works great.  I use it around the house for now but it will make a great addition to our GHBs.

Here is the site:

Power Film folding solar charger

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q176/bailey123_album/DSC04255-1.jpg


I use the same unit with Eneloops. Lots of flexibility going this route, because you can not only charge most small gadgets via USB but can also keep batteries charged (nice for flashlights, cameras, and other AA-powered gadgets, and even AAA powered gadgets with an adapter). I have both the USB unit and the battery only unit which together give me at least 12 charged Eneloops a day with moderate sun (these units also charge through windows and on cloudy days, other units are duds under those conditions; full charge of an Eneloop in 4-5 hours usually). The panels on the Powerfilms charge *much* faster than any other pocket-sized charger I have tried, and I have tried many. They are pretty much all crap except for this one.
Link Posted: 7/1/2012 3:02:15 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/1/2012 3:10:40 PM EDT by Gamma762]
Originally Posted By safe1:
I just picked up a Power Film charger from Amazon for 70'ish with shipping.  I bought some Enloops as well.  It's 5w and seems to work with everything but my Casio Commando.  Kind of a bummer.  I keep the batteries for our camera/s, wife's phone and a Duracell backup battery charged with this and it works great.  I use it around the house for now but it will make a great addition to our GHBs.
Here is the site:
Power Film folding solar charger
http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q176/bailey123_album/DSC04255-1.jpg

I got 5 of the panels that are used for that charger from Powerfilm at the Dayton hamvention with the intention of making a USB charger out of them.  Not sure if I am going to try to regulate the output, depends on what the output of the panels looks like I guess.  Anyone know of a small efficient 5V output solar regulator?
Link Posted: 7/1/2012 4:38:55 PM EDT
Today I picked up a Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus at REI. Amazon also carries it if you don't have an REI handy. Seems to get good reviews. The kit includes a charger, 4 AA NiMH cells, cables, and a 3.5W/5V solar panel. My main goal for it is to keep my iPhone charged while out in the field. I'll get a chance to test it out on a camping trip next weekend.
Link Posted: 7/1/2012 4:52:07 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/1/2012 5:04:34 PM EDT by Durka-Durka]
Link Posted: 7/2/2012 7:01:11 PM EDT
Always get more solar power than you think you will need. 10 watts is enough on a sunny day, what about when it's cloudy?

I am very pleased with how well the Brunton Solaris 26 has worked out for me. Better build than the Goal Zero stuff too.
Link Posted: 7/2/2012 7:28:37 PM EDT
Smart phones, Ipods and such can be tricky to charge from DC sources. At the start of the charge cycle, a lot of them will put a test load on the charger and look for an excessive voltage drop. If the voltage drops too much, the device will reject the charger. Also, Apple had some of their devices look for a certain voltage on the data contacts of the USB plug. The bottom line is, research before you pull the trigger on a purchase.
Link Posted: 7/2/2012 7:56:43 PM EDT
good info. There was a fantastic thread on this topic in the survival gear forum. The guy tesitng the goal zero product did not seem impressed. The various tekkeon units look great. The bigger units need a large panel though.

There doesn't seem to be a "good" solar option to directly charge an iphone.

I am very partial to my mophie iphone battery/case. doubles the battery life.
Link Posted: 7/2/2012 9:08:23 PM EDT
I have a small unit that I will test the next time I go camping.  (Last time there was no sun, I knew there would be no sun, so it got left)

I have no illusions that it will keep me running for any significant period of time, but I don't need it to keep me fully charged all the time.

Unless you have an iPhone... spare batteries are too cheap.  I have 2 phones (1 work, 1 personal) and the batteries are $3.15 and $4.85 shipped on Amazon right now.  I have a spare for the work phone (it lasts longer) and I can forward the other number.  Work phone will go ~36 hours of normal usage.  (It'll get me through 2 days and a night, likely be dead when I wake up the next day)  Cut conversations to a minimum, and it'll last longer.

Short story is... I don't think the technology is really there yet.  If it'll take a spare battery, invest in that, instead.
Link Posted: 7/2/2012 9:20:36 PM EDT
Originally Posted By NorthernHillbilly:
There doesn't seem to be a "good" solar option to directly charge an iphone.


There's one solar charger that is made specifically for I phones and such that gets good reviews, but the downside is it is purely a 5 volt USB charger:
http://www.amazon.com/sCharger-5-Powerful-Actually-eReaders-Portable/dp/B003ZFQUWO/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_nC?ie=UTF8&coliid=I91Y0DOTKRBCP&colid=86LPJ1VZCEXS
Link Posted: 7/3/2012 5:59:33 AM EDT
Not solar, but checkout Biolite.  I've got a friend that just picked one up and he loves it.  He's able to charge his devices off twigs and cook a meal at the same time.
Link Posted: 7/3/2012 7:44:12 AM EDT
Originally Posted By c0t0d0s0:
Not solar, but checkout Biolite.  I've got a friend that just picked one up and he loves it.  He's able to charge his devices off twigs and cook a meal at the same time.


Now that's interesting, though I'd prefer something that used fuel of some sort, I think.
Link Posted: 7/3/2012 7:55:50 AM EDT
Originally Posted By ASUsax:
Originally Posted By c0t0d0s0:
Not solar, but checkout Biolite.  I've got a friend that just picked one up and he loves it.  He's able to charge his devices off twigs and cook a meal at the same time.


Now that's interesting, though I'd prefer something that used fuel of some sort, I think.


It does use fuel.    Twigs, pinecones, dried poop....
Link Posted: 7/3/2012 8:14:10 AM EDT
Originally Posted By c0t0d0s0:
Not solar, but checkout Biolite.  I've got a friend that just picked one up and he loves it.  He's able to charge his devices off twigs and cook a meal at the same time.


Now that is interesting. Wonder how well it really works.

I'd like to get the bigger version for the house if it actually works...
Link Posted: 7/3/2012 8:25:19 AM EDT
Originally Posted By fisterkev:
Originally Posted By c0t0d0s0:
Not solar, but checkout Biolite.  I've got a friend that just picked one up and he loves it.  He's able to charge his devices off twigs and cook a meal at the same time.


Now that is interesting. Wonder how well it really works.

I'd like to get the bigger version for the house if it actually works...


My friend loves it. He was able to charge his android smartphone off of a handfull of twigs.  And, it burns very hot since there is a fan that blows freshair on the fire.
Link Posted: 7/3/2012 8:29:45 AM EDT
Looks like it would survive EMP well too with that perforated Fradyday Cage built around it...

Link Posted: 7/3/2012 10:58:18 AM EDT
Originally Posted By safe1:
I just picked up a Power Film charger from Amazon for 70'ish with shipping.  I bought some Enloops as well.  It's 5w and seems to work with everything but my Casio Commando.  Kind of a bummer.  I keep the batteries for our camera/s, wife's phone and a Duracell backup battery charged with this and it works great.  I use it around the house for now but it will make a great addition to our GHBs.

Here is the site:

Power Film folding solar charger

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q176/bailey123_album/DSC04255-1.jpg


That is huge for 5W. That's why I like the Goal Zero. It uses mono-crystalline solar cells, which are more efficient. I get 7 true Watts in half that size and it can charge 4 AAs in about 3 hrs.
Link Posted: 7/3/2012 11:14:22 AM EDT
Link Posted: 7/3/2012 11:50:29 AM EDT
Link Posted: 7/3/2012 2:25:41 PM EDT
I have a couple of these Universal Portable Solar Chargers from Solair Technologies. They have an adjustable voltage output, comes with a neoprene case, USB cable with a variety of tips. I like them. They work well for what I need them to do.

The unit can be charged from a wall outlet, computer's USB port or with the sun. Itholds the charge a long time. It charges my iPod as well as my Android cell phone. It would probably even trickle charge my netbook, but I haven't tested that yet.
Link Posted: 7/3/2012 2:35:14 PM EDT
Link Posted: 7/3/2012 6:25:06 PM EDT
Link Posted: 7/3/2012 7:30:23 PM EDT
My Brunton Solio seems to have crapped out after not much use.
 
Link Posted: 7/3/2012 10:29:17 PM EDT
Originally Posted By safe1:
Originally Posted By 35mm_Shooter:
Originally Posted By safe1:
I just picked up a Power Film charger from Amazon for 70'ish with shipping.  I bought some Enloops as well.  It's 5w and seems to work with everything but my Casio Commando.  Kind of a bummer.  I keep the batteries for our camera/s, wife's phone and a Duracell backup battery charged with this and it works great.  I use it around the house for now but it will make a great addition to our GHBs.

Here is the site:

Power Film folding solar charger

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q176/bailey123_album/DSC04255-1.jpg


That is huge for 5W. That's why I like the Goal Zero. It uses mono-crystalline solar cells, which are more efficient. I get 7 true Watts in half that size and it can charge 4 AAs in about 3 hrs.


It folds up nice and small and can be strapped to a backpack easily.  Keeps the AA's for our lights, EOTec's and other things charged, though it is only two at a time.  It works for what I want for now.  

I would like something that would charge my 'driod though.  How does the Goal Zero work for smart phones?



With the USB model you can charge your phone off of USB with a couple of batteries in there. I have both models, and use the 4xAA unit to charge batteries for use in the USB unit, so I can charge more stuff faster. I also have a USB adapter that I can use to charge AAA batteries from AA batteries in the Powerfilm USB, so I can effectively keep both AA and AAA charged in a portable package. I use Eneloops for both AA and AAA. Works fine.

As for the size of these units, they fold up to wallet size. Literally a pocket unit.
Link Posted: 7/4/2012 7:35:30 AM EDT
Anyone have a recommendation for a foldable 20W array?
Optimally I want something that can go into a backpack, if not, I would be willing to go with a hard panel.
Link Posted: 7/4/2012 8:06:29 AM EDT
Originally Posted By c0t0d0s0:
Not solar, but checkout Biolite.  I've got a friend that just picked one up and he loves it.  He's able to charge his devices off twigs and cook a meal at the same time.



I would be interested in the larger home version isn't listed on their website.
Link Posted: 7/4/2012 8:18:05 AM EDT
Originally Posted By NickOfTime:
Originally Posted By c0t0d0s0:
Not solar, but checkout Biolite.  I've got a friend that just picked one up and he loves it.  He's able to charge his devices off twigs and cook a meal at the same time.



I would be interested in the larger home version isn't listed on their website.



Why wouldn't you just set a comparatively expensive solar panel in your window and have many many times more electrical juice produced all day long?

These thermoelectric devices have some utility I'm sure, but I just can't think of what it may be in the overall scope of things, since solar has become so efficient and cost effective and portable.

I'd love to be educated tho.





Link Posted: 7/4/2012 9:54:18 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/4/2012 10:00:18 AM EDT by troy808]
Originally Posted By NorthernHillbilly:
good info. There was a fantastic thread on this topic in the survival gear forum. The guy tesitng the goal zero product did not seem impressed. The various tekkeon units look great. The bigger units need a large panel though.

There doesn't seem to be a "good" solar option to directly charge an iphone.

I am very partial to my mophie iphone battery/case. doubles the battery life.

this could be one of them: GOAL Zero Guide 10 solar charger

I got the 30w Powerfilm and Tekkeon because of this thread: Review- Tekkeon 3450R2 Battery Pack/Powerfilm Solar Panel Combo
because of the output of the panel, I plug the (controlled) juice directly into the DC input if the battery w/ no flimsy toys to worry about.
the 30W because I live in the mountains, and clouds are more frequent.

I use the Tekkeon when I travel.
Charge w/ AC adapter, keep it in my backpack and tether to my droid to play or charge.


(eta) oops, wrong thread, but still worx
Link Posted: 7/4/2012 10:27:25 AM EDT
Originally Posted By EXPY37:
Originally Posted By NickOfTime:
Originally Posted By c0t0d0s0:
Not solar, but checkout Biolite.  I've got a friend that just picked one up and he loves it.  He's able to charge his devices off twigs and cook a meal at the same time.



I would be interested in the larger home version isn't listed on their website.



Why wouldn't you just set a comparatively expensive solar panel in your window and have many many times more electrical juice produced all day long?

These thermoelectric devices have some utility I'm sure, but I just can't think of what it may be in the overall scope of things, since solar has become so efficient and cost effective and portable.

I'd love to be educated tho.







Solar panel can't cook my food while it charges my phone.
Link Posted: 7/4/2012 11:24:38 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/4/2012 11:32:15 AM EDT by The_Beer_Slayer]
Link Posted: 7/4/2012 8:32:33 PM EDT
Originally Posted By c0t0d0s0:
Not solar, but checkout Biolite.  I've got a friend that just picked one up and he loves it.  He's able to charge his devices off twigs and cook a meal at the same time.


I'm a little suspect of how effective something like that is... The spec sheet shows it at something like 4 to 6 watts while the fire is going, you aren't going to charge anything quickly at that kind of charge rate, and it probably means having to sit there and feed the fire to get best heat from it for best power. The technology is interesting to me and I want it to work but I just don't see an advantage other than being able to charge after dark..... and the best use of a solar panel is to store the electricity you generate in a big battery and then run your electronics or charge off of that at your convenience.
Link Posted: 7/4/2012 8:43:32 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/4/2012 8:59:44 PM EDT by TheOtherDave]
Originally Posted By The_Beer_Slayer:
i have a few solar chargers and have used them a good bit. i have found for anything you really want to charge in one session <smart phone, aa bats etc> a 15-20wt panel is really what i consider a minimum. as said above a 10wt will do fine unless it's cloudy or raining. the extra output from a higher panel buys you more flexibility in less than ideal conditions and effectively reduces charge times.


I completely agree Mike. Practical experience has shown me that 20 watts are needed to get any meaningful amount of charging done in a reasonable time. In full summer sun a 26 watt panel like the Solaris26 will charge four 600 mah AA from dead in 27 minutes. That means having the freedom of only having to stop and charge on the move while stopping for a lunch break. BUT, that assumes summertime in full sunny conditions. What about the winter when there is a lot less solar energy available, even when there isn't a cloud in the sky? A 5 or 10 watt panel is going to struggle to get anything done on a cloudy winter day but a larger panel will still have a meaningful charge rate.

I'm not from one of the sunny states, it makes sense to carry more solar capability than I minimally need. With the right panel setup, remote area backpacking power is a reality it just takes having more than the minimum you need if on the move, or the ability to store it if set up in bivouac. The new LifePo motorcycle batteries are looking good for that: less than 2lbs and 14AH @ 12V....
Link Posted: 7/4/2012 8:56:53 PM EDT
Originally Posted By macro:
Anyone have a recommendation for a foldable 20W array?
Optimally I want something that can go into a backpack, if not, I would be willing to go with a hard panel.


I've been using a Brunton Solaris26 for a few years now, it has met my expectations well. This last year I took it on vacation to a model airplane fly-in and kind of a novelty to use in conjuction with the car battery to charge my airplanes and save me some walking from our setup area and the parking lot. I flew for a week and never had to connect to the car, and the flying was pretty much non-stop. I used a $30 Brunton 7A charge controller and a beat up 7A gel cell I had laying around. It worked great.

It charges the shit out of my portable electronics, will run my ham radio directly, and even comes with jumper cables to start a car in a day or so. I really like the construction-unlike the other panels on the market it really is flexible and has a marine-grade construction. The corners of the panel are grommeted for attachment to your tent or off of some trees etc.

I know that using it to charge model airplanes doesn't sound very glamorous, but we are talking about not only filling 2200mah 8.4 volt packs one right after the other, but reciever and transmitter packs AS WELL as powering a model airplane charger, sometimes 2 of them at 6 watts a piece. That solar power stored in a battery is like money in the bank, so a little all the time adds up quick when you want to pull a lot of current out of the battery for charging. It was pretty amazing!!

Here was the setup, click on the image for the movie to start:

Link Posted: 7/4/2012 10:14:06 PM EDT
Originally Posted By EXPY37:
Originally Posted By NickOfTime:
Originally Posted By c0t0d0s0:
Not solar, but checkout Biolite.  I've got a friend that just picked one up and he loves it.  He's able to charge his devices off twigs and cook a meal at the same time.



I would be interested in the larger home version isn't listed on their website.



Why wouldn't you just set a comparatively expensive solar panel in your window and have many many times more electrical juice produced all day long?

These thermoelectric devices have some utility I'm sure, but I just can't think of what it may be in the overall scope of things, since solar has become so efficient and cost effective and portable.

I'd love to be educated tho.








I am looking for a cooking and heating replacement in case of emergency. I also live in the NW of the US, which doesn't get much sunlight, though for the past 2 months, there hasn't been much rain. Solar has it's role, but it's not the end all/be all. It would take more money than I have to make the furnace, stove, and my cell phones run. This seems to be the most cost effective solution, if the price is right. I sent an email to biolite to see how much the home version is. I will update when I hear word back.
Link Posted: 7/4/2012 10:29:10 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/4/2012 10:31:38 PM EDT by EXPY37]
Originally Posted By NickOfTime:
Originally Posted By EXPY37:
Originally Posted By NickOfTime:
Originally Posted By c0t0d0s0:
Not solar, but checkout Biolite.  I've got a friend that just picked one up and he loves it.  He's able to charge his devices off twigs and cook a meal at the same time.



I would be interested in the larger home version isn't listed on their website.



Why wouldn't you just set a comparatively expensive solar panel in your window and have many many times more electrical juice produced all day long?

These thermoelectric devices have some utility I'm sure, but I just can't think of what it may be in the overall scope of things, since solar has become so efficient and cost effective and portable.

I'd love to be educated tho.








I am looking for a cooking and heating replacement in case of emergency. I also live in the NW of the US, which doesn't get much sunlight, though for the past 2 months, there hasn't been much rain. Solar has it's role, but it's not the end all/be all. It would take more money than I have to make the furnace, stove, and my cell phones run. This seems to be the most cost effective solution, if the price is right. I sent an email to biolite to see how much the home version is. I will update when I hear word back.



Just to clarify, the power output of one of these thermoelectric devices is only a few watts.

That's barely enough to charge a several AA batteries if you keep the stove burning for hours. A AA battery typically has a capacity of abt 2000 ma x 1.3 volts or abt 2+ watts. But due to charging inefficiencies it may take 3+ watts to store 2 in a battery.

I wonder if you can use the device for a heater indoors? Is the home unit vented?

Even in cloudy condx, a modern solar panel outputs a surprising amt of juice.

A Sharp 240 watt solar panel costs abt $320 and on a cloudy day I see them putting abt 50 watts out but this is subjective.

Even if the sun shined one hour a day, you would have far far in excess of the stove for what difference in cost?

The recent Sharp panels measure abt 28 x 61 inches IIRC.





Link Posted: 7/5/2012 8:49:25 AM EDT
Originally Posted By EXPY37:


Just to clarify, the power output of one of these thermoelectric devices is only a few watts.

That's barely enough to charge a several AA batteries if you keep the stove burning for hours. A AA battery typically has a capacity of abt 2000 ma x 1.3 volts or abt 2+ watts. But due to charging inefficiencies it may take 3+ watts to store 2 in a battery.

I wonder if you can use the device for a heater indoors? Is the home unit vented?

Even in cloudy condx, a modern solar panel outputs a surprising amt of juice.

A Sharp 240 watt solar panel costs abt $320 and on a cloudy day I see them putting abt 50 watts out but this is subjective.

Even if the sun shined one hour a day, you would have far far in excess of the stove for what difference in cost?

The recent Sharp panels measure abt 28 x 61 inches IIRC.






But the $320 is just for the panel. How much for storage batteries and the rest of that? I already know that I am not running the household off of that stove. It's just going to charge a few things, cook on, and possibly heat with proper ventilation. I am not sure of the cost difference yet. I haven't gotten an email back from the company as to what the cost is on the home version. If it's not cost effective, then I will look at another route. We will see....
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