Forum Index » GEAR » Solar charging electronics?


Display Avatars Sort By:
Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Solar charging electronics? on 02/27/2010 13:54:33 MST Print View

Hey ya'll. I'm off on a long hike this year, and I'm considering bringing a solar system along. I enjoy listening to my ipod while i hike, and will have about a week between resupplies. If I just use a wall charger, I won't be able to listen to as much music as I want to. Anyone have experience with solar chargers? I'm trying to charge a classic iPod. A friend with the Solio Classic hasn't been happy with it.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Solar charging electronics? on 02/27/2010 14:03:46 MST Print View

A bit 'outside the box' but have you considered just buying a couple or three iPod shuffles? Each weighs about 11 grams (in aluminum) and says they'll play up to 10 hours on a full charge. And they're relatively cheap (though relatively cheap is a personal interpretation!). Your classic and a couple of shuffles should easily last between resupplies, I would think.

Michael Crosby
(djjmikie) - MLife

Locale: Ky
charging electronics on 02/27/2010 14:19:04 MST Print View

I have used a great number of trail chargers from the power-monkey to high end solar. Although this Boxwave charger is not really UL, it is the only one that has performed well consistently and is easy to refill with AA batteries.

Keith Selbo
(herman666) - F

Locale: Northern Virginia
Flexible solar panel for backpacking on 02/27/2010 17:49:36 MST Print View

Check out my BPL review (photo's included) of the Silva Tech40 backpacking solar charger. I've been happy with it:

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/reviews/display_reviews?forum_thread_id=23847&cat=Miscellaneous%20Products&cid=65

Edited by herman666 on 02/27/2010 17:57:34 MST.

Hugo Riendeau
(jeanbovin) - F
solar technology on 02/27/2010 18:20:45 MST Print View

I hate to say this but solar technology is not there yet. I bought the solargorilla in hope of charging my very small laptop. However I haven't been able to make it works since there hasn't been any clear sky sunny day. I've received a week ago.

Unless you are in the desert or in the middle of a cold winter there is no assurance you will have continuous sunny days.

Well of course if you just want to recharge battery it should be better. Although you will logically go for a smaller panel so you will end up in the same situation as I do.

R K
(oiboyroi) - M

Locale: South West US
Re: Solar charging electronics? on 02/27/2010 18:25:40 MST Print View

I've been looking into solar chargers for my iPhone. I tried out a Solio H1000 and wasn't pleased with it's performance. It took a long time to charge and even then, it would only give my phone about a quarter charge.

When I do it again I'm gonna go with the Brunton Solaris. I think the extra weight is justified by the speed at which it can charge. Having the ability to leave it out for a few hours after making camp, as opposed to all day with smaller chargers, is the way to go.

Edited by oiboyroi on 02/27/2010 18:28:50 MST.

Nia Schmald
(nschmald) - MLife
Re: Solar charging electronics? on 02/27/2010 18:42:29 MST Print View

I'd recommend skipping the solar and going with a battery. I used the IMAX power 5000 mah rechargable lithium battery for my iphone on the pct after giving up on a couple of different solar chargers.

It's 5 oz and should be enough to recharge your ipod classic about 8 times. Then just recharge in town and you're good to go. Much less hassle and more reliable than solar.

Jarrod Handwerk
(PA_Hiker) - F

Locale: Orwigsburg PA
Charger on 02/27/2010 20:03:43 MST Print View

I have a charger that runs on batteries from Digital Concepts runs on 4 AA's and will give 3-4 charges on one set of batteries it's almost 4oz i only carry this if i'm going to be out for a week or longer

i only listen to music befor bed..

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
I agree on 02/27/2010 20:45:23 MST Print View

Skip the solar charger unless you are going to be out, unsupported, for over a week or two at a time.

This is especially true if you only intend to use the solar charger late in the day. Solar chargers tend to work best around noontime.

Weightwise, you'll be better off carrying spare batteries, or else using a battery-powered charger as has been mentioned.

--B.G.--

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Solar charging electronics? on 02/28/2010 01:27:59 MST Print View

Jack,

I travel a lot for business. And as a road warrier, I am leading edge with electronics... laptop, Blackberry, iPod, etc. I use the Blackberry as a modem in out of the way places.

I have a tent trailer with a sophisticated solar system, and often go camping and use the trailer as a remote office (i.e. my company is paying me, they think I am in my home office... I am not deceiving anyone, as I am paid on producing quality work, not sitting in an office).

So I will echo the comments... UL solar is not there.

I would throw this out there though, given that I am wired to the world about 280 days a year. When backpacking I leave the technology behind. The only thing that is battery operated is a Photon light. I prefer this. Years ago I took a walkman with me a few times. I found the music distracting, even at night in my sleeping bag. Just some food for thought.

P.S. My 80 gig iPod has 1,000s of songs on it... including a huge collection from the 1960s that I copied from my 400+ LP collection. So I love music.

Keith Selbo
(herman666) - F

Locale: Northern Virginia
not there on 02/28/2010 08:20:36 MST Print View

"UL solar is not there."

I think this depends entirely on what you're expecting of it. My Silva Tech40 kept my camera and MP3 player going on a 5 day hike around the Cranberry Loop in the Adirondacks last summer.

silva solar charger

Edited by herman666 on 02/28/2010 08:21:13 MST.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: not there on 02/28/2010 09:08:54 MST Print View

Just wondering out loud...

If I'm out somewhere in the wilds for days on end -- with a base camp set up -- then, yeah, I can see myself taking a solar panel along.

OTOH, if I am constantly on the move, then I don't think I would even consider hanging a solar to my pack -- unless it is a truly long trip and I absolutely needed my electronics.

When hiking, it's often nice to hike in the shade when available. I'm picturing having to force myself to max. exposure under the sun -- gotta keep juicing up that solar panel!! Methinks the extra water I would need to haul hiking under the hot sun as much as possible is going to far, far exceed carrying some extra batteries.

Edited by ben2world on 02/28/2010 09:10:45 MST.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: not there on 02/28/2010 09:19:20 MST Print View

" force myself to max. exposure under the sun"

The Brunton models that Roy mentions seem pretty good. I looked them up after his post, and they claim (yes, I know, CLAIM) that they'll charge even when not in direct sunlight. And Keith's posts talk about his success with his charger even under cover. I might just buy one of those Bruntons -- though I don't have the wherewithal to do long distance backpacking at the moment -- just to check 'em out.

Preston Patton
(prestonpatton) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Brunton Solar Experience on 02/28/2010 10:14:09 MST Print View

Hi All,

I have a Brunton Solaris 12 that works well for charging small electronics, even in indirect sunlight (but not shade). However, with cords it weighs in at around 15 oz. I use it when I'm fishing off of the beaten path. Iowa Thin Film (www.powerfilmsolar.com) makes some nice panels that might be lighter.

They'd be good to use when base camping but are too heavy for me for a point-to-point hike. If thru-hiking, I'd look at the resupply points to make sure you can recharge there; if yes, I'd look at some of the back-up battery packs. Some of them are quite sophisticated and work very well.

Regards,

Preston

Edited by prestonpatton on 02/28/2010 10:19:54 MST.

Michael Crosby
(djjmikie) - MLife

Locale: Ky
Re:"Solar charging electronics?" on 02/28/2010 10:30:48 MST Print View

"Thin Film (www.powerfilmsolar.com) makes some nice panels that might be lighter"
This stuff does ok but not well enough in partial sun to overcome the weight of battery recharger I posted. I use this on my fishing boat and it does great in full sun. A bit pricy but you get what you pay for in solar.

Mimulus Mimulus
(mimulus) - F
Re: Re: Solar charging electronics? on 02/28/2010 11:39:16 MST Print View

Roy,

Have you seen the Surge solar iphone case? Seems like a good solution for keeping an iphone topped off on the trail.

http://ecosolarproducts.com/solar-ipod-charger

-Ian

Michael Crosby
(djjmikie) - MLife

Locale: Ky
Re: "Solar charging electronics?" on 02/28/2010 11:49:33 MST Print View

This Solar ipod charger is specifically designed for the 2nd generation ipod touch made by apple.

Sean Nordeen
(Miner) - F - M

Locale: SoCAL
Re: Solar charging electronics? on 02/28/2010 12:50:37 MST Print View

Just one thought. Is the cost of buying a solar charger to make your ipod work going to cost more and weigh more then buying a new mp3 player with a battery that lasts much longer. Just saying...

When I hiked the PCT, I bought a MP3 player specifically for the trail that had a battery life of 46 hours. Others buy ones with replaceable AA batteries. Both will weigh much less then any solar charger even if you have to carry extra batteries or your small ac charger with you. On that note, I had a small ac to usb charger that by switching the usb cable, charged both my cell phone and my mp3 player. Even with carrying a spare cell phone battery, it still was lighter then any solar option I found. As an engineer, I really want to like solar on the trail. But I could never make the weight budget work for my power needs no matter how hard I tried.

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Locale: DON'T LOOK DOWN!!
Re: Re: Solar charging electronics? on 02/28/2010 13:26:31 MST Print View

My Sony minidisc player runs for a long time on a single AA battery. Much longer than my solid state mp3 player. Go figure.

Keith Selbo
(herman666) - F

Locale: Northern Virginia
Powerfilm on 02/28/2010 14:15:24 MST Print View

Thanks for posting the powerfilm URL michael. It looks just like my Silva Tech. The 5 volt USB version looks interesting.