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Chad Webster
(blaktee) - F

Locale: Targhee National Forest
Suntactics sCharger-5 on 07/10/2013 14:01:45 MDT Print View

here is a review of the Suntactics sCharger-5

http://blaktee.net/2013/07/10/suntactics-scharger-5-usb-solar-charger/

Let me know what you guys think of this???

-blaktee

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife
Re: Suntactics sCharger-5 on 07/10/2013 14:31:44 MDT Print View

Every CDT hiker I know this year that has taken a solar system with them is using the sCharger-5. I heard of one guy that broke his and they replaced it (and shipped it to him at a trail town post office AIUI). Beyond that one broken hinge, nothing but raving reviews for it. I put one on order and hope to start testing it later this month.

Chad Webster
(blaktee) - F

Locale: Targhee National Forest
Re: Re: Suntactics sCharger-5 on 07/10/2013 14:37:01 MDT Print View

I am sure impressed with it. I look forward to your review John!

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Suntactics sCharger-5 on 07/10/2013 17:19:49 MDT Print View

Chad, it would have been helpful on your review if you had known anything at all about solar chargers. The complete and utter lack of any technical data is pretty impressive. This is less of a review and more of a poem.

--B.G.--

Brian Mix
(Aggro) - M

Locale: Western slope, Sierra Nevada
Wow on 07/10/2013 17:36:11 MDT Print View

I thought Bob was being overly harsh so I followed the link. I have to agree with Bob. Did you graduate high school or proofread?

Kronos Master of Fate
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Wow on 07/10/2013 18:05:11 MDT Print View

+1

Proper punctuation goes a long way. Your English teachers are crying.



Aren't you glad that you can get honest, no holds barred feedback here?

Edit. I see you corrected the misspelling of camera. My only expectation from your review is that statements would end with a period. Questions would end with a question mark. That's all.

Thanks.

Edited by kthompson on 07/14/2013 22:47:34 MDT.

Chad Webster
(blaktee) - F

Locale: Targhee National Forest
I agree on 07/10/2013 18:46:16 MDT Print View

Yes, I agree with you guys. I wrote this like a red neck from Idaho. It was suppose to be a bit of a humor while letting you know the solar charger does in fact work.

It is true that I do not have an electrical degree specializing in solar energy.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: I agree on 07/10/2013 19:12:09 MDT Print View

Meh. Understanding your audience is one of the keys to good writing. I think you do, and I think I'm part of your intended audience. I could give a whit about technical details and what not, they make my eyes glaze over. I just want to know if it works, and from your piece it seems that it does. It was obvious from your piece that you were pretty excited over this new toy (been there!), and that you had fun telling people about it. That made it fun for me to read your views on this charger, so thanks!

And thanks for the link in your piece to the Suntastics site, so I could go check out any specific details if I was so inclined.

josh jordan
(jjchgo) - M
Re: Re: I agree on 07/10/2013 19:45:38 MDT Print View

i agree with Doug 100%. technical mumbo jumbo and grammar...save it, just tell me how well or poorly the thing works.

Buck Nelson
(Colter) - MLife

Locale: Alaska
I also liked your review on 07/11/2013 06:21:18 MDT Print View

Statements like these are significant to the typical reader: One hour later I went to check the progress. Remember I was at 52%!!! I was hoping to be around 75%. Honestly that would have been great. The iPhone showed 92%.

I used an s-Charger for months on the Desert Trail and it worked great.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Curious thread... on 07/13/2013 14:51:36 MDT Print View

If I did a review of a piece of WPB clothing, bivy, or shelter and said it was wonderful, didn't leak, didn't sweat, or no condensation; without weights, HH pressure, etc. -- everyone would be on it with criticism.

If I presented the newest bestest food item without a breakout of carlories, carbs, protein, weight per ounce, etc. -- everyone would be on it with criticism.

Where I normally hike, I could recharge an iPhone from 0% to full everyday. That has no relevance to almost everyone on BPL. To charge electronics it is critical to know daily mAh use, and the specification of the charging unit -- both stated and measured in the field.

I agree with Bob Gross.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Curious thread... on 07/13/2013 15:10:23 MDT Print View

"I agree with Bob Gross."

Me too.

Maybe this does not relate completely to a small portable solar charger like we are discussing here, but this relates to large home-size solar systems. Economically, in Palm Springs, you can prove one in within two or three years. If you move up in latitude to San Jose, CA, it takes more like eight years. If you move up again to Portland, OR, it takes more like 15 years. That shows what a great effect the latitude has on any solar power production.

Further, the sun angle has to be right. If you have it right, your portable panel can produce the most possible. If you have it wrong, like flat to the ground, then it simply will not produce the most possible. If you try to collect solar power all day long, and if you track the sun across the sky, you can produce the most. If you don't track, then you will get a lot at noon, but it will be less than perfect at other times of the day. If you have a portable solar panel swinging back and forth on the south side of a north-bound backpack, it probably won't be so good either.

You shouldn't try to directly compare single-crystal panels to amorphous silicon panels, either.

For a portable solar panel, if you can keep all of these factors swimming around in your brain, you can instinctively set up the panel for good results until the next cloud comes along. If you can't be troubled with all of these factors, then you are better off skipping the entire solar part and just get a large battery pack.

--B.G.--

Chad Webster
(blaktee) - F

Locale: Targhee National Forest
I must be a freaking idiot.... on 07/14/2013 15:05:34 MDT Print View

"I agree with Bob Gross."
-Not me-

I just spent 2 nights and 3 days on the trail. I did not pack a large battery pack, just the suntactics solar charger.

I did not think of home systems or Palm Springs. I did not think of the Portland or how long it would take to pay for my charger. I did not think of the suns angle, I did in fact lay the charger on flat ground.

I have no idea what the heck this means "You shouldn't try to directly compare single-crystal panels to amorphous silicon panels, either." And to be honest I don't care

I had no factors swimming in my head. Other than the sweet view off the Mountian and a full battery on my iPhone

When I stopped for lunch I laid my charger on my pack and plugged in my phone. When I made camp I laid my charger on the flat ground and charged my phone. I never once needed a battery pack.

Nothing scientific here boys...and you don't have to instinctively know how to set up solar panel. Lay it on your pack plug your phone in and eat your lunch. If its in the shade move it into the sun.

fyi...if you did not make the effort to got to Suntactics web site here is the specs directly from their site.

• Standard USB “A” connector
• USB output: 5 volts, 1 Amp (1000mA), 5 watts
• Open size: 6-1/8″ x 11.5″ / 15.5 x 29.2 cm
• Folded size: 6-1/8″ x 5-3/4″ / 15.5 x 14.6 cm
• Indicator LED, surface mount circuitry
• State of the art flex circuits
• Weight: 8.5 oz / 240 g
• Handles temps up to 160F
• Water and weather resistant
• Patent Pending

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: I must be a freaking idiot.... on 07/14/2013 15:27:17 MDT Print View

"I must be a freaking idiot...."

Chad, if you insist, we must agree with you.

--B.G.--

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: I must be a freaking idiot.... on 07/14/2013 15:41:37 MDT Print View

For a short trip, batteries weigh less.

For a long trip, solar panel weighs less.

My GPS and radio each use 2 AA batteries which last 4 days, weigh 1 ounce each, so for 8 ounce solar panel weight I could carry 8 AA batteries which would last 8 days. Plus the batteries they start with that last 4 days, so it takes 12 days before solar panel weighs less.

I never do more than 6 days so solar panel makes no sense for me.

Chad Webster
(blaktee) - F

Locale: Targhee National Forest
Re: Re: I must be a freaking idiot.... on 07/14/2013 16:01:16 MDT Print View

I do insist.

What I would like to know is?? Rather than tearing me down why didn't you just provide me/us with your knowledge? So far you have given no more technical data than I have. Unless the difference of the sun in Palm Springs vs Portland is technical data. And making a jump from small solar chargers to home size solar systems is not giving any technical data to solar chargers that relate to this thread or backpacking in general.

Make me smart Bob.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: I must be a freaking idiot.... on 07/14/2013 16:30:42 MDT Print View

I don't know if this is possible in a limited space.

If I chose to write an equipment review on a sea kayak, it would be stupid, because I don’t know much about them. If I chose to write a review on a Formula One race car, it would be worse, because I really don’t know much about them. I guess other people just like to write reviews, even if they don’t carry good information.

In most of these outdoor/solar battery systems, there are two or three main components. One is the silicon solar panel which captures the sunlight and produces the electricity. In some cases, this feeds into a storage battery to keep it charged up. In a few cases, there is a regulated power supply that runs off the battery and supplies regulated voltages to the load device that you plug in.

If you are running one of these things for the first day, you are mostly running on the power stored within the battery, and the solar panel doesn’t have too much to do with it. Little by little, the solar panel will generate enough power to try to keep up with the battery demand. And the battery demand relates to the load device, self-discharge of the battery, and regulator efficiency. In other words, you could have a great solar panel, but if the battery system is funky, the load device doesn’t get charged very well. Equally, you could have a funky solar panel that can’t keep up with the battery demand, so the load device doesn’t get charged very well that way, either. My point is that you want to separate the various parts of a solar system like this so that you know what you are getting for those ounces and pounds that you are carrying.

Frankly, you don’t know anything about the output wattage of the solar panel part. The manufacturer doesn’t quote it either. If you don’t know whether that wattage is one watt or ten watts, then you really don’t know how this thing is going to work over the course of a couple of weeks. If you just charge one load device on one day, you are mostly just sucking power out of the battery, so the solar panel is mostly a waste of weight and money. You want to find out whether it takes one hour for the solar panel to completely recharge the depleted battery, or whether it takes twenty hours. That means a lot.

If you make statements about how fast your load device was recharged, then you ought to state roughly the geographical location. If Nick runs his system in Palm Springs and reports the results, the guy in Portland is not going to be able to get the same results. If Nick runs his system in Palm Springs in July and reports results, even his neighbor is not going to get the same results in January.

When I ran my first system near San Jose, I measured the solar panel output, and I got a maximum of about 95% of the solar power rating that the manufacturer quoted, and that was only during the peak sunlight of the day. At other times of full sun, I was getting only 30% or so of the rating. That’s just the way that solar panels are. You can’t expect to get 100% of the rated maximum for all of the sunny hours of the day.

So, I recommend for the user to get a solar system that has a rated solar panel output that is at least double or triple what the load device consumption will be. Even more is better, to provide some protection against cloudy days, like Portland. If the manufacturer does not quote the spec for the solar panel, then one of a few things is possible. It might be a poor rating, so they are trying to hide it. That is where a proper equipment reviewer could be helpful, by furnishing real numbers.

Most of the time, a single crystalline solar panel is built with a rigid frame to protect it. An amorphous solar panel can be much more flexible, but its efficiency tends to be lower than single crystal. I think (believe) that this also has an effect on long-term longevity. If the transparent glaze over the solar panel isn't exactly right, it will have lost some of its transparency over a short period of time. Or, if the glaze isn't hard enough, it may degrade from blowing sand.

Like others point out, you want to go through all of the numbers and weights to see if it really makes good sense for you to purchase and use, so you want to think about the duration of your trips.

--B.G.--

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Suntactics sCharger-5 on 07/14/2013 16:34:04 MDT Print View

I'm with Chad...
There will always be a conflict between the "scientific" type that get off on numbers and guy like me that just care if stuff works or not.
As for the why it works when it should not or does not when it should, well that is less important to me.
Thanks Chad for your input.

Chad Webster
(blaktee) - F

Locale: Targhee National Forest
Re: Re: Re: Re: I must be a freaking idiot.... on 07/14/2013 16:56:06 MDT Print View

Frankly Bob, you have no idea what your talking about either. Good thing you made use of your limited space!

The Suntactics does not charge its own battery and then discharge it to the device. You said
"You want to find out whether it takes one hour for the solar panel to completely recharge the depleted battery, or whether it takes twenty hours. That means a lot." It actually means nothing in the case. The Suntactics does not recharge its own battery. It charges what ever device you plug in directly.

Did you even look at Suntactics web site or my previous post. You said
"Frankly, you don’t know anything about the output wattage of the solar panel part. The manufacturer doesn’t quote it either." um.... I think its 5 watts, but who knows I'm an idiot.
• Standard USB “A” connector
• USB output: 5 volts, 1 Amp (1000mA), 5 watts
• Open size: 6-1/8″ x 11.5″ / 15.5 x 29.2 cm
• Folded size: 6-1/8″ x 5-3/4″ / 15.5 x 14.6 cm
• Indicator LED, surface mount circuitry
• State of the art flex circuits
• Weight: 8.5 oz / 240 g
• Handles temps up to 160F
• Water and weather resistant
• Patent Pending

I did not reference I am in Idaho. My bad. I'm in Idaho. So whatever the sun is here that is the sun you need to compare it to in your neck of the woods or desert or wherever you are in the world.

Stephen Adams
(stevemkedcom) - MLife

Locale: Northwest
Suntactics sCharger-5 on 07/14/2013 17:05:41 MDT Print View

While Attempting a through Hike of the PCT this year (until I broke my foot just short of Mt Whitney) I came up with this so I could charge my Iphone while walking in the So Cal sun. I attached a large piece of industrial sticky back Velcro to the top of the hat and bottom of the Suntactics. I had to wear this thing about an hour a day to keep my phone charged. Just had to make sure I took it off before attempting to hitch into towns.Solar Hat

Edited by stevemkedcom on 07/14/2013 17:10:15 MDT.