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best solar charger right now? march 14"
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michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
best solar charger right now? march 14" on 03/11/2014 07:59:37 MDT Print View

Any out there that are really good? Not too expensive, sub ,$150, ligtweight.

Should I get some sort of usb battery brick? I Will need the juice, nothing to crazy, my goal is lightweight.

I am really not wanting to spend hours teaching myself about these and reading reviews.

Dave Marcus
(Djrez4) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: best solar charger right now? march 14" on 03/11/2014 09:38:42 MDT Print View

Get this one:

Or this one:

Or this one:

Edited by Djrez4 on 03/11/2014 09:51:52 MDT.

Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Two on 03/11/2014 09:54:12 MDT Print View

When I looked into this two years ago, I learned the flex panels which roll were considerably less efficient than the rigid panels. Is this still the case?

Brian Mix
(Aggro) - MLife

Locale: Western slope, Sierra Nevada
Two batteries on 03/11/2014 10:01:50 MDT Print View

I've carried a stick battery for a while now and to get capacity they are heavy. What I recently found for my phone (you didn't specify what the needed power was for)I can get two Samsung batteries and a small wall charger they snap into for lighter than the stick batteryand cheaper too. It might be best to search for additional batteries.

Kenneth Jacobs
(f8less) - F

Locale: Midwest
Bushnell on 03/11/2014 11:55:18 MDT Print View

I am still testing the Bushnell charger, but thus far have found it to be decent. Simply leaving it on the dash of my truck in the super cold temps we have been having...and not watching to see how much sun it had really been getting all day...I have had it average about 17% recharge on my iPhone sitting from about 11AM until it was getting dark near 5PM. Not to shabby of performance with winter sun, possibly some UV blocking of my windshield and 20 some degree temps.



Larry De La Briandais
(Hitech) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Glass UV properties on 03/11/2014 12:10:48 MDT Print View

Glass blocks a lot (90%+) of UV. However, I don't know that it matters for solar panels. IIRC there are panels that are mounted under glass panels from the factory.

Paul Hatfield
(clear_blue_skies) - F
Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus on 03/11/2014 12:25:42 MDT Print View

Unless your trip is very long, a battery may be a more reliable and lighter option.

Of the solar chargers, the Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus has a good reputation.
It's on for $81.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus on 03/11/2014 12:44:30 MDT Print View

Goal Zero seems like a good choice. A close friend of mine carries one when solo hiking in the Alps each summer. I have one for California.

However, you really have to get in touch with the power demands of your devices. Without that, you are just spinning your wheels.

For the smallest amount of device power, you are better off with a spare battery.



Locale: Western Michigan
solar charger on 03/11/2014 12:55:16 MDT Print View


Edited by KENLARSON on 03/11/2014 12:56:15 MDT.

Mario Caceres
(mariocaceres) - M

Locale: San Francisco
Solar Charger set up on 03/11/2014 13:37:26 MDT Print View

I’ve been testing the Powerfilm USB+AA coupled with Goal Zero’s “USB Smart Adapter” with good results. The “USB smart adapter” is an add-on that has been critical to use the Powerfilm on applications that otherwise would not have worked (i.e charging an Ipad Mini)

I like this set up because:

1) Is inexpensive: Powerfilm USB+AA ($ 70 @ Amazon) + GoalZero “USB Smart Adapter” ($4.79 @ Goal Zero)

2) It’s lightweight: 4.5oz for Powerfilm, 0.3oz for USB Smart Adapter, 2.2 oz (each set of Two standard AA rechargeable Batteries)

3) It’s Scalable. It works with standard AA rechargeable batteries not proprietary batteries like other alternatives. This has the advantage that I can bring as many batteries sets (1 set = two AA Batteries) as my outing requires. Basically every set provides me with 5400 mAh (2700 x 2) of renewable energy that I can recharge on the field.

4) It’s reliable. I have tested this in not ideal conditions (i.e overcast days, panels facing away from direct sun, etc) and at worst I have been able to get a full charge of the AA batteries in 5-6 hours.

Edited by mariocaceres on 03/11/2014 13:39:01 MDT.

bayden cline
(pyro_) - F

Locale: Ontario Canada
limefuel usb batteries on 03/11/2014 13:53:30 MDT Print View

My friends and I have been happy with our Limefuel USB batteries that we got last year. They have a number of models with different capacities depending on your needs. They are currently doing a kickstarter campain for a waterproof version

Larry De La Briandais
(Hitech) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Re: Solar Charger set up on 03/11/2014 14:24:15 MDT Print View

"Basically every set provides me with 5400 mAh (2700 x 2) of renewable energy that I can recharge on the field."

USB is 5 volts and AAs are 1.5. So, you are getting less than 2700 mAh at 5 volts. Not a big deal, except when comparing it to other chargers.

Paul Hatfield
(clear_blue_skies) - F
Manufacturer specs on 03/11/2014 16:10:21 MDT Print View

These are specs from the manufacturers. They probably aren't very accurate. If bpl'ers can post actual weights, that would be great.

PowerFilm USB+AA
1.5 Watts
140 g

PowerFilm AA
2.2 Watts
224 g with 4 rechargeable AA batteries

SunTactics sCharger 5 Portable USB Solar Charger
5.0 Watts
227 g

Goal Zero Nomad 7
7 Watts
363 g

Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Recharger
181 g without batteries

Rechargeable AA batteries generally weigh 0.9 to 1.1 ounces.

Edited by clear_blue_skies on 03/11/2014 16:23:46 MDT.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Manufacturer specs on 03/11/2014 16:20:49 MDT Print View

Note that the specifications on solar panels can be misinterpreted, especially the wattage. The wattage rating is typically the absolute maximum wattage that the panel can produce in the very brightest and most direct sunlight, like in Nick Gatel's back yard. By the time you get out to an overcast day, you will be struggling to get even 5% or 10% of that power. Plus, if you have one of these hanging off the back of a pack while headed north, it may be swinging east and west out of the most direct sunlight, so you might get only 1% or 2% of maximum.

They may be better than nothing, but you may not get but a fraction of what you seek. If the charge voltage or current drop below a certain point, your device may not charge at all. In that case, having a panel with attached battery pack starts to become more practical.

Some systems give you specifications on a solar panel with an attached battery pack, so you might see some sizable wattage numbers, but it might take forever to recharge that attached battery pack.


Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: best solar charger right now? march 14" on 03/11/2014 16:51:10 MDT Print View


From my experience and most reports I have read on the 'net, solar chargers are underwhelming in the backcountry unless it's used in perfect conditions. Desert, open ridge walking, etc. If that's where you're hiking there are a couple great recommendations above. I ended up going with a 10,000mah battery pack at 6.8oz with a built in led flashlight(just OK, but good enough to let me leave a backup light at home). It has a ton of capacity and can handle high discharge rates compared to AA's.


John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife

Re: best solar charger right now? on 03/11/2014 17:42:13 MDT Print View


Glenn S

Locale: Snowhere, MN
Re: Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus on 03/11/2014 19:01:37 MDT Print View

Nomad 7 good, guide 10, not so much. Without the ability to charge the batteries individually, it's really not much of a battery charger. Eneloop makes a AA/AAA USB charger that will charge just two batteries independently or alone. It only weighs 42 grams. The guide 10 is really more of just a heavy low capacity battery brick from my experience. Unless you have a device that takes 4 batteries and you can keep your cells evenly discharged, because I haven't seen it charge them equally if you mix match discharge levels.

Glenn S

Locale: Snowhere, MN
Re: best solar charger right now? march 14" on 03/11/2014 19:08:30 MDT Print View

If you need some input on how much charge a battery pack will hold and its weight, a fellow BPLer did this nice chart of battery pack comparisons here.

Edited by Glenn64 on 03/11/2014 19:09:27 MDT.

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
Re: Re: best solar charger right now? march 14" on 03/11/2014 19:48:12 MDT Print View

Thanks guys, it's a lot to take in.

I have a galaxy mega, similar to the galaxy s4.

I will probably get a spare battery maybe 2, with a solar charger! Should be fun.

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
maui, hi, solar charger on 03/11/2014 20:15:16 MDT Print View

It's going to be used in maui, hawaii. There will be plenty of sunlight on our walk across the island.

So what is the best one for my Samsung galaxy?

Weight is important with my 5.5lb base and my 7.5lb full skin out.