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Thread: Solar-Powered Mobile Phone Charger

  1. #1
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    Default Solar-Powered Mobile Phone Charger

    I have a 'smartphone' which I find very useful. Trouble is, the battery wouldn't last for a week's camping trip if I used it regularly (using the GPS/mapping etc)! Does anyone have any experience of those miniature 'solar panel'-type battery chargers? Are they any good? Any recommendations? Performance?

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    I've used a PowerMonkey when on longer trips. You get one with a solar charger but I have found it to be little use. It holds enough charge to top up your phone a few times and that has always been enough.

    I have a big solar panel I can use with it but although this does charge it there is not the need.
    John

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    I have no experience of solar chargers however I have overcome this problem

    What you could do is get hold of a 12v Sealed battery and charger, similar to these http://www.maplin.co.uk/Search.aspx?...id%20Batteries

    Attach one of these cigar lighter sockets http://www.maplin.co.uk/images/full/fe42v.jpg

    to the battery with an in line fuse making sure the centre connection of the lighter socket goes to the Battery + . Then you can plug in a car mobile phone charger and charge your phone up.

    Hope this helps.

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    I use one of these



    It just discharges an AA battery into the USB port on your phone.

    Takes a little while to trickle charge but works fine, and your bound to have some AA batteries in your bag anyway.

    Weighs nothing

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    Nakedfiremaker, more info please!
    What is it? How much? Where from.....etc

    That thing looks very good indeed.
    Cheers, Pieface.

    "What's so special about the cheesemakers?"

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    Quote Originally Posted by nakedfiremaker View Post
    I use one of these



    It just discharges an AA battery into the USB port on your phone.

    Takes a little while to trickle charge but works fine, and your bound to have some AA batteries in your bag anyway.

    Weighs nothing

    I have one that looks the same but is silver finish, Tesco's for less than a fiver and comes with all the different adaptors for various phones.
    All the best,
    Richard
    Retired bushcrafter now happy camper

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    I bought one from maplin and used it on a long trip. Worked really well. Away at moment so can't tell you the brand. It was grey in colour. About eight inches by three. It could charge phones and batteries (aaa). I seem to remember it costing about 20 quid.

    I'd rather be paddling.

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    I've spent quite a while looking at power for mobile radio solutions and have to agree with MK that small ones don't really work. A big "solar suitcase" is OK but is just that - big, and when the best sun is available you will be paddling. For short times "off grid" Ranger's solution is the one to go for. A 7Ah 12V sealed lead acid battery is excellent. They can be bought in a ready made package, unfortunatley usually with a tyre compressor and heavy jump leads, sold as a "portable Power Station", a search may find some without leads.

    If I am going fast and light for a few days when I know I may not be able to sneak a charge (and this includes some business trips) then I switch the phone off and also turn off most of the "automatic" features like GPS and email. Then I turn it on for only a few minutes every few hours.

    I recently picked up a very small rechargeable battery supply for only £9 at Dixons in the airport, the Philips SCE4420 and have found this exceptionally good. It can be charged from a USB supply and outputs 5V to a USB socket. I believe the battery is a 2000mAH LiPo and it will giv ethe phone a full charge an dthen give some auxillary power - I think this product is now obsolete but there are many more like it coming onto the market.

    Graham
    Last edited by GrahamC; 14th-May-2010 at 12:04 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pieface View Post
    Nakedfiremaker, more info please!
    What is it? How much? Where from.....etc

    That thing looks very good indeed.
    sorry missed this

    it was about a fiver from a petrol station, they are very common, google "AA battery charger blackberry" or something along those lines and i bet you'll have no trouble finding one.

    Powermonkey's are not worth the money in my opinion, i had a friend who took one to Iraq and just complained about it constantly. It would only semi charge his ipod and mp4 player, in time that poor charging contributed to killing the batteries in both.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nakedfiremaker View Post
    sorry missed this

    it was about a fiver from a petrol station, they are very common, google "AA battery charger blackberry" or something along those lines and i bet you'll have no trouble finding one.

    Powermonkey's are not worth the money in my opinion, i had a friend who took one to Iraq and just complained about it constantly. It would only semi charge his ipod and mp4 player, in time that poor charging contributed to killing the batteries in both.
    I'm just ordering one of these http://www.7dayshop.com/catalog/prod...418&r=20100514
    Fran

    Photobucket stole my sig



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  12. #12
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    What about using a 12v cordless drill battery and car charger? Someone else can do the maths but a 3A/H 12v Li-ion battery should have enough juice to charge a phone a few times.
    Last edited by fredster; 16th-May-2010 at 01:38 PM.

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    Hello,
    This is a project I am working on now, I found the link on the web. It looks and sounds easy enough and could be really good, especially if you link up a few solar cells. and at the price it is not so much of a worry if it gets trashed. The difference with the one I am making is that the solar cells will charge some AA batteries which will then discharge in to the device I want to charge. what I have done is avoided the cigarette lighter option and gone with some usb fittings so I can charge all usb type machinery and gizmology.
    These links should cover just about all of it:

    http://planetgreen.discovery.com/fea...e-charger.html

    http://www.instructables.com/id/Sola...aterialsTools/

    MONOCRYSTALLINE SOLAR PANEL 6V50MA - CPS-SOLAR
    www.maplin.co.uk

    Just a note, prices shown for the solar cells indicate that vat and postage is included, then when you check out they lump it on top - NICE!!

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    Unfortunately Solar isn't really a very good way to charge your phone / GPS etc when on the water.
    Most cheep solar cells are not designed with waterproof connections and while the cell itself probably won't mind getting wet the connections will corrode quickly especially if you're in salt water.
    The best sun is during the part of the day when you want to be on the water and for most parts of the world you can't guarantee sunny days. Solar output can drop to as little as 10% when cloudy which could easily leave you without power.

    The cheepest solution is simply to buy spare batteries for your devices and ensure they are charged before you leave.
    Charging the devices battery from annother battery is inefficient and you run the risk of damaging the connecting lead leaving you with no ability to charge.

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    I totally agree, however, the solar charger I am making is now being modified. I have an otter box which is waterproof, the solar cell then charges batteries inside the waterproof box, insode there are the usb cables etc. when i stop for the night the batteries are connected and discharge to the phone. This is of course even better if you charge the batteries at home before you go out. There is of course more than one way to skin a cat. This is just keeping me busy while I am n=on the ship.

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    So you have something the size of an otter box that has to be secured on the top of your gear when you're on the water and that might get enough sun to charge your equipment.

    Batteries would cost less, weight less, take up less room, don't have to be secured *on top* of your gear (can reside safely in the bottom of a dry bag somewhere) and are more likley to work in bad weather.

    Certainly as a hobby project / for the fun go the solar route but if someone is genuinely interested in the best way to keep their equiment going, get spare batteries.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fran View Post
    Hello Fran, has it arrived yet? Is it any good?
    I'm interested in some kind of charging thing for my i phone but concerned about ruining the batteries as they're built in to the unit.
    Cheers, Pieface.

    "What's so special about the cheesemakers?"

  18. #18
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    I will let you know how the charger works when it is all finished. The otterbox is just a tiny knock off version bought on the beach in tunisia so investment is minimal. Just need some other fittings but will post a pick when iget chance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ekij View Post
    Unfortunately Solar isn't really a very good way to charge your phone / GPS etc when on the water.
    Most cheep solar cells are not designed with waterproof connections and while the cell itself probably won't mind getting wet the connections will corrode quickly especially if you're in salt water.
    The best sun is during the part of the day when you want to be on the water and for most parts of the world you can't guarantee sunny days. Solar output can drop to as little as 10% when cloudy which could easily leave you without power.

    The cheepest solution is simply to buy spare batteries for your devices and ensure they are charged before you leave.
    Charging the devices battery from annother battery is inefficient and you run the risk of damaging the connecting lead leaving you with no ability to charge.


    Quote Originally Posted by Ekij View Post
    So you have something the size of an otter box that has to be secured on the top of your gear when you're on the water and that might get enough sun to charge your equipment.

    Batteries would cost less, weight less, take up less room, don't have to be secured *on top* of your gear (can reside safely in the bottom of a dry bag somewhere) and are more likley to work in bad weather.

    Certainly as a hobby project / for the fun go the solar route but if someone is genuinely interested in the best way to keep their equiment going, get spare batteries.
    Sounds like you have had some bad experiences with cheap (quality) hardware.

    Solar power can be good, and not all things run on AA-batteries. It also depend where and how you paddle (i.e. saline waters, fresh water, white water, still waters etc.), and for how long you're away.
    A properly made solar panel coupled to a small battery can charge your computer, camera, GPS, phone and whatnot, and you don't need to carry a ton of batteries and make sure you have enough for the length of the trip.

    If you buy the right panels, a little shadow or a bit of an overcast sky won't make it stop working, but merely drop a bit in it's output, and if you have the panel on top of one of your bags, it really doesn't take much space, and it will charge when you paddle around.

    I really don't know why you dislike solar power so much. If done properly, it really is good, and in the long run if used enough, it's more environmentally friendly than buying batteries constantly, not to mention that it's easier than having to go shopping constantly for new ones, have a plethora of aa-adaptors, and constantly remember to use those aa-adaptors so it can trickle charge from those store bought batteries.

    Money no object, I want a nice setup I've seen. It's a solar panel with a stainless frame, and behind the panel itself, it has a charging circuit, a li-ion battery, and on the side it has 12-volt plugs, a 24volt plug and if you want it, they can even builld it with an inverter so you have 240volt from it.

    It's not that big, and it's build/assembled by a Greenlandic outfitter by request of arctic expedition people (here amongst the Sirius Patrol).

    Of course, I want someone else to make it, so it's not such a limited edition piece of equipment, but it's simple to use, carry and so on, as it's all in one box (it's screwed together so you can open and swap or add parts if you want to).

    I mean, how much easier can it be than strap it onto a bag or a seat, and you have power?

    Btw., if and when I get around to getting one or perhaps buiild one myself, I will spray the charging circuitry and whatnot with lanolin (Lanotec or Lanoguard) to back up the construction. Salt seams to get in no matter what you do, so (anhydrous) lanolin is a good choice to protect the innards.
    I have used lanolin before to protect the innards of computers, cell-phones, audio recorders and what not, and it really does work.
    Last edited by Oarsnpaddle; 7th-June-2010 at 01:19 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oarsnpaddle View Post
    Solar power can be good, and not all things run on AA-batteries.
    I wasn't suggesting AA Batteries. My phone uses a propriately Li-Pol I have two spare, cost about £7 each.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oarsnpaddle View Post
    It also depend where and how you paddle <snip> and for how long you're away.
    Agreed, salt water is rougher on gear than fresh. I assume most trips will be no more than a week. Certainly for a trip lasting more than a month the situation changes but very very few people get to spend that much time on the water at once.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oarsnpaddle View Post
    If you buy the right panels, a little shadow or a bit of an overcast sky won't make it stop working, but merely drop a bit in it's output,
    I disagree. There are three technologies of PV panel and they all drop off noticeably with even a little cloud. Unless you over design the voltage output or have a peak power follower switched mode charging circuit a cloudy day can reduce your charging to zero. Even with overdesign a cloudy day can badly reduce your power collected.
    I guess where in the world you are (and average cloud) affects your design too. Somewhere in 'every day's a blue sky' Canada and cloud isn't a concern. 'When did you last see the sun' Ireland is a different matter.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oarsnpaddle View Post
    I really don't know why you dislike solar power so much.
    I don't dislike solar power, I have a number of solar panels (I think it's 5 at last count) I think solar is great, I just don't think it's the best solution for canoeing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oarsnpaddle View Post
    it's more environmentally friendly than buying batteries constantly,
    We'll thats debateable. I'm suggesting you buy spare rechangeable batteries for your appliances. While the power from a solar is 'clean' the chemical waste from making the panel is noticeable and it's doubtful whether a small solar cell, used only occasionally (for paddle trips) is better or worse for the environment than batteries, especially if your recycle them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oarsnpaddle View Post
    not to mention that it's easier than having to go shopping constantly for new ones,
    If you use rechangeables you only need to replace them every few years.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oarsnpaddle View Post
    have a plethora of aa-adaptors, and constantly remember to use those aa-adaptors so it can trickle charge from those store bought batteries.
    I don't have 'adaptors' or store bought batteries. I have spare batteries of whatever the applicance uses and chargers for them. I suppose if you have AA batteries in your devices and don't already have rechargable AA batteries and a charger then you'll need to get a charger but that can stay at home (and it's about time you moved to rechangeables anyway for other things).

    Quote Originally Posted by Oarsnpaddle View Post
    I mean, how much easier can it be than strap it onto a bag or a seat, and you have power?
    Not strapping anything to a bag or seat and still having power?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ekij View Post
    I wasn't suggesting AA Batteries. My phone uses a propriately Li-Pol I have two spare, cost about £7 each.
    Yup, if your only need is a cell phone, then I can see you point.


    Agreed, salt water is rougher on gear than fresh. I assume most trips will be no more than a week. Certainly for a trip lasting more than a month the situation changes but very very few people get to spend that much time on the water at once.
    And again, if your only need is a cell phone, then I could see your point.



    I disagree. There are three technologies of PV panel and they all drop off noticeably with even a little cloud. Unless you over design the voltage output or have a peak power follower switched mode charging circuit a cloudy day can reduce your charging to zero. Even with overdesign a cloudy day can badly reduce your power collected.
    I guess where in the world you are (and average cloud) affects your design too. Somewhere in 'every day's a blue sky' Canada and cloud isn't a concern. 'When did you last see the sun' Ireland is a different matter.
    You can disagree all you want and use overcast regional zones as premises to validate that disagreement, but the reality is, that in most circumstances, a properly designed PV panel (with an included batteri pack) will give you power almost constantly. That's the beauty of using a battery either inbuilt or in a separate box. It will work and still charge the battery, even if overcast at times. It works in Denmark, Sweden and Norway, and none of our respective countries are known to have that much sun.



    I don't dislike solar power, I have a number of solar panels (I think it's 5 at last count) I think solar is great, I just don't think it's the best solution for canoeing.
    I'm sorry, but when your entire argument is a rewrite of "solar power is useless", one can only deduct that you dislike solar power.



    We'll thats debateable. I'm suggesting you buy spare rechangeable batteries for your appliances.
    I actually considered you meant that, but since rechargeable AA batteries doesn't hold as much juice per charge as the storebought ones, and if you have a need for more than a couple of extra Li-Ions for a cell phone and every other Li-Ion gadget you own, you'll soon have bought for as much money as a PV panel and small battery etc., and for that you will have a plethora of adaptors, a ice mix of chargers and an awful lot of logistics, so to speak, and you still won't be ahead.

    While the power from a solar is 'clean' the chemical waste from making the panel is noticeable and it's doubtful whether a small solar cell, used only occasionally (for paddle trips) is better or worse for the environment than batteries, especially if your recycle them.
    Here's some keywords for you:

    Quote Originally Posted by Oarsnpaddle View Post
    If done properly, it really is good, and in the long run if used enough, it's more environmentally friendly than buying batteries constantly
    But somehow, having three extra Li-Ion cells for every gadget for the occassional use is so environmentally friendly


    If you use rechangeables you only need to replace them every few years.
    Yes, and with Li-ion batteries, you have to replace them all, whether you have used them or not.


    I don't have 'adaptors' or store bought batteries. I have spare batteries of whatever the applicance uses and chargers for them. I suppose if you have AA batteries in your devices and don't already have rechargable AA batteries and a charger then you'll need to get a charger but that can stay at home (and it's about time you moved to rechangeables anyway for other things).
    Let me repeat: If you don't have much use for anything else than a cell phone, you just might have a point.


    Not strapping anything to a bag or seat and still having power?
    Yes, having to make sure you have your extra batteries, remember to "exercise" them, keeping them charged, and if going abroad remember to have the right plugs is easier

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fran View Post
    Hi fran
    Has this unit worked well for you?
    Doug Dew
    "The best is yet to come" My Father


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    This has been an interesting thread, with lots of different views.

    If you use your phone purely for making calls and just need to top up the battery, maybe the 2 AA phone chargers will do the job.

    However if you will be using your phone with gps/tracking software the power demands will be much higher and I doubt the little AA charger will cope. Hence why I choose a 12v sealed battery with cigar lighter adapter, this way I can charge my phone, charge bluetooth gps, and I can also plug in a spot light if needed and it will last me a weeks camping trip.

    Solar is ok, but as previously mentioned wont work at nightime, and output is reduced on a cloudy day, and most of the solar chargers contain a battery to store the power. Again I doubt these would be able to meet the power demands when using gps on your phone.

    As for using an inverter to have a 240v output, forget it, unless you wish to carry around a very heavy leisure battery.

    The above is just my opinion, but hope this helps the OP.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oarsnpaddle View Post
    Yup, if your only need is a cell phone, then I can see you point.
    I have a cellphone, GPS, camera and torch.
    The GPS uses AAA
    The camera and torch use AA

    Quote Originally Posted by Oarsnpaddle View Post
    You can disagree all you want and use overcast regional zones as premises to validate that disagreement, but the reality is, that in most circumstances, a properly designed PV panel (with an included batteri pack) will give you power almost constantly.
    This is WRONG!
    Under cloudy conditions power from a PV drops to about 10%. Voltage from a PV drops to about 80%.
    If you've oversized your PV panel by a factor of 10 you can still get 'full power' from a PV system.
    [/QUOTE]

    Quote Originally Posted by Oarsnpaddle View Post
    That's the beauty of using a battery either inbuilt or in a separate box.
    Actually thats the worst of both worlds. Spare battery and an unwieldy heavy fragile awkward PV panel.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oarsnpaddle View Post
    I'm sorry, but when your entire argument is a rewrite of "solar power is useless", one can only deduct that you dislike solar power.
    Read what I wrote. My feeling is "solar power is not suitable for mobile use in a canoe where weight and size are a factor". For static installations it's great.



    Quote Originally Posted by Oarsnpaddle View Post
    you'll soon have [spent as much on rechargeable batteries] as a PV panel and small battery etc.,
    I disagree.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oarsnpaddle View Post
    and for that you will have a plethora of adaptors, a mix of chargers and an awful lot of logistics, so to speak, and you still won't be ahead.
    What are these adaptors you keep talking about?
    My AA batteries fit my AA camera without any adaptor whatsoever?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oarsnpaddle View Post
    But somehow, having three extra Li-Ion cells for every gadget for the occassional use is so environmentally friendly
    I never said batteries were environmentally friendly. I just pointed out that your solutinon of PV and a battery wasn't any better.


    Quote Originally Posted by Oarsnpaddle View Post
    Yes, and with Li-ion batteries, you have to replace them all, whether you have used them or not.
    As will you for your battery.


    Quote Originally Posted by Oarsnpaddle View Post
    Let me repeat: If you don't have much use for anything else than a cell phone, you just might have a point.
    And ket me repeat: I have phone, GPS, camera and torch. One or two spare batteries for each of these is cheaper, smaller, lighter, more convenient, and more reliable than a solar cell that charges a battery and then a load of adaptors and leads to charge your applicances from this PV charged battery.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ekij View Post
    I have a cellphone, GPS, camera and torch.
    The GPS uses AAA
    The camera and torch use AA
    Well, I've already covered the AA/AAA batteries dilemma.


    This is WRONG!
    Under cloudy conditions power from a PV drops to about 10%. Voltage from a PV drops to about 80%.
    If you've oversized your PV panel by a factor of 10 you can still get 'full power' from a PV system.
    Still not getting it, I see. If you have a battery that is connected to your PV panel, you have almost constant power as you don't tap the PV panel directly, but tap the battery. This way you will also have protection of whatever you connect to your charging setup.


    Actually thats the worst of both worlds. Spare battery and an unwieldy heavy fragile awkward PV panel.
    It's not "a spare". It's a storage unit for the power produced by the PV cell so you can use it whenever and whereever. And PV panels need not be "unwieldy", heavy, fragile, nor awkward.



    Read what I wrote. My feeling is "solar power is not suitable for mobile use in a canoe where weight and size are a factor". For static installations it's great.
    I think it's about time you took your own advice.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ekij View Post

    I never said batteries were environmentally friendly. I just pointed out that your solutinon of PV and a battery wasn't any better.
    You disagreed very strongly that PV panels can be more environmentally friendly if used often enough.




    As will you for your battery.
    Yes, but notice the singular ...



    And ket me repeat: I have phone, GPS, camera and torch. One or two spare batteries for each of these is cheaper, smaller, lighter, more convenient, and more reliable than a solar cell that charges a battery and then a load of adaptors and leads to charge your applicances from this PV charged battery.
    Again: I don't get why you're so much against anything PV. PV panels work. Not in all circumstances are they the best solution, but your constant effort to put all PV tech in a box named "PV sucks", is ridiculous.
    Last edited by Oarsnpaddle; 10th-June-2010 at 01:57 PM.

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    I think this all hinges on how long you are going to be away. Assuming you start with a fully charged pack then you need time to drain it a bit before it is worth having the solar top it up. Over a couple of days this is probably not worth it. On a longer trip it probably would be.

    I have a 10w flexible, waterproof solar panel. Well over spec for what i need. It connect directly to a bank of 10 AA batteries and charges them. This bank also has a female car power socket so you can use it as a bank to charge devices that doe not take AA batteries.

    Despite all this I still tend to take my Powermonkey Explorer with me and would consider a bigger solar panel for it before I moved back to using the bigger panel.
    John

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oarsnpaddle View Post
    Well, I've already covered the AA/AAA batteries dilemma..
    Then perhaps you could stop pretending that I said I only had a cellphone.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oarsnpaddle View Post
    Still not getting it, I see.
    Likewise ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Oarsnpaddle View Post
    If you have a battery that is connected to your PV panel, you have almost constant power as you don't tap the PV panel directly, but tap the battery. This way you will also have protection of whatever you connect to your charging setup.
    Yes! You need a battery so big it can carry you through the cloudy days! So why not just carry a battery and skip the PV altogether! And rather than one big battery, why not carry a few small ones!

    Quote Originally Posted by Oarsnpaddle View Post
    And PV panels need not be "unwieldy", heavy, fragile, nor awkward.
    Compared to a few small spare batteries, PV panels are all these things.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oarsnpaddle View Post
    I think it's about time you took your own advice..
    What?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oarsnpaddle View Post
    You disagreed very strongly that PV panels can be more environmentally friendly if used often enough.
    .
    Unless you're canoeing every day all year this sort of use of PV is so occasional that the power produced is negligible compared to the environmental impact of producing the panel in the first place.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oarsnpaddle View Post
    Yes, but notice the singular ...
    One big battery is not better than a few little ones.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oarsnpaddle View Post
    Again: I don't get why you're so much against anything PV. PV panels work. Not in all circumstances are they the best solution, but your constant effort to put all PV tech in a box named "PV sucks", is ridiculous.
    Stop trying to pretend I said "PV sucks". I'm not saying that. I'm saying that for occasional use, for short duration trips, on a canoe, PV is not the best solution.

    PV (Solar) and battery in a box solution:
    Needs:
    PV panel,
    Battery
    Charger for each device you have
    leads and connectors from the 'box' to each device.

    Spare batteries soltution
    Needs:
    spare batteries for each and every device. If you've loads of devices this becomes awkward but for the three or four you need with you canoeing it's very few.
    A charger for the spare batteries is required to charge them up before the trip but this charger can stay at home (unlike the PV and battery method where you need to lug it with you). In either case your batterys need charged before you go.
    Spare batteries can be swapped on the fly whereas it'll take at least an hour (probably longer) to get any useful charge into your device from the PV and a battery solution.

    If you leave your camera on and it runs the battery flat with the PV solution you're not taking any more pictures for a while, probably over an hour, with a spare battery you swap it out and you're good to go in about a minute.

    If you're taking loads of applicances into the wild for many many weeks I'd consider a PV solution. If (like 99% of us) you're taking three or four applicanes away for a week or less, take spare batteries.
    Last edited by Ekij; 10th-June-2010 at 04:28 PM. Reason: Typos

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ekij View Post
    Then perhaps you could stop pretending that I said I only had a cellphone.
    Never did. I said that you only had a cell phone, then you would have a point.

    Likewise ...
    I'm getting it just fine.


    Yes! You need a battery so big it can carry you through the cloudy days! So why not just carry a battery and skip the PV altogether! And rather than one big battery, why not carry a few small ones!
    No. Ever heard of "trickle charging"? Apparently not.



    Compared to a few small spare batteries, PV panels are all these things.
    Well, I guess one could also say that a GPS is "bulky, unwieldy, heavy" and so on, if you're an ultralighter or have to carry everything on your back while trekking. But then again, it doesn't take much trekking before bringing batteries instead of PV panels and a battery bank becomes ridiculous both with regards to bulk and weight.




    What?
    Sigh!

    That you took your own advice and read what you said and read what I said.



    Unless you're canoeing every day all year this sort of use of PV is so occasional that the power produced is negligible compared to the environmental impact of producing the panel in the first place.
    As I have said numerous times by now and has been ignored as many times by you, it depends on how much and how often it is used. I can't understand why that is so hard to understand.

    One big battery is not better than a few little ones.
    Well, that certainly depend on the situation. Logistically it is. It also depends on what you mean by "big". I'm not talking a lead-acid starter battery, but a battery with about the same juice as half a laptop battery.



    Stop trying to pretend I said "PV sucks". I'm not saying that. I'm saying that for occasional use, for short duration trips, on a canoe, PV is not the best solution.
    One only needs to reread this thread to notice that your entire premise and argument is just that: A rewrite of "PV sucks".


    PV (Solar) and battery in a box solution:
    Needs:
    PV panel,
    Battery
    Charger for each device you have
    leads and connectors from the 'box' to each device.

    Spare batteries soltution
    Needs:
    spare batteries for each and every device. If you've loads of devices this becomes awkward but for the three or four you need with you canoeing it's very few.
    A charger for the spare batteries is required to charge them up before the trip but this charger can stay at home (unlike the PV and battery method where you need to lug it with you). In either case your batterys need charged before you go.
    Spare batteries can be swapped on the fly whereas it'll take at least an hour (probably longer) to get any useful charge into your device from the PV and a battery solution.

    If you leave your camera on and it runs the battery flat with the PV solution you're not taking any more pictures for a while, probably over an hour, with a spare battery you swap it out and you're good to go in about a minute.

    If you're taking loads of applicances into the wild for many many weeks I'd consider a PV solution. If (like 99% of us) you're taking three or four applicanes away for a week or less, take spare batteries.[/QUOTE]

    A week is plenty time away to consider a PV solution. A tad expensive if that is the only time ever you'll be away for a week, but if you're in the habit of taking four-day excursions and upwards, one should seriously consider it.

  29. #29
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    I've just been reading through a few old threads, as i am quite new.
    And i wanted to offer this as a nother option.

    http://www.ladyada.net/make/mintyboost/

    I find it can chagre my iphone and ipod reasonably well.

    I also have a freeloader with solar the bigger solar panel.

    http://www.maplin.co.uk/module.aspx?moduleno=115150

    Being an electronic engineer i have modified these a little to they are more robust/waterproof and effective.

  30. #30
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    You can get big muscles to help with paddling and charge your device up with one of these:-

    http://www.play.com/Mobiles/Mobile/4...8%7Ccat:Mobile

    We had a wind up camping lantern/radio/phone charger rather than this one, it was only really good for a small bit of charge to make a call though.

  31. #31
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    Speaking of bigger muscles to get a charge (and lift the damn lead-acid equipped thing):

    The Freecharge Weza will give you a full body workout:

    ----------------
    “When one rows, it is not the rowing which moves the ship: rowing is only a magical ceremony by means of which one compels a demon to move the ship.” - Nietzsche

  32. #32
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    i go canoeing to get away from technology! why not plugit in, charge it till its full, and then leave it where it is and go paddling!
    sod work, im off for a paddle.

  33. #33
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    With prices coming down and technology getting better...

    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.d...=STRK:MEWNX:IT
    [edit] The picture shows 5 attachments but mine arrived with 8 plus 3 leads plus mains plug.

    A small solar charger with loads of attachments for all kinds of phones and will charge music devices and cameras if they can charge via the USB port as some can.

    You can charge it via mains, via laptop USB or via solar.

    £9 including postage....similar items earlier in this thread were costing £20 to £30.

    If you fully charge it before you go you at least have enough charge to charge any mobile to last a day plus you can keep it topped up during the day even with no sun, just light charges it.

    Something worth having in the kit bag just in case.
    Last edited by andylincs; 10th-August-2011 at 12:11 PM.
    --
    Andy

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by andylincs View Post
    With prices coming down and technology getting better...

    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.d...=STRK:MEWNX:IT
    [edit] The picture shows 5 attachments but mine arrived with 8 plus 3 leads plus mains plug.

    A small solar charger with loads of attachments for all kinds of phones and will charge music devices and cameras if they can charge via the USB port as some can.

    You can charge it via mains, via laptop USB or via solar.

    £9 including postage....similar items earlier in this thread were costing £20 to £30.

    If you fully charge it before you go you at least have enough charge to charge any mobile to last a day plus you can keep it topped up during the day even with no sun, just light charges it.

    Something worth having in the kit bag just in case.
    The solar panel on that one is 0.7 watts. That's under ideal circumstances, so my take on it is that the solar panel is a gimmick on that particular product.

    Personally, I have just ordered this plus a few adaptors (phone + ereader):

    http://www.portablepowersupplies.co.uk/aausbbattery.htm

    They also have li-ion powerpacks, but that isn't a great solution for my use.
    ----------------
    “When one rows, it is not the rowing which moves the ship: rowing is only a magical ceremony by means of which one compels a demon to move the ship.” - Nietzsche

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oarsnpaddle View Post
    The solar panel on that one is 0.7 watts. That's under ideal circumstances, so my take on it is that the solar panel is a gimmick on that particular product.

    Personally, I have just ordered this plus a few adaptors (phone + ereader):

    http://www.portablepowersupplies.co.uk/aausbbattery.htm

    They also have li-ion powerpacks, but that isn't a great solution for my use.
    Yes, it is light weight power wise, about 1/5th of my mobile charger when charging but that isn't the point. It is 1300mA battery inside. The battery charges slowly in the sun when you don't need it. Then you have full power (same as a phone) when you use it. That makes it perfectly powerful enough.

    The battery in the solar pack will take all day to charge fully, maybe depending on conditions longer but that doesn't matter. What matters is that it is a battery the same as you bought when you want to charge or use or charge your ipod / phone etc so it will charge you phone at the same speed as it would when plugged into the mains. Once your phone is charged the solar charger is then charging itself again.
    --
    Andy

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    Still, it wouldn't work for me, as I can't have something like that out in the sun in the boat. It would only be able to charge when I have made camp, which I seldomly have at the best time of day for sun.

    I prefer AA's as it's easy to carry more or less depending on the situation, and in a pinch I can buy single-use batteries from anywhere.

    I really do like solar, but if I was going to invest in solar for my rowing, I'd buy a decent wattage panel and use it to charge hybrid AA batteries. That would work for my use, and the solar panel is separate from the batteries/charger, so I can better protect the circuitry. 10 watts would be ideal (to not go too big physically).
    Last edited by Oarsnpaddle; 10th-August-2011 at 02:37 PM. Reason: typo 20->10
    ----------------
    “When one rows, it is not the rowing which moves the ship: rowing is only a magical ceremony by means of which one compels a demon to move the ship.” - Nietzsche

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oarsnpaddle View Post
    Still, it wouldn't work for me, as I can't have something like that out in the sun in the boat. It would only be able to charge when I have made camp, which I seldomly have at the best time of day for sun.

    I prefer AA's as it's easy to carry more or less depending on the situation, and in a pinch I can buy single-use batteries from anywhere.

    I really do like solar, but if I was going to invest in solar for my rowing, I'd buy a decent wattage panel and use it to charge hybrid AA batteries. That would work for my use, and the solar panel is separate from the batteries/charger, so I can better protect the circuitry. 20 watts would be ideal (to not go too big physically).
    I understand.

    I would like one of the flexible solar panels that could stick with velcro onto the bow / stern end plate. I always have AAA and AA batteries with me for head torch and radio but didn't want to use them for charging the phone as it starts to get expensive, plus i like the idea of solar. It's my first foray into solar.

    Wind power with a little turbine bolted on to the stern would be nice because you always have wind even if it's only generated by you moving forward but is perhaps a bit bulky...Something to charge the laptop would be nice because I have to be able to work at any time and often go canoeing for the day AND work, why work in an office or home when all you need is a laptop....can use it on the canoe as well as anywhere.
    --
    Andy

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by andylincs View Post
    I understand.

    I would like one of the flexible solar panels that could stick with velcro onto the bow / stern end plate. I always have AAA and AA batteries with me for head torch and radio but didn't want to use them for charging the phone as it starts to get expensive, plus i like the idea of solar. It's my first foray into solar.
    Expense-wise (and pollution) I use hybrid batteries such as the Eneloops, but others make the same sort of rechargeable batteries. The point of the hybrid batteries is that they hold a charge almost as well as single-use alkaline batteries and thus are way better for this use than normal NiMH-batteries. They also seem to charge faster, but that part I'm not sure is true (could be confirmation bias).

    Edit:
    Btw, there's this:

    http://silva.se/products/outdoor/solar-i

    And this:

    http://silva.se/products/outdoor/solar-ii


    [/edit]



    Wind power with a little turbine bolted on to the stern would be nice because you always have wind even if it's only generated by you moving forward but is perhaps a bit bulky...
    Wind power on a human powered craft will create lots and lots of drag, and in order for it to be effective it has to be up high away from wind shadows and for safety reasons (the blades).

    You can get water turbines meant for slow boats using the same generator as in the wind generators. The problem with these is of course that they also produce a lot of drag, but at least drag is not placed six foot above the canoe. Drag is a bitch, though.


    Something to charge the laptop would be nice because I have to be able to work at any time and often go canoeing for the day AND work, why work in an office or home when all you need is a laptop....can use it on the canoe as well as anywhere.
    I'm thinking the same. My computer I use for this is a Thinkpad X200s with a 9-cell battery lasting for 8-12 hours, depending on usage.
    The problem is, that it takes 20V. That would mean that if I were to charge it via solar, I'd need a 24v solar panel, so I seldomly take my computer with me on more than a single overnighter.
    ----------------
    “When one rows, it is not the rowing which moves the ship: rowing is only a magical ceremony by means of which one compels a demon to move the ship.” - Nietzsche

  39. #39
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    After many different 'solutions' I've now been using one of these for years. Not light but if its in the bottom of the canoe its not an issue. On longer trips I take and charge whatever I like now.

    http://www.leisureshack.co.uk/ring-power-pack-120.aspx

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