FUDiabetes

Camping solar charger?

This popped us on my Facebook feed today and I thought “this would be great for charging D gear while camping”, traveling or doing anything where you have access to electricity. I’m going to get one for our trip to the UP (upper peninsula of Michigan) in Sept. We’ll be doing a lot of fishing, boating, canoeing and hiking. Anyone tried this or something similar?

Waterproof solar charger http://theoutdoorspirit.com/product/waterproof-solar-phone-charger

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It would be interesting to see how much power you get from it in actual use. I would be surprised if it was too much - particularly if it was literally hanging off the back of your pack as you walk potentially passing through shady areas.

I bring a selection of charged batteries. (standard micro usb output)
Big - 12,000 mAh (11 ounces). $25.
Medium - 5,000 mAh (4 ounces). $12. (Admittedly a cheapo version.)
Small - 3,350 mAh (3 ounces). $15.

Plus AC and DC adapters to be able to recharge if power sources present. I make sure the AC and DC adapters are all at least 2.1 amps output so as to be able to recharge as fast as possible. Some of the cheaper ones are only 0.5 amps and are super slow. On the other hand some devices will only accept maybe 0.7 amps input so a faster charger wouldn’t help that sort of device. But most Smart Devices can handle at least 2 amps input.

As FYI, iPhone 6 is listed as having an 1810 mAh battery. Which helps for comparison to the above battery capacities.

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I have a couple of solar chargers. There are several dimensions to them:

  • How resistant to environmental issues are they? Your appears good , but how knows.

  • How much reserve power it stores. Yours has 10,000 mAh. I would pick one that would be bigger, 10kmA is not that much.

  • How fast it charges on solar. That depends upon the physical size of the panel and a few other things. Given the size of yours, my personal guess is that you might get 40% charge on a decent but not perfect day.

  • Cost. Yours is expensive – imho, way more expensive than it should be.

Some alternatives:

https://www.amazon.com/RAVPower-15000mAh-Flashlight-Waterproof-Dustproof/dp/B073P5D9KD/

Made by RAV4, which is a good brand, 15,000 mAh, panel is about the size of yours (so same capacity to charge)

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0722GC1WP/

Made by an unknown Chinese brand, but lots of good reviews. Panel is also roughly the same as yours, but capacity is now 24,000mAh

Or – you could combine a pure solar charger such as this one with a separate battery bank:

https://www.amazon.com/Anker-Charger-PowerPort-iPhone-Galaxy/dp/B012YZXMZS/

This one is made by Anker, a reputable battery brand too, and has a much larger panel than the others – but you would have to bring a separate battery bank to store energy as you go. A bit more unwieldy, may not be as robust a solution – but possibly what you need depending upon your actual power needs.

Now we have arrived at an area that I actually know more than the average bear.

If you are going to be on the move, buy a battery, you will never get enough sunlight to charge your electronics on the move unless you are in a vehicle and can mount a couple panels on the roof. For under $20 you can find ones like this that should charge your D-stuff easily.

https://www.amazon.com/10400mAh-Waterproof-External-Flashlight-Smartphones/dp/B00MG9VVW4/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1503094934&sr=8-3&keywords=lithium+battery+large+capacity

If you are going to be stationary, buy a big (think like car size) deep cycle marine battery and charge it with a couple large stationary solar panels. Either something like:
https://www.amazon.com/Brunton-Solaris-Foldable-Solar-Array/dp/B000FKL6T4/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1503095089&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=brunton+solar

Or even better would be a couple of house sized panels.

Most everything else, is quite overpriced and undersized for what you are likely to need.

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This type of feedback is exactly what I was looking for BEFORE I purchase one.

Keep it coming!!

What type of camping? Is it day trips in Nature and overnights with roof and AC?

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This time around we’ll be in a cabin at night going on daily adventures.

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Will you have power in the cabin?

Do you go on extended camping vacations without access to power?

We’ll have power most nights this trips (we’ll camp for a few days during the week), but we do camp for up to a week without power.

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Lisa, my experience is that, when we are camping, we can make an average cellphone used for a Dexcom last more than 2.5 days, that’s less than 1,250 mAh per day. For that we turn off a lot of functionality on the cellphone, such as location services, cellular service, wifi etc. I am pretty sure that any of the chargers we discussed can charge more than 1,200 mAh per day on average. So, if you take a 15,000 mAh battery with a small combined solar charger for each cellphone, I think you are really well protected.

As a comparison, my son and I were kayak camping for over a week recently. He was using a 1-year-old iPhone SE, and would use up a 3,000 mAh power bank about every 2.5 days.

If you were to use the location services in your cellphone (GPS), or browse the net (or stream) you would use a lot more battery. But, for us, when we go camping untethered we don’t do any of that. So, if that is the same for you, my vote is for nothing smaller than 15,000 mAh, with a 5"x3" (approx) solar panel. That should keep you safe in almost any weather, between the ability to charge some and the large battery reserve.

Be aware, however, that, if you need 1,250 real mAh per day, you actually lose more than that from your battery because there are losses. I would guess that if you use 1,250 mAh/day in your phone you are probably using 1,750 mAh of battery reserve.

Since I like to have redundancy, I would take one per phone and add one more for a spare. I don’t think you need the larger, folder type of solar panel (I would consider it if you went for more than a week at a time).

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Thank you!! I appreciate the input. I’m ready to shop now.

I am in agreement with Michel. I would not bother with the solar collector if the cabin has power. I would suggest to bring 1 or 2 power strips. Sometimes the power outlets in a cabin are sparse or stuck way under a bed and super hard to reach. I would also bring a couple multiport AC outlets for easy charging in the cabin. I am totally in agreement with Michel on redundancy (pretty much a major theme in my professional life). Assume any one type of device may fail. ie - If any single wall charger fails can you throw it in the trash and simply pretend it didn’t happen. I would bring two of these AC chargers:
Only plug one in at a time in case of a power surge then you have the other safe and ready. If you have enough devices that you will want to charge 8 at the same time, then bring three of these so you can run with two and have one in reserve.

Obvious decent selection of charging cables. I find those are the most likely to break right at then end. The Apple are the worst but the Android ones break also.

Amazon - $26
Anker 4 port AC charger.
https://www.amazon.com/Anker-4-Port-Charger-PowerPort-iPhone/dp/B00VH8G1SY/

Have two good sized batteries 10,000 mAh or larger that you keep at the cabin.

Bring a selection of the small 3,000 mAh (lipstick size) batteries with you. Give each person one to carry in their pack.

I would be comfortable with this and overall it wouldn’t be too expensive nor be too much weight to carry around.

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I would also bring a selection of 60 and 100 watt light bulbs or LED equivalents for 60 and 100 watt if you have those.

Sometimes places only have super low wattage CFL that are so dim they are impossible to see anything if you are older than 14 years old.

Good luck trying to do anything important like a site change at 2 AM in the morning with a 3.5 watt CFL. I would need somebody holding a flashlight over my shoulder.

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I have never thought about this but this is a brilliant (:slight_smile: ) idea! I know I need 2x more light than I used to 20 years ago to be able to read.

This page from a commercial provider lists some suggested changed lighting requirements as you age up – I find them pragmatic, and figure this is particularly a-propos for PWDs:

Below, btw, is a very interesting article in Science Direct summarizing the progress in aging and visual acuity over the past 50 years, with myriads of good links:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0042698910005110

If you are camping and purchased that battery I talked about previously, these are really nice chain-able lights and aren’t that expensive if you catch them at Costco. Easy to hook up to a 12 volt battery, and have a good design.

https://www.amazon.com/Goal-Zero-Light-Life-Light/dp/B00XEL842I?psc=1&SubscriptionId=AKIAILSHYYTFIVPWUY6Q&tag=duckduckgo-ffab-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=2025&creative=165953&creativeASIN=B00XEL842I

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Do you mean this one?

https://www.amazon.com/10400mAh-Waterproof-External-Flashlight-Smartphones/dp/B00MG9VVW4/

No unfortunately, that is only for electronics. That would be something like this:

https://www.amazon.com/Sealed-Lead-Acid-Cycle-Battery/dp/B005CLPOQM/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1503253245&sr=8-7&keywords=deep+cycle+marine+battery

Car camping only.

I don’t car camp often, but when I do, I choose SLA.

Also works well with a couple of large solar panels when the big earthquake hits the PDX

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I would like to get some Deep Cycle 12v for my house. I thought 40 might work well.
(for real)

Both ideas of power strip and light bulbs while traveling (camping, motel, whatever) come from a recently departed relative.
(I guess not so recently now but seems like it.)
Both a very smart and a very practical guy.

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But you’d have to junk them every 8 years :frowning: