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SpEdScouter

Best Solar Charger?

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Lets face it. If your at camp you will have electronics that need charging. Do you all have any reccomendations for solar chargers?

Edited by SpEdScouter
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I have a Solio from 2010. It's okay but does take all day to provide a modest 30% charge on a new iPhone.

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Lets face it. If your at camp you will have electronics that need charging. Do you all have any reccomendations for solar chargers?

They don't need charging if I turn them off! :p

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I have a Solio from 2010. It's okay but does take all day to provide a modest 30% charge on a new iPhone.

 

To be more accurate, this is the model I have. Average I would say. Expected better. Was one of the better ones on the market at the time for light weight chargers. Best to charge from an outlet before you leave. Then recharge (takes all day) after first charge. Gave only about a 30% boost. I hear the latest ones are better but I would advise you to try before you buy if you can.

 

Solio_Orange.jpg

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I have an Anker 14W panel I got on Amazon. Best practice is to use it to charge an external battery pack (I have an Anker pack as well), and then use the battery to charge devices in the evening. Sometimes, the trickle charge from the sun to the panel isn't enough for the device to even recognize that it is beign charged.

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I have the GoalZero Nomad 7 with the battery pack.  It was effective at Jambo but not great.  I didn't carry it around on my day pack but rather had it out on my chair/tent when I was in camp.  The battery pack would charge my Samsung Galaxy S4 overnight then the solar panel would charge the batteries during the day in good conditions.

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That is the same Anker unit I have. Attaches easily to stuff with those big grommets, and folds down to the size of a Scout Handbook. I have found that with light phone usage, the charge in the battery pack I have (also from Anker) can last the whole week of Camp. The sola is just nice to have to top off the battery if you get the chance.

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Should also add that I have a Mophie Powerstation.  It charges from the Nomad fine but gets really hot.  I get about 1.5 charges on my phone from it so it normally lasts me for a weekender if I'm not using my phone much.

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Question: for days backpacking (i.e., you're on the go while the sun's up, at a different campsite every evening), can any of these configure for (and endure the depredations of) charging while moving?

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Goal Zero Guide 10 plus Nomad 7 kit.   Can open and place on pack while hiking.   Keep a couple extra rechargeable AA's and you can rotate them out.   

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The anker unit I have (link above) has large grommets

you could easily lash it to your pack, for example, and hike with the sun at your back.....

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In looking at all these (good) analyses one thing seems to ring clear: Since I bought my Solio in 2010, the capability of these devices to fully charge your phone directly (rather than charging a secondary battery which will then charge your phone) has not progressed much.

 

The goal of these devices should be 1) lighter weight, 2) less bulk, 3) to provide a full charge, 4) to reduce solar charge time need to achieve #3. 

 

Seems in the intervening 5+ years these goals have not been met very well by any of the devices reviewed so far. Would that be accurate?

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BadWolf-

 

Yes, you are accurate, to a point. The ability of a small solar panel to generate the power needed to let the device know that it is being charged is not there (yet). However, having a battery pack connected to the solar panel to get this trickle charge while the sun is up does allow you to use your device(s) untethered during the day and charge them from the battery when the sun is not overhead (ideally, while you are sleeping).

 

Of course, there are many limiting factors- the ability of the panel to turn sunlight into voltage, the ability of the battery to absorb a charge, and even the amount of sunlight available at any given moment, just to name a few. I am waiting for the next revolution in solar panels- lighter. more efficient and less expensive. Elon Musk is working on the next generation of batteries, and rightly so, since he has such a vested interest.

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BadWolf-

 

Yes, you are accurate, to a point. The ability of a small solar panel to generate the power needed to let the device know that it is being charged is not there (yet). However, having a battery pack connected to the solar panel to get this trickle charge while the sun is up does allow you to use your device(s) untethered during the day and charge them from the battery when the sun is not overhead (ideally, while you are sleeping).

 

Of course, there are many limiting factors- the ability of the panel to turn sunlight into voltage, the ability of the battery to absorb a charge, and even the amount of sunlight available at any given moment, just to name a few. I am waiting for the next revolution in solar panels- lighter. more efficient and less expensive. Elon Musk is working on the next generation of batteries, and rightly so, since he has such a vested interest.

 

That's pretty much what I thought. I guess I was expecting two things. First, that the technology was more refined in the 5 years since I purchased mine. Second, that the technology was getting cheaper then 5 years ago.

 

Sadly, neither of those seem to be the case. I guess I will wait, like you, to see what the next gen stuff brings. Thanks!

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