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  1. #1
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    Solar charging ideas for iphone and AA or AAA batteries

    so i have run down my iphone 4 many times as it is a gps, phone, texter, music player, strava recorder...etc it even uses extra battery when there is no signal.

    if i could recharge with solar while riding i would have a emergency phone(the real reason why i bring it) instead of a dead battery one.

    also charging AA and AAA batteries for small lights or other accessories would be helpful. don't wanna do the dynamo thing as i am already carrying too much bikepack weight.

  2. #2
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    Solar Panels - The Canadian Outdoor Equipment Co.


    Have a look at this link. There are plenty of places that sell portable solar panels in various different sizes and ratings.

  3. #3
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    We have a Brunton Solar Roll which, at 14 watts, will do a camera, phone and batteries but not much more - and it takes time. Not practical to use while riding but awesome at camp. Very lightweight albeit bulky.

    Wife posing on a tour:

    Last edited by jan_nikolajsen; 11-30-2012 at 08:53 AM.

  4. #4
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    This case study is with a Velomobile but it might give you some ideas.

    Andrew

  5. #5
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    Tie one of these to your back pack and let it recharge your batteries while you're biking.

    Solio Classic 2 Solar Charger - Free Shipping at REI.com

  6. #6
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    I looked into solar but for short trips this usb battery bank is the solution. Light, cheap, simple, reliable. Use lithium batteries as they are lighter and more powerful. 2 AAs charge your iPhone4 1.3 times. Amazon.com: NEEWER Portable AA Battery Powered Emergency Charger with Flashlight - Black - For Apple iPhone 4: Electronics

  7. #7
    What's the Hurry?
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    Hi I know this is not what you are asking, but...I carry a small light simple "pay as you go" phone, as well as my android phone, for emergencies. Standby time on this phone is 5+days so I throw it in the saddle bag and however I use my android phone I know I can make a call if I need to. To charge my android phone I use a battery extender that will charge my phone 3x before it needs charging itself. I got it on e-bay, no name Chinese brand, can't remember seller sorry, 40 iirc.
    Regards David
    What are we going to do tonight, Brain? Same thing we do every night, Pinky, try to take over the world

  8. #8
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    A friend just passed me an article on something called the PowerPot which is a backpacking cooking pot with a USB charging attachment. There is a pad like thing that sits under the pot and converts the electromagnetic reaction from heating liquids to generate power. It got a positive review in the write-up I have, though it was not geared specifically for bikepacking. Pretty innovative IMO.

    Never used it or even seen it so I can't comment on how well it works. It retails for $125. Website is: http://www.thepowerpot.com

    I'm upgrading to an iPhone 5 in February and am hoping to use it as a GPS. Been looking at a Mophie Juice Pack though they don't make it for the iPhone 5 yet. For the IPhone 4/4S its about $100-150 I believe. Doubles your battery life. Anyone have experience with this?

  9. #9
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    This basically what I'm talking about with the Solio...just paracord it to your camel pack and or regular backpack. I suggest the Solio because it's cheap, it works, and it's compact/portable.

    Wholesale 2200mAh Solar Battery Charger Backpack and 2.4 W Solar Panel From China - YouTube

    I'm not sure what they're say but here is a guy who mounted a Solio to his handlebars and uses it for hi bike computer/GPS devices.

    Energia Solar - Parte 1 - Solio carregando ao vivo - YouTube

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  11. #11
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    I saw another really nice set up called a power monkey. REI sell them. Have a look at that.

    I've been shopping around for lights that can be recharged on the trail but have good power, 650 lumens +. The niteriders are rechargeable with a USB but I'm concerned that these little solar units won't have grunt to charge the batteries. Anyone had experience with using solar to charge batteries in lights?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by thesilversurfer View Post
    I Anyone had experience with using solar to charge batteries in lights?
    I'm about to buy one of those Solio chargers from REI to use for our son's Cub Scout camping trips. I got the idea from a guy I know from another forum who is big on camping. The device worked great on batteries and his regular batteries like AA and his cell phone. He would para cord it to his backpack and charge his batteries during the day while hiking.

  13. #13
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    Goal Zero Nomad 7. I paid about $120 at costco and it included the solar panel; which is very compact about 7x5 inches, a rechargeable AA/AAA battery pack; which kicks ass - it can charge an ipad, a phone, and run the banging speakers that come with the package; a cigarrette lighter plug and a LED really bright light.

    Definately recommend it. compact, light, and kicks butt.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by hozzerr1 View Post
    Goal Zero Nomad 7. I paid about $120 at costco and it included the solar panel; which is very compact about 7x5 inches, a rechargeable AA/AAA battery pack; which kicks ass - it can charge an ipad, a phone, and run the banging speakers that come with the package; a cigarrette lighter plug and a LED really bright light.

    Definately recommend it. compact, light, and kicks butt.

    this sounds like a good idea. which one did you get with speakers. the one offered now has no speakers.


    i saw(or heard) a guy with just the speaker setup last week and it was very loud. could easily hear his music 30 feet away. good for scaring bears away lol. i wonder if bears would be more scared of mozart or metalica?
    Last edited by ascarlarkinyar; 12-05-2012 at 11:20 AM.

  15. #15
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    Bear would probably not appreciate Justin Beaver and run as fast as it can the other way.

    Costco was offering different packs and this is the one I got. It does include all cables needed BTW.

    Backpacker magazine just listed the above set in their list of "must have's".

  16. #16
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    if you must go solar go with a goal zero setup they are hands down the best solar chargers heard lots of complaints with solio's. i would get a usb rechargeable battery unless you are going for a extended trip for the price and 10,000mah you cant beat 10000 mAh Portable Energy Station Extended Battery Charger Pack for iPhone 4S, 4 & 3GS, iPad 1,2 & 3, Kindle Fire, Samsung Galaxy S3, S2, Tab 2, Tab 10.1, Blackberry Playbook, HTC Flyer

  17. #17
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    Posting a similar question, I got recommended the Goal Zero kit and couldn't be happier.

    Guide 10 Plus Mobile Kit - Goal Zero | Portable Solar Power

    It charges up batteries and allows to either use those batteries or plug in through USB. Everything I now own powers itself off of micro USB, so works well (light, camera, phone, water purifier)

    You can carry two sets of batteries and use a wall charger/solar charger to keep them both charged. Then worst case if you REALLY need power, stop at a gas station and pick up a 4 back of AAs and use them.

    You need something that is at least 1.0 Amps to charge your iPhone/etc

    -Tom

  18. #18
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    Another recommendation for the Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Adventure kit that I just got today. Charged my gps and daughter's i-pod. It was a cloudy day but I was still able to get a charge with it. I am happy with it so far.

    Quote Originally Posted by trhoppe View Post

    It charges up batteries and allows to either use those batteries or plug in through USB. Everything I now own powers itself off of micro USB, so works well (light, camera, phone, water purifier)

    -Tom
    What water purifier are you using?

  19. #19
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    Steripen Freedom. Couldn't be more happy with it

    SteriPen Freedom:Amazon:Sports & Outdoors

  20. #20
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    I dunno.... I wouldn't rely on solar. It takes a crapload of solar panels to move enough electrons to be useful. Like that other poster's pic where you have the big panel rolling up a tree. That is more like what is real-world useful.

    I got one of those solar self-charging batteries that is about the size of two decks of cards side by side, and it can't capture enough solar energy to charge it's own 2200 mAh battery in a week, even in direct sun. Luckily, it will charge itself in a USB port in a matter of a few hours.

    So, where are you traveling? Are there outlets along the way? If so, I would get the biggest current wall USB charger I could get my hands on (like one for an iPad that needs 2A of charge current), and just use that at every stop.

    Also, as you probably know, the iPhone sucks down mad battery power when used as a GPS, especially when out of cell phone range. It steps up the transmit power to try and find distant cell towers. You would probably do better with a Garmin or something for a GPS. When I use my iPhone 4s as a GPS in my car in areas with poor cell coverage, it actually drains faster than the 1A USB cig lighter can recharge it.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by pimpbot View Post
    I dunno.... I wouldn't rely on solar. It takes a crapload of solar panels to move enough electrons to be useful. Like that other poster's pic where you have the big panel rolling up a tree. That is more like what is real-world useful.

    I got one of those solar self-charging batteries that is about the size of two decks of cards side by side, and it can't capture enough solar energy to charge it's own 2200 mAh battery in a week, even in direct sun. Luckily, it will charge itself in a USB port in a matter of a few hours.

    So, where are you traveling? Are there outlets along the way? If so, I would get the biggest current wall USB charger I could get my hands on (like one for an iPad that needs 2A of charge current), and just use that at every stop.

    Also, as you probably know, the iPhone sucks down mad battery power when used as a GPS, especially when out of cell phone range. It steps up the transmit power to try and find distant cell towers. You would probably do better with a Garmin or something for a GPS. When I use my iPhone 4s as a GPS in my car in areas with poor cell coverage, it actually drains faster than the 1A USB cig lighter can recharge it.



    i consolidated my phone and gps unit into one because i ran out of usable room on my handle bars between light, phone, gps, music, maps, bar bag and now solar power. the goal zero makes a lot of power compared to the other ones i have seen. i will be testing it out next week.
    the draw back is the iphone needs phone signal to generate gps. later on i need to replace my aging "etrex" to a bigger screen unit with color that i can see better.




    i have guesstimated that i can charge the four AA pack and my iphone at the same time and have them fully recharged(while using the iphone) in 4-5 hours. then i can recharge the four AAA pack for lights and other devices in 2-3 hours and then back to charging the iphone. in this rotation i can carry enough extra lithium AA and AAA batteries to power what ever i want to bring.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by ascarlarkinyar View Post
    the draw back is the iphone needs phone signal to generate gps.
    Not true, at least with the iphone 4s. No cellular signal required for GPS, for maps yes, but you can get apps where you can preload topo maps.

    As for a charger, PowerTek hydrogen cell chargers look very interesting. They aren't cheap but if water is an ample resource just add a little and instant electricity for your devices.
    Product | Powertrekk

    Not sure if they are readily available yet either but I could see this being a viable solution down the road.
    Sent via my heady vibes from the heart of Pisgahstan

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattnmtns View Post
    No cellular signal required for GPS, for maps yes, but you can get apps where you can preload topo maps.
    iPhones, Windows Phone, Nokia and I'm sure other cellphone services use a location service to narrow down the initial GPS search area based on triangulation of known cell towers. Without cell signal, you can definitely still get GPS, but it might take a little longer to get the initial lock on the GPS satellites, especially if you traveled a significant distance since the last time it had a lock.

    The iPhone battery is around 1440 mAh for capacity depending on the model, but if you read any dynamo based power system writeups they talk about the pretty specific voltage and current requirements for an iPhone and recommend charging a battery, then use battery to charge iPhone. I don't know if it's an idea that you'd entertain, but there are hiking backpacks that you can buy with a small solar panel built in to the backpack.

  24. #24
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    Well you could build a light weight solar fairing, or deployable solar array now-a-days
    several ways...


    video:
    Solar Power E-bike on 3 volts (sub 15 watts) Solar test - YouTube

  25. #25
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    E-werk

    I know you said solar but........
    I live in Australia and we get more sun than most.
    IMHO solar is not yet good enough with regards to the current technology for this use in convenience
    that I've seen available.
    A dynamo hub and E-werk with cache battery is what I use and it continuesly charges my gps and/or phone and is ready to light up my world at a flick of my Edelux switchable headlight.
    Yes its initially pricy but its convenience is without parallel.
    No longer do I have to sit in caravan park bathrooms or laundries whilst my things charge.
    Previously I was too scared to leave my items on charge in case anyone stole them.
    Thats a fear of the past as now I can be doing other things because my gps (Edge 800) and phone are charged during my ride.
    There is no, I repeat, no discernible drag using the dynamo hub. I cannot tell from riding when it is charging anything so I'm not putting in any extra work that I can tell.


    To read what Peter White Cycles have to say:

    Busch & Mller E-WERK Charger

    For those in Australia, it cheapest to buy via Bike24 or Starbike in Germany as we dont have to pay the Euro sales VAT tax and if our imports are under $1000 it appears no GST.
    Last edited by rifraf; 01-15-2013 at 04:29 AM.

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