Solar Chargers (1 Viewer)

R

RO71

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I tried Solio. First the single one. It was not made for backpackers it scratched up on the bottom and the panel. It also didnt charge even in the sun all day.
Tried the Rocksta Solio, the second one up which is marketed for backpackers. This one was a bit better and was indeed more sturdy for backpacker use. Again not enough charge gotten from one day in sun and it did not store enough to charge smartphone.

This thread from backpacker.com seems like a good idea.

http://www.backpacker.com/january-2011-gear-review-powermonkey-explorer-solar-charger/gear/15123

Many other reviews simply said Solio was fine. I like the idea of something that charges even in overcast. I may find myself in overcast weather, rain or even getting a ride in a vehicle when not hitching trucks (which usually have inverters to let you charge your stuff).

Its frustrating when you are houseless completely and on the road alot. I need my maps and cell reception!! Many places nowadays tell you to leave if you try to use public outlets or store outlets. (SoCal uggghh). If anyone else has any good suggestions please reply. Theres got to be a buttload of other chargers but not good compare review for seriously living ON THE ROAD all the time.
 
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Cardboard

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Get rid of your phone. Solar charges all suck in my experience. some suck less than others, but I havent found one that can give a charge thats worth a damn. Keep you phone off, and only turn it on for emergencies if you absolutely must have it.
I have had 3 phones in the last 10 years. One got stolen within a month, though I used it like hell for that month. One got broken, I used it once in 6 months to wish my mom a happy birthday, and the next time I tried it, the battery had blown and it was totaled. And the last one I freaked out about robots running my life after eating too many mushrooms, and threw it out the window.
Maps dont take batteries.
honestly, my girlfriend has a phone, and when we are on the road without access to power, she can keep a charge for a few weeks, as long as she only uses it when she feels like she needs to. the rest of the time its off. Get a few extra batteries if you must, and conserve that power.
Again though, I have used several solar chargers, and have heard from folks using quite some others... Unless you are actually gonna start carrying around a big solar cell umbrella or something, you're not going to get a decent charge from one, and they will ruin your battery really fast (most Li batteries in tech devices these days arent made for slow minimal charging. It will sulfate and lose capacity after a few charges)
 
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I am so happy people are talking about this, please keep up the conversation on how to use technology responsibly, I know a few people are big on disposable phones, that sounds like a good way of doing it, but u are polluting more, please take a look at this product http://www.voltaicsystems.com/fuse4w.shtml I am interested in that one, I may buy it I'll put up a review, I don't have anything to compare it too but I'll compare it to what that powermonkey is advertised as performing.
 

Drizzle

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Ive seen some hand crank chargers on the internet, anyone know how well those work? Im thinking about carrying an extra batterys, and one of those AA battery rechargers just incase im in a pinch.
 

Hobo Huck

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Solar chargers are just like tents and backpacks...you can buy the cheap, but during rugged backpacking and travelling you'll probably need a new one in a year, or less.

I hop trains and work on farms, and I usually work for a few weeks to save up money for my hi-tech hobo adventures...I have smartphones, net books, tablet, etc...

I've owned 3 solar chargers so far. My first was the Solio, and i was really disappointed with it. Took forever to charge my phone alone, and its not built for constant backpacking. I got so frustrated with it, within 6 months I decided to go with the PowerMonkey Explore, and it was definitely better than the Solio in every aspect....charge time, battery life, and design. But it still didn't really meet my expectations....don't get me wrong, the explorer is great for your smartphone or small electronics, but i have a netbook and a tablet to consider, not o mention my digital camera.

My third solution was to go ahead and actually spend some extra money on a real solar charger...I got the power monkey extreme (not the explorer)....and I am absolutely in love with it. It charges all my devices, and still has juice left for another charge on my smartphone or camera. I paid 165 dollars on amazon for it, but it's been well worth it. The bang is definitely worth the buck when it comes to the Extreme model.
 

Bl3wbyyou

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I'm surprised no one has mentioned the Goal 0 solar systems,they truly are top of the line when it comes to the highest tech solar panels you can buy on the market and are reasonably priced as well.If i can get some useless fiat currency together in a few weeks i plan on dropping $160 on there adventure kit i have heard nothing but great things from these people.

Takes about 3-4 hrs to charge off solar to charge pretty much any usb device and hell they are very very lightweight as well and you also get the battery pack that runs off 4 AA batterys so you have a power pack for i think 5-6 hrs give or take.

http://www.goalzero.com/shop/p/79/Guide-10-Adventure-Kit/1:1/

http://www.goalzero.com/small-guide.html

I bought a cheap china solar panel for $35 a few months back and it still works but it charges slowly as hell but it will keep my mp3 player topped off even if the on board battery on the panel is completely dead.So i guess it isn't that bad yet lol.

Oh and btw you can get that kit on ebay for $120 shipped,so its one hell of a steal imo and charges at 7 watts off solar.Which is higher then any other system i have seen yet.
 

DoctorApocalypse

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I've got a goal 0 adventure 10 system and it works pretty well, the only downside is to charge USB devices other than its battery pack it needs full sunlight. I bought one at the start of last summer, took it with me on a few train and camping trips and it kept my phone charged with little issue.

299387_2468254542850_1146927927_33010387_2037081630_n.jpg
 

tobepxt

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I've got a goal 0 adventure 10 system and it works pretty well, the only downside is to charge USB devices other than its battery pack it needs full sunlight. I bought one at the start of last summer, took it with me on a few train and camping trips and it kept my phone charged with little issue.

View attachment 10247
that one looks cool. ive ordered a cheap one online a while ago, but it ships from china so i'm still waiting a while.. even if its not great at least itll be neat to have.
 

Bl3wbyyou

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Yeah i myself have just got my mits on a good deal on ebay on the adventure kit.Damn thing paid for itself already and will charge all my electronic toys that keep me sane.

The battery pack is pretty damn great and hell i can charge the pack and still charge my mp3 player off the solar port on the usb port on the panel.I was impressed with how it only took 2-3 hrs to charge the pack up in decent sun light.

I'll be traveling around town soon enough and ill see what this system can do while its on the back of my alice pack soaking up sunlight.

I have to say that this is by far one of the best investments i have done in awhile,heck i can charge just about any usb device/5v/12v.So i also think i could charge peoples things just to help folks out.

The battery pack itself will charge my brothers iphone 3gs with no problems,so im sold on Goal Zero's products for sure.

I got mine off ebay for $110 shipped and it usually runs $150 in the stores give or take.

Also picked up a cheapo texsport camo tent 4x7 and it seems pretty nice for $25,only weighs 3 1/2 lb and i barely notice it to be honest.Beats the hell out of dealing with tarps and keeps you out of the wind and rain =D.
 

Bl3wbyyou

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Yeah they are by far one of the best systems on the market for the amount of coin they want.I think even if you get the 'older' version of the adventure kit you can still send it in and they will upgrade you to the elite version.I haven't sent mine in as the battery pack charges everything i need,i do think that the deal with the elite version is that you can charge a iphone off the panel without draining the battery pack.But im not 100% sure on that.

Either way for the money its a damn steal imo.

Only thing id recommend is getting a sheet of felt and putting it between the panels as they tend to rub and might get scratched,i haven't done this yet but its recommended by other people.
 

DoctorApocalypse

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Yeah they are by far one of the best systems on the market for the amount of coin they want.I think even if you get the 'older' version of the adventure kit you can still send it in and they will upgrade you to the elite version.I haven't sent mine in as the battery pack charges everything i need,i do think that the deal with the elite version is that you can charge a iphone off the panel without draining the battery pack.But im not 100% sure on that.

Was unaware there was an 'elite' version now. As it is I can charge my iPhone and the battery pack at the same time (with full sun of course), so not too sure what the difference is, save for marketing bullshit.
 

Bl3wbyyou

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Yeah i know a while back when these things 1st came out everyone was bitching about how it wouldn't charge off the panel for the iphone,it would just read error or some crap and i think they threw in the battery pack to get people off them.But even with the old system you can still do everything you need to do with no real issues.

I guess certain people just aren't happy enough lol.
 

DoctorApocalypse

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im a little confused since it looks like the goalzero "elite" doesn't have as many options? and it's only 80 bucks.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004AV4C0Y/

the guide ten adventure kit is 91 bucks and includes stuff the elite one doesnt...

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004OHIYLW/

I guess the marketers just threw the elite moniker on the nomad 7 panel for shits and giggles and there's absolutely no difference with the product they launched last summer. The adventure 10 also looks to be unchanged from when I got mine last summer, save for the price of course but buying something at launch always includes the gotta have it now tax so whatever.
 

JoelRailDude

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From my Electronics Expertise and Education I can explain a few things:
when they say "10 watts" it means if you point it directly at un-blocked sun. Having it at an angle, or slithly cloudy will loose power.

if the solar "system" is not well designed, there will be a problem. See, the voltage of the solar panel will drop. without a control board ( some interface between the solar panel and device) any shadow or interruption will drop the voltage, and without something to keep it at the right level the device you plugged in wont work.

Think of it like this:
you have a car ( you Ipod or cellphone) and you have the engine ( Solar panel). you want to move ( charge) the car ( phone). but the engine goes up and down in power an speed. without a transmission, you may go too fast or not fast enough and stall. The "transmission" is the device you see in Goal0 upper right corner, where the charger plugs into. and the little device attached to the solar panel in PowerMonkey.

I work for a company that is making a foldable "blanket" solar panel to re-charge military batteries. And its some serious High Tech to try to absorb power from the solar panel at the right timing and power without wasting any. The small control devices in the solar panels you guys see are the REAL deal in what you buy.

those who have batteries, like powermonkey and goal0elite, will provide power even when the sun doesnt shine too bright or not at all. Or will provide power in addition to the solar panel, so you can re-charge the batteries even when you dont need them. the Goal0 has the ability to change from re-chargeable to disposables and charge devices from there, which way you "get" the disposables its up to you.

If you see a solar panel, with only 1 wire sticking out, looking like a USB port or whatever dont waste your money.

Also: ALL USB devices use up to 2.5 watts from a USB computer port, as regulation, but smart phones have designated chargers that can provide up to 5 watts. So if you have a 5 watt solar panel, and you're trying to charge a smartphone, might not cut it, where as a Ipod will take it. If its a 10 watt panel, then even some shade, or having it at an angle, will work, because you may get 7 which is more than the 5 needed or so on.

Feel free to PM me or whatever with any electricity questions :)
 

Lucius

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here's a helpful tip for anyone considering the goal0 guide 10

there seem to be a few problems with these devices which can be solved by making sure you are receiving the upgraded system. Be sure you are getting the "plus", the Guide 10 PLUS adventure kit. If it does not have the "plus" in its name you are purchasing the older version (amazons stock has many of these older versions).

the older versions had problems with the charger overheating and melting, and is not compatible with some apple products like some iphones and ipad. I have an iphone 4 and customer support has verified that the updated "plus" will not melt and does charge the phone.

here's the update (cheaper on amazon than company site): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005XVBIL6/
 

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