Solar Panels and Battery Packs
Whilst the price of Solar energy isn't yet cheap enough to make it more attractive than pulling power from the grid, it's certainly now useful enough for situations where grid power isn't an option. My usage so far has been when camping and also when sailing - times when connecting to the grid isn't possible and having your own supply becomes more essential, read the info here with that in mind.
- http://wiki.siftah.com/GoalZero_Nomad_13 - The GoalZero Nomad 13 is the solar panel I've been using for camping and sailing, they're durable and rugged and come with lots of connection options.
- http://wiki.siftah.com/Brown_Dog_Gadgets_Folding_USB_Solar_Cell - Review of the Brown Dog Gadgets Folding USB Solar Cell.
There are a number of disadvantages of solar panels that can be overcome by using them in conjunction with a battery bank. I've found that carrying two power banks allows me to make the most effective use of the available power; 1) It allows me to de-couple my charging from the solar panel. I can use the battery bank to charge a device at night (when it's most convenient for me) rather than having to have the device tethered to the solar panel during the day (when I want to use the device!). 2) There's times when the sun will dip behind a cloud, dropping the output of the solar panel and causing the device to stop charging - the battery pack works like a UPS in this instance, making sure the devices continues to charge whilst the sun temporarily is unavailable. 3) If the device you wish to charge draws more current than the panel can provide, an intermediate battery pack will help bridge this gap and charge the device more quickly. 4) Battery packs are cheaper than panels, so one panel keeping a couple of battery packs topped up means you have more stored power available than if you relied on charging direct from the sun.
A key thing to bear in mind is that some battery packs can not do pass-through charging, whereas others can. Pass-through charging means the battery pack can be charged whilst it's being charged - so you can use it for situations like 2 and 3 above, where you need to supplement or smooth-off the power delivery from the panel.
- http://wiki.siftah.com/GoalZero_Guide10_Plus - Charges four AA or AAA batteries and can do pass-through charging, ie: can be charged whilst charging.
- http://wiki.siftah.com/DX_Dual_USB_Solar_Powered_Battery_Charger_232365 - A cheap 10,000mAh battery pack with a built-in solar panel of it's own.
- http://wiki.siftah.com/eBay_18650_USB_Power_Bank - 18650 cell based power bank from eBay with a handy built-in light.
- http://wiki.siftah.com/DX_XIAOMI_Genuine_10400mAh_Power_Bank - 18650 cell based power bank from DX which does pass-through charging!