View Full Version : Solar Power

11-28-2010, 07:00
Does anyone use/have experience with/or knowledge on portable solar powered cell phone/mp3 chargers?

11-28-2010, 15:00
I used the 3-petal-leaf style Solio charger on most of the PCT in 2008 for to help keep my smartphone charged up. I used the phone primarily as camera and journaling device, infrequently for internet access (weather and trail reports) when cell service allowed, even more infrequently as a phone, GPS, and voice recorder.

I tied the Solio to the top of my pack, definitely got some charge out of it in sunny California and it helped extend what I could get out of the phone between in-town recharge opportunities. I stopped using the charger when I got to the OR/WA border, in retrospect I perhaps should have stopped using it somewhere in Oregon, but for chunks of Oregon it's still useful --- just less so at that latitude. In WA it's more about tree cover. Like much/most of the AT.

11-28-2010, 15:02
I should also mention that for the CDT this coming year I'm inclined to just carry a spare battery and ration my power use rather than carry a solar charger, though I haven't decided for certain yet. I'm going SOBO, so perhaps I'll get the solar charger mailed to me when I get into, say Colorado. Again, the closer to the equator you get, the more effective these are. Unfortunately as a southbounder my back and backpack will generally be facing north, not as good for picking up rays of sunshine as I'm walking.

Wise Old Owl
11-28-2010, 15:49
Does anyone use/have experience with/or knowledge on portable solar powered cell phone/mp3 chargers?

Built my own from scratch, Purchased a wide panel and added the approrpiate wires and circuits. The bigger the better. It only weighs a few ounces. Since cut off a 12volt car adapter and added the cord to power the phone.


11-28-2010, 16:17
distance to the equator makes much less of an influance than two other factors: humidity, and ALTITUDE. 1000 feet of altitude makes more difference than hundreds of miles of distance from the equator.

i have used the solio flower style, the solio on the carabiner, and the brunton fold up on. that brunton has the most potential but saw the least actual power generation.

the flower style solio produced the most power, but i still give the nod to the solio on the carabiner because i clip it to the top of my pack and it generates power all day.

One cool little item at under an ounce is the 'AA' to igo tip converter. one lithium AA has a much eletricity as 3 full charges of the Solio solar battery and it's instant. at 1 ounce it's REALLY worth it to have. i have a tip for my ipod, phone, and camera. and i carry the energizer E^2 lithiums

the solio charger itself weighs as much as many many AA's, never actually measured yet, but i'd look into it. lithium AA's are always going to work regardless of cold, wont self discharge, etc. etc.

11-28-2010, 16:31
Wise Old Owl,

I really like your Solar Charger. How long doe it take to charge your batteries. If you don't mind sharing the plans - I would like to build one with my son.




Fellow Solio & PCT 2008 Hiker. As Gadget said it depends on where you are for the effectiveness of solar panels. I carried my Solio Magnesium on the PCT and on the CDT this year. In New Mexico this April I was surprised how fast my Solio charged, but has I went further north, and into Colorado - tree cover, overcast, and storms increased charging time to around 2+ days.

I've trying to become a tester for the nPower Peg which harnesses Kinetic Energy Charger for Hand-Held Electronics. Just hike and charge. Have to to see how it works.

11-28-2010, 18:30
Yeah I'll second that.. WOO can you share details I would like to try this with one of my outdoor classes. Very cool thanks

Wise Old Owl
11-29-2010, 00:22
I picked up the panel for $25 from a solar convention. Solar Goose has a lot of these panels they start out at 24 volts and the wires are put in Parallel making 12vdc, Para cord attachés to the pack and the covered battery holders are from Radio Shack. Diodes are attached to keep the trickle of power traveling in the right direction. All the black wires are connected in one connection (the white part in the picture) is a Dolphin Chicklet used to make connections in the shuttle and alarm systems. The Red wires individually get a standard diode with the bar towards the red battery wire. Because the 12v is small and feeding a 3 to 4.5 volt set of batteries, they absorb what they can, several tests in bright sunlight suggest the AA's can peak in 4-6 hours.

The panel and wires is just a few ounces because its all stripped down.

We talked and I got a 10% discount code for his site for WB members.

190MS10 is the code.

Wise Old Owl
11-29-2010, 00:28



11-29-2010, 02:20
Thats a great idea, even for those not so electrically inclined. I'll definitely be trying that soon!

Wise Old Owl
11-29-2010, 11:43
Yea there isn't much to it, sort of like the electronic put together kits we used to get as kids on Christmas.

Wise Old Owl
11-30-2010, 22:44
I was talking with the owner of the website, (Great Guy) discovered he had an idea of gluing a sail cloth or tent material to put two or three panels in a hanging line that will improve the system I just showed you. three panels represent 1.5 x3 is more powerful than the old Bruton panel charging times would be less than 2 hours.

Wise Old Owl
11-30-2010, 23:08
Did anyone have other questions or need a diagram of wiring?

Wise Old Owl
12-05-2010, 13:41
I spoke to my supplier of solar panels and he did mention something that I had not thought of doing, Each panel I have delivers 1.3 watts of power and if one panel is not enough one can use the holes and two little wire ties and add a second panel to the backpack! they only weigh a few ounces.

$50 dollar project- wow.

Charlie D
12-05-2010, 14:16
Yes, I would like a diagram of the wiring

Wise Old Owl
12-05-2010, 15:52
A is an optional switch that I haven't added it would allow in a pinch to suck the stored voltage in the two AA's to saturate the cell phone, something I don't need yet. The diodes provide protection against accidental discharge and putting batteries in backwards.


12-05-2010, 20:13
That's a nice project, thanks for sharing.

Are the diodes common IN914s?

Charlie D
12-05-2010, 21:44
Thanks very much.

01-02-2011, 15:38
I purchased a kyocera mini from Solar Goose, and now I'm curious as to which diode you used. I have a 1n914, but not certain if it's the one to use. Any help would be great. Thanks.

01-02-2011, 16:16
I purchased a kyocera mini from Solar Goose, and now I'm curious as to which diode you used. I have a 1n914, but not certain if it's the one to use. Any help would be great. Thanks.

1N914 is a small current diode, best to use a power diode like a 1N4001 or better yet a Shottky such as 1N5817, which has half the voltage drop of a silicon diode. Also, when you parallel solar panels, I belive you should put a diode in series with each panel before they are wired together.

01-03-2011, 12:43
A few years ago I got the Powermonkey (http://www.amazon.com/Powertraveller-PMEV2001-Powermonkey-Explorer-V2-Grey/dp/tech-data/B003EMKF56) kit (for a lot less than the current price). It's great for general travel, and the little battery stores a fair amount of power, but the solar panel is all but useless in most situations. To charge the little battery it comes with would take about 4 or 5 days on a sunny windowsill. Something that small could be used to top up a little phone that you're not going to use much, but otherwise something larger as people are describing above would probably be a better bet.