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Portable Solar Panels

Discussion in 'Riding Gear and Bike Accessories/Parts' started by Benny Boy, Mar 18, 2013.

  1. Im looking at potentially getting a portable solar panel setup that can be used while on the bike and camping.

    I've read about power monkey and Goal Zero and the products they do. But the reviews seems to be all over the place.

    Has anyone had any experience with solar panel on the bike or camping.

  2. Not sure if I would consider it necessary, while bike touring you have the bike electrical system to charge from. I suppose if you stop at a camp site for a couple of days it may be worthwhile.

    What is your intended use?
  3. Intended use would be for cameras and phone. So i was looking at a 7 watt system. I was also thinking about purchasing and iPad in the future. For that I need at least a 15 watt system. The 15 watt systems are pretty big and i don't think i can justify getting one. But I'm still undecided about a 7 watt system.

    With my 12v output already on the bike and my occasional stop at motel i don't see a need for one. But if I'm on the road i can only charge one thing at a time, and if I'm camping for a couple of nights in a row, then there is no charging at all.

    I guess I'm trying to talk myself out of getting one, but if anyone has used one during an extended road trip i'd be curious to see if solar panels came in handy, or if it's just another gadget you don't need.
  4. Up to you but I see them of more use to bushwalkers and longer term campers. The bike electrical system has been all I use. I have a powerlet outlet which hasn't been totally successful for the multi device charging you mention. I don't tour without a tank bag so my next plan is to add one of these to take power inside the tankbag and distribute it to multiple devices inside the bag.

    If you did want to have some solar charging I would look at somewhere on the cruiser that you could mount a panel that would charge the bike battery. Something mounted on the bike could be a lot lower wattage because you get the benefit of charging the battery over the entire day whereas phone, ipod etc charging would be intermittent.

    My 2c anyway :)
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Cheers for that link. Those connectors could be a cheaper fix.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. I bought a 20Ah 5V LiIon battery off ebay for just the purpose you intend. Charged via USB port, and has two USB outlets, one 5W one 10W which can be used at the same time. With the odd overnight at a motel etc with power, and any normal USB charger plugpack or 12VDC, look for at least 15W output, you can keep phones etc charged pretty well. I just charge mine from the bike while on the road and when I stop have heaps of available charging capacity.

    The battery itself is a no-name thing, can't even remember where I bought it from, but it is about the size and weight of a 3 inch HDD.

  7. have a look at www.soanarplus.com
    not necessarily the cheapest but there are fold up solar panels and small 12v panels which might work. I've had the larger 12 & 24v panels go through work and they seem reasonable quality.
  8. I am about to wire a 12v plug into the boot of my CBR so that I can charge my phone when I ride. Not sure what the boot is like on your bike, but could be a nice cheap option.
  9. I Like it,

    Thanks everyone for all the advice.

    i thinking I'm just going to limit the electronic devices i take with me. It makes for a simpler riding and hiking.

    My 12v outlet is enough for my phone and my camera. Beside batteries are smaller and lighter to carry.

    I am liking the alternative power solutions that are popping up.

    Keep em coming.
  10. I charge my phone while I am riding its mounted in a cradle and plugged into my earplugs for music.

    I take my ipad as well typically I get 3 days use from a single charge. 2-3hours use while I am camped at night

    My DSLR will last weeks on a charge, but I tend to just use the phone for photos to save space.

    My gps takes double A's I just take a couple of spares

    I have a 12v dc to 240v AC inverter but I don't take it with me even though it is small as I don't take any mains powered stuff.
  11. I don't know how often you have been bike camping but after a few trips you realise just what you do need and what you can leave at home.

    When planning your first trip you think you need so much stuff, when you hit the road you find you don't NEED half the shit you brought.

    I know guys that don't have a clue about mechanics but bring enough tools to strip the bike down and rebuild it.

    My tool kit is a dozen cable ties, duct tape, multi tool and the on board toolkit. Point is you might think you need solar panels, reality is if you need to charge something use the bike or when you stop somewhere ask if you can charge your whatever for an hour.
  12. I've been bike based camping for a few years now, and when i go i go for a few weeks at a time, usually to small towns or remote areas. I thought it would be a good backup if I'm stuck camping longer than expected.

    I just thought about what i do when I'm away. I don't have anywhere on the bike to set it up and i don't stay still long enough for it to be of real use. Im also carrying enough when I'm hiking, so no need to carry solar panels as well.

    Simple is good.