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solar battery advice?

 
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mirkef



Joined: 05 Jul 2002
Posts: 18

PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2011 5:13 pm    Post subject: solar battery advice? Reply with quote

I want to buy a portable solar battery for basic camping needs, playing radio/mp3, charging of laptop, rechargeable batteries, etc.

Can you recomment any product that you are happy with?
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coboardhead



Joined: 26 Oct 2009
Posts: 1960

PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2011 8:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just bought an inverter, powerpack, emergency jumper unit from zantrex. Duracell and several other brand the same unit. It will work with a 30watt panel and charge in 10 hours. I am testing tomorrow to see how it will work. Total cost for system is about $300.

I also saw maybe a better unit at Sears on sale the other day.

These are micro power supplies good for several hours of laptop and some camp lighting. It will charge in the car also.
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swchandler



Joined: 08 Nov 1993
Posts: 5894

PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2011 2:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If your camping is done by your vehicle, I would recommend a portable compact inverter that simply plugs into the cigarette lighter receptacle. Mine was made by Belkin. No problem charging up a laptop or digital camera. I've even used mine to power my coffee grinder. At about $60-70, it's a great tool.
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coboardhead



Joined: 26 Oct 2009
Posts: 1960

PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2011 7:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would caution against using your car battery this way without the engine running. Factory batteries are not made for a slow discharge and battery storage will be compromised. I have an offroad battery in my Baja rig that will handle some of this (Odyssey or Sears knockoff version) Pricy - $300. But it is built for miles of washboard too. The other option is a dual battery with a deep cycle second battery if you have room for it. Those can recharge with solar.

FYI, a trickle solar charger on your standard car battery will NOT recharge a dead battery. In the boondocks. Best not to use your car battery!
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swchandler



Joined: 08 Nov 1993
Posts: 5894

PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2011 10:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

coboardhead, are you nervous listening to your car radio without the engine running?

One thing worth mentioning is that the Belkin inverter I have has a warning light that indicates whether the vehicle's battery is too low. While I have to admit that using a coffee grinder pushes things a bit, I don't think that recharging a computer or camera draws a lot of energy. Needless to say though, a car battery on its last legs could be good reason for some caution and restraint.
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MoeIsMe



Joined: 30 Nov 2011
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2011 12:59 pm    Post subject: Re: Portable solar battery issues & suggestions Reply with quote

You've already got some good advice on all-in-one power kits, but I would advise not using an inverter if at all possible. They waste 20-30% of your battery storage in converting the DC battery power to dirty AC which your laptop or other device is simply converting back to DC anyway.

If you can, find a car adaptor for your laptop, such as one of the iGo units (if you are only using your car battery). 12V USB adaptors are available everywhere for your smaller devices, and there are very few that won't charge from USB these days.

If you want to be totally independent for hike-in camping, then I recommend looking at a PowerFilm rollable panel (7 or 14 Watts depending on your power needs), and store the power in a battery pack like the Brunton Sustain that can directly power laptops, MacBooks (via Apple MagSafe adaptor) iPods, iPads, and almost anything else (no inverter needed).

Lastly, if worried about simply listening to the car radio for hours & killing the car battery, get one of the small (2 or 5 watts) solar trickle chargers that you can put on your dashboard. Should offset your radio nicely.

Hope this helps!
Graham
Physics nerd, owner of Modern Outpost
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PortableSolarPow



Joined: 08 Dec 2011
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 8:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yea portable solar power can get real expensive real quick but if you buy the right equipment it will last you a long time.

I prefer Mono Crystalline portable solar panels over the thinfilm solar panels because they are so much easier to tilt towards the sun for maximum solar harvest comared to flimsy thinfilm solar panels. Plus the thinfilm solar cells degrade and start providing less power a lot quicker than the mono crystalline solar cells you see used on all the glass solar panels on houses and buildings all over the world, they are usually warranted to provide up to 85% of their rated output 25 years after you purchase them.

Ryan Brown - www.PortableSolarPower.Biz
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PeconicPuffin



Joined: 07 Jun 2004
Posts: 1221

PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2011 10:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The inverter is nice to have, despite the previously mentioned flaws. In addition to charging the laptop I also use mine to power a soldering gun with a cutting blade (if I need to cut lines) or any other "wouldn't it be great to have an outlet" needs.

What I found re running the car stereo without the engine running is my subwoofer kills the battery. If I turn that off I can go for quite awhile without the engine running.

_________________
Michael
http://www.peconicpuffin.com
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p.yribarren



Joined: 13 Mar 2010
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 3:18 pm    Post subject: Re: solar battery advice? Reply with quote

mirkef wrote:
I want to buy a portable solar battery for basic camping needs, playing radio/mp3, charging of laptop, rechargeable batteries, etc.

Can you recomment any product that you are happy with?


I would recommend using a deep cycle battery so that you have some flexibility and you do not deplete your battery too often. Trojan makes reliable batteries and have some inexpensive 12V models.

Trojan 24TMX 85 Ah, 12 Volt Deep Cycle Battery

Try to find it locally, shipping of batteries is very expensive and shipping of just one unit won't be cost-effective. Marine grade batteries would work as well.
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