Can You Charge An ebike With A Solar Panel?
Charging an ebike with solar seems a completely logical thing to do. After all, it represents totally free travel, without even plugging the bike battery charge into a house socket.
But is it as simple as that?
There a few of things you really need to know before you try to charge your ebike with solar, if you don’t want to fry your bike batteries.
The easiest way to charge an ebike with solar panels is to connect between 100 to 200 watts solar panels to an inverter and use that to power your existing ebike charger. If it’s intended to charge the ebike at night, then add a solar battery charger and a 50Ah lithium phosphate battery.
Solar eBike – Can You Charge an E-bike With a Solar Panel?
Typical Electric Bike Battery Capacity
Electric bike batteries usually are available in four voltages: 48V, 36V, and 24V. volts equal greater power.
E-bike batteries are typically 36V, with some models having a 24V battery and others having a 48V battery.
Electric bike makers specify these as they provide a tremendous cost to power ratio for their products.
You are looking at custom-made electric bikes when you reach the 72V range, which generally results in a powerful bike that will not be categorized as a standard bicycle.
72V batteries are also considerably more expensive than 48V batteries.
Another factor to consider when designing or operating a high-capacity electric bicycle is the possibility of being shocked.
Your skin can protect you from electric shocks up to a voltage in the range of 40V – 45V.
However, electrical shock can occur at 72 volts, and in some states, this is a regulatory issue and is always a safety concern.
Suppose the power output of an electric bicycle goes above the acceptable 750 Watts. In that case, the bike will be categorized as a scooter which usually requires insurance, registration, and a license plate.
What Voltage Is an E-bike Battery?
Does it matter what voltage your ebike battery is?
When shopping for an e-bike for the first time, determining which battery is the best fit for your needs can seem like a daunting task.
The first thing to know about electric bike batteries is that they are described in terms of amp-hours and volts.
Electric bike batteries can be found in various voltages, namely 48V, 36V, and 24V. In general, higher voltage equals more power.
Battery voltage is directly proportional to car horsepower—the more volts in the battery, the more power will be delivered to your bike.
The advantage of a high voltage is that it has more power, allowing your electric bike to go faster for a longer time.
Amp-hours, abbreviated as AH, is the other element of an electric bike battery.
Discover your solar saving potential
Amp-hours measure the amount of current that a battery can produce in an hour at a usable voltage or the amount of capacity that a battery has in terms of storage capacity.
The higher the number of amp-hours, the greater the distance you can travel on your battery.
How Many Watts to Charge an E-bike?
Given that most e-bikes are equipped with a capacity of 48V, how many solar panels would be required to charge this battery fully?
But, even more importantly, when you acquire the right solar panels, the question is whether the charger will charge your eBike’s battery as fast as power outlets do.
To answer this question, we must first take into account the battery’s capacity. It isn’t enough to simply know the battery voltage.
As a result, for a 48V eBike battery, you would require a charger with at least two solar panels capable of producing at least 200W.
But the best feature of a standard eBike charger is that it includes an inverter, which is necessary because eBike chargers operate on alternating current.
There is only one thing left to do: select the appropriate plugin type for your electric bike, and you are ready to ride.
The most important feature is that many eBike chargers can charge a bike at the same speed as a standard power socket.
How Much Power Does a 100-watt Solar Panel Produce?
How many solar watts does it take to charge an ebike?
100-watt solar panels, as the name implies, are intended to produce a maximum power output of 100 electrical watts.
However, this is the notional amount of power it can produce in Standard Test Conditions, also known as STC. Obtaining 100 percent power output from a solar panel determined by the STC is a long shot in the physical world – it hardly ever happens!
The amount of energy you can obtain from this module is dependent on your geographic location and weather conditions.
There is a difference in the sun intensity between a sunny and a snowy geographical location. This is called irradiance.
Therefore, you can expect a higher wattage during summer and reduced wattage in winter.
In ideal circumstances, the amount of energy generated will be equal to the wattage of the solar panel multiplied by the number of peak sun hours.
Solar Panel Wattage Peak Sun Hours = Energy Generated.
The average number of sun hours in the United States is 4. As a result, with a 100 watts solar panel, you can generate approximately 400 watt/hours of electricity every day on average.
Furthermore, you could receive up to 600 watts of solar energy each day, depending on your location, especially for those who live in states like Arizona, Wyoming, or Nevada.
Weather conditions, dust, and other variables could cause your total output to reduce by approximately 30%.
How to Charge Electric Bike With Solar Panel
To begin, connect the inverter and solar charge controller to the battery via a battery connector.
To ensure maximum safety, it is recommended that a fuse be installed on positive leads that link the battery to both the inverter and the charge controller.
Install a Solar Panel and Connect It to a Solar Charge Regulator
Next, hook up the charge controller to the solar panel using the included cable. Again, including a fuse between the two is the safest course of action in this situation.
A number for the inbound PV voltage will appear on your charge controller’s screen, signaling that the panel has been successfully installed and connected.
Testing Your Solar Charging System
To ensure that your solar panel is charging, place it in the sun and check the PV voltage on the voltage regulator.
This indicates that the solar panel has been effective in charging the batteries. Now you must connect your charger to the inverter outlet to determine whether it is receiving power.
What Do You Need to Charge an E-bike With Solar Panels?
My preferred solar charging setup for an ebike using standard charger
Unfortunately, you cannot simply buy solar panels, attach them to the battery of your eBike, and sit around waiting for your battery to charge.
Solar panel chargers are operated with a set-up, which assists with the collection, transfer, and output of reversed energy to the battery, among other things.
To make your own charger, addition to the panels, you will need a charge controller, which boosts the amount of output power obtained from the solar array.
The problem is the battery voltage, which as we know is between 24 volts to 48 volt normally.
A standard 100 watt solar panel has an open circuit voltage of about 22V, which reduces considerably when hooked up to a load.
You would need at least 3 of these connected in series to produce enough volts to charge a 36 volt ebike battery, for example.
If you’re building your own solar electric bike charger or looking to buy solar chargers, keep this in mind as you consider your options. It get complicated.
I prefer to use the standard eBike battery charger operating on alternating current, and use an inverter to feed it. It’s the simplest solution.
Why Do You Need a Solar Charger to Charge an E-bike?
Many solar chargers are small, lightweight, and convenient to use – you can carry them on your travels without them becoming an inconvenience or appearing to be extra luggage.
There will be times when you will be stranded in the middle of nowhere, which is not convenient for most chargers; however, this is not a problem for solar chargers.
It prevents you from becoming stranded away from home, and you will not be forced to pedal back home because you have run out of power.
Furthermore, it is the more cost-effective of the two options, and it will have a positive impact on the environment as well.
Not to mention that you will be contributing to environmental conservation, which is set to become a hot issue soon.
How long to charge an ebike battery with solar?
I recommend using the mains charger that you already have and feed that with solar. In this case the ebike would charge in exactly the same times as if you plugged it into the mains.
- solar panels (between 100 watts and 200 watts, depending on ebike power)
- suitable inverter (the original charge uses a.c. power)
If you want to charge at night, then add a solar battery charger and a 50Ah lithium phosphate battery.
Environmental Impact of Solar Ebike Charging
According to a recent study, choosing an electric bike as your primary transportation mode and ditching car transportation will go a long way toward lowering the carbon footprint left in the environment.
While electric bikes are generally considered environmentally friendly, you can make them more ecologically friendly by charging them using solar power rather than an electric source.
It is a more sustainable energy choice, and it can provide you with a service that is comparable to that of electricity.
Components of a solar generator for house use Can I build my own solar power system? Basically, a solar generator is a small off-grid solar system. Yes, anyone can build one with a little careful planning. It’s important to know h.
Yes, you can connect a solar panel directly to a battery, but it is strongly recommended to use a solar charge controller unless the solar panel is very small. As a general rule, a 5 watt solar panel can be connected directly to t.
Solar energy and how to use it How do solar panels work? Photovoltaics What is solar energy in simple words? Solar energy is the conversion of the sun’s energy into DC electricity that can be converted into the AC power used for d.
How long will it take to charge a 100Ah battery with a 100W solar panel? Here is a list of things you need to know before answering the question: how much power can a 100Ah solar panel produce? what is the irradiance (sun’s ener.
Top Solar Panels for Camping, Basecamping, and Outdoor Adventures
Electronics are a part of the adventurer’s quiver of tools more than ever before. Thanks to efficiency advances and cost decreases in solar cells, portable solar chargers are finally proving to be a viable means of providing electricity outdoors. A backcountry user might carry a smartphone, GoPros, headlamp, tablet, camera, headphones, and PLB or GPS devices. A family on an extended weekend trip will likely bring multiple smartphones, tablets, speakers, laptops, electric lanterns, and more. Rafters, climbers, bikepackers, and mountain bikers on a weekend mission might haul out even more high-powered lights and GoPros, radios, and other electronic equipment.
By harnessing the energy of the sun, anyone can charge their legion of devices rather than carrying physical batteries or draining the battery in their vehicle or camper. From portable solar chargers that can accommodate multiple devices during a family camping trip, to power banks that hold the biggest charge, to lightweight options for backcountry users that weigh under a pound, we reviewed top models to find the best portable solar chargers for most outdoor uses. Plus, we’ve got tips and tricks on how to get the most out of your portable solar panels, power banks and chargers.
We create reader-supported, objective gear reviews that are independently selected by our editors. This story may contain affiliate links, which help fund our website. When you click on the links to purchase gear, we may get a commission, without costing you an extra cent. Thank you for supporting our work and mission of outdoor coverage for every body! Learn more.
The Best Portable Solar Chargers
We had three clones to evaluate, all of which performed similarly well, so it was hard to determine which of those to award. However, one did surpass the others, as various sites have mentioned. We also considered different use cases in making our final judgments. As such, some of our winners are in unique categories.
Overall Winner: Big Blue 28W USB Solar Charger
Weight: 1 pound, 5 ounces
Solar Cell Output Capacity: 10 watts
Power Output to Device: USB, 5V up to 2A (28W max)
Integrated battery: No
Ports: 2, 2.4 Amp USB-A Ports
What we liked: simple, lightweight, provides more power than similar models, can charge multiple small devices, includes anmeter
What we didn’t like:
We concur with many review sites and consumer reviews that the 1 pound, 5 ounce Big Blue 28W USB Solar Charger was the best for most outdoor use. It’s a simple, lightweight, and powerful solar power charger that seems to provide a little more power than its competition. It will also provide enough power in direct sunlight to charge multiple small devices for one or two people.
The Big Blue unit we tested also included an ammeter, which displays the amount of electrical current the solar panel is generating, setting it apart from the competition. That allowed us to see that the device was working and how much energy it was producing.
COMPARE OF THE BIG BLUE SOLAR CHARGER
Other than that, we found that it was remarkably, if not eerily, similar to two other top-rated solar chargers we evaluated. All three (the Anker 21 Watt PowerPort Solar charger, the Nekteck 28 Watt solar charger, and the BigBlue 28W USB Solar Charger) use the same basic design with two USB-ports and a light to indicate that they’re getting a charge; the Big Blue’s light indicator is the ammeter.
The solar cells in these foldable units are encased in PET polymer and surrounded by polyester canvas. Each offers moderate IPX4 water resistance — although you don’t really want to use these devices in the rain anyhow. They’re so similar they even use the same solar cells — SunPower’s Maxeon solar cells — which are among the most efficient commercially available solar cells and can convert up to 25 percent of the sun’s energy.
Each of these solar chargers had metal grommets in the casing, which allows you to attach them to a rock, backpack, tent, or camp chair. Each has a pouch where you can store the devices being charged and cords for charging your devices. None had kickstands or means to orient them to the sun properly, so you’ll have to get a little more creative, like propping them up on a rock, attaching them to your tent, or attaching them to your backpack to orient them properly to get the most power out of them in camp.
The Big Blue did better than the competition in tests, producing just under 950 milliamp-hours (mAh) of energy in an hour. In relatively similar conditions, the Anker produced 733 mAh, and the Nekteck produced 834 mAh. Without a dedicated test facility and control environment, it is hard to offer a complete scientific evaluation of the differences between these three since clouds could have obscured the sun for part of the testing periods.
In our experience, the Big Blue (or other similar solar panels) will integrate best into your outdoor lifestyle with the help of an external battery, like the Anker. The solar panel charges the battery, and then the battery provides a steady charge to reliably and safely charge your phone. See our section below on batteries for more details.
The Big Blue offered the highest power output among these three, and its cost is essentially the same as the Nekteck, so The Big Blue edged out the Nekteck as the best solar charger. It’s easy to use, well-priced, and offers enough portable power to charge a backup battery. Best yet, it is rugged enough to last for years.
Interested in backpacking gear? See our Backpacking section for our most popular stories.
The Best Solar Charger for Basecamping: Goal Zero Nomad 50
Weight: 6 pounds
Solar Cell Output Capacity: 50 watts
Power Output to Device: USB: 5V up to 2.4A (12W max)/8mm: 14-22V, up to 3.5A (50W Max)
Integrated battery: Goal Zero Sherpa 100 AC sold separetely
Ports: 1 2.4 Amp USB-A Port, 1, 3.3 Amp Solar Port in 8mm, 1, 3.3 Amp Solar Port out 8mm
What we liked: can be linked with other solar panels for even greater charging, kickstands to properly orient to sun, can almost fully charge 2 laptops
What we didn’t like: size and weight make best suited for camping, not backpacking
The Goal Zero Nomad 50 is a larger solar charger that also wins our award for Best Solar Charger for Car Camping and Best Solar Charger for Basecamping and our Best Upgrade Solar Charger award. At 50 watts, it’s the biggest and heaviest solar charger we tried. But if we were doing a couple of weeks in a high mountain cirque with fellow adventurers and we wanted to cut battery weight while keeping our electronics charged, this is the charger we’d choose.
Likewise, if we’re powering all the devices a family needs on a week-long camping trip and they don’t want to drain a car or RV battery, we’d turn to the Goal Zero as our solar charger of choice. Similarly, it’s a good choice for road tripping or overlanding off-grid. It could also be used to work a remote aid station during an ultramarathon or adventure race.
COMPARE OF THE GOAL ZERO NOMAD 50
The Goal Zero is an obvious choice for camping and basecamping for other reasons as well. It’s the only solar charger we evaluated that can be linked to other solar panels and the only one that can be attached in a series to provide even greater charging power to a battery power bank.
With solar cells covered in a polymer and the whole unit encased in a durable polyester, the Nomad is like the larger sibling of the three clones (Big Blue, Anker, and Nektek).
Instead of two cells per foldable solar panel, each of its four panels has 12 cells. It has one USB connector that can provide up to 12 watts of charging power, but it also has a Goal Zero solar port connector that allows it to provide up to 50 watts of charging power or connect to other Goal Zero panels. Like the BioLite solar charger, the Nomad also has kickstands to help ensure it’s properly oriented to the sun.
All of those extra features and solar cells add weight and size. Unlike the clones, the Nomad 50 would take up a significant portion of a backpack. Folded up, it’s almost a foot wide and nearly 1 foot and a half tall. That’s roughly the size of an average male’s torso, and it weighs 6 pounds, 14 ounces. Even if it were attached to the front of Frankenstein’s backpack, it would likely drag on the ground like an oddly stiff cape.
But once unfurled and set up in camp, it can provide enough energy to power a laptop and charge a significantly larger battery than the smaller chargers can power. When combined with a Goal Zero’s Sherpa 100AC power bank, it can charge in 6 or fewer hours in good sun. That 94.7 watt/hour battery includes an inverter allowing it to charge AC devices, like those that plug into a wall outlet. It can almost fully charge two 13” MacBook Pros on a single charge, and since it can deliver at higher wattages and voltages, it can provide higher charging speeds.
Interested in camping gear? See our Camping section for our most popular stories.
The Best Solar Charger with Integrated Battery: BioLite SolarPanel 10
Weight: 1 pound, 3.4 ounces
Solar Cell Output Capacity: 10 W
Battery Storage Capacity (mAH): 3,200 milliamp hours
Power Output to Device: 10 W via USB charge out
Integrated battery: Yes, Battery Storage Capacity (mAH): 3,200 milliamp hours
Ports: 1 Micro USB in 1 2.4 Amp USB-A out
What we liked: includes integrated battery that works as power bank, can pre-charge included powerbank, easy to align with sun to get the most efficient charge, designed to reduce overheating (that impacts efficiency)
What we didn’t like: would be more useful if it were 21W and had storage 10,000 mAH
Though the BioLite SolarPanel 10 is the smallest solar charger we tested at just 10 watts, it’s the most fully featured and the only solar charger we tested that came with an integrated battery that works as a power bank. The 3,200 mAh battery is slightly larger than the iPhone 11’s 3100 mAh battery and could provide an iPhone with a full charge. You can also charge the integrated battery power bank via micro-USB. So users can pre-charge it for adventures so they can charge devices at camp even if the sun’s obscured or down when they get there. Indeed, starting every adventure with fully charged devices and auxiliary batteries is key to getting the most out of your electronic charging system in the backcountry.
COMPARE OF THE BIOLITE SOLARPANEL 10
The SolarPanel 10 also has a radically different design than every other portable panel we tested and most others available. All of its solar cells are encased in a ruggedized, dimpled plastic. BioLite says its solar panel design helps dissipate excess heat, which can cause a solar panel to produce less power than it otherwise would.
Like the other small solar chargers we evaluated, the corners feature holes allowing users to attach them to a backpack or tent. But its analog Optimal Sun System, consisting of an analog sundial, as well as its rotating kickstand, play an important part in making sure you get the most from the charger at any given time.
By aligning the shadow of the dot in the middle of the window, you ensure that the device sends as much solar power to connected devices and the battery as possible. The kickstand clicks into place throughout its rotation, making it easy to adjust the pitch of the portable solar panel to get the optimal placement at any given time.
While we found all these features very useful, we found that when first deploying the solar panel, it didn’t want to stay open until after it warmed in the sun a bit. Also, if its ability to absorb sunlight was larger — even in the 21 watt range — and its energy storage capacity was larger, even around 10,000 mAh, it could have been the Overall Winner.
Both the Anker portable charger and Nekteck portable charger fell a little short of the Big Blue, our overall winner (see review above). Either offer a great value, but we think the Big Blue has the most to offer for the money.
Anker 21 Watt PowerPort Solar Charger
Weight: 14.7 ounces
Solar Cell Output Capacity: 21W
Power Output to Device: 21W to device via USB
Integrated battery: No
Ports: 2, 2.4 Amp USB-A Ports
The now discontinued Anker 21 Watt PowerPort Solar Charger may no longer be available, but we think it’s worth putting on your radar for a few reasons. First, it’s a near-clone of the Big Blue (see review above), our overall winner, so it’s a good example of the similarities between solar panels on the market. Second, it is still widely available on sites such as ebay for folks interested in buying a used solar panel.
One difference is that it was slightly smaller and lighter (15 ounces) than the Big Blue. The Anker produced a little less power in a given time in similar conditions, as expected. Its charging pouch also had a hook-and-loop closure rather than a zippered closure like the other clones. It didn’t include an ammeter. Ultimately, even when the Anker was available, we found the Big Blue to be a better choice given the amount of power it generated.
Nekteck 28 Watt Solar Charger
Weight: 1.44 pounds
Solar Cell Output Capacity: 28W
Power Output to Device: 28W via USB
Integrated battery: No
Ports: 2, 2.4 Amp USB-A Ports
Without the branding, from the outside, the Nekteck 28 Watt solar charger is essentially indistinguishable from the Big Blue. our overall winner (see review above). The specs are similar. Opened up, and without the ammeter, they look essentially identical, too.
However, in the end, it didn’t perform quite as well as the Big Blue — even though it uses the same solar cells and design. In relatively similar conditions, the Anker produced 733 mAh, and the Nekteck produced 834 mAh. It also has a claimed weight of 1 pound, 7 ounces — two ounces heavier than the Big Blue.
Understanding solar chargers
There’s a lot to understand about solar power chargers, but at their heart, a small solar panel consists of several photovoltaic cells grouped together to absorb some of the sun’s energy and convert it into an electric charge that you can use to charge electronics.
Modern, commercially available solar cells can harness nearly 25 percent of the sun’s energy that hits them into electricity. You’ll find this in the most efficient foldable chargers. When these cells are combined together into small solar panels, the solar cells can provide enough energy to recharge the batteries in USB devices and they can weigh under a pound, making them a lightweight option for backcountry adventures across the world.
Why choose a solar generator over other choices?
A portable solar charger is a lightweight and more compact means of electricity generation compared with other means of mobile energy generation. This is advantageous when on the trail and in remote locations because carrying multiple batteries and other means of electricity generation quickly becomes cumbersome as you add more energy storage to your pack. After all, no one wants to carry a gas generator — and gas — on their backs into the woods to provide power for all of their electronic devices. And while we’ve seen some portable wind and micro-hydro turbine generators, like the WaterLily Turbine. they’re also cumbersome, if not heavy. Solar panels are among eco-friendly gear swaps to reduce your environmental impact. especially if your base camp would otherwise run on a gas generator.
Solar chargers, combined with a power bank or backup battery pack — particularly those that can accommodate through charging (i.e., charging itself while charging devices) — are the best, lightest way to charge your electronic equipment.
While most adventurers are looking primarily for a portable phone charger, solar chargers can power:
- cameras and camera batteries
- GPS hiking and backpacking watches
- GoPros and other vlogging or podcasting equipment
- two-way satellite messengers and Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs)
- GPS units
- bluetooth speakers
- wireless headphones
- mountain bike lights
- sonar devices
Anytime you’re out for multiple days or weeks in the backcountry, you’ll likely have electronics that need charging. Solar panels work for camping, boating, climbing, bikepacking, mountaineering, and other activities.
Most mobile solar charging units have at least one USB port, making it easy to charge most devices and batteries people take into the wild. Still, many smaller solar chargers will struggle to provide enough power to charge multiple devices simultaneously.
Yes, Watson, Watts matter (or why watts matter)
The most important thing about a solar panel charger is its wattage. The more watts, the more sunlight the solar panel can absorb and the more electricity it can generate. If you only need to power your own devices and don’t plan on using them continually while on the trail, you may only need to charge them once every few days or even once a week. In that case, a smaller unit like the BioLite SolarPanel 10 with an integrated battery pack is an excellent choice, but the 10 watt foldable solar panel only has one USB port and wouldn’t be powerful enough to charge a family’s devices on a five-day trip.
On the other hand, our Best for Camping winner, the 50 Watt Goal Zero Nomad 50 Solar Panel. along with the Sherpa 100 AC battery. could handle the needs of a family on a week-long trip or a group of mountaineers exploring a range out for an extended period. The Goal Zero system is significantly larger, heavier, and much more expensive. But this system with this power bank battery has an AC plug and is the only one we considered that charges devices such as large laptops.
We don’t normally advocate getting rid of gear before its end of life, but in this case, if you have a backup battery or power bank that isn’t chargeable via USB, consider recycling it and replacing it with one that is. Similarly, consider USB chargeable devices like headlamps.
While you can use rechargeable AA and AAA powered headlamps, using one device or cable to charge most of your equipment can simplify your carry. When Intel’s Chief Systems Technologist Ajay Bhatt led the development of USB standards in 1996 and companies started using it, he essentially began a process of universalizing charging and connectivity for all devices. Now, USB technology allows us to easily recharge cameras and GoPros as well as smaller electronics like wireless earbuds.
How we Researched and tested
When researching the best camping solar chargers, we explored websites in the outdoor media sphere, and the tech and science spheres as geeks and gear heads are the most likely to use portable solar chargers to power their electronics.
We chose the models we tested based on reviews and articles we read and analyzed from other reliable sources, including Lifewire, Gear Institute, Backpacker, Wirecutter, The Adventure Junkies, Popular Mechanics, Outdoor GearLab, and others (see Sources). We also looked at verified customer reviews to gather data from professional reviewers and actual users.
How We Tested
We tested these foldable solar panels on multiple days in the field, at campsites, and at home, sometimes even hanging them out of a south-facing window on sunny days of full Colorado summer sunshine. Despite multiple uses and attempts, none of the solar chargers we tested reached the manufacturer’s claimed fully-rated wattages for maximum power output during our tests.
We attached each solar panel to a USB digital tester and various battery packs and other electronic devices we use in the backcountry, including GPS units, Bluetooth headphones, bike lights, headlamps, and more. We attempted to charge our iPhones and iPads directly but found they wouldn’t accept the charge since the power varied too much with the sun and clouds — even on some bluebird days. We found it was better to use them to charge a backup battery or power bank with through charging capabilities and then use that battery to charge our devices while it was charging via the solar panel.
We attempted to test some of the chargers while hiking but found that even though companies place attachment points on the solar chargers to attach them to backpacks, they didn’t perform well in real-world testing that way. We’ll explain why in another section.
We found that the digital USB tester wasn’t as applicable to the Goal Zero and BioLite contenders. This is because we couldn’t connect the digital USB tester to the higher wattage power cord of the Goal Zero, and the BioLite’s solar charge controller and portable battery power bank can provide a more conditioned stream of power from the battery.
When looking for a good solar charger, there are many things to consider. First and foremost, you’ll want to determine what you’ll use it for as well as how many devices it will power. Secondly, consider how long you’ll be in the backcountry and how much energy storage and battery capacity you want to carry.
We looked at a wide range of solar chargers and, in some cases, energy storage units (aka batteries). We also came up with some different conclusions than other review sites based on our knowledge and our anticipation of how you’ll actually be able to use a solar charger in the field.
For instance, unlike many other reviews and ‘best of’ lists we evaluated, we firmly recommend using solar chargers with backup batteries. Many high-end electronics like smartphones and tablets require a steady, regulated, or conditioned stream of electricity to charge. It helps limit the amount of damage that a surge or dip in solar power can do to the sensitive electronics inside the device.
Efficiency and power output
Efficiency and power output are two separate, but related, things. Efficiency refers to the efficiency of the solar cells in a panel and also the panel itself. The solar cells in the panel have a higher efficiency than the overall panel as some of the energy they capture is lost in transmitting energy through the wires and electronics of the solar panel. The most efficient commercial solar cells are around 24 percent efficient. A solar panel or charger, however will likely be in the range of 18 to 21 percent efficient.
Power output is measured in terms of wattage or how many watts of energy a solar panel can output. The more efficient a solar panel is means it can output more watts and amps from a smaller area. For charging devices you’ll want a solar panel that’s capable of producing at least 5 watts, however many highly portable solar panels produce up to 28 watts of charging power in ideal conditions. Higher wattages do equal more charging power—however, since most of these solar panels still use USB-A style plugs, they can only produce 2.4 amps of current through those plugs.
Portability and size
The smallest outdoor solar panels we evaluated are 5 watts. These are about the size of a medium tablet, like the BioLite SolarPanel 5. and weigh less than a can of beer. They can produce enough power to slowly charge a smartphone or other device. At 8 inches by 9.75 inches, they’re easy to slip into a day pack.
The largest portable solar panel we tested was the 6 pound Goal Zero Nomad 50. which folds down to just over 17 inches long by 11 inches wide and is well over an inch thick at its thickest parts, making it hard to fit in most backpacks. When set up it folds out to 53 inches wide. It was also the most powerful solar panel we tested and is capable of charging a battery that can charge laptops.
Durability and weather resistance
While these panels will last for years and even decades with proper care, they’re not designed to be left out in the elements like a permanent installation. They are encased in abrasion-resistant fabrics and plastics and are foldable.
The solar cells are encased in impact-resistant plastic and the units usually have an IPX4 water-resistant rating, meaning they can handle water splashes but not much more than that. That shouldn’t be a surprise since the majority of portable solar panels have standard USB-A ports with no waterproof cover.
The majority of the solar panels tested don’t have batteries. The BioLite SolarPanel 5 and BioLite SolarPanel 10 have 3,200 mAh batteries. That’s enough to charge an iPhone 13 or 14 one time. You can also pre-charge these batteries before you leave and use them to charge a device while it’s in your pack or at night and recharge the battery with the sun.
Direct solar charging speed
If the solar panel is optimally placed in full sun it should be able to produce its maximum wattage rating. In these cases, a panel like the Anker 21 Watt PowerPort Solar Charger should be able to provide enough energy to charge 2 USB devices simultaneously at 2.4 amps, the same as many 12-Volt USB adapters used in cars.
Multiple device solar charging speed
In ideal, full-sun conditions a 20 or more watt solar charger with two (or more) USB ports should be able to charge multiple devices at up to 2.4 amps like most 12-Volt USB adapters used in cars. A more powerful panel should be able to charge more, but the device has to be able to handle higher charging amperages like those that use USB-C connections.
Additional features and accessories
The majority of portable solar panels for camping are pretty minimal in terms of features. Most consist primarily of the panel and USB ports. Additional features include a for cables, grommets or loops to attach the panels to a pack or tent, and on some, stands to help keep the panel upright and at the right angle. A few, like the BioLite panels, have integrated batteries and they also have a little sundial that helps users properly orient the panel so that optimum sun hits the solar cells.
When it comes to accessories, there are two main accessories you can use with the solar panels, cords and batteries.
We highly recommend using these with a backup battery rather than plugging a Smart device directly to them. Some Smart devices limit the speed at which the devices can charge when dealing with a variable power source, like a solar panel. Backup batteries, however, can better harvest the variable currents flowing from a solar panel.
Price and value for money
The price of basic solar panels isn’t very high, about 67 for our Best Overall pick, the Big Blue 28W USB Solar Charger. If you have an existing backup battery and know you’ll be camping out for days and need extra power for your electronics when camp is set up, it’s a decent investment. If you’re hoping it’ll power your devices while strapped to the outside of your pack and hiking, you’ll be displeased. Despite advertising photos, even in sunny Colorado where we tested all the devices, these panels weren’t great at delivering power consistent enough to charge devices while hiking with them on a pack.
Integrated Battery or Power Bank
Unlike many other reviews and ‘best of’ lists we evaluated, we firmly recommend using solar chargers with backup batteries. Many high-end electronics like smartphones and tablets require a steady, regulated, or conditioned stream of electricity to charge. It helps limit the amount of damage that a surge or dip in solar power can do to the sensitive electronics inside the device.
In addition, carrying a pre-charged backup battery or power bank and a way to easily charge all your devices when you’re in town or your vehicle can reduce the amount of charging you’ll need to do on the trail. Pre-charging or recharging a backup battery or power bank via the wall or your vehicle will almost always be faster than charging via a solar panel.
The other two models we evaluated cost more. The BioLite, which is only a 10 watt solar panel, retails for 150. However, it’s also the only solar charger we tested with an integrated battery (sometimes called a portable solar power bank). It also has a kickstand, and a unique but simple mechanism called the Optimal Sun System, which helps orient the charger to get the maximum amount of sunlight available. It’s also unique in that it’s encased entirely in plastic.
The Goal Zero Nomad 50 Solar Panel. our winner for Best Solar Charger for camping (see review above) had the highest wattage of any unit we tested at 50 watts and was the most expensive unit we tested at 250. It was also the largest and heaviest, but it is the only one that can provide a charge at a higher wattage and voltage.
With panels this small, when the skies are gray, don’t expect much power output. The 50 watt, Goal Zero Nomad 50 should still produce enough energy to trickle-charge a smartphone but smaller panels will slow down to producing very small amounts of power, suitable only for trickle charging a backup battery.
Introduction: Bicycle Cell Phone Charger (Wind Turbine With Build in Battery)
About: Hi, I’m Tamas. I like to build all kinds of electronic gadgets, hope you’ll like my ideas. I’m not so active on the site these days, so sorry for the late replies. (Oh, and sorry for my broken English in these… About Imetomi »
I go very often to cycle in the nature where is no electricity, and during a long bike tour my phone usually discharges. These smartphones have a large capacity but its consumption is big too. I made a few weeks ago another bike turbine for the Bicycle Contest, but I think I can make a better one. So created an all in one wind turbine power bank.
I like to combine cycling with electronics (these are my favorite hobbies) so that’s why I create so much bike gadgets now for the Bike Contest.
This project requires basic soldering experience and some patience.
The price of a device like this is very high on the eBay, 112 bucks. Click here if you want to see. OK, my one can’t light and isn’t so Smart but this price on the eBay is ultrahigh.
The gadget was made from scrap parts and from very cheap circuit parts. Now go gather materials!
Step 1: Gathering Tools and Materials
Tools Soldering Iron Glue Gun Wire Stripper and Cutter Electrical Tape
Materials an old CPU fan toroidal inductor 2N2222 or 2N3904 or BC547 transistor 5v step-up module, (boought on eBay) germanioum diodes (5 pieces) a small perfboard an old phone battery or a 18650 cell and a small switch bike support element
And that’s all. The fan generates AC current that we’ll convert to dc current to charge up the battery via a Joule Thief circuit.The Joule Thief gives enough voltage boost for the build in Lithium ion battery. I don’t use a charger circuit, because this current isn’t enough to damage the battery.
Step 2: AC to DC
First take off the propeller, because we need to find two pins that gives the highest AC voltage. You can see three pins inside the fan. Solder to each one wire then check with a multimeter (in AC mode) that which two gives the best voltage. Remove the third wire that is unusable.
Put back the propeller, and create a diode bridge just like on the images. Connect this to your compter fan. Now the gadget could generate 4 volts and 60mA, that’s almost enough for charging the li-ion battery. But using a joule thief we can get a very cool voltage for our battery.
Step 3: Joule Thief
This step is pretty easy. Simply solder together the well-known Joule Thief circuit. If you’re done connect it to the DC output of the CPU fan.
On the diagramm the 1.5v single battery means the CPU fan. And the LED means the battery.
Step 4: The Charger Unit
Hook up your battery and connect it to the 5v step-up module. Place between these a power switch. Connect this thing too to the Joule Thief’s output. Now the circuit is done and device can be used, but we’ll need to make them nicer.
Step 5: Glue!
Get your glue gun and fix everything on the CPU fan’s sides.
Step 6: Waterproofig
Using some electrical tape waterproof the system. It isn’t the best solution but do his job.
Step 7: Testing
The pictrure qualty is not the best but on the third picture you can see that it works. If works for you too go and put on your bike.
Step 8: Setting Up to the Bike
Get a bike support element and glue oon the top of the device. Now you’re done.
Step 9: Have a Good Bike Ride!
If everything works just enjoy the free energy of your bike. I hope you liked and if you want give a vote for me! Thanks for watching :).
Person Made This Project!
Did you make this project? Share it with us!
0 Комментарии и мнения владельцев
fan producing 0,6 amperes? normally they produce 0,2 and even 0,6 its a very poor ratio of chargingyou wire only two lines to the diode bridge it could be more efficent wirig with 9 diodes the three lines.good work otherwise.
I have a question about the Step 3, the Joule-Thief-Circuit. In the schematic there is an resistor, wich i can not see you solder in the pictures. Instead it seems like you are soldering a diode in there, wich i don’t see on the schematic. I am a bit confused by that. Can you explain that?
Hey, I think is such a great idea! I would to do this project myself. Could you please give me some more information on the model of the 5V step up module? I actually haven’t used one of them before so I’m not to sure which one I should buy. Thanks!
can you give me link of 5v step-up module. I need to buy it.
VERY VERY COOL AND SO MUCH EDUCATIONAL FOR BIKERS.
I’d like to see it adapted to use a window fan mounted on the back rack. Power my TV as I ride. Alright!
I hear all the professionals in the Комментарии и мнения владельцев who are going on about their engineering things and that’s fine but dude for a 16 year old this is pretty cool.sounds like a fun project!
For a 14 year old this is cool!
Can we use this without attaching a mobile bateery I mean simply using USB port instead of the battery??
I would imagine, but without the battery you would probably not be able to keep a charge stored.
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org could you possibly email me we have a coupke questions including what you used to attach the fan to the bike?
I believe he used an old bike bell mount.
approximately how long does it take to charge?
Love the idea! You know what you personally need to advance in, and you do so. Naysayers are just parasites addicted to stagnancy, rather than the naked joy of experimentation! You know, there is a platform that supports those like you and I Tamas. It believes Creators have not been paid their worth near enough over the past centuries, so it allows their fans to do it for them. If you’re interested, give me a ring why don’t ya? They pay us to tell like-minded individuals like yourself about it. Keep on creating bud!
0W Power Solar Multi Function Charging Pole with Sun Tracking System For E-Bike charge
800W Power Solar Multi-Function Charging Pole with Sun Tracking System For E-Bike Charge
SUN TRACKING SOLAR SYTEM ADVANTAGE:
this product sun tracking system design of solar power supply system. it gathers solar power generation, energy storage, inverter, tracking control in one which can be used to supply long-term power for small and medium-size electrical equipments in scenic sites, park, villages, barracks, outposts, communications base stations and other places.
SUN TRACKING SOLAR SYSTEM POLE FEATURE:
In addition to the traditional distributed solar power station of safe, reliable, long life, no energy consumption, no pollution etc, they also have the follow characteristics:
novel and beautiful model,use Sun tracking bionic design, combined with color matching, and the use of new manufacturing process, so that product is complete different from the traditional PV power plant of blunt, make it easy for the photovoltaic power station to join the public life;
High power generation efficiency use flexible monocrystalline silicon solar panel, the conversion rate is up to 25%, with Smart tracking function, the power generation efficiency is 40% higher than the traditional glass encapsulation solar PV system;
small occupancy. as a result of the tree structure, the entired product covers an area of less than 1 square meter, circularsolar leaves provide shadow for the publilc to rest;
easy installation. as the main rod integrate cabinet, battery cabinet, solar bracket, the number of product components are greatly reduced, the entire product only need an installation base, greatly reducing the installation workload;
on grid solar system expansion. if need, it can be designed to be on grid power generation and directly join to the grid, to achieve a larger power supply appliations, you can also include the romote monitoring function, to achieve intelligent operational management network.
|Flexible solar panels
|Solar panel type
|800w flexible solar panel with tracking
|LED light power
|Dimension and Weight
|Vertical single axis, leaning type time control
|/- 90 degree(Automotive)
|Pitch angle range
|0 degree to 45 degrees (four levels upon installation)
|-20 degree to 60 degree
|It can withstand salt corrosion in the coastal area.
Knog PWR Solar folds up 10W of photovoltaic charging power as small as an iPhone
Knog’s portable PWR bikepacking power lineup goes self-sufficient with an ultra-compact new folding PWR Solar panel setup to recharge your adventures. Packing 10W of charging power that folds down almost as small as an iPhone Max, the new Knog PWR Solar could reshape how you keep all your electronic gadgets charged on multi-day bikepacking and adventure gravel bike rides…
Knog PWR Solar 10W ultra-portable photovoltaic panel
Knog’s PWR lineup got off to a rocky crowdfunding start several years ago, but has steadily evolved into a wide-ranging modular lineup of interchangeable PWR bank battery packs, on off the bike lights, wireless speaker, and even a camp lantern they say is great for bikepacking. But all of those existing PWR systems relied on pre-charging batteries at home before the start of your adventure. Now, the new folding Solar 10W PV panels – which Knog previewed in their ‘In The Wild‘ feature on YouTube last summer – will power your gadgets on the go…
The Knog PWR Solar 10W is a compact folding set of four Sunpower Maxeon GEN 5 monocrystalline photovoltaic panels, with a built-in solar charge controller outputting a max 10Wp at 5V via a single USB port – an estimated 2A. Pair it with a power bank battery to store power for later, or charge your electronic device directly. But the folding PWR Solar 10W isn’t meant to charge while you ride. The entire 5-part solar power setup is held together in a durable, rubberized case that accordion folds compactly for travel, and weighs a claimed 450g. When closed it measures just 167mm tall x 97mm wide (compare that to a 161 x 78mm iPhone 12/13 Pro Max, or a 127 x 72mm regular iPhone), and is 35mm thick. Extended out to harvest the energy of the sun, the Knog PWR Solar 10W measures 540mm long x 175mm tall. Magnets inside the case keep it close, but also make it easy to stick the panels to a large metal object when positioning it to catch the best rays of sun. Or hang the solar panels from the built-in D-ring, or simply lean it against a larger object facing the sun. A set of 4 LEDs indicates good capture of solar energy to aid setup, and to show how fast it is charging your connected device.
I have to admit that I’d love to try it out. But at the same time, I’d really want to strap it on top of a big bikepacking saddlebag to see if it would survive charging as I ride, and not just waiting for camp at the end of the day.
Knog PWR Solar 10W – Pricing availability
The new Knog PWR Solar 10W foldable photovoltaic panel set will sell for a relatively reasonable 100 / 115€. That’s about the same price as you’d pay for a similar output mobile 10Wp PV panel from other trusted companies like Biolite or GoalZero. You can surely find a cheaper folding solar charger on Amazon. But Knog’s solution looks to be much more compact and claims to use more efficient photovoltaic cells than pretty much any other comparable setup we’ve seen. The trick, you can’t buy it just yet. We’ve spotted the PWR Solar panel in a couple of online shops where you can preorder it now. But real availability online from Kong and their official retailers is expected in about one month’s time, in early March 2022. Knog.com