Anyone successfully using solar panels?

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1982john
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Anyone successfully using solar panels?

Postby 1982john » 16 Jun 2020, 12:37pm

Usually, when touring I'd take in a B&B every few days to recharge devices or if desperate I might charge stuff in a cafe/pub.

I'd like to get in a position where I can tour for a week almost completely self-reliant.

I don't have a dynamo hub and have no intention of going down that route at the moment. Powerbanks are fine for a few days but long term I'm thinking of a solar panel.

I tried them once 10 years ago and it was a bit of disaster but the tech has moved on since then so I'm looking for any recommendations.

whoof
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Re: Anyone successfully using colar panels?

Postby whoof » 16 Jun 2020, 1:10pm

1982john wrote:Usually, when touring I'd take in a B&B every few days to recharge devices or if desperate I might charge stuff in a cafe/pub.

I'd like to get in a position where I can tour for a week almost completely self-reliant.

I don't have a dynamo hub and have no intention of going down that route at the moment. Powerbanks are fine for a few days but long term I'm thinking of a solar panel.

I tried them once 10 years ago and it was a bit of disaster but the tech has moved on since then so I'm looking for any recommendations.

You might get more responses if you change the title from colar to solar. Also in sure this has been discussed on here before so a search might turn something up.

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NATURAL ANKLING
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Re: Anyone successfully using colar panels?

Postby NATURAL ANKLING » 16 Jun 2020, 1:20pm

Hi,
The last time I did a week long tour I took two 10 K power banks.
I managed to keep the satnav the mobile and lights topped up.
Mobiles are power hungry so don't leave them on all the time.
Front rechargeable lights lasted up to 12 hours each and I had two.
Rear non rechargeable lights last 30 hours and had two of those.
Headlight rechargeable 12 hours and a spare set of batteries, battery pack doubled as a power bank too.
NA Thinks Just End 2 End Return + Bivvy
You'll Still Find Me At The Top Of A Hill
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mercalia
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Re: Anyone successfully using colar panels?

Postby mercalia » 16 Jun 2020, 1:45pm

whoof wrote:
1982john wrote:Usually, when touring I'd take in a B&B every few days to recharge devices or if desperate I might charge stuff in a cafe/pub.

I'd like to get in a position where I can tour for a week almost completely self-reliant.

I don't have a dynamo hub and have no intention of going down that route at the moment. Powerbanks are fine for a few days but long term I'm thinking of a solar panel.

I tried them once 10 years ago and it was a bit of disaster but the tech has moved on since then so I'm looking for any recommendations.

You might get more responses if you change the title from colar to solar. Also in sure this has been discussed on here before so a search might turn something up.


maybe he just wants a mobile fridge?

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andrew_s
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Re: Anyone successfully using solar panels?

Postby andrew_s » 16 Jun 2020, 3:29pm

If you want to try solar panels, and not use mains at all, you will want fairly large panels - something with 3 or 4 A4-sized panels, rated at 20 watts or thereabouts.
They usually fold to A4 x an inch when not in use.

That 20 watts is south of Spain in mid summer, mid day sun, no clouds, and with the panels set out square on to the sun.
By the time you've allowed for UK, clouds, trees, trying to charge after the day's ride when the sun's getting low, or panels draped across the top of your panniers, you need everything you can get.
Having said which, it can work.

A reasonably sized powerbank would also be advisable, both to store extra on sunny days to tide you over the cloudy ones, and to allow you to grab a bit extra if you find a socket in a cafe.


(Dynohub user)

reohn2
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Re: Anyone successfully using solar panels?

Postby reohn2 » 16 Jun 2020, 3:35pm

I would've thought a couple of high capacity powerbanks would cover your needs for at least a week unless you're a very heavy electronics user.

This chap's done some serious adventure riding trying different methods and has settledmon powerbanks:- http://www.bikewanderer.com/on-the-road ... tery-packs
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1982john
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Re: Anyone successfully using solar panels?

Postby 1982john » 16 Jun 2020, 5:25pm

reohn2 wrote:I would've thought a couple of high capacity powerbanks would cover your needs for at least a week unless you're a very heavy electronics user.

This chap's done some serious adventure riding trying different methods and has settledmon powerbanks:- http://www.bikewanderer.com/on-the-road ... tery-packs


I am hoping to be able to use a laptop that charges from USB c whilst touring.

Thanks for the link though that has some good ideas.

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b1ke
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Re: Anyone successfully using solar panels?

Postby b1ke » 16 Jun 2020, 8:45pm

I've toured with solar panels for quite a few years. I use a folding 15w panel with 2 usb inputs. I've kept my phone and e-cig topped up for a good few days in decent weather.

However, I bought a power bank in France when I was there last year. I still used the panel, but it felt good to have the reserve power there when I needed it.
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Morzedec
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Re: Anyone successfully using solar panels?

Postby Morzedec » 17 Jun 2020, 11:46am

Without fail, every American cyclist that I find touring in France has one of these panels - but why, I have no idea.

I just don't get it: cycle touring is supposed to be easy out of the way fun, so leave all your gadgets behind, look around you to enjoy the landscape, and try to engage with the locals. Got lost? - no probs, keep going until you find a signpost, then ignore it and take the best looking road - who knows what you might find?

Ah, touring: happy days.
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RobinS
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Re: Anyone successfully using solar panels?

Postby RobinS » 17 Jun 2020, 1:01pm

From direct experience - we normally tour for three months each summer, camping, in Europe. We have a large screen smartphone each which we use for minimal communication, finding campsites and supermarkets, and photos. We use an "Anker" fold out solar panel, about 21w, which we connect to a powerbank while cycling attached on top of the rear panniers. This keeps us in power for the whole time, so with just one phone you would have no problems.

Things to bear in mind though:
On the bike it will not charge a phone direct, the power fluctuates too much, which is why we use a powerbank which is fine.
If we stop late afternoon and it is sunny, prop it up facing the sun, and it will then charge a phone direct.
Phone use must be sensible - real time navigation eats battery so we don't do it.
This is based on late spring/summer touring, at latitudes south of the Wash.
If you get three days of solid rain you will run low on power!

Hope this helps

hamster
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Re: Anyone successfully using solar panels?

Postby hamster » 17 Jun 2020, 1:14pm

I tried it, with little useful power output. As others have said, output is directly proportional to panel area. I gave up and switched to a hub dynamo. The extra 400g or so for the dyno is exactly the same as the Anker solar panel. The dyno has the big advantage of being able to provide power when riding, so handy if caught having to ride after dark.
Clearly if you tour in sunny areas and spend a lot of time stationary then a solar panel be more suitable for you.

Jdsk
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Re: Anyone successfully using solar panels?

Postby Jdsk » 17 Jun 2020, 1:35pm

1982john wrote:I don't have a dynamo hub and have no intention of going down that route at the moment. Powerbanks are fine for a few days but long term I'm thinking of a solar panel.

I think that everyone who has responded thinks that you're going to need at least one battery pack.

How many devices are you using, what's the capacity of your current battery pack and how many days does it last?

Jonathan

PS:

I fitted a B + M headlamp which offers USB charging off a dynamo hub. I rapidly discovered that the smart way to run that was with it charging a USB battery pack which charged everything else in the evening and overnight: Garmin Edge 1000 used turn by turn, two iPhones, Bluetooth headband, two Kindles. To my surprise the battery pack could easily recharge all of those for three days, and the modern equivalents would last longer. And we were usually stopping or staying somewhere with power well within three days...

The failure of two of those headlamps is another story.

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mjr
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Re: Anyone successfully using solar panels?

Postby mjr » 17 Jun 2020, 2:49pm

Morzedec wrote:cycle touring is supposed to be easy out of the way fun, so leave all your gadgets behind, look around you to enjoy the landscape, and try to engage with the locals. Got lost? - no probs, keep going until you find a signpost, then ignore it and take the best looking road - who knows what you might find?

Who appointed you the regulator of cycle touring?

Who knows what you might find? Maybe a motorway as the only way forwards and probably nowhere to sleep. Great fun(!)

And then you include a picture of some poor sap bent over an unwieldy paper map instead of letting gadgets handle that and spending the time freed up on looking around!
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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Morzedec
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Re: Anyone successfully using solar panels?

Postby Morzedec » 17 Jun 2020, 4:31pm

What's up, MJR, got your Y-fronts on backwards today?

That was all just a little bit heavy, unnecessary, and rather better suited to a different forum.

As for Mr Patterson's charming and nostalgic picture, I'm old enough to remember when everyone toured like that, history making us what we are today.

Happy days,
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mjr
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Re: Anyone successfully using solar panels?

Postby mjr » 17 Jun 2020, 5:47pm

Morzedec wrote:What's up, MJR, got your Y-fronts on backwards today?

And now unnecessary inaccurate personal attacks?(!)

Morzedec wrote:That was all just a little bit heavy, unnecessary, and rather better suited to a different forum.

That's pretty much how I felt about your previous, which felt like yet another in a long line (not all yours) of demotivational "you're doing it wrong" posts that infests online forums. If someone wants enough electronics on tour to need solar panels, good luck to them!

Morzedec wrote:As for Mr Patterson's charming and nostalgic picture, I'm old enough to remember when everyone toured like that, history making us what we are today.

I bet you not everyone toured looking like a white upper-class twit in plus-fours, even then. It's the diversity that's made us what we are today.
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
All the above is CC-By-SA and no other implied copyright license to Cycle magazine.