Does anyone have experience of using solar panels for keeping their phone topped up? I’m looking for a small panel that can be clipped to a backpack or tent and used to charge a USB power bank that can then be used to charge a phone or tablet.
I bought a solar power bank from Lidl - it’s ok as a power bank but the solar aspect is worse than useless!
I had one a few years ago from the well known online site named after a jungle. About the same size as the phone so would fit with the backpack requirement. Claimed to have a 5000mah battery (didnt test it) but I would guess that might be an overstatement . It worked and did what it said on the tin for about £15 at the time. I wouldn’t say it was rapid at charging up with only the small panel, but if you’re out all day it should do the job.
Left it on a window sill for a year or two and the battery had swelled up so out it went.
A quick search brings up similar devices and larger ones with multiple fold out panels which might be more suitable for charging a tablet.
I have even done a multiday hike and charged my radio and all usb device only with solar power.
I used something like this panel: SBAOH 30W faltbares Solarpanel Solarmodul Solarzelle Solarladegerät USB 18V DC | eBay
So look for an 18V DC and a 5V USB output.
Either with a small DC-DC converter set to 14.4 V for a LiFePO4 cell or have a BMS that protects against overcharge.
So what I am suggesting is to use your radio battery as a huge powerbank to charge your phone. And recharge it with solar during breaks.
Carring on the backback I think will not work. But placing it in the direct sun fduring the activation and maybe 20- 30 min in addition toped up the battery.
Hve a look here. Lots of info.
The other option would be to look at what bikepackers are using… check this out for one idea, Anker PowerPort Solar Review - BIKEPACKING.com
I used for a long time 18w foldable solar panel, It comes with two USB charge ports. It was perfect for travels with no hotels or campings, to charge the phone, Garmin GPS, bike’s lights, etc.
For hamradio I used It to charge a USB charger for 18650 cells.
I use one of these. They are a bit dirty RF wise but cheap and it does charge the phone, or HT
I bought a ‘Ryno Tuff Dual USB 21W Foldable’ panel from Amazon in 2018 for $40 USD. I’ve seen the exact same panel under other brands - probably all come from the same factory in China. It has worked well to keep phones and camera batteries charged on many week long rafting and backpacking trips. I don’t think I have ever used it while operating a radio, so can’t speak to RFI issues that it might cause. Typically I would just leave it in camp and everyone on the trip would take turns charging stuff (it has 2 USB ports). You do have to keep an eye on it and move it around so that it’s pointing at the sun and not in a shadow, but it does put out the advertised 20W in full sunlight.
I have used it to charge my 3S 18650 packs using a cheap LiPo USB charger (also from Amazon). Works fine.
I tried a few panels years ago, but on my pack, they were never big enough, or never pointed the right way and always in the way.
In the evening when I stopped, the sun was pretty low and not much time for charging.
So I take a 3000 mah power bank and turn the phone off until I need it. Still old fashioned, so I don’t use the phone for logging or spotting or navigation. That way the phone only needs charged every 3 or 4 days.
Its been a few years since I was out doing multi-day hikes, so there’s probably better options out there now.
I bought a 20W FlexSolar panel from Amazon. I tried it out today and I’d say I’m pretty pleased with it. I took it on my activation of G/NP-032 and just laid it on the ground, plugged into my 10Ah USB power bank. The power bank has 4 LEDs to indicate the charge level. It took about an hour in sunshine to go up one LED. The sun went in and it continued to charge but didn’t go up the next level after about 2 more hours. When I got home I put it out on the patio table and it didn’t take long to complete. Obviously I have no idea how linear the LEDs are at indicating charge level but the solar panel seems to have done a good job.
Nice… were you using it during your activation? Notice any RFI from the charger?
It was plugged in to the power bank throughout the activation but I didn’t notice any RFI. I made sure it wasn’t too near my antenna. I might try some tests at home to see if there is any interference. It’s actually for my daughter to take to the World Scout Jamboree in South Korea so RFI was never a consideration.
I got the same type as the Anker - Aliexpress Sunpower charger. The internal battery and charger electonics was crap.
I removed the panels, trimmed them up a bit, and just take them.
They charge the 3x 18650 LiIon cells in my '817 directly (no switchmode) at > 1A.
I have zeners and a diode to clamp the max voltage.
Weight is only 184g
my brothers going to the WSJ as deputy contingent leader for the unit self called “the prime penguins”.
I think he took a 10,000mah power bank and a solar panel when he went to the USA WSJ. the power bank could be taken around site and recharge stuff and then could recharge it with the solar panel.
When I need solar capability I use a Powerfilm Lightsaver Max. I used it last FD to power my KX2 at 5 watts and I started with a nearly depleted battery. They have a smaller version that might be more appropriate for you. They are, however, expensive. And I have no idea what their shipping policies/rates might be.