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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

Solar - Alt Energy on the road
PJ Heller, Photographer
Santa Barbara | CA | USA | Posted: 10:08 PM on 09.09.10
->> Anybody have any experience using solar power while on the road to charge a MacBook Pro, cell phone, sat phone or Nikon EL-EN4 batteries? Not so interested in an inverter for the car or a generator.

The Brunton Solaris 26 or SolarRoll 14 look like they could be ideal panels (small and fairly lightweight) but the stumbling block seems to be a way to charge Nikon batteries and the MacBook.

This charger
http://tinyurl.com/29bbs4d might work with the Nikon . . . anybody have any experience with it? For the Mac, I've been told that this http://tinyurl.com/33r9mvf will work (or maybe the charger on the OWC site here http://tinyurl.com/2dkcjqz).

So anybody been out in the wild, away from civilization and had to find an alternative energy source (or maybe some of you live off the grid).

Any ideas/advise/suggestions welcomed.
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Perry Knotts, Assistant, Photographer
Saint Augustine | FL | United States | Posted: 11:18 PM on 09.09.10
->> I just made a video for a company called Solar Stik. They make portable Solar Power generators and other products that would work well in the field.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrT5Fgeeyrg

or

http://www.solarstik.com

They have a ton of information on their website that you could research.
 This post is:  Informative (1) | Funny (0) | Huh? (0) | Off Topic (0) | Inappropriate (0) |   Definitions

PJ Heller, Photographer
Santa Barbara | CA | USA | Posted: 11:37 PM on 09.09.10
->> Perry:

Not exactly as portable like a Brunton:
http://www.brunton.com/product.php?id=256
 This post is:  Informative (1) | Funny (0) | Huh? (0) | Off Topic (0) | Inappropriate (0) |   Definitions

Phil Hawkins, Photographer
Fresno | ca | usa | Posted: 11:46 PM on 09.09.10
->> For my backcountry photo workshop, where we operate in the national park, we're looking at the products from Powerenz. Remote solar power is not cheap, at least not initially, but we cannot run gas generators in the wilderness, so one of the following systems will be what we will have to get. You can spend anywhere from $350 to $5500 on this stuff...

This unit is geared specifically for photography... although they don't explain specifically why, but for recharging camera batteries it's probably a good unit.
http://www.powerenz.com/store/index.php?_a=viewProd&productId=160

These are the units they say are good for laptop battery recharge.
http://www.powerenz.com/store/index.php?_a=viewCat&catId=28

If you're going to be shooting in remote locations a lot, then this all makes sense, but otherwise, the cost is a bit steep. I cannot find anyone who rents this equipment... if someone knows of anyone renting these systems, let me know.
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Tom Story, Photographer
Tempe | AZ | USA | Posted: 12:57 AM on 09.10.10
->> You might want to look around on lightstalkers.org and see if there is some info there.
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PJ Heller, Photographer
Santa Barbara | CA | USA | Posted: 3:05 AM on 09.10.10
->> Phil:

Here's a link to another unit that may be of interest to you (it was sent to me by another SS member).

http://www.xantrex.com/power-products/backup-power/xantrex-powerpack-600hd....


Tom: Been checking on Lightstalkers . . . posted a similar query there. Not much current info that I could find.
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Phil Hawkins, Photographer
Fresno | ca | usa | Posted: 4:42 AM on 09.10.10
->> PJ, yes, the Xantrex is a great unit. I had the 600 several years ago and it's a tremendous unit (it was stolen). Only thing is that it weighs a ton, and takes forever to recharge; see 35 hour recharge time from complete discharge, plugged into the wall. Just topping it off after minimal use took 6 to 7 hours. These units can't be recharged efficiently with a solar power array. But for one-time, one-day use as a power source for a laptop or to recharge DSLR batteries it's perfect. BTW, I got around four hours on my laptop off of it before it started chirping, indicating it's at 25% reserve. One thing I LOVED it for was to extend the life on my remote strobe power. I shot off the Xantrex until it drained, then went off the Vagabond strobe power; I could shoot all day it seemed!
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PJ Heller, Photographer
Santa Barbara | CA | USA | Posted: 4:44 PM on 09.13.10
->> Just a quick update after searching around and looking for solutions.

Although I wasn't keen on the inverter idea, I found this:

http://store.goal0.com/index.php?p=product&id=61

which although not cheap, pretty much does what I had in mind. I also got a pretty quick and thorough response from the company when I asked some questions about the unit.

Would love to hear from anyone who may have used this setup.

I'm still checking around to see what's out there.
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Joel Kowsky, Student/Intern, Photographer
Columbia/Morris | MO/IL | United States | Posted: 6:26 PM on 09.13.10
->> I used a few foldable solar panels from PowerFilm Solar a few years back on a hiking trip

http://www.powerfilmsolar.com/foldable-solar-chargers/foldable-products.php

They will charge any device that you can get a car power adapter for. They were small, lightweight and seemed quite durable. They even offer a Y-adapter so you can string two of the panels together for a greater charging capacity.

I got mine from a website called Sundance Solar -
http://store.sundancesolar.com/

They've got all kinds of solar stuff and would be a site worth checking out.
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Geoff Miller, Photographer
Portage | MI | USA | Posted: 6:32 PM on 09.13.10
->> Joel, when I was at the National Scout Jamboree in July the PowerFilm folks had a large display set up demo'ing their products. I was very impressed with their light weight, flexibility, and variety of models. I noticed that Amazon also carries their stuff.
 This post is:  Informative (1) | Funny (0) | Huh? (0) | Off Topic (0) | Inappropriate (0) |   Definitions

Rod Leland, Photographer
Lethbridge | AB | Canada | Posted: 1:35 AM on 09.14.10
->> PJ, I think the others have mentioned it indirectly, but it took me a while to wrap my head around the main problem- The biggest hurdle to overcome is the 12V one. You can't charge macbooks or nikon batteries from 5V. Many cheaper solar products offer 5V/USB output, and that doesnt help other than to charge your iPhone. There are two ways of getting over that hurdle.

1) Use a panel big enough panel and a voltage regulator that will actually pump 12V out (these panels are on the BIG/expensive side) (ex. Brunton Solarroll + SolarController)

2) Use a go-between in the form of a battery. Use a panel to charge a "donor" battery, and then the battery will put out a constant 12 (or 14.4 or even 18) volts to charge the higher draw devices. This eliminates the problem of clouds interrupting charging, and having to charge the battery straight. You can hang a panel off your backpack and tuck a battery inside to charge throughout the day.

The larger Brunton Solo's do this-
http://www.brunton.com/product.php?id=605

I've put together setups with the Tekkeon battery too (popular due to price)
http://www.tekkeon.com/products-mypowerall.html

If you have any other questions, feel free to email me.

Cheers.
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Geoff Miller, Photographer
Portage | MI | USA | Posted: 10:00 AM on 09.14.10
->> Rod, Not sure what you consider big and expensive, but PowerFilm offers a 15V, 10W small foldable solar unit Model F15-600 for ~$160
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Curtis Clegg, Photographer
Sycamore | IL | USA | Posted: 1:02 PM on 01.04.11
->> I just stumbled on this blog posting by Moose Peterson, who uses the SunWize Portable Energy System (PES) for his photo equipment recharging needs:
http://www.moosepeterson.com/blog/?p=7265
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Karsten Moran, Photographer, Photo Editor
New York | NY | United States of America | Posted: 2:50 PM on 01.04.11
->> http://herwigphoto.wordpress.com/2010/10/16/product-review-solar-charger-fo.../
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Thread Title: Solar - Alt Energy on the road
Thread Started By: PJ Heller
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