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-   -   best solar charger for cycle travel? (http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hubb/overland-bicycle-travel/best-solar-charger-cycle-travel-57075)

drewmillar 10 May 2011 11:11

best solar charger for cycle travel?
I think that the last thread on this is a bit out of date now. I need to be able to charge my smart phone (HTC Desire) every day while I'm travelling by bicycle and generally don't have access to mains electricity at night. Some version of Solio or Freeloader seems to be the answer. What is anybody else using?

Flyingdoctor 10 May 2011 13:52

I've been using one of these for a few years...

Silva Solar II 12v Charger

Works "OK" in northern Europe but "speedy" in the Mojave desert!

Ian Bradshaw 17 Sep 2011 23:09

When the sun shines................
For a ride in France this summer I took two;

1) 10W PowerFilm foldable F15-600. This cost around £125 including taxes (ordered from USA)

2) 5W Sunflex Monocrystalline semi-flexible panel. This cost around £20 from ebay (A fraction of the price of the Silva, similar performance, but better shape to strap on top of a pannier). N.B the 5W panels are not always listed, but are probably the best shape.

The PowerFilm performed poorly in less than direct overhead sun compared to the other panel and is well over twice the size - presumably the fully flexible/foldable technology is less efficient (weight is good though).

We couldn't charge every day, due to cloudy conditions (neither produced enough output to charge anything & PowerFilm say not to get it wet).

Even on sunny days, we struggled to get our Kindle, one basic GSM phone, SWradio, torch & back light batteries all charged. We plugged into mains whenever we could to supplement (most nights in campsites).

Next year I will charge an intermediate LiIon battery pack, to ensure we make the most of the solar panels, as some things like the kindle take only a little power, but take a long time to charge.


Titbird 18 Sep 2011 11:03

I used a Solio last year in West Africa and it was pretty useless, it took about 14 hours of direct sunlight and then it only was able to charge the mp3 and the phone once. We ended up charging the Solio in the mains and using it as a portable battery. My friend just threw it away. You will need a really big solar pannel or just go for a powerfull portable battery pack you charge every few days.

Glennn1234 18 Sep 2011 12:56

Here is my idea...........

I have a cigarette outlet on my KLR at handlebars, I have a tank bag, on top of tank bag is nice flat spot where I can put my netbook (or whatever) and this little 12 volt inverter, so when I am riding it will be charging. (use bungee cords to secure inv.and netbook) I have set everything up in my garage and all seem fine although I have not used setup on road.


Ian Bradshaw 18 Sep 2011 13:33


Originally Posted by Glennn1234 (Post 349442)
Here is my idea...........

I have a cigarette outlet on my KLR at handlebars...


:oops2:The clue is in the 'no motor' subtitle of the forum!

p.s. if your location is Red Bluff, Quobba Station, W. Aus., I'm very jealous!

pbekkerh 18 Sep 2011 17:40

If you only need to charge "off grid" once and again you could use the powerchimp or similar, which can have rechargeable batteries and be charged from the mains or use normal AA batteries.


PS: For solarcells, go for polycrystalline and not mono, as poly- are much more efficient even in overcast conditions.
Even if its less efficient, you could also bring a small 12-230Vac converter if you can't find a 12V charger for all of your equipment.

Glennn1234 18 Sep 2011 20:36


I did not pay attention to the bicycle reference.
(although in my defense............this is a motorcycle related site)

estebangc 20 Sep 2011 22:26

What about this?

Flexcell - Outdoor & Camping

mustaphapint 20 Sep 2011 22:59

I use a powermonkey kit. It has a small solar panel and the power monkey unit. The complete kit comes with various adapters to charge phones and other devices as well as the power monkey from either the solar panel, the power monkey or mains. If there's no sun or mains you've got a reserve by using the power monkey itself.

onlyMark 21 Sep 2011 05:13

Do any bikes still have the little dynamos that used to flick on to the wheel to run the lights?
Isn't that your own little electrical generator?

alpi 15 Dec 2011 20:48

dynamo front hub
You may want to look into installing a dynamo front hub, which would provide a probably more reliable source of electricity. These days they've evolved so much you won't even notice them (being powered by your muscles). Shimano front hubs seem to be affordable if you don't mind re-lacing your front wheel.

Fern 15 Dec 2011 22:31

this is getting better reviews than the powermokey freeloader things

Brunton Restore solar charger | GearWeAre.com

Warin 1 Nov 2012 00:08

Efficiency = less weight.
Not very efficient to charge one battery to charge another - you loose about half the power that way. Better to just charge the battery you want charged directly - rather than through a second battery.

The flexible solar panels are not as efficient as the solid panels.

I've purchased one of the Aldi panels - I'll rig up a switch mode power supply to charge the batteries I want charged directly ... I'll see how that goes

... Time factor for this would be May 2013 ... don't hold your breath beer

The dymo front hub ... expensive ... specialist item ... I think I would like a more universal system?

Genghis9021 1 Nov 2012 00:58

Solar charger . . . dynamo
There are excellent dynamos available which also provide other features like lights improving daytime visibility and making spirited descents in the dark entirely reasonable.

The dynamos won't be theft objects nor a PIA on bad roads and don't care if it's a cloudy day. A Solio or similar would cover "rest days" with almost no penalty.

This guy has been using this unit with great success and he has considerable bicycle touring experience.

The lack of secondary batteries, motley wiring really simplifies everything. For that there is a price - peace of mind. :)

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