Today’s highly connected, social media age combined with an increased interest in the great outdoors means the demand for portable power solutions to recharge smartphones, tablets and iPads is growing. As we plan for our upcoming cycle tour, it seems timely to dive into the world of portable solar chargers. Truthfully, during past cycling vacations, we have spent more than our fair share of time trying to hunt down a free Wi-Fi signal and a power outlet in order to update a blog post or send a message to a loved one.
Plugs be gone – 2019 is the year we are embracing portable power!
Of course, in the world of technology, nothing is as straightforward as it seems. Understanding the power supply chain is the first step to deciding upon a smart and trusted power solution. Simply put, we need a power source (hopefully days of warm, sunny weather) to charge our portable battery (hopefully light weight with impressive storage capacity) in order to charge our electronic devices. (camera and iPad).
Naturally, the sun is the most commonly used off the grid power source and our best option for a long-distance cycle tour.
During our testing phase we reviewed a variety of solar chargers:
Panels only – some rigid, some quite flexible
Panels with integrated storage batteries
Panels with separate storage batteries
We quickly determined that best practice suggests using a solar panel to charge a battery pack vs. charging our electronic devices directly from a panel. This method offers enhanced protection for our devices. Of course, size and weight become key considerations, especially when contemplating long steep climbs and headwinds. Obviously, larger power packs have terrific storage capacity, capable of multiple charges, but one must ask, is the extra weight and size worth it? A balancing act to be sure.
Based on recommendations, and thoughtful research, we have decided to adopt the Hiluckey Portable Solar Charger. It promises 8 day’s worth of juice. Sadly, it doesn’t promise to power us through the Alps. Our legs will be required to do that!