Portable solar panel and power bank compatibility
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Portable solar panel and power bank compatibility

This is a discussion on Portable solar panel and power bank compatibility within the Alternative Energy (Wind, Solar, Hydro etc) forums, part of the Off-Grid Lifestyle category; Hey all-- I learned the hard way that not all portable solar panels will charge all power banks. (Hard way *not* when the power was ...

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Thread: Portable solar panel and power bank compatibility

  1. #1
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    Portable solar panel and power bank compatibility

    Hey all--

    I learned the hard way that not all portable solar panels will charge all power banks. (Hard way *not* when the power was out! It was a failed test run of the solar panel and a particular power station... I learned!)

    I am looking to buy my daughter a RavPower solar panel & power bank. I have their 4-panel portable panel (24W) + their 32,000mAh bank (121.6Wh), and as a component of all the other stuff I have to run stuff, it has its place and I like it very much. But it's too much for what my daughter needs, both in terms of $$ and size. So I'm looking at this [USB C Portable Charger 20100mAh PD 3.0 45W Power Bank. I am not allowed to post links yet, sorry!] + this [Ravpower 16W Dual USB Solar Panel].

    The folks at RavPower have been pretty helpful. They offered three suggestions for the power bank, given what sort of phone she has (Google Pixel 2).

    But I could use independent confirmation that this combination will work-- and maybe a bit of explanation as to why or why not.

    Daughter lives Downest Carolina and is a veteran of hurricanes and power outages, but she's also cash-strapped. We all know what the weather is like after a hurricane-- bright and sunny! She needs just enough juice to keep her phone and a rechargeable lantern going.

    Thanks!
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  2. #2
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    If all your daughter needs is to keep her phone charged and a rechargeable lantern powered up I'd recommend a Crank Powered Weather Radio and a Crank Powered Lantern.

    I've had a couple of Kaito radios that have gotten us through some power outages and some hand crank lanterns. But my favorites are the old fashioned lamps powered by good old fossil fuel! OIL! Make sure you got wicks and they never fail.
    Portable solar panel and power bank compatibility-img_1351.jpg

    Portable solar panel and power bank compatibility-img_1352.jpg

    We keep one of these in every room


    https://kaito.us/ka001.html
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  3. #3
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    I have 4 car batteries I keep charged and several inverters for whatever need I have at the time. Running several LED
    lights or even those curly florescent bulbs I have run all night just off one battery several times. I would imagine it would charge a
    phone as well. I only fire up generator for longer outages.

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  5. #4
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    Thanks! I myself have a Kaito and like the functionality (though NiMH battery isn't what it used to be). Still, knowing her situation, I think the set up I'm envisioning would work a little better for her. Though a crank lantern *would* come in handy. I'm trying to help her build up piece by piece so that may be #3 on the list.

    Love those oil lanterns. Only have one. Think I'll keep an eye out at the junk stores.

  6. #5
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    Have you explored the idea of a solar powered radio? We have one that also has a wind up hand crank..in addition to a solar powered lantern which I think some come with a built in phone charger.
    https://www.amazon.com/American-Emer...gateway&sr=8-7

  7. #6
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    Big Wheel-- in God's Country where my in-laws live! Maybe I should provide a bit more info about why I'm keen to get a portable panel and power bank for my daughter. In the last few months she and our grandson have moved back to eastern NC which is where she was born & raised. So she knows all about hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. Plenty of experience but that experience was with a family. We're now in the great state of Mississippi. If & when-- oh, who am I kidding, NC & hurricanes. When. When she will eventually lose power, I want to make sure she can call me. Or call whomever she needs to call. So, I'm not a hard core survivalist to the extent what we here on our farm in Mississippi are not off grid (working on it) but I have a pretty sweet set up in terms of what happens when the power goes out. (I have 16 different ways to boil water for coffee and only six rely on electricity.) Also, as I mentioned, she's cash strapped meaning she lives within her means but not beyond.

    I asked her the other day how ready she was for hurricane season and I kid you not, she said she had a flashlight but no batteries. That got fixed in a hurry. Grandson even got his own flashlight!

    My long-term strategy regarding preparedness is to be able to go from normal to without-power normal as quickly and efficiently as possible (hence, being able to make morning coffee with boiling water). So I'm looking at our set up, and thinking about her particular circumstances, and asking myself what does she need first, then second, then ... in order to have a normal life with a toddler when the power goes out.

    I've got a list of a couple apps she needs to load on her phone, and weather-related twitter accounts to follow, all for in advance of severe weather so she can get her bread & milk before the crowd!! She now has flashlights.

    What does she need next? A way to keep her phone charged so she can still use these apps and call family. AND probably for her friends and neighbors to keep theirs charged as well.

    Weather radios are great-- I do like my Kaito!-- but the output generated by the solar panel on my Voyager Pro is not enough to pick up shortwave radio, at least in my experience. I doubt it's enough to charge a phone is any reasonable length of time when the sun is shining. So while it would be good for everyone to have a weather radio, it doesn't fill this particular problem space.

    A power bank does. Fully charged, even a smallish one on the order of 20,000mAh w/ just a couple of ports (compatible with her phone) would last pretty much through any weather event that she'd likely to experience where she lives. Again, I'm assuming there's some sharing going on but eventually the sun comes out even though the power may not yet be on. (For what it's worth, we were in NC when Fran came through.) A small portable solar panel fixes that problem. Charge the bank up, and you're back up to speed in no time. (My 24W panel charges a 32,00mAh bank from <2bars to full in 3 hrs.)

    I feel like the portable panel-bank set up, for her, would be the most efficient way to go.

    What I cannot figure out is how to know if a panel produces enough electricity to charge a power bank of any given capacity. I know my 24W panel cannot charge my Jackery 160 (11.6Ah) bank. Some companies do a really good job of providing this information. Jackery tells you straight up front that you need a 50W panel to charge their 160 power station. But they only sell 50 & 100W sized solar panels which are way too much for what little she needs. (Though I'm getting one!!)

    Since I've had experience with RavPower, I thought I'd go with them. But customer service doesn't speak English too well and I'd like to learn how to figure this out for myself, anyway!

    If anyone has had good experience with other makers of both banks and panels of the sizes I need, please let me know.

    So there you have it! I'll be sending her a butane burner next month so she can have coffee!!
    bigwheel likes this.

  8. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marica View Post
    ........ So I'm looking at this [USB C Portable Charger 20100mAh PD 3.0 45W Power Bank. ...... + this [Ravpower 16W Dual USB Solar Panel].
    ........
    These?

    They should work together just fine. Even though the solar panel probably outputs 16-18volts, it will be dropped down to 5v for the USB output to charge the battery bank.

    It may take several days to charge a completely dead bank with that small of a panel, however.

    The reason Jackery doesn't play well with solar is they're typically 12-30v input instead of 5, so a solar panel charger won't charge much in the shade or under the clouds when the output drops to less than 13 volts.

    Plus, the more mAh (or watts) the battery bank stores, the longer it takes to recharge it. If you're going to use one for emergencies, it requires a bit of maintenance to drag 'em out once in a while and top it off. Otherwise, it'll self-discharge and not have much capacity in 2-3 years when you really need it.
    Last edited by Back Pack Hack; 05-05-2019 at 02:21 PM.
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  9. #8
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    Yes. Those are the ones. I was unable to link b/c I've not posted enough.

    Thanks for that! One key thing I'll remind my daughter of is that she needs to become familiar with both, and use them when the power is ON! Might as well not have them if they sit in the closet.

    Thanks again!
    bigwheel likes this.

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marica View Post
    Big Wheel-- in God's Country where my in-laws live! Maybe I should provide a bit more info about why I'm keen to get a portable panel and power bank for my daughter. In the last few months she and our grandson have moved back to eastern NC which is where she was born & raised. So she knows all about hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. Plenty of experience but that experience was with a family. We're now in the great state of Mississippi. If & when-- oh, who am I kidding, NC & hurricanes. When. When she will eventually lose power, I want to make sure she can call me. Or call whomever she needs to call. So, I'm not a hard core survivalist to the extent what we here on our farm in Mississippi are not off grid (working on it) but I have a pretty sweet set up in terms of what happens when the power goes out. (I have 16 different ways to boil water for coffee and only six rely on electricity.) Also, as I mentioned, she's cash strapped meaning she lives within her means but not beyond.

    I asked her the other day how ready she was for hurricane season and I kid you not, she said she had a flashlight but no batteries. That got fixed in a hurry. Grandson even got his own flashlight!

    My long-term strategy regarding preparedness is to be able to go from normal to without-power normal as quickly and efficiently as possible (hence, being able to make morning coffee with boiling water). So I'm looking at our set up, and thinking about her particular circumstances, and asking myself what does she need first, then second, then ... in order to have a normal life with a toddler when the power goes out.

    I've got a list of a couple apps she needs to load on her phone, and weather-related twitter accounts to follow, all for in advance of severe weather so she can get her bread & milk before the crowd!! She now has flashlights.

    What does she need next? A way to keep her phone charged so she can still use these apps and call family. AND probably for her friends and neighbors to keep theirs charged as well.

    Weather radios are great-- I do like my Kaito!-- but the output generated by the solar panel on my Voyager Pro is not enough to pick up shortwave radio, at least in my experience. I doubt it's enough to charge a phone is any reasonable length of time when the sun is shining. So while it would be good for everyone to have a weather radio, it doesn't fill this particular problem space.

    A power bank does. Fully charged, even a smallish one on the order of 20,000mAh w/ just a couple of ports (compatible with her phone) would last pretty much through any weather event that she'd likely to experience where she lives. Again, I'm assuming there's some sharing going on but eventually the sun comes out even though the power may not yet be on. (For what it's worth, we were in NC when Fran came through.) A small portable solar panel fixes that problem. Charge the bank up, and you're back up to speed in no time. (My 24W panel charges a 32,00mAh bank from <2bars to full in 3 hrs.)

    I feel like the portable panel-bank set up, for her, would be the most efficient way to go.

    What I cannot figure out is how to know if a panel produces enough electricity to charge a power bank of any given capacity. I know my 24W panel cannot charge my Jackery 160 (11.6Ah) bank. Some companies do a really good job of providing this information. Jackery tells you straight up front that you need a 50W panel to charge their 160 power station. But they only sell 50 & 100W sized solar panels which are way too much for what little she needs. (Though I'm getting one!!)

    Since I've had experience with RavPower, I thought I'd go with them. But customer service doesn't speak English too well and I'd like to learn how to figure this out for myself, anyway!

    If anyone has had good experience with other makers of both banks and panels of the sizes I need, please let me know.

    So there you have it! I'll be sending her a butane burner next month so she can have coffee!!
    Gotcha. Little propane camp stove would be great on that. I have a cheap inverter that can cook a pot of Mr. Coffee running an extension cord from the car battery. Havent had to use it for that yet..but it can also run a few lights for a long time...which I have used in a few powerr outtages.

  11. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marica View Post
    Hey all--

    I learned the hard way that not all portable solar panels will charge all power banks. (Hard way *not* when the power was out! It was a failed test run of the solar panel and a particular power station... I learned!)

    I am looking to buy my daughter a RavPower solar panel & power bank. I have their 4-panel portable panel (24W) + their 32,000mAh bank (121.6Wh), and as a component of all the other stuff I have to run stuff, it has its place and I like it very much. But it's too much for what my daughter needs, both in terms of $$ and size. So I'm looking at this [USB C Portable Charger 20100mAh PD 3.0 45W Power Bank. I am not allowed to post links yet, sorry!] + this [Ravpower 16W Dual USB Solar Panel].

    The folks at RavPower have been pretty helpful. They offered three suggestions for the power bank, given what sort of phone she has (Google Pixel 2).

    But I could use independent confirmation that this combination will work-- and maybe a bit of explanation as to why or why not.

    Daughter lives Downest Carolina and is a veteran of hurricanes and power outages, but she's also cash-strapped. We all know what the weather is like after a hurricane-- bright and sunny! She needs just enough juice to keep her phone and a rechargeable lantern going.

    Thanks!
    Tell you what, budgetprepper is your guy...hope I got the moniker right?

    In the end you need to align your power.... Voltage output of panel...voltage range of your controller, voltage and amp hour rating of your batteries. You don't mix amp hour batteries. Think of lectricity like you would water pressure....it always seeks to even out...so a 120 amp hour battery and a 200 amp hour batter will try to even out and over pressure your lower pressure battery.
    voltage is easier...you find what your charging voltage is for your batteries and match that up to your controller and get panels that support that voltage.

 

 
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