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Discussion Starter #1
I am increasingly connected to the world by (for lack of a better analogy) an electrical umbilical...the battery charger. So my question is what to do about battery operated devices...going cold turkey doesn't seem to be an option, yet the power goes out and that's exactly what will happen. Solar panels? Or just enjoy it now and say adios when the power goes out. I can see it going either way.
 

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I am trying to reduce our dependance or want for electroincs in a real world SHTF (And in current life also). Honestly The more I think about it, most of these electronics are more of a cruch than they are worth. Now with that said they are nice but not a need. I am prepping to live without them. Call me crazy but I have less love for most Electronics everday, kinda ironic as I sell IT stuff for a living.......
 

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Most small handheld devices come with a car adapter and can be charged from a cigarette lighter. We went through an 8 day outage last summer, and that's how we charged our cells and laptops.

As sbasacco said, small solar panels designed for charging are cheap too.

I'm toying with the idea of getting a small inverter I can hook to my car's electrical system if I needed to. Another option is to have a deep cycle battery on hand for emergencies. In a pinch, this could be charged by switching it with the car's usual battery or just attaching it with jumper cables. Once charged, I would hook the inverter to the deep cycle battery. This would give me enough 120AC to charge lanterns and flashlights and whatever else needed charging, and could even run one of those electrical coolers.
 
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To elaborate on what Prepadoodle refers to, a fully charged deep cycle battery will also power a mobil HAM radio with moderate usage for nearly a month between charges according to a HAM club member I have been corresponding with as I make my plans for getting my ticket and my initial set up.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I have looked at some of the smaller solar chargers that are basically a battery pack/solar panel. They are either very expensive or relatively inexpensive and the reviews on amazon are such that they are either very good or they are very bad (bipolar reviewers?). So not much help there...

I'm on the bubble and would like something yet have held off on buying solar chargers until I can get some better input on what kind of performance I can expect to get.
 

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...reviews on amazon are such that they are either very good or they are very bad (bipolar reviewers?).
Seneca, that's just a reflection of basic human nature. Those motivated enough to take the time to review a product do so either because they hate it and want to warn other consumers or they love it and want that to be known. This is why smart companies ALWAYS try to exceed their customer's expectations. If you sell online, add a little unadvertised freebie to each order and you'll see what I mean.

For every positive or negative review, there are probably 1,000 satisfied (but not delighted) customers.

So don't take the fact that there are no "middle of the road" type reviews too seriously. These people simply aren't motivated (one way or the other) enough to post a review.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I have inverters and deep cycle batteries in the campers, and they do work and work well, it's a blessing. Couples with a Honda generator and I can stay out for quite a while or as long as the fuel for the generator and grub lasts. What I think I want is two portable units a small one for the bob and a somewhat larger one (still portable) that can be set up at home when the power goes out, for charging laptops phones etc. etc.

Honestly though I don't know enough about solar charging to make an informed decision as to what will or won't work...
 

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For your BOB, I would get something like this...

Opteka BP-SC6000

The built-in 6000 mAh battery is a nice bonus. You could find a way to attach it to the outside of your BOB to keep it charged, then use it to charge your other USB devices or just run them directly off the built-in battery.

Since you already have most of what you need in your camper, you might want to add something like this...

RV, Van, Marine Solar Kit With 140 Watts of DC Power and Low Voltage Disconnect

The kits are nice because they include all the extra bits n pieces to make the complete system. This company, Northeast Arizona Wind & Sun, has been around a long time and is well respected. They make kits like this in many different sizes, and are willing to talk to you to customize one to your exact needs. They also offer some of the lowest prices you will find on solar. Call them and see what they suggest: 800 383-0195
 

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I think for basic charging its hard to beat the Harbor Freight set up

Solar Panel Kit - Save on this 45 Watt Solar Panel Kit

Combined with the charge controller

7 Amp Solar Charge Regulator

This will serve any small scale system for charging anything and probably make you money bartering your recharging abilities.

I actually have 3 of these setups for barter SHTF, will be more profitable than booze or coffee imo
 

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Solar charging is more a question of budget than anything else. The bigger the panel, the more juice it makes, the more expensive it is. I myself am currently short on cash, but a little longer than most on practical knowlege and inginuity. Last month, a neighbor lady gave me a dozen or so solar powered yard lights. I promptly stripped them of thier solar panels and batteries (NiCad) and took a volt meter to each of the individual panels in direct sunlight. After doing a tiny bit of math, I soldered 11 of them together in-series and made a solar array that produces 25.8 volts to trickle-charge the batteries in my bobbed deuce BOV. The current array only pushes a hair under 2 amps which is not much at all. As I collect more yard lights/solar panels, I'll add a secondary panel wired paralell to each 1 of the original 11. This will keep the output voltage the same but boost the output amperage and charge the batteries faster. If you can operate a soldering iron or know someone who can, a simple schematic diagram will tell you how to put together a panel that will suit your needs. USB-style chargers are 5.5 volts and with the correct number of panels wired the right way, could be quite simple to rig up and more than adequate for most USB-charged devices.
My first impulse is to do a little net-research and look up the basics of in-series wiring for electrical devices. 1 AA battery is 1.5 volts, so 2 of them = 3 volts, etc. A basic volt/ohm meter from Harbor Frieght is about $8 and will tell you what any scavenged solar panel is producing in direct sunlight. With a little multiplication and enough individual panels, you can make a simple array of any voltage and amperage you may need. If needed, I can give more tips and tricks to make the operation a little smoother. Send me a PM if you need any tips and I'll be glad to help out any way I can.

Here's a quick pic of my improvised solar charger doublestick-taped to the roof of my truck. (they work better when you wipe off the bird turds, lol.)
 

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My solution is based on portability.
It consist of a
Brunton SOLARIS 52 CIGS (52 watt) Foldable Solar Panel
Brunton impel 145 watt/hour lithium ion batter. (portable power)

The Impel has a usb port that I can use to charge everything I need. All the following charges directly by USB port.
Iphone
Ipod
Petzl NAO Headlamp
extra Headlamp battery
PS-32 Flir



The glock 19 is there for relative size
I can charge the battery during the day and one charge of the battery will be able to charge all my other devices before needing recharge.
 
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