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Keeping Your Devices Charged in the Field

I recently had a chance to try out the TinyCharger5, by roadiesolar.com.  The TinyCharger5 is a lightweight solar panel that has more surface area than a lot of other solar panels for travelers, and its very lightweight.  I used it in conjunction with a soundlogic XT power cell (battery pack), and the solar panel charged the battery pack, and the battery pack kept my cell phone charged for a multiday bike trip plus two weeks at home.

TinyCharger5

The TinyCharger5 is 8″ by 11.75″, with the solar cells mounted on a card that appears to be weather resistant if not weather proof.  The solar cells are covered by a plastic sheet which appears to be heat fused to the plastic card.  It is 0.10″ thick, about as thick as a credit card, and weighs 4.2 oz.The solar panels have eyelets at each corner which would be used to secure the TinyCharger5 to a backpack or bike, or to hang it from a nail.  I don’t see the TinyCharger5 on their website, but the Featherweight5 looks very similar and is $14.95.

I would get into camp on the bike ride in the early afternoon, set up my tent, and position the solar panel facing the sun.  It would get about 4-5 hours of direct sunlight, and put a fair charge on the power cell.  The power cell had enough juice to charge my cell phone twice.  When I got home, I kept up the charging routine for two weeks, and kept my phone charge for 2 weeks with no connection to wall current.  I was totally impressed with it.  See www.roadiesolar.com for ordering information on the TinyCharger5.  The bike ride provided phone charging services, for $5 per charge!  I got two charges per day for free.

The soundlogic XT power cell is also very cool.  I got it at Bed Bath and Beyond, and its available on Amazon.  It has 2 usb ports, and an input jack that goes to the solar panel with a usb plugin in the back of the solar panel.  The power cell has a power level display that is 4 LEDs, which show when you press a button, or when the solar panel is connected.  The power cell weighs 5.0 oz, and the connecting cable weighs 0.5 oz, and similar units are on Amazon for around $12.  It is 5200 mA, and one usb port is 2100 mA and the other is 1000 mA. This panel is great for cyclists on a road trip, backpackers, boaters, or anyone who has some devices to keep charged.  I got a usb battery charger for my camera and flashlight, so I can keep everything charged in the field or when the zombie apocalypse knocks out the power grid.

1 comment to Keeping Your Devices Charged in the Field

  • Rob

    Thanks for the review Bob. Glad it worked for you. I also bike tour and I think that this is the best application for the TC5. I know when I tour I measure every ounce. I even cut the handle off my toothbrush.

    I used to rip the pages out of my books as I read them, but now I just carry a smart phone. That’s what is great about this tec. It’s a compass, flashlight, journal, camera, book, music, and even a phone! Having a TC5 along on the rack is a great way to go, so you odn’t have to find a charger then wait for it to fill your battery. The way you used it the optimum: charge a battery, and use that to charge the phone. Batteries are better than phones at taking a charge from a solar panel.

    The reason is, if there is a momentary shadow it can cause the voltage to drop, which fires events in the smart phone which actually cause it to burn power. The battery just takes what it can get.

    We will start selling the TC5 on Kickstarter on November 2nd. I’ll post the link here when we do. The first 10 units will be only $50 which is very cheep for this tec. For a standard unit that weights in at 8oz you would be paying $100.

    Thanks again,

    Rob

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