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Thread: Hypothetical...best light/power combo for homeless/totally off the grid?

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    Last edited by hap124; 07-11-2019 at 02:04 PM.

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    Default Re: Hypothetical...best light/power combo for homeless/totally off the grid?

    For solar systems I like the pocket sized Powerfilm AA or AA+USB and a supply of Eneloops. A bit larger and heavier but a lot more versatile is the Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Kit and a supply of Eneloops.

    I like the Zebralight SC52L2 best for a single AA and the Foursevens QPA2-X for a two cell AA (the Foursevens is modular and easier to fit new pieces to, particularly if you have a spare.

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    Default Re: Hypothetical...best light/power combo for homeless/totally off the grid?

    ...................
    Last edited by hap124; 07-11-2019 at 02:01 PM.

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    Default Re: Hypothetical...best light/power combo for homeless/totally off the grid?

    For about $50 USD you can get both the Thrunite Archer 1A and Archer 2A. IIRC Thrunite sold the 1A and the extension tube. The Archer is cheaper, puts out good light in high and moonlight modes and has a good drop rating. I'm not sure about the recharging side of this topic other than AA batteries are going to be easier to find.

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    Flashaholic* Derek Dean's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hypothetical...best light/power combo for homeless/totally off the grid?

    I happen to have a friend who actually does live "off the grid". He's got his own well, solar panels, and a super neat 25' x 18' house he built himself (about 20 minutes off the main road by 4 wheel drive), complete with fridge, AC, big screen TV, etc. His choice for lights are a couple of inexpensive 3xAAA headlamps. I think one is a Princeton Tec, and one is a Black Diamond. He's had them for years, and they've gotten beat up plenty, but still work fine.

    Of course I've shown him my Zebralights, and he's respectfully impressed, but he feels they are overkill for what he needs.

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    Default Re: Hypothetical...best light/power combo for homeless/totally off the grid?

    Quote Originally Posted by hap124 View Post
    Any reason you chose a two cell light? Was it because it was more modular than the single cell options in the 4Sevens line (I am not well versed on his lights)? Just curious as my initial thoughts were a single cell light would get more time per cell and with solar charging taking longer I thought it would stretch your supply farther to use one at a time...but I may be mistaken when all specs are considered.

    Do you think AA is more versatile for this application than AAA? You can carry more AAAs for the same space and weight...though I guess the tradeoff is power.
    The reason for carrying a two cell light is simple: efficiency. A single AA light actually gets you LESS time per cell than having more cells. The problem here is that the boost driver needed to run the light is less efficient with the lower voltage of one cell than two. For even better efficiency, more cells would be better. With three or more cells, you no longer need a boost converter. However, with fewer cells, losing a battery or two won't get you a useless light like it would if you have, say, an EA4. So when it comes to the number of cells, it really comes down to efficiency with more cells vs versatility with fewer cells.

    Going AAA would probably be less desirable for a couple of reasons. First of all, there is little to no price advantage with AAA batteries compared to AA batteries. And secondly, an AA battery stores around 2.5 times the energy of a AAA. So if you're solar charging, AA batteries will give you light longer. They WILL require more time to charge, though.

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    Default Re: Hypothetical...best light/power combo for homeless/totally off the grid?

    Quote Originally Posted by hap124 View Post
    Any reason you chose a two cell light? Was it because it was more modular than the single cell options in the 4Sevens line (I am not well versed on his lights)? Just curious as my initial thoughts were a single cell light would get more time per cell and with solar charging taking longer I thought it would stretch your supply farther to use one at a time...but I may be mistaken when all specs are considered.

    Do you think AA is more versatile for this application than AAA? You can carry more AAAs for the same space and weight...though I guess the tradeoff is power.
    To summarize
    - The Powerfilm AA panel is the size of a wallet and is capable of charging AA's (two or 4 at a time) in about half a day of bright sunlight. Can also charge AAA with included adapter.
    - The Powerfilm AA+USB is the size of a wallet and is capable if charging two AA's in about half a day of bright sunlight. It also has a USB charging port for phones or other low powered USB devices but requires charged AAs to be in place to do this. Can also charge AAA with included adapter.
    - The Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus is about the size of a trade format pocket book and is capable of directly powering some 12V and USB devices but works most efficiently through its four AA power pack which can charge 4 AAs at a time in well under half a day of bright sunlight. The power pack can in tern (with four charged AAs in place) power/charge most smartphones and small tablets. Can also charge AAA with included adapter.
    - The Zebralight SC52 is one of the brightest and most efficient single AA lights available but is totally non user serviceable should something go wrong and had limited brightness and duration because it is only powered by a single cell.
    - The Foursevels Quark series is highly modular and serviceable at the replaceable component level at least. The QPA2-X is efficient and has lighting levels from moonlight to quite bright. There is also a single cell QPA but if I was going single cell there are other lights I would prefer if component replacement was not high on my list.
    - AAA's have a very low power density so would not be my first choice in any light where size/weight wasn't the highest priority. Also AA's are about the most common cell so useable and scavangable in/from a LOT of devices and a lot better energy density.
    - I don't have a huge preference of two cell vs 1 cell - at least where you can get a 1 cell with the brightness and longevity you are happy with. But in general I've found two cell lights preferable in brightness and longevity so where size/weight permits, I'd take a two cell over a one cell.

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    Default Re: Hypothetical...best light/power combo for homeless/totally off the grid?

    I realize this is hypothetical, but in a practical situation, I'm not sure I'd want to own anything expensive if I was homeless. You probably won't hold on to it for long. I'd get a cheap 2xAA light, and scrounge alkaline batteries out of the garbage. Most of the time, I'd want to remain dark anyway.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Hypothetical...best light/power combo for homeless/totally off the grid?

    Quote Originally Posted by jimboutilier View Post
    To summarize
    - The Powerfilm AA panel is the size of a wallet and is capable of charging AA's (two or 4 at a time) in about half a day of bright sunlight. Can also charge AAA with included adapter.
    - The Powerfilm AA+USB is the size of a wallet and is capable if charging two AA's in about half a day of bright sunlight. It also has a USB charging port for phones or other low powered USB devices but requires charged AAs to be in place to do this. Can also charge AAA with included adapter.
    - The Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus is about the size of a trade format pocket book and is capable of directly powering some 12V and USB devices but works most efficiently through its four AA power pack which can charge 4 AAs at a time in well under half a day of bright sunlight. The power pack can in tern (with four charged AAs in place) power/charge most smartphones and small tablets. Can also charge AAA with included adapter.
    - The Zebralight SC52 is one of the brightest and most efficient single AA lights available but is totally non user serviceable should something go wrong and had limited brightness and duration because it is only powered by a single cell.
    - The Foursevels Quark series is highly modular and serviceable at the replaceable component level at least. The QPA2-X is efficient and has lighting levels from moonlight to quite bright. There is also a single cell QPA but if I was going single cell there are other lights I would prefer if component replacement was not high on my list.
    - AAA's have a very low power density so would not be my first choice in any light where size/weight wasn't the highest priority. Also AA's are about the most common cell so useable and scavangable in/from a LOT of devices and a lot better energy density.
    - I don't have a huge preference of two cell vs 1 cell - at least where you can get a 1 cell with the brightness and longevity you are happy with. But in general I've found two cell lights preferable in brightness and longevity so where size/weight permits, I'd take a two cell over a one cell.
    +1 to Jim's post, I have all the above except the PF 2AA/USB (on the buy list), and have tested them side-by-side. I'd also throw in the Malkoff MDC AA and Peak El Capitan as options - they're built like tanks and (with caveats) have tested to be even more efficient on a lumen-hour basis than the Quark or SC52 at the all important battery conserving sub-lumen level.

    Personally, the Quark QP2A-X on a 1AA tube is my goto SHTF/camping light for its extreme versatility and I'd pair it with a AA Turbo head on the 2AA body to round out the thrower/flooder and 1AA/2AA options, that can Lego parts together for additional redundancy. Quarks don't have the ultimate reliability of the Malkoff or Peak, but I would consider it way ahead of the electronic-switched ZL... anyways, I trust a light more when it's own manufacturer does too. A few things that tip the Quark for me: any AA light will run on AAAs and AAAAs (from a 9v), but the Quark will uniquely run anything between a CR123 and 18650 with MacGyver tinfoil; most field serviceable/repairable/Lego-able; momentary max "feature" from ON (any lower mode in use); 0.3/3 lumen mode spacing (45/45% of my usage, "just right" Goldilocks levels for me); solid current regulation and fully supports 14500s and 3V CRAAs (a favorite off-grid primary cell as it also powers all my other 2AA gadgets); reversible clip for baseball cap headlamp.

    Be happy to answer questions on any of them, if interested, a comparison of the spec sheets can be "off" to say the least .

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    Default Re: Hypothetical...best light/power combo for homeless/totally off the grid?

    Quote Originally Posted by WalkIntoTheLight View Post
    I realize this is hypothetical, but in a practical situation, I'm not sure I'd want to own anything expensive if I was homeless. You probably won't hold on to it for long. I'd get a cheap 2xAA light, and scrounge alkaline batteries out of the garbage. Most of the time, I'd want to remain dark anyway.
    Good point. If you are homeless in an urban setting, the last thing you want is for other homeless people to see that you have something of value. Because if you are, you're not going to have it for long. Also, you don't want to have bright lights at night that could give away your location to law enforcement, other homeless people, or just plain old thugs. Survival as a homeless person (in an urban setting) depends a great deal on being as inconspicuous as possible.

    On the other hand, being homeless in the wilderness is quite different. If you live, say, in a national forest, such things as lighting become MUCH more important. Theft and visibility become less important. When it all comes down, this thread is really geared more toward a homeless person living in the wilderness.

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    Default Re: Hypothetical...best light/power combo for homeless/totally off the grid?

    Yeah, I took this to be on something like a walkabout. Touring the country with a backpack kind of thing. The OP did mention bonus points for being able to charge a smartphone, so likely someone not without resources, just someone without a place to live. I gave my standard bug out bag advice.

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    Default Re: Hypothetical...best light/power combo for homeless/totally off the grid?

    Just a note about the Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus, it has a single white LED on the side, a little brighter than moonlight mode, so it adds a little flexibility. I use the Goal zero solar panel to charge the batteries and also use it at work to charge my cell phone. A couple of hours in the afternoon usually tops it off. Another light option might be the Four Sevens new headlamp holder for their atom and mini lights. Small and dependable and hands free if you want.

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    Default Re: Hypothetical...best light/power combo for homeless/totally off the grid?

    Speaking of the Guide 10, can it charge by USB? Or does it only charge by a proprietary connector, which can only be used with Goal Zero panels? I currently use Suntactics panels. And they are probably some of the gutsiest solar USB chargers around (even the small panels charge an iPhone at wall plug speed directly without charging a battery to charge the phone). But I have not been able to find a good USB NiMH charger that can charge at a good speed (they certainly can't take advantage of the current output of these panels).
    Last edited by StorminMatt; 07-15-2014 at 12:43 AM.

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    Default Re: Hypothetical...best light/power combo for homeless/totally off the grid?

    Quote Originally Posted by StorminMatt View Post
    Speaking of the Guide 10, can it charge by USB? Or does it only charge by a proprietary connector, which can only be used with Goal Zero panels? I currently use Suntactics panels. And they are probably some of the gutsiest solar USB chargers around (even the small panels charge an iPhone at wall plug speed directly without charging a battery to charge the phone). But I have not been able to find a good USB NiMH charger that can charge at a good speed (they certainly can't take advantage of the current output of these panels).
    The Guide 10 Plus power pack can either be charged by the proprietary output of the GZ solar panels or by a mini USB port. I top my power packs up every few months using a USB adapter that also charges my iphone/ipad etc and it works well. Although in theory the higher voltage proprietary connectin might charge faster.

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    Default Re: Hypothetical...best light/power combo for homeless/totally off the grid?

    If this is for Ted Kaczynski "out in the deep woods" style homeless, rather than an urban homeless, I'd want to have a flashlight that has a red LED that could be used at night so you don't lose your night vision. And since nobody but the FBI will steal your stuff, a high priced light isn't a problem like it would be in an urban back-alley. A headlamp has some obvious advantages when prowling around in the woods.

    For the red LED option, maybe something like a 4sevens Atom A0 with the red LED, along with the optional headstrap. You could also get the regular A0 for a white LED, that would also fit the headband. Those lights would give you very floody light for close-up work or walking. Get a more powerful hand-held light, like a 6xAA Eagletac SX25A6 to go along with it. Plus a bunch of AA Eneloops, and a solar charger.

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    Default Re: Hypothetical...best light/power combo for homeless/totally off the grid?

    I'd use a Cotton Picker solar folding charger, as it outperforms the other solar chargers, and is very portable/rugged. It also has the option to charge battery packs loaded with 18650's to store extra juice for cloudy days, etc. , run USB devices, even laptops, etc. I'd use 18650 not AA, as they energy density options work better for me (Lighter with more runtime to weight ratio).

    As there's no spec for the reason I need a light (I might just sleep at night?) I don't know what beam pattern/cd, etc, or filters if applicable, would be "best". If I don't want my light to inform others of where I am, I really would prefer FLIR or NV equipment for example....and that might push the lighting to invisible IR, if needed at all, and so forth.


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    Default Re: Hypothetical...best light/power combo for homeless/totally off the grid?

    I thank God, that I have never been homeless. So I'll share some thoughts for consideration, or discussion, all of which might be invalid.

    My son and his friend did some hiking on the Appalachian trail, after the first day on the trail, his friend left a lot of gear at the shelter they stayed the first night. Too much stuff... too much weight.

    I read a book of one man's journey on the trail. "no rain... no Maine" is a standard saying along the trail. He also spoke of a vietnam vet, who after a couple of days at the beginning of the trail stopped at an outfitter - who dumped his pack and set him up with a lot less stuff, dual purpose stuff, and lighter weight.

    Another story, while on the trail, he and another were offered a can of Spam. He turned it down (his partner for that stretch gladly accepted it) at the end of the day, his partner opened the can, but of course couldn't eat it all in one sitting. He gave the rest to the author. His strategy all the time was to let his friend carry it. Again... the point is that even ounces on your back at the end of the day, add up.

    All this to say... if you are carrying your life on your back, you want it to be light.

    Considering the other more essentials:
    food
    water
    shelter
    fire
    clothing (considered in part, shelter).
    food procurement (animal trapping)?


    Picking a light would depend to a great extent (like someone else mentioned) would depend upon the environment, urban, suburban, rural, wooded.

    I might consider following reppans suggestions for a single AA cell Quark XML.
    On the other end of the consideration, I might get one of those small 1 inch x 2 1/2 inch - one 5mm led solar charged lights.

    If I were gifting the light to someone, I might give him the Quark, OTHO if it were me, I might get the little solar light, and put the rest of the money on a VISA card for food later on. I guess it all depends.

    Regarding charging options, someone once mentioned that in a suburban environment many people have solar powered lawn lights lighting the path to their yards etc. Often they have low ma NiMH AA batteries in them. I suppose that you could sneak by early in the evening, after they have been charging all day, and didn't have a chance to run too long, and swap in dead batteries. That would be a little more honorable than out-right stealing.

    Homeless, with a smart-phone, and a power bank? Unless you have a PO box, or other secure place to store your gadgets, IDK...
    If you can have library access, they'll always have power outlets, and internet access to card holders, (I don't know if they are universal, ie, if you have a card in Iowa, can you use it in Florida).
    My Grand Kids call me Poppy

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    Default Re: Hypothetical...best light/power combo for homeless/totally off the grid?

    If I'm going to be off the grid, Cottonpickers quad panel solar kit is essential.
    It'll run a i4 lithium ion charger just as well as the wall socket in decent sun. Doesn't have to be blazing sun either. It'll even charge my phone in the shade if I divert all power to one adapter.
    1100ma per panel. So if I'm in need if light, batteries are if no concern. I also use the Aili 4x18650 power bank from him. With 4x18650 3400mah, I can charge most anything I need.

    I think I'd bring a d40avn V11Rvn(extension) with rechargeable aa. A pd35vn xpl triple, and a mm15vn for full area lighting . Nothing too big, but nothing too weak either.
    Plus my bug out bag would of course accompany me. That's got everything I need for a off the grid situation.
    Fire, shelter, water/purification, food/ways to obtain food/weapons, clothing, etc.
    Last edited by Tmack; 07-15-2014 at 08:54 AM.
    Tk75vnkt*TK61vn-Tcr10vn*Tcr2vn-C20cvn*V11Rvn*V25cvn*D40avn-D25cvn*S200cvn*MX25L3vn-Mm15vn-X60vn*K40mvn-Hc90vn-Sd6vn

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