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Thread: Great Divide solar touring setup

  1. #1

    Default Great Divide solar touring setup

    Itís been a while since I posted. I hope you can help me with a project.

    I am going to attempt the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route next summer. I will be riding an Azub recumbent trike with Sturmey Archer front drum brakes. The manufacturer has had enough bad experiences with the Sturmey dynamo hub that they will not install.

    I am looking at for a lightweight solar setupto use while riding and while camped.

    I think most equipment will use USB connectors (18650 flashlight/front headlight; SteriPen, smartphone). I may need to charge AA/AAA for the taillightbut the charger will likely be USB connected.

    I suspect I will run the headlight often and the taillight full time.The GPS will be intermittent and phone calls in the evening to touch base with family when I have service.

    I was looking foradvice regarding the lightest setup that will meet these needs. The goal zero stuff looks ok but heavy.

    I am guessing thatI need about 14w out of the panel but open to suggestions. And the panel is the heaviest part of this.

    Do you know of ultralight (very reliable) panels or a hobbyist setup I should be looking at?

    Many thanks,

    Tom

  2. #2
    Flashaholic* Keitho's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    CO, USA
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    665

    Default Re: Great Divide solar touring setup

    I've been looking for a reason to get some nice solar panels for the backcountry and bike-packing, but haven't pulled the trigger yet. From what I can tell in my research, you'll see monocrystalline often cited as the "most efficient," often with the unwritten caveat "per area." The most weight efficient panels that I can find are actually amorphous deposition or "thin film" products like Powerfilm brand. I certainly could be corrected on this point, and I hope that someone with direct experience with longevity experience with different brands can jump in.

    A little off-topic--the most weight efficient 18650 lights I've seen, and I use every day, are ZL (63w on the helmet, 600Fd III+ on the bar). I use a AA H502r (red) as one of my taillights; but, your total system weight (cells, charger, etc.) might be more weight efficient if you stuck with an 18650 rear light (heavier light, but less total system weight--maybe).

    A little more off topic--for sterilization of water, maybe consider a sawyer filter--might be lighter than the steri pen, especially when you consider charger/cell weight and reliability. I use them when being weight conscious of my gear, and they work well.

    I'm jealous of your upcoming ride, and hope to have the time to do it all in one shot someday. Post some pics of your setup as you put it together, and best of luck!

  3. #3
    Unenlightened
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
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    1

    Default Re: Great Divide solar touring setup

    The method I used on my month long tour during the summer of 2016 will add weight but will also make it easier to keep your USB gear charged.

    I built two 15v 500mA solar panels and connected them to a 10amp solar charge controller to keep two 12v 7aH batteries charged. With a cigarette lighter (a.k.a 12v power port) connected to the load terminals on the solar charge controller and a USB car charger, I was able to keep every thing but my netbook (mini laptop) fully charged and running.

    The solar system was mounted on a trailer with the solar panels on top of everything so they could spend all day recharging the 12v batteries. At night, I'd plug in the USB car charger and recharge my USB gear as needed, including two batteries for my GoPro Hero 4.

    As a backup, I had a hub dynamo installed into one of the trailer wheels and packed a GoalZero Nomad 7. I would at least be able to recharge my cell phone if the solar system failed or ran out of power.

    I built my own solar panels because commercial 12v panels where too big, didn't generate enough electricity, and/or where heavier than I liked.

    Note: I probably didn't need the second battery but I never tested the system without it.

  4. #4
    Flashaholic angerdan's Avatar
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    Feb 2015
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    Europe
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    Default Re: Great Divide solar touring setup

    Quote Originally Posted by bluedog225 View Post
    18650 flashlight/front headlight
    SteriPen
    smartphone
    charge AA/AAA for the taillight

    GPS

    I was looking foradvice regarding the lightest setup that will meet these needs. The goal zero stuff looks ok but heavy.
    I am guessing thatI need about 14w out of the panel but open to suggestions. And the panel is the heaviest part of this.
    Do you know of ultralight (very reliable) panels or a hobbyist setup I should be looking at?
    Why don't use a dynamo hub?
    https://swhs.home.xs4all.nl/fiets/te...tml#dynamo%27s
    https://www.nabendynamo.de/produkte/dynamos_en.html
    https://www.bumm.de/en/products/stromversorgung.html
    http://www.en.cinq5.de/stromversorgung/plug-iii/

    Maybe BLF and other sites can offer additional ideas for solar panels:
    http://budgetlightforum.com/comment/...omment-1188994
    https://swhs.home.xs4all.nl/fiets/te...ex_en.html#usb
    http://www.cyclingabout.com/awesome-...cycle-touring/

    Did you start making a list of weight, size/area and power of solar panels?
    That's the easiest way, collecting data for comparision.
    https://www.ipoweradd.com/collection...el-usb-charger
    http://www.goalzero.com/solar-kits

    Also i'd start checking your power consumption. And look for a powerbank to store the energy from the solar panel and distribute it to your devices.

    For example:
    3W, 3h, 3x week - flashlight
    4W, 5h, 7x week - front
    headlight
    4W, 3h, 5x week - 18650 battery charger
    3W, 5h, 7x week - Smartphone
    4W, 5h, 5x week - AA/AAA battery charger

    1W, 5h, 3x week - GPS

  5. #5

    Default Re: Great Divide solar touring setup

    Great info. Thanks!

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