Monday, September 16, 2013
Solar Power Review - Keeping Your Tech Powered While Camping
I recently picked up from Harbor Freight Tools the following solar power kit: 45W Solar Power Kit (#68751) for just over $150 (including tax).
Over the course of the last couple of months I've been able to try out the kit on several camping trips were there was no easy electrical grid access. The camping environment was pretty sunny but not always 100% full sun. The time of year for all the trips was summer and the location was Southern California. I ended up setting up the kit on the top of our small camper.
The main reason I picked up the kit was to keep all of my tech gear charged so I could keep tabs on email, news, and any tech issue with my sites. This was usually less than 1 hour a day which worked out well for my needs, and expectations related to being on a camping trip.
The gear I was able to keep operational using the kit included: cell phone, tablet, WIFI card, and a laptop during trips lasting up to 7 days.
I was suprised during the main daylight hours that the inverter could charge directly: the cell phone, tablet, and WIFI card. To keep my laptop charged I needed to capture to an emergency car battery system, and then use 3rd party car charger/inverter to get the right power levels to keep the laptop charged. I was also able to keep charged a USB battery pack so I could run my WIFI card during non-daylight hours when needed.
One other lesson learned, was to turn off all electronics while sleeping. This helped keep all the devices more readily available the next day then keeping them in standby/sleep mode overnight.
All in all the system worked very well and I'd recommend it.