Mini SunCharger Skills:
It has two output ports and 1 USB mini
USB mini – yes you can charge it off the wall, and Sol Power system can take wall power, it can also take a 20 W solar panel if you want faster SunCharging.
USB 2 – In the middle is a fast charging USB port to charge your device quickly
USB 1 – On the fast side is a USB port that puts out the same amount of energy as the solar panel makes so you can effectively charge right off the sun and conserve your reserve power
You may have to tap the button to charge some devices.
Always make sure the two metal tabs on the back of the powerpack line up, you can put them in upside down!
The powerpacks have a built-in light and can be swapped out both things are great!
SunCharging is a lot like sun tanning: do it in the open sun not under shade, behind a window or sheltered. It is supposed to be laying out in the open – they are built for this!
Do protect the power pack or power station from direct sun. This is non-essential but it reduces pointless wear and tear on the systems.
This can be done on the mini SunCharger by flipping the power pack under the solar panel its attached to.
For SunChargers and Portable Power Stations we just tuck them under the panels (which can help angle them) or throw a backpack or towel over them.
Finding a Site to SunCharge
When you get to where your going: look around for wide open spaces with few trees facing south, west or east. Your goal is to get a minimum of 4 hours of direct sunlight. 6-10 hours is much better.
The panels will produce their rated power output when they are in full, direct view of the sun.
“Point them toward the sun” – means having them at a slight angle so that the sun is perpendicular to the panels and panels are angled at the sun.
At any given time, this is the premium set up for the solar panel. Since sitting around playing with your solar panels is not the adventure of a life time, all you can do is think about ways to keep them pointed at the sun for as much time as you plan to be away.
The Movement of the Sun
The sun rises in the east and arcs across the sky moving steadily west at 15 degrees per hour until it sets in the west. We are on the norther hemisphere so the sun “leans” to the south.
East – Sunrise and the 4 hours after its best to have your panels pointed just south of due east.
South – from about 10 am to 4 pm having your panels slightly tilted to the south is the best.
West – if you are setting them up after 5 or get back to camp and want more energy, then take them to the western clearing you found and watch the sunset with someone you love (even if that’s your self or a pet).
Ways to Set Up
Flat – you are free just to ley it out at the table you are sitting at, this is not optimal but it works as long as it’s in the sun. This is a decent set up and makes it really convenient for using the system.
Tilted – or leaning against something. This is particularly useful when you go away for the day just lean it against something to the south.
Flipped – When catching sun at dawn or dusk just flip it so that the whole panel is facing that direction. This will make more sense when its illustrated.
Zipped – This only applies to the mini SunCharger. Since the powerpack has no solar panel on it you can sip it into any pack of your choice, or even tie it on a dog or bike. As long as the solar panels see the sun they will turn it into useful electricity!
Special powers- SunChargers and Portable power systems have their own advantages. The panels can be put on top of things like roofs, vehicles, ect and then a longer wire can be run to where you are sitting behind some cover. Again, make sure this roof has a clear view of the sun for some time. It can be pointed East, South or West … never north or in a shady area! Solar power has no place in the shade!
Predicting Solar Performance
Basic Idea - Solar panels are like large light intensity meters where the intensity of light = amount of power you can collect from SunCharging.
Clear Skys – Solar Panels will perform at their rated levels.
Partly Cloudy – When clouds come and go and there is intermittent blue skys we have measured 60%-80% performance on our solar systems.
Cloudy, Foggy and Hazy – if the sky is grey find another way. low light conditions yield 5%-20% solar performance. If you want power on these days you may best spend your time charging off an outlet, generator, bigger power bank or solar panel.
Snow – if its cloudy clouds dominate performance, but if its blue skies you may see better performance because of the extra light bouncing off the snow.
As long as the sky is blue the Solar Panels will perform at rated power. Problem is in the winter days are shorter and clouds are more frequent. If you want predictable 4-seasons power either get the biggest solar panel for your system, or move south.
Our experiments have shown the following performances:
Summer – Great
Spring – Good
Fall – Good
Winter – Ok
Conserve Your Reserve
This is not a joke. Batteries really don’t like being drained all the way to zero. This is true no matter who says otherwise. It is really true with solar because solar power systems have to work harder to charge fro 0% to 50% than the do from 50% to 100% because of science.
All you need to know is that you should SunCharge more that you use it and keep a little on reserve.
This is called float charging and means you keep the batteries with enough power to charge your main devices on reserve and the battery floats like a glider instead of sinks like a stone to zero.
If you are constantly draining your batteries you either need to use it less or get a bigger system. You will likely not have the best solar experience if you maintain these habits
If you drain your power system all the way its best to find and outlet to charge it back up, at least for a couple hours to reset the battery. Otherwise it can take a really long time to suncharge completely. I have given you advanced notice!
The Mystery of Electricity Solved Simply
Predicting power is easy if it’s explained clearly. This is a start, feel free to ask me any questions – that’s why we have an ask me a question option!
Wh – watt hours are the measure of energy available divide it by the watts of a given device to predict how many hours it can run.
SunCharger = 100 Wh
SunCharger Pro = 196 Wh
FreeLoader = 350 Wh
OffGridder = 1010 Wh
Watts - This is the amount of energy needed to run a device or be produced by a generator (solar panels)
The amount of time you can run something is Time = Wh (storage)/Watt (device).
A 24” TV with a USB DVD player uses about 45 W. So a Freeloader lets you watch about 350/45=7.7 hrs of TV. Predicating some losses, we go with 6 hrs.
The amount of time to produce stored energy is Solar panel Watts x hours of direct sunshine.
A 65 Watt solar panel in full sun for 6 hours will produce 65 x 6 = 390 Wh. That should be enough to restore it to 100 %
Efficiency -If the conditions are not quite perfect you can reduce the rating by one of the factors given in the predicting performance section.
On a partly cloudy day pick 70% efficiency so 6 hours of partly cloud sun gives .7 x 65 = 45.5 Watt panel instead of the 65 W for our FreeLoader so 45.5 x 6 = 273 Wh so we would expect to see a 75% full power system.
Yes 100% = 1 , 70% = 0.7 , 50% = 0.5 and so on. Look up at the Predicting Solar Performance notes.
Thanks for learning a little math. If you get this pat yourself on the back: You Are a Solar Genius Now!