Solar panels occupy a special place among alternative energy sources. The interest in this energy sector is due to the development prospects and a number of advantages, in particular, environmental friendliness and availability of solar energy. These devices are positioned as universal portable batteries, which are equally suitable for both residents of the metropolis for everyday use, and lovers of active recreation and hiking. Let’s figure out what are the advantages and disadvantages of solar powered power banks and how to choose the best power bank for ultralight backpacking.
The principle of operation and design of solar power banks
Mostly, solar power banks for backpacking does not differ in any way from external energy storage units of classical design. Models are supplied with lithium-ion or lithium-polymer rechargeable cells, the delivery set usually includes an adapter, cable, a set of adapters.
The charge level is indicated on a special display. Some solar power banks are installing additional useful features like built-in access points or compact flashlights.
What to look for to choose the best power bank for hiking?
Below we will analyze the most popular models of external solar power banks. In the process of choosing a device, it is recommended to pay attention to the popularity of the brand – when you buy a product from a little-known manufacturer, there is a possibility of running into a poor-quality assembly or mismatch of characteristics. Also pay attention to the main parameters of the device:
Capacity and voltage
These characteristics are closely related to each other. The unit of measure for capacity is mAh. When choosing a model, keep in mind that the rated voltage of battery cells is usually lower than that of the gadget being charged. Thus, most of the energy will be spent on the operation of the step-up circuit.
The duration of charging the connected gadgets depends on the value of this parameter. Universal models of external batteries are equipped with several USB ports with different charging currents. The choice of jack for connection depends on the type of device. To charge a phone, a current of 1-2 A will be enough, and a tablet is usually at least 2 A, but for laptops, you need the device to produce a voltage of 12-19 volts and higher current (2.5 A and higher), or a laptop and the power bank supported USB PD fast charging technology
Contents of delivery
The availability of cables and adapters reduces the cost of their purchase.
Manufacturers provide power banks for backpacking with new functions that can be useful in certain situations. For example, dust and moisture protection or a built-in flashlight will come in handy on a hike. Other accessories include wireless access points and USB hubs. The expansion of the device’s functionality has only one serious drawback – additional equipment leads to an increase in the price of the product.
Paying attention also to what the body of the bank is made of. On a hike, unlike in urban conditions, you are unlikely to handle the device as carefully. Most likely, your cookbank will constantly come into contact with foreign objects, because of which dents or scratches can quickly appear on its body. Therefore, try to choose a device in a durable, scratch-resistant case.
Advantages and disadvantages of solar power banks
When choosing the best power bank for hiking, consider the advantages and disadvantages of portable batteries based on solar batteries.
- Possibility of charging from the sun.
- Good protection against ingress of dust and moisture on most models.
- The use of solar panels does not pollute the environment.
- Touring models are made of high-strength plastic that is resistant to scratches, impacts and other mechanical stress.
- Since it must be in the sun while charging, the battery will overheat. Moreover, frequent overheating of devices negatively affects the performance and service life of battery cells.
- Large weight and dimensions in comparison with classic devices.
Keep in mind that the efficiency of the battery is directly dependent on solar activity in the region where the trekking route lies. It, in turn, depends on the geographical location of the area and the time of year. For example, somewhere in Florida, a solar panel will collect many times more energy than in Maine. And in winter, the efficiency of its work will be much lower than in the summer months. In addition, to make the most of the solar array, it will need uniform illumination and, if possible, correct orientation relative to the sun. It is far from always possible to comply with all the listed conditions during the hikes.
Review of the best power bank for thru hiking
The market for solar powered external batteries offers many models to potential buyers, which creates certain difficulties in choosing the right device.
Let us look at the 3 best solar powered power banks.
1. Solar Charger 20000 mAh
|Battery capacity||20000 mAh|
|Charging current||2A / 1A|
Solar Charger 20000 mAh is a solar-powered power bank made of black plastic. Thanks to the anti-slip pads, the device fits comfortably in the hand. There is a function of simultaneous charging of two devices, as well as a bright enough LED flashlight.
The front panel contains indicator lights that indicate the battery charge level. The charging connectors are protected by rubber covers, which reliably excludes moisture penetration. We are ready to say that this device is one of the best power bank for backpacking.
|– Large capacity. – Anti-slip pads. – Protection against dust and moisture. – 2 ports for charging.||– Weight. – There is no fast charging function.|
2. Qumo PowerAid Camper 4000
|Battery capacity||4000 mAh|
|Charging current||2.1 A|
Qumo PowerAid Camper 4000 is number 2 in our top of the best power bank for thru hiking with a folding panel. The body is made of durable plastic that is resistant to mechanical stress.
The manufacturers took the safety of the device seriously – they installed protection against overheating, short circuits, over and under voltage, as well as deep discharge of the battery. The small capacity of the battery does not allow counting on long-term use without recharging.
|– Good power. – Protection from adverse factors. – Ergonomic design.||– Big sizes. – Low battery capacity.|
3. Allpowers Xdragon 10000 mAh
|Battery capacity||10000 mAh|
|Charging current||1A / 2.1A|
Allpowers Xdragon 10000 mAh is a universal model with 2 charging connectors and a built-in flashlight. Charges phones, tablets, cameras and other devices. A rubber plug protects the USB ports from dust and moisture. Full charging time from the mains is 5 hours.
|– Built-in LED flashlight. – Build quality. – Protection against penetration of dust and moisture. – Reliable battery cells.||– Heavy weight. – No fast charging function.|
Now, when you are going on vacation, you will know exactly how to choose the best power bank for ultralight backpacking. However, if you prefer not to mess with solar panels, you can always buy a high-capacity battery, for example, 60,000 mAh, so that the initial charge will last for a long time. True, such a device will weigh much more, which means it is suitable only for trips by car, since a few extra pounds behind the back