Cycling doesn’t necessarily mean giving up all the comforts of home, especially when it comes to tech. However using certain, lets call them toys, means having a power/charging source. So Tom and I decided to buy a solar chargers.
After a bit of research it came down to a foldable power charger called the PowerFilm F15-300 and the Solio Classic Charger. The main interest behind the foldable panels was the theory they could be easily laid out on the back panniers, however a battery pack would be needed to store the charge. This is where the Solio Classic has as advantage. It has an inbuilt rechargeable Lithium Ion 3.7V 1.65A cell that can power an Ipod for around 20 hours, with the added bonus that the integrated battery can be charged from any USB port or power socket for those cloudy days.
When comparing the weights the Solio Classic came in at a total of 156 grams. The PowerFilm F15-300 came in at 170 grams – but that did not include a battery to store the charge. The Solio Classic also came with just about all the adapters needed for our equipment.
The final decision came down to price. The Solio Classic cost just under $100 USD with the PowerFilm F15-300 coming in at around about $150 USD.
Decision made. We bought two Solio Classic Chargers.
My initial thoughts when it arrived was that it felt a little flimsy, but it is definitely light-weight. Using the Solio Classic is pretty much self explanatory and it only took about 40% of its charge to recharge my Ipod Nano.
The adapters that came with it will power my GPS unit, Samsung cellphone, Ipod Nano (as long as I have the Apple USB charging cord) and anything that can be charged by USB. I did have to buy a USB battery charger in order to charge AA and AAA batteries, but they only cost around $3 USD here in South Korea and are extremely light-weight.
Currently I’m missing a way to charge my Canon IXY 900IS – (working on it)
As for testing, I have yet to take mine out on the road and do have some reservations regarding the shape of the charger and how I might attach it to my bike or backpack to get optimal sunlight.
Currently I plan to use it to power the following:
Garmin eTrex Legend® Cx (2 x AA – need charged every 2 days if on all the time)
Headlamp (3x AAA)
Canon IXY 900IS (custom battery)
Front & Rear Bike Lights