Solar charger questions

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Solar charger questions

Postby zhenya_st » Thu Jul 29, 2010 7:07 pm

Hello my fellow travelers,

Does anyone have any advise on solar chargers? I will be going to Africa (Victoria Falls to Nairobi) in October, I will have my Canon XSi DSLR and a small Sony P&S cameras with me. Do you think I will need a solar charger (I do have an extra battery fro my SLR)? Any suggestion on the brand?

Thanks in advance for your advise!

Cheers,
Eugene
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Re: Solar charger questions

Postby sinecure » Thu Jul 29, 2010 7:17 pm

I'm quite happy with my SolarFocus SolarMio 31 Solar Charger http://www.mec.ca/Products/product_detail.jsp?PRODUCT%3C%3Eprd_id=845524442620595&FOLDER%3C%3Efolder_id=2534374302697169&bmUID=1280445287138 but I think you'll be hard pressed to get enough sunlight to recharge your batteries for the SLR.
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Re: Solar charger questions

Postby jimshu » Thu Jul 29, 2010 8:10 pm

And check that the plugs on the charger do actually fit your camera.
After I got that one sorted I tried it out with my MP3 player.And for some reason it just wouldn't charge the MP3 at all.??
Took it back.Got my money back!
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Re: Solar charger questions

Postby wavewet » Thu Jul 29, 2010 8:58 pm

how camera happy are you? Do you take 100s of pics or 1000s

your cannon slr will take 500-600 pics per battery charge. Use that as a guide and take 3 batteries and charge whenever you can, just make sure you take a power plug adapater if needed.
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Re: Solar charger questions

Postby ExplorerWannaBe » Thu Jul 29, 2010 9:24 pm

I used a panel from the Generator bag from Voltaic Systems http://www.voltaicsystems.com/. It's good for about 15-20W and has a nice Li-Ion primary battery that will output anything from 3-20V and even has a USB port along with a variety of tips (including a 12 V DC auto socket). Honestly, you probably won't need it although I was able to help other people charge their iPods. I took two batteries and a spare charger that would work on either AC or 12 V DC -- my batteries typically lasted 3 days or so before needing a charge and I went nuts (about 4000 pictures overall, as many as 400 or so pictures on a single day) on my Rebel XSi.
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Re: Solar charger questions

Postby zhenya_st » Thu Jul 29, 2010 10:25 pm

Thanks to all of you for the advice!

Wavewet, I definitely won't be taking 1000s pictures per day, I don't want to end up seeing everything through viewfinder... :) 3 batteries sounds like a good Idea, I'll probably buy one more just in case.

ExplorerWannaBe, backpack with a battery looks good and practical, though yes, I agree, if campsites have enough power outlets I can probably charge batteries overnight. Did you help other people to charge iPods because there was shortage of power outlets?

Other question, if I get a solar charger, where do you leave it to generate power during the day? As far as I understood for the most of the trip we will be inside of overland truck or smaller 4x4 safari vehicle. Is there a place on top of the truck?
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Re: Solar charger questions

Postby ExplorerWannaBe » Thu Jul 29, 2010 11:10 pm

My panel fit inside the lower window next to my seat. I was looking out the top window and the panel actually gave me some shade so all was good. I helped charge the iPods because there was a lot of demand for the 12 V socket and charger. I saw plenty of the world and captured quite a bit on my camera too.
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Re: Solar charger questions

Postby zhenya_st » Fri Jul 30, 2010 12:05 am

Thank you ExplorerWannaBe! I think I'll get one of those panels just in case. It's a bit expensive with backpack and I already have one anyways, so I'll probably get just the panel.
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Re: Solar charger questions

Postby ExplorerWannaBe » Fri Jul 30, 2010 12:29 am

What they did for me was let me order the panel from the parts page. Tell them to send it to you in the zip-on shell. It will come with the battery (which can also be charged from AC), converter cables and tips.
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Re: Solar charger questions

Postby kerryisnotin » Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:19 pm

I don't have an Xsi, but I had a XTi which is basically the same thing. I took it to Africa on a photo safari. I DO tend to take 1000 pictures a day and even using a big AF lens, the battery would last me for 3 or 4 days, that is as long as it's not a really old used battery.

I think it's just to sell the big battery grip accessories, but the amount of pictures the manufacturer tells you the camera will take on one charge is always way low. I have a 5D II now and it also takes at least 3 times the amount it said it would on one charge even forgetting to turn it off when it's not being used sometimes.
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Re: Solar charger questions

Postby Zuleika » Fri Jul 30, 2010 4:35 pm

I take extra batteries - and dont worry about having to buy the expensive canon batteries - this is a rip off - buy the generic ones - they are easily just as good!
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Re: Solar charger questions

Postby wavewet » Fri Jul 30, 2010 9:18 pm

Zuleika wrote:I take extra batteries - and dont worry about having to buy the expensive canon batteries - this is a rip off - buy the generic ones - they are easily just as good!



which you can pick up on ebay for like $5 if that.
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Re: Solar charger questions

Postby zhenya_st » Fri Jul 30, 2010 10:29 pm

Thank you All for your help!

kerryisnotin, yes I noticed that my battery lasts for a while, that's why I am still not sure if i'll buy one of those solar chargers...

Zuleika, I absolutely agree with you, my second battery is a generic and it actually lasts a bit longer than Canon out of the box battery. As wavewet suggested I'll just buy 3d battery and I think that will be enough
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