These days it is very hard to live without technology; this is the most difficult thing about going off the grid. Whether to charge a camera or even just a phone, you need a source of electricity to charge the devices.
Trail walkers and avid campers alike need a source of electricity to charge their devices. Here is a simple break down comparing power packs and solar chargers.
Battery packs are useful and are simple storage devices for electricity. They are, however varied, and learning about the specification of the battery pack before buying one would be recommended.
Storage: Check how much power is storable in the battery pack.
Generally bigger and heavier battery packs can store more power. Knowing how much power you need can help you decide while getting a battery pack.
The disadvantage of a battery pack is that the transfer of electricity from the battery pack to your device is not going to be 100% efficient, this means you will lose an amount of power in the process.
So, it is always better to get a battery pack with a bigger capacity than how much your device can use. If you have a 5000mah battery it will not give you a full output of 5000mah.
Power output: Check the power output of the battery pack. If the output is lower than your device’s input, the battery pack will drain your device rather than charging it. Most Battery packs that are portable can charge small devices like cell phones and mp3 players, but few battery packs are capable of charging laptop batteries.
- NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) batteries are rechargeable AA or AAA batteries. These batteries are useful and portable. Carrying extra phone and camera batteries instead of having to charge them is pretty convenient.
- Lithium-ion and lithium polymers have the same technology as most batteries in personal electronic devices. These are the most common type of battery packs.
- Lead acid batteries are heavy and large and are ideal for longer trips, and if you are taking a vehicle on the trip. They have the biggest storage capacity and output.
Solar energy is one of the most well-known sources of free, green, and inexhaustible energy.
It is also an ideal source of energy for off-grid trips. Most off-grid homes will have some Solar energy harvesting systems.
Solar panels and the Solar chargers now also thanks to technology comes in compact forms. The solar panels are foldable and are pretty neat and very useful.
However, some of these sources do not have the circuitry to regulate the flow of the electricity; this could potentially damage the device you wish to charge.
The solar chargers are usually sold: Panel only, Panels with integrated battery or Panels with separate independent storage battery.
The bigger the solar panels are, the faster the battery will get charged. Both rigid and foldable solar panels available.
Solar panels are useful and come in attachable forms which you may attach to backpacks, Kayaks, etc.
While choosing between the two, it really comes down to your requirements. Solar panels are ideal for long trips. Long trips will probably require you to charge your electronic device several times along the trip.
Solar panels are also a great source of supplemental energy source when you don’t have enough power stored in your batteries.
Having a solar charger is very useful, especially if you are a wildlife photographer or an avid birdwatcher and you need your camera ready everywhere, especially in the wild. Some solar chargers are even powerful enough to charge laptops; like the hackintosh laptop which I recently purchased. Perfect, for all video/ photography editing on the move.
The disadvantage of a solar panel charger is that the panel needs to be exposed to sunlight. On a rainy day this would not be possible. Also, in a thick forest The trees might not allow the amount of sunlight you might need to charge your device or battery.
Battery packs are usable on short trips where you will require a charge or two. Battery packs like the little power banks are pretty portable and easy to use.
Power banks are budget friendly too compared to the other options; however, if you consider long term benefits and support green energy sources than go for a Solar Charger.