When we take a break to visit the campsite we try to leave many of our gadgets behind. However, there are those times when we might want to keep a few items to hand to take pictures, record videos, use a satellite navigation system for the long hike you’ve got planned or even study the stars with your children around the bonfire with an iPad application. Also, if you are self-employed you can never completely take a break from the office so you need gadgets to help you stay in touch. So the question is, if you are using these electronic devices, what should you use to charge them up with when more power is needed?
We’re big fans of renewable energy and we’re particularly interested in what can be easily used to help make your trip to the campsite that little bit more earth friendly. I suppose we’re eco-tourists at heart! There’s been a lot of exciting developments recently with solar technology so we were keen to try out a bit of camping solar power ourselves by checking out some solar panels and how effective they are.
Our portable power generator of choice was the SPV 280 by Ventura. For the camping geeks amongst you, this provides 8 mono-crystalline solar panels, which have a collective capacity of 6.5V / 28W and a maximum output of 5V / 2.1A, 9V – 18V. It weighs just over 2 lbs, so it isn’t the lightest thing to carry if you are hiking, but from our testing it does get results.
We set our smart phone and iPad to airplane mode, to remove any drain on the battery while we were testing. We also set the panels up in a position that would make the most of the available sunlight. It was a bright and sunny day with very little haze or cloud, and this is what we found.
Smart phone: It took an average of 1 minute to charge the battery by 1 %, resulting in a full battery in 1 hour 40 minutes.
iPad: It took an average of 3 minutes to charge the battery by 1 %, resulting in a full battery charge in 5 hours.
From the above results, it is safe to assume that the smaller and less complicated the device the quicker it will charge.
It is a great thing to harvest anything for free, but it is a particularly joyous thing to generate your own energy for free (after the initial investment) and to keep doing so as long as the sun is shining. For this alone we would recommend you invest in some kind of renewable green energy making device of your own, such as Ventura, to use at home, at the campsite or wherever you choose. It feels good to do it and provides great value for money if looked after and used properly.