> TEOTWAWKI Blog: Portable Solar Power



Portable Solar Power

I don't know much about solar power or wiring up electronics in general, but I know that I want to get a portable solar setup at some point. Something that I could use to charge AA and AAA batteries, batteries for power tools, run a laptop, run a radio, etc. Maybe a mini fridge and a small TV if I'm feeling ambitious. I want the setup to be mobile.

Unfortunately, the solar industry seems to be very much still in a DIY stage, with little information out there--at least that I've been able to find. Sure, there's the little foldable Solio chargers, but those are good for recharging a cell phone or iPod and not much else. And there are couple cheap looking solar battery chargers--which may honestly be a good "first step" for a neophyte like myself. Beyond those, we get into pricey foldable solar panels like the Brunton SOLARIS.

During some web searching today, I came across this company--Powerenz--which has several setups that look to be exactly what I'm looking for. They've even got camo colors and Maxpedition or Pelican cases for some of their models. Very cool--but very expensive, and to me, it looks like they've just purchased components from other companies, put their branding on them, put the components together into "kits" and then charge you a premium.

I may be wrong, and they've certainly got the setups that I'm looking for, but I'm left with the feeling that I could do a little bit of learning, source the components myself, and put together my portable solar set up for less. Crazy? Not much savings there? Let me know.

So, does anyone have any good resources, tutorials, etc. for this kind of portable set up? Foldable panel, fairly lightweight battery, durable--total setup under about 30 pounds. Looks like I will need a 30-60 watt panel--maybe more. From my web searches, it looks like the panels will run $500-$1000--pricey indeed. If possible, I'd like to keep the whole set up under $750--hoping that it's possible.

So--if you've got any knowledge of portable solar--or know where to find it--please share! Any panel recommendations (# watts, model, etc.) or battery type would be greatly appreciated!