Some of the reasons you might decide to buy a Powerfilm F15-300 5w Folding Solar Panel Charger
When you go travelling it can be extremely difficult to keep your electronic gismos properly charged up and ready for action. You are constantly hunting for electric sockets that you can plug into, so that you can get some power into your phone, MP3 player, GPS unit and so on. If you have a car then you can at least use a charger that will fit in the 12v sockets that all cars have as standard.
Trouble with charging in a car is that the car will only have one socket and that will lead to a bit of struggle if you have multiple devices. It is possible to get a splitter so that you can plug in two items and some of the better cars have extra sockets for the rear passengers. But what about the rest of us?
If you are not travelling by car then it gets worse. No places to plug in at airports, railway stations and bus terminals and quite unlikely on the planes, trains and buses too. You might get lucky sometimes, but you can’t rely on it. If you are travelling by bicycle or walking for your vacation then it is even worse than when you are travelling with public transport.
Then you arrive to your destination and basically you will be OK unless you are camping. You might not be at a campsite and camping wild. Or the campsite wants extra money to supply electric and your budget doesn’t allow for that. Also you don’t want to take the risk of leaving your electronics in the shower area plugged into a shaver socket. So what are you going to do? Well it is easy if you are in a sunny place, get yourself a folding solar panel charger.
Using the Powerfilm Folding Solar Panel Charger
Right out of the box you will be able to unfold the panels and point them in the direction of the sun. If the sun is obliging and shining on them, you are likely to get .3 amps at 15 volts which works out to about 4.5 watts of power. Some users of the panels are reporting slightly better readings and up to 5 watts of power.
Solar panels are direction sensitive to the point that you have to get the best vertical angle and best compass direction for the sun to get the best charging power. Seeing as the height of the sun in the sky and the earth rotation means the sun is moving in the sky for us, we have to keep checking the panels to keep it optimum. Certainly this is the case if you are charging for a longer period.
You are not going to be able to run a fridge or a television off a Powerfilm F15-300 5w Folding Solar Panel Charger, but you will be able to keep some AA or AAA batteries in condition so that you will have some electric power. You will be able to keep using your mobile handheld GPS and your cameras for longer. You could even use one of these units to trickle charge a car battery.
Cycling and charging an iPod from Solar panels
Why not strap the panels onto the pannier bags of your bicycle, so that you can be grabbing some free electric charging power as you are cycling to your destination. You could rig up the Powerfilm Folding Solar Panel Charger so that it is positioned on the sunny side of your tent and charging up your batteries for free while you are lying in the sun.
I have seen it reported by a user that he was using one one of these on a four and a half week trip on bicycle, to keep charged a cell phone, a couple of bike lights and an iPod. There are accessories you can get to have better use out of the Powerfilm solar panels, such as the Ra-2 Female Cigarette Lighter Adapter and the Ra-9 Charge Controller.
It is possible to buy more than one of these solar panels -as you can daisy chain them together to get more charge. Powerfilm say that they were originally designed for military use, so are very rugged and not easy to break. You could charge more electronic devices, like a satellite phone or an MP3 player if you get an adapter to split the power.
The type of solar material is amorphous thin-film and the Folded Dimensions are : 5.5 x 4.5 x 0.75. Unfolded Dimensions: 25.5 x 11. It only weighs .38 pounds which is 172 grams. Not too heavy to be carrying in a ruck sack, in a cargo pants pocket or in your bicycle luggage. You might be able to get away with carrying in a large pocket in a coat because the Powerfilm F15-300 5w Folding Solar Panel Charger is so small and lightweight.