This is a place to get advice and find links to cheap offgrid enegy products.
If you would like to support reviewing products click the donate link and add what you wont reviewing in the paypal option :)
Offgride travel with Small Solar Power
If you are taking your small USB powered devices off grid for a week or so then you will need a way to keep them powered up. In this review I look at 2 small folding solar panels. Both will charge a "dumb phone" or a normal smart phone and can charge larger phones or tablets for occasional use.
We have the Goalzero Nomad 7 from the USA and the smaller and cheaper UK based Bimbalesolar panel (A badged china import)
Both have approximately the same power output but the is a large price difference. The Slightly lower powered Bimble panel (6W) is a few years newer than the US panel (7W) thus smaller due to the use of 20% efficient cells compared to 17% for the older panel
The Nomad 7 has a light wait plastic regulator/plug box and has both USB and a 12v output (3-4W) which could be useful for trickle charging lead acid 12v battery’s. But not much everyday use for this function.
- Weight: 16.2 oz (460 g)
- Dimensions (unfolded): 9 x 1.5 x 17 in (22.9 x 3.8 x 43.2 cm)
- Dimensions (folded): 9 x 1.5 x 6.5 in (22.9 x 3.8 x 16.5 cm)
The Cheaper panel has a heavy folded metal box.
Extend Size: 200 x 400 x 20mm
Folded Size: 200 x 155 x 26mm
Is the size and large price diffrence worth it?
The build quality of the Goalzero panel is excellent, with custom components throughout, and it will likely survive for longer with hard use. While the Bimblesolar panel has good build quality and will like survive OK. The cheaper panel might prove to be easer to repair if it fails as it is made with standard components. Both will work fine to charge your small USB device.
On balance the price, and to a lesser extent the size differences makes the Bimblesolar panel the clear winner between the two.
How to use:
If you can turn your device off to charge it as this will reduce charging time. (some devices will not turn off while pluged in such as iphone's)
Use a power pass through USB battery pack to store power while your charging your devices. You must look hard for "power pass though" and pay slightly more for this feature.
Keep your expensive electronics dry, cool, in the shade and out of site.
Take care of your USB cables as they are fragile. If you can use the cable that the device came with as each cable is actually different and can alter charging times. Shorter cabals are better than longer cables in general.
Cheap travel/small screening projector
LED bulbs, cheap lithium battery’s and high power USB charging have changed what a projector is. Its now easily possible to have a full cinematic experience in your pocket and run it for hours on very cheap USB battery’s. The days of expensive, power hungry and fragile projectors are over for all but the most demanding permanent set-ups. The are hundreds of these “micro” projectors available, they vary in quality a lot, here is a review of a good one.
If your looking for a very cheap travel/small screening projector I can recommend this one
Tiny, relatively well made, lots of ports and did I say very cheap.
LED bulb so robust long life and low power.
Plays videos from HDMI, USB thumb drive, micro SD card in many formats (it will not play surround sound audio files). As with many embedded playback devices it can get the aspect ratio wrong this is a normal problem. Will work fine by HDMI with image and sound from a laptop etc.
Used it at a recent all night illegal rave party under a railway bridge to provide background images, plunged into a small USB battery (5000mah) it easily lasted the night on loop.
Fits in your pocket and has a built in battery which last 1-2 hours, charges/runs off standard USB up to 2amps.
Its no were near its rated 800 lumen, more like 50-100 which is normal for a projector this size. You would have to pay something like £500 for a 500 lumen LED projector. Its brighter and the sound is louder if you plug it into a 2amp USB battery/power supply rather than run it off its internal battery.
Sound might be an issue when running on mains power due to hum.
In darkness it creates a large bright (somewhat over saturated) image, like all micro projectors it will struggle to overcome ambient light.
|Display Type||DLP Technology|
|Highest resolution supported||1080p (this is acturly only 854x480 and will be dowen scaled)|
|Brightness||800 Lumens (this is not true)|
|Aspect Ratio||4:3 ,16:9|
|Built-in battery||3.7V 1500 mA|
|Focusing Manner||Manual Focus,F=125|
|Image Size||14 to 150 Inches|
|Projection Distance||35.5cm-430cm(short throw)|
|Power consumption||10W Max|
|Lamp Life||20,000 Hours|
|Interfaces||HDMI/USB/AV/SD/3.5mm earphone jack|
|Supported Video Format|| 3GP(H263, MPEG4) / AVI(XVID, DIVX, H264) / MKV(XVID, DIVX, H264) / FLV(flv1) / |
MOV(H264) / MP4(MPEG4,AVC) / MPG(MPEG1) / VOB(MPEG2) / RMVB(RV40)
|Supported Audio Format||MP3 / WMA / ASF / OGG / AAC / WAV|
|Supported Picture Format||JPG / PNG / BMP|
|Supported Document Format||TXT|
|Dimensions||78*71*24.5mm (L x W x D)|
Have been testing it for a week, so far I would say a buy.
7/10 value for money
Installing new or upgrading solar
Support reviewing offgride tech
Would like to test some bits from banggood for cheap offgride life. If you would like to push me a donation on the button on the left would help to make this happen.
Here are 2 potentially useful pieces of off grid kit
In theory this should charge off a portable solar panel, and run a laptop and any USB device. Almost all of these will fail to charge off 12-14v needing 16-19v to charge properly, this one says it will charge off a boat/car (12-14v) so good to test if this is true so I can recommend it as a backup winter boat/summer travel power source.
This would not only make a good flash light for dark nights on the tow-path it would make a good anti mugging device to scar away undesirables 1000 lumen is blighting bright. The current touch i use for this is only 70 lumen which works fine. This charges by USB so easy plug and forget no battery’s to replace. Will it work? Hands on testing is the only way to tell.
If you would like to support reviewing these products and many others click the donate link on the side bar
Cheap Solar 175W
Best small USB Solar Panel
Solar USB Charger 6W
Simply plug your USB charger into the back of the charger and let the sun charge it back up, good for external USB batterys.
Good for travelling, festivals, trips to the park and charging on your car dash board. If you are traveling then you can use the side tags to strap it to your back pack so it will charge your devices while you walk along. It has a zip up net on the back to keep all your charging cables neatly together.
Maximum Power: 6W±5%
Numbers of Panels:2
Output Terminal: Intelegent USB
Extend Size: 200 x 400 x 20mm
Folded Size: 200 x 155 x 26mm
Bag Material:Fabric (waterproof):PVC
Solar Panel: Sunpower Solar wafer
Zip net to keep cables
- Recharge by: USB, Solar Panel
- Power Output: USB, AA/AAA Batts.
- Ideal for: Phone, GPS, Headlamp
- Kit Includes: Guide 10 & Nomad 7
- Weight: 1.2 lbs
With the Guide 10 Plus Recharger and Nomad 7 Solar Panel you have a portable, rugged charging kit as adventurous as you are. Charge AAs from the sun or any USB port, then power your phone, MP3, GPS, or perk up your tablet in a pinch.
Wind Turbine Generator
Small Nemo 400W wind turbine with controller
1. Light weight
2. Silence blades(10meter noise 58dba)
3. Good alternator output (same wind speed the output power more than other brands at least 15%.)
4. Good wind design(excelent design can be working in 3m/s to 49.2m/s wind speed)
Rotor Diameter:47 inches (1.2m)
Weight:12.3 lbs (5.6kg)
(Shipping: 26.5”x13.8”x8.3” (672x350x210mm) / 17.2 lbs (7.8kg))
Mount:1.5” schedule 40 pipe (1.9” OD, 48 mm)
Magnetic Material: NdFeB (Neodymium Iron Boron)
Shaft Bearing: High Standard Sealed Bearing
Shaft: Stainless Steel
Fasteners (nuts and bolts): Stainless Steel
Start-up wind speed:7 mph (3.13 m/s)
Voltage:12 and 24 VDC
Rated Power:400 watts at 28mph (12.5m/s)
Controller:Microprocessor-based smart external regulator with Peak Power Tracking
Blades:Carbon Fiber Composite
Body:Cast aluminum (Marine is powder coated for corrosion protection)
Energy Production:38 kWh/mo @12mph (5.4m/s)
Warranty:3 Year Limited Warranty
Survival Wind speed:110 mph (49.2 m/s)
Over-speed Protection:Electronic torque control
Battery Bank Minimum:100 amp hours @ 12V, 50 amp hours @ 24V
Smart external regulator with Peak Power Tracking Controller
1. Automatic Circuit Break protection.
2. High wind protection.
3. Constant output power display LED.
4. Over charge protection.
Chargeing your Laptop form solar power
12V Macbook Magsafe2 Laptop Charger, rather than running an inverter and then your standard charger this will allow you to charge directly from your 12V batteries being more effecient and saving you power. Link
12V Universal Laptop Charger, rather than running an inverter and then your standard charger this will allow you to charge directly from your 12V batteries being more effecient and saving you power.
Adjustable output voltage at 15V, 16V, 18V, 19V, 20V, 22V 24V
Support most of the Notebook for HP IBM COMPAQ and SONY (With circle plug) LINK