Solar Charger for Digital SLR

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Solar Charger for Digital SLR

Postby MrFaulty » Wed 01 Mar, 2017 3:32 pm

Hi, I know there have been many discussions on this, but I am after clarification as to what sort of system I would need to charge a Digital SLR via solar panels - I am purchasing a charger with USB adaptor off Ebay. the battery is 7.2V, 1200mA, 8.7Wh. I have been told that the Powemonkey sold by Wildearth is what I need but I was hoping there may be a cheaper alternative as this is likely something I wont be using too often.

Cheers
Ben
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Re: Solar Charger for Digital SLR

Postby madmacca » Wed 01 Mar, 2017 7:58 pm

Batteries are generally quoted in mAh at 3.7V, so your camera battery would be the equivalent of 2400 mAh at 3.7V.

You are probably better off just getting a reasonable size powerbank, rather than solar panels, and just charge the camera from that at night.

For one thing, you probably don't want to leave your camera sitting out in the sun. Partly for protection, and partly because you are probably out with your camera during the day. Also, panels need to be deployed during the couple of hours either side on noon to be effective, while a powerbank is far more portable.

Say around 10,000 mAh to give you approx 3 charges. If you were going to be off-grid for longer than that, but camping in a base location, then a solar solution may make more sense.
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Re: Solar Charger for Digital SLR

Postby MrFaulty » Fri 03 Mar, 2017 8:17 am

Thanks, yeah, it is a 15 day walk. Aiming to have the camera around my neck and the solar panels on my backpack with the batteries being charged inside
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Re: Solar Charger for Digital SLR

Postby Aushiker » Fri 03 Mar, 2017 3:11 pm

MrFaulty wrote:Thanks, yeah, it is a 15 day walk. Aiming to have the camera around my neck and the solar panels on my backpack with the batteries being charged inside


How many photos do you really think you will take? Lets say your camera battery can handle 350 photos, so over 15 days that is 23 photos a day. Take two batteries and you can take close to 50 a day. Seriously I would be taking a look at the capacity of my camera battery and then looking at a realistic number of photos per day and then taking an appropriate number of batteries. Much lighter, and hell of a lot less hassle.
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Re: Solar Charger for Digital SLR

Postby MrFaulty » Fri 03 Mar, 2017 8:27 pm

Thanks. Your probably right and your spot on 350 shots per battery. But travelling half way around the world and don't want to run out - also aiming for some video so reckon I'd need 7 batteries
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Re: Solar Charger for Digital SLR

Postby keithy » Fri 03 Mar, 2017 8:54 pm

Hey Mr Faulty

You'd want to look for a USB input charger, depending on what your camera brand/model is. There are a few "universal" chargers out there so you can move the +/- terminals to fit your camera's batteries if they don't make a specific USB input version. Check with local Camera stores if you don't have time before your trip.

Some universal chargers http://www.digitalcamerawarehouse.com.au/prod13671.htm
https://www.cambuy.com.au/products/inca ... sb-devices
https://www.amazon.com/Neewer-Battery-C ... B00ZHJ8TH0 or https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0057R2ZJA for Canon LPE6 DSLR batteries
http://www.lightinthebox.com/kingma-dua ... 35369.html or http://www.lightinthebox.com/kingma-dua ... 80900.html for Nikon DSLR Batteries.

(NOTE I am not endorsing any of the above shops - they were just in the first few results from Google search. I have one of the Inca universal battery chargers, and another unbranded USB charger for my old Nikon DSLR)

For the solar side, I have taken a number of my panels overseas to directly charge devices and charge powerbanks. Charging while walking is not efficient and some devices/chargers/panels will not restart charging when the panel is shaded. Charging when stationary at camp is much more efficient, but you will do better if you also need to move the panel to face the sun as it rotates.

If you get a solar panel with USB output, you can use it in conjunction with the USB input on the abovementioned charger.

That said, I recommend that you get a good quality powerbank, which you can use a solar panel to recharge first, and then use the power bank to charge the batteries when required, and then you can also recharge your camera batteries at night.
madmacca wrote:Batteries are generally quoted in mAh at 3.7V, so your camera battery would be the equivalent of 2400 mAh at 3.7V.

Most DSLRs still do not use USB inputs for charging (usually only for PC connectivity), due to the different battery voltages. Smaller digital cameras do indeed use 3.6V-3.7V lithium batteries, but AFAIK DSLRs still use batteries ranging between 7.2V - 7.4V.
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Re: Solar Charger for Digital SLR

Postby MrFaulty » Tue 07 Mar, 2017 2:32 pm

Thanks, I have a FZ1000 (panasonic). I found a charger but have been told that as it is a USB charger it is only 5v - very confusing. I might end up taking 7 batteries!
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Re: Solar Charger for Digital SLR

Postby keithy » Tue 07 Mar, 2017 7:45 pm

MrFaulty wrote:I found a charger but have been told that as it is a USB charger it is only 5v - very confusing. I might end up taking 7 batteries!


5V would be correct for the INPUT as it is USB. But the charger will usually have a voltage converter that will increase the charging output.

For example, the ones I linked above have outputs around the 8V mark to charge their respective batteries.

I had a quick look for you and this one from Hama https://www.hama.com/00081388/hama-trav ... -dmw-blc12 for example. Assuming the DMW-BLC12 and DMW-BLC12E batteries are the same for your Panasonic FZ1000, that is.

It has a 5V INPUT, but 8.4V OUTPUT so it is capable of charging your spare batteries via USB. If you can ration your battery use, you might be ok with your 7 battery setup.
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Re: Solar Charger for Digital SLR

Postby MrFaulty » Wed 08 Mar, 2017 8:11 am

Thanks, so what solar charger would charge my battery in a reasonable time frame using this USB setup - reasonable time frame I take to be about 6hr - the only one I have had recommended that might do the job is an extreme powermonkey
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Re: Solar Charger for Digital SLR

Postby keithy » Wed 08 Mar, 2017 9:50 pm

MrFaulty wrote:Thanks, so what solar charger would charge my battery in a reasonable time frame using this USB setup - reasonable time frame I take to be about 6hr - the only one I have had recommended that might do the job is an extreme powermonkey


In that setup (with an external USB input battery charger), it can depend on the brand/type of charger you get. Most of them output around 8.4V at 0.5A or 0.6A. The FZ1000's battery is a 7.2V battery with a capacity of 1200mAh, so I would expect that a good 5V solar charger would charge a battery from 0 to full in good sunlight conditions in around 2 to 2.5 hours if you charged it directly. It is easier to charge up a USB powerbank then later use that powerbank to charge up the camera batteries.

The Powermonkey stuff used to be great when they first came out (around 7 years ago), but these days that whole extreme monkey setup is quite heavy and the solar output is a little low. 3W output for the weight you carry is quite low. And in optimum conditions, the extreme powermonkey still needs around 20+ hours to fully charge with it's solar panel. In real world conditions, don't be surprised if this means three days charging.
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Re: Solar Charger for Digital SLR

Postby MrFaulty » Thu 09 Mar, 2017 7:54 am

Thanks, can you recommend a solar charger that would be good?

Thanks again
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Re: Solar Charger for Digital SLR

Postby keithy » Thu 09 Mar, 2017 1:17 pm

Did you check out BarryK's post viewtopic.php?f=21&t=22455

The model that he's got is quite light and decent for a USB output solar charger. Only thing is that if you get it from overseas, you will have to wait for delivery, so it might not suit your time frame.

If you were in Melbourne, I would be happy to lend you one of my older panels to test out how they work with your charger.

I still have these solar chargers:

  • Goal Zero Nomad 7W 430g
  • Instapark Mercury 10W 500g
  • Goal Zero Nomad 13w 750g
  • Blitzwolf 20W high efficiency panel 550g
  • Sunkingdom 6.5W high efficiency panel 250g

I've spotted some lighter designed 6W panels using the newer high efficiency panel without the extra weight of a cover (they made one straight on a white plastic board), but I haven't tested it yet so I cannot make any recommendations.
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Re: Solar Charger for Digital SLR

Postby MrFaulty » Fri 10 Mar, 2017 7:58 am

Thanks. time is not a huge issue as not leaving till the end of May so I'll likely purchase one of those from Amazon.

Thanks again
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