Solar Skills

Basic Operation

It has two output ports and 1 USB mini

USB mini – Yes, you can charge it off the wall and the power packs can take wall power. It can also take a 20 W solar panel if you want faster SunCharging.

USB 2 – In the middle is a fast-charging USB port to charge your device quickly

USB 1 – On the fast side is a USB port that puts out the same amount of energy as the solar panel makes so you can effectively charge right off the sun and conserve your reserve power.

⚠️Wall Charge before leaving on your adventure or if you drain power pack to zero

⚠️ SunCharge in direct sunlight when not in use

⚠️You may have to tap the button to charge some devices.

⚠️Always make sure the two metal tabs on the back of the power pack line up. You can put them in upside down!

⚠️The power packs have a built-in flashlight

⚠️ With two power packs one can be swapped out while the other SunCharges

Core Guidelines

SunCharging is a lot like sun tanning: do it in the open sun and not in the shade, behind a window, or in a sheltered area. It is supposed to be laying out in the open – they are built for this!

In simple terms, suncharge more than you use it to charge devices and power will always be there for you.

Protect the power pack or power station from direct sun.  This is non-essential, but it reduces pointless wear and tear on the systems.

This can be done on the mini SunCharger by flipping the power pack under the solar panel it’s attached to.

For SunChargers we just tuck the power pack under the panels (which can help angle them) or throw a backpack or towel over them.

Finding a Site to SunCharge

When you get to where you’re going: look around for wide-open spaces with few trees facing south, west, or east. Your goal is to get a minimum of 4 hours of direct sunlight. 6-10 hours is much better.

The panels will produce their rated power output when they are in full, direct view of the sun.

“Point them toward the sun” – This means having them at a slight angle so that the sun is perpendicular to the panels and panels are angled at the sun.

At any given time, this is the premium setup for the solar panel. Since sitting around playing with your solar panels is not the adventure of a lifetime, all you can do is think about ways to keep them pointed at the sun for as much time as you plan to be away.

Place Directly in Sunlight

Find a clear area with a south-facing view to get the most direct sunlight.

In full sun, mini SunCharger produces 1000mAh per hour.

The easiest way to suncharge is to lean the mini SunCharger facing south. This generally provides 6 hours of quality sun.

Finding South

Using a compass or phone app, align yourself to face the north indicator. Directly behind you is south where the sun shines most!

Once facing south, look left and right. To your left will be due east were the run rises, and to your right is west where the sun sets.

The sun arcs from east to west as the day passes (15º an hour). Be aware of what is west of you, because a good site can become shaded within a few hours.

On The Move

With your back to the sun, zip the battery into your backpack.

Day Time

Leave it angled facing south between 10 a.m. & 4 p.m.

Sunrise / Sunset

Flip the panels due east or west to get sun at dawn or dusk.

Lounging

Lay mini SunCharger flat on any surface for low effort SunCharging.

The Movement of the Sun

The sun rises in the east and arcs across the sky moving steadily west at 15 degrees per hour until it sets in the west. We are in the northern hemisphere, so the sun “leans” to the south.

East – Sunrise, and the 4 hours after, is when it is best to have your panels pointed just south of due east.

South – From about 10 am to 4 pm is when it is best to have your panels slightly tilted to the south.

West – if you are setting them up after 5, or get back to camp and want more energy, then take them to the western clearing you found and watch the sunset with someone you love (even if that’s yourself or a pet).

SunCharging

Flip the power pack behind the panels to shield it from excess wear and tear.
*Note: it can handle moderate rain exposure, but be sure to dry all components completely.

mini SunCharger is a 3-season outdoor system. It is not designed for use on your dashboard and results of window- charging will vary.

For the best experience, use two power-packs.  This allows one to always be charging while you take the 2nd battery with you for daily use.

Light Conditions

The power of the SunCharging is directly proportional to the intensity of light.

Full Sun

Efficiency: 100%

mAh per hour: 1,000

Partly Sunny

Efficiency: 60-80%

mAh per hour: 600-800

Partly Cloudy

Efficiency: 40-60%

mAh per hour: 400-600

Indirect / Window

Efficiency: 20-40%

mAh per hour: 200-400

Full Clouds / Rainy

Efficiency: 0%

mAh per hour: Conserve or wall charge

b3lineicon|b3icon-calculator||Calculator

Solar Math

*Note: ” / ” means divison

Q: How many times will mini charge my device?

A: SunCharger battery (mAh) /
Device battery (mAh)

Q: How long will it take mini to make the power for my device?

A: Device battery (mAh) /
*mAh per hour, by weather

Power Bank Use

Each battery stores 10,000 mAh(approx. 2-3 cell phones)

The Display

Sun icon: Shows battery is SunCharging

Bars: Each represents 25% battery life

Ways to Set Up

Flat – You are free just to let it out at the table you are sitting at, though this is not optimal, it works as long as it’s in the sun. This is a decent setup and makes it really convenient for using the system.

Tilted – Or leaning against something. This is particularly useful when you go away for the day just lean it against something to the south.

Flipped – When catching the sun at dawn, or dusk, just flip it so that the whole panel is facing that direction. This will make more sense when it’s illustrated.

Zipped – This only applies to the mini SunCharger. Since the powerpack has no solar panel on it you can sip
it into any pack of your choice, or even tie it on a dog or bike. As long as the solar panels see the sun they will
turn it into useful electricity!

Special powers – SunChargers and Portable power systems have their own advantages. The panels can be put on top of things like roofs, vehicles, etc, and then a long wire can be run to where you are sitting behind some cover. Again, make sure this roof has a clear view of the sun for some time. It can be pointed East, South, or West … never north or in a shady area! Solar power has no place in the shade!

Predicting Solar Performance

Basic Idea – Solar panels are like large light intensity meters where the intensity of light = amount of power you can collect from SunCharging.

Clear Skys – Solar Panels will perform at their rated levels.

Partly Cloudy – When clouds come and go and there are intermittent blue skies, we have measured 60%-80% performance on our solar systems.

Cloudy, Foggy, and Hazy – If the sky is grey, find another way. Low light conditions yield 5%-20% solar performance. If you want power on these days, you may best spend your time charging off an outlet, generator, bigger power bank, or solar panel.

Snow – If it’s cloudy it will dominate performance, but if it’s blue skies, you may see better performance because of the extra light bouncing off the snow.

Seasonal Considerations

As long as the sky is blue the Solar Panels will perform at rated power. The problem is in the winter, the days are shorter and it clouds more frequently. If you want predictable 4-seasons power, either get the biggest solar panel for your system or move south.

Our experiments have shown the following performances:

Summer – Great
Spring – Good
Fall – Good
Winter – Ok

Conserve Your Reserve

This is not a joke: Batteries really don’t like being drained all the way to zero. This is true no matter who says otherwise. It is really true with solar because solar power systems have to work harder to charge from 0% to 50% than they do from 50% to 100% because of science.

All you need to know is that you should SunCharge the more that you use it and keep a little on reserve.

This is called float charging, and it means you keep the batteries with enough power to charge your main devices on reserve, and the battery floats like a glider instead of sinks like a stone to zero.

If you are constantly draining your batteries, you either need to use it less or get a bigger system. You will likely not have the best solar experience if you maintain these habits

If you drain your power system all the way, it’s best to find an outlet to charge it back up, at least for a couple of hours to reset the battery. Otherwise, it can take a really long time to suncharge completely. I have given you advanced notice!

The Mystery of Electricity Solved Simply

Predicting power is easy if it’s explained clearly. This is a start, feel free contact us if you have any questions!

The amount of energy any solar panel can make is linked directly to the intensity of light and the size of the solar panel. When the sun is full and direct the solar panel works at full strength. The bigger the solar panel is the higher full strength is. The size of the solar panel is limited by what the battery it’s charging (and the budget you wallet) can take.

Wh – watt-hours are the measure of energy available divide it by the watts of a given device to predict how many hours it can run.

SideKick SunCharger – 140 Wh

FreeLoader SunCharger – 465 Wh

Watts – This is the amount of energy needed to run a device or be produced by a generator (solar panels).

The amount of time you can run something is Time = Wh (storage)/Watt (device).

Example:

A 24” TV with a USB DVD player uses about 45 W. So a Freeloader lets you watch about 465/45=10.3 hrs of TV. Predicating some losses, expect 8 hrs.

The amount of time to produce stored energy is Solar panel Watts x hours of direct sunshine.

Example:

A 100 Watt solar panel produced 100 Solar Watt per hour. In 6 hours will produce 100 x 6 = 600 Wh. Since that is more than the 465 Wh capacity of the FreeLoader that should be enough time in the sun to restore it to 100 %

Efficiency -If the conditions are not quite perfect you can reduce the rating by one of the factors given in the predicting performance section.

Example:

On a partly cloudy day pick 70% efficiency so 6 hours of partly cloud sun gives .7 x 100 = 70 Solar Watt panel instead of rated 100 Watts. For a partly sunny day the panel is only going to produce 420 Wh

Yes 100% = 1 , 70% = 0.7 , 50% = 0.5 and so on. Look up at the Predicting Solar Performance notes.

Thanks for learning a little math. If you get this, pat yourself on the back!

You Are a Solar Genius Now!

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