Rambling #3 – Solar Powered Home to Adventures

My tent in the Silent Valley – To my left is Chamlang (7318m) in the sunrise & to my far right is Everest (8848m) & Lhotse (8516m).

20 years ago, Dad did his homework & started building his solar powered dream home while he was still in corporate building factories & running their operations around the world. He studied, plotted & sketched his dream on flights whenever his laptop battery died. He read every night before going to sleep. He also used to save newspaper & magazine cuttings of concepts, designs & ideas that fascinated him. It was his way of winding down from work. Eventually, solar power became his full-time retirement project that he went on to build his solar powered aquaponics farm & solar farms… and what did I do? I have recently learned to solar power my adventures. That’s a micro start! ๐Ÿ™‚

My $60 solar charger generated more power than Team Mighty Mouse could consume during our 3 Peaks Expedition in Nepal. We shared with the other porter friends so they could continue to play games, take selfies & we-fies on their phones while waiting for their slow & struggling clients like myself. It also saved me from expensive charges at teahouses along the way especially on EBC money-face trek (which could cost up to USD$5 per charge per device & 2x more for power banks!). I was very skeptical when I first got it, but it exceeded all expectations & became our #1 favourite, most loved gadget!

So how do you know what Solar Charger you need? This is what I did…

Step 1 – Identify your battery consumption rate. List down all your gadgets & estimate your battery consumption per charge cycle.

Step 2 – Search for a Solar Charger that will meet your needs – Price, Size, Weight, Output, Style & Quality… don’t forget to read the reviews. So what’s your budget? What’s your trip like? How much output do you need per day? Are you stationed in 1 location or are you moving from place to place everyday? This is what I got from Amazon – BigBlue 5V 28W Solar Charger with Digital Ammeter Waterproof Foldable Dual USB Ports Solar Battery Charger:- https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071G4CQSR/ref=cm_sw_r_em_apip_imIcp5qPLiJaG

Step 3 – Calculate if the required amount of charging time is sufficient to meet your estimated battery consumption rate per day with the power banks you plan to use & the solar charger you plan to buy. (My rule of thumb is lucky #3 – I should have at least 3 charge cycles for all my toys in case there are days where I couldn’t charge. If I have more than 3 bad days of in a row, then perhaps I won’t be using any of my toys & most probably it’s time to call the helicopter & evacuate anyway!)

Step 4 – Try them out at home before the trip! Nothing beats demonstrated data before use & nothing more stupid than carrying dead weight without a purpose. If things still go wrong, then at least I know I’ve tried. Sometimes it could be the cable, sometimes it could be a useless gadget & sometimes the panel just likes it better at a certain angle! Who knows!

My Tip – I use a heavy duty power bank to charge at camp while I use a smaller lighter power bank for charging on the go.

Verdict – There is nothing I don’t like about my lil Big Blue solar charger.

  • It is highly efficient with consistent output – My assumption of 50% efficiency was in fact on the conservative side on most days!
  • Digital Ammeter is great! You can estimate the amount of time it needs before your device is fully charged or simply to adjust the panel to ensure max output.
  • Small, light & foldable which means you have greater flexibility to adjust the angle for optimal charging.
  • 2 USB charging ports for charging 2 devices simultaneously.
  • Big enough zipper pocket to protect both devices from melting away under the direct sun.
  • 4 hooks to keep the panel steady on your pack, at camp or any other location.

The mistake I made during my last trip was, I went over the top with another 2x 10,000 mAh lightweight power bank. Kathmandu airport security confiscated them when I was leaving the country because apparently I had too many battery packs in my hand luggage. I was carrying 4 in total & according to them, by aviation law, it’s only 1 power bank per passenger! What BS! I think they’re just greedy bastards because I have so many fancy toys in my bag. I couldn’t argue & didn’t want to. I didn’t have the information to prove otherwise & they could have taken much more expensive equipment from me because everything has a rechargeable lithium ion battery in them! Anyway, good luck to them in life with my 2 small power banks! I take it as a small donation to get rid of my bad karma.

When I got back, I was so happy with my little Big Blue solar charger that I jokingly said to my neighbour & gym friend who is a renewable energy pioneer in Singapore that I’m slowly following my father’s footsteps & he replied, “It’s the same thing!!! Just multiply the complexity & scale up by the millions” – $100,000,000 solar investment, 100 Mega Watt of electricity from a few hundred acres of solar panels to power a a few thousand homes!! KaBOOM! ๐Ÿคช

I often feel very blessed that I live in the world of abundance (except for my poor bank account that’s always almost starving) because everyday I have more than I could eat, more than I could drink & spend most of my time with some super awesome people! Yet even on the most barren land in the middle of nowhere, I still have the same, plenty of laughter & have more battery power than I could use, enough to share & make everyone else around me happy, too!

Happy People, Happy Team, Happy Adventure! Alright gotta stop reviewing, reminiscing & let’s get packing again…!!! YEEEEAH!!! โค

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