ELECTRICITY

Life on a bike trip is quite simple. You sit a lot on the bike, most of the times you sleep in a tent and you enjoy the evenings e.g. with music and reading. That made us ask ourselves: would it be possible to do this trip withoutusing any conventional electricity? Our answer was: On camera, GPS, a laptop to update our website, e-book reader, MP3 players and batteries for lighting we dot want to miss. But we still want to try to not use conventional electricity.
Instead we want to use solar panels and hub dynamos. After quite some research we could find generous supporters, who liked the idea of our tour. At this point we would like to thank Goal Zero, Busch & Müller and Kuhn electronics.

 

Now, after about 7 weeks on tour, we still didn´t consume any power from the grid for our own equipment and we are also very confident that we can continue like this until the end of our tour. Of course, wireless routers in hostels, the lights in rooms of our hosts and other computers sporadically used (e.g. to upload our videos with a fast internet connection) are not operated with our own power.But still we arequite autonomous and our normal power consumption is minimized.

 

We produce enough energy to charge our GPS device, MP3 players, speakers, ebook-readers and cell phones without any restrictions andalso for internet surfing and text editing with our computer, which is a Macbook Pro (not the most efficient),it is enough. Only for the energy-demanding video editingwe sometimes have no energy left, also due to the fact that currentlywe give less priority to it then to other things.


In the following we
will share our experiences  we made with our equipement in every day life (so not under ideal conditions). More precise measurements are still running.

 

First about the hub dynamo chargers. We use two KECHARGERs from Kuhn Elektroniks, and one E-Werk from Busch & Müller which has an associated battery. The KECHARGERs have a 5V USB A female output (standard USB jack, available in various versions). Charging starts at a speed of 9-10 km/h, and at about 14km/hwe were able to measure a maximum charging current of 0.5A. According to our experiences it was possible to charge all common USB devices, except for GoPro, Iphone and Ipod (we confirmed with iPhone 3G and iPod Nano 6th Generation). The charging time equals the charging time on the USB port of a computer (if speed is 14km/h or more).

 

The E-Werk from Busch & Müller has comparably many more settings (voltage up to 13.3 V, current up to 1.5 A, both parameters are in small steps adjustable). Charging starts already at slightly lower speeds and the maximum charging current is higher (1, 5 A). With the battery attached, all standard USB devices can be charged (including our iPhone 3G and iPod Nano 6th Generation). Additionally, the charging continues for some time even if cycling below the minimum speed needed for charging (e.g. when cycling uphill).It is also possible to disconnect the battery from the E-Werk e.g. for charging your devices after finishing cycling in your tent.Further  we use the E-Werk (without it´s battery) to charge a slightly larger speaker which needs a 9V input.

 

Now some information about the solar modules and batteriesfrom Goal Zero. We use the solar panels¨Nomad 7, 13 and 20¨ and the batteries ¨battery Guide 10 +, Sherpa 50 and Sherpa 100¨. A voltage transformer which makes it possoible to use the Sherpa as an ordinary 220 volt power supply (up to 100W) is further connectedto the Sherpa 100. The Sherpa 50 has acapacity of 58 Wh and the Sherpa 100 one of 98 Wh (e.g. our Macbook Pro (early 2011) has a capacity of 63.5 Wh).The Sherpas each have 1or 2 USB outputs, one 12V and one 19V output. Topower the Macbook Pro we use a MagSafe Airline Adapter, which is much more efficient than using the normal plug via the voltage transformer. With the Airline Adapter it is possible to use the computer but not to charge it.Apparently most other computers can be charged directly with the Sherpa, meaning without the converter, with cables, which are already included  when buying the Sherpa, but we have not tested this.

 

Charging the¨Sherpa 100¨ with the¨Nomad 20¨ panel on the bike needs an average of 1.5sunny days.Of courese when cycling we do not always have a perfect alignmentwith the sun (see photos). If completley charged  the Sherpa 100 provides enough electricity for using our Macbook Profor at least 7 hours (more accurate values will follow)ifusing it for text editing and browsing in the internet, and for about 2 hours of video editing.
Charging the 4 batteries with the ¨Guide 10 +¨using the¨Nomad 7¨takes about 3 hours.
User
reviews for the ¨Sherpa 50¨and the¨Nomad 13¨will be given later on.


If you have any questions
concerning the equipment useddo not hesitate to write us an e-mail!We know of course how difficult it can be to get good informationand we would like to help where we can!