This is our latest iteration on our Solar Array…
Okay… I admit I get a little sheepish when I pull out the solar storage box and see all our various bits of gear. It's a bit embarrassing how much there is… after all, you can only carry so much on a hike.
There is obviously a bit of a back story:
After the AAWT we changed to their new V50 batteries and an ARC 10W panel, which had the benefits of a smaller form factor. We took this on our shorter Goulburn hike, and it even charged my phone up 25% on a dull day.
When we'd bought the new ARC 10w panel I'd also bought new batteries and a new fixed 10W / 6V EFTE Panel for home charging (We also use our hiking arrays and batteries when we're home, to keep the batteries healthy and save that little bit of extra power when charging our devices, mainly).
After we returned from Goulburn (on which I'd thought the folding panel had performed extremely well), I noticed a difference between the 10W folding panel and the 10W fixed panel and the amount of battery they charged.
So I did a bit of testing, setting them up side-by-side and angled exactly the same. The folding panel charged the same battery type (v50) less than what the fixed panel did. So I asked Voltaic if it was 'normal', and this was their reply:
There is a difference in power, the Arc 10W has regulator, and the voltage difference going into the device means a different charge speed setting.
2W difference would be about 20% difference in charge time to the V50. That would be exaggerated by the linear regulator on the folder which slows down the charge time of a V50 compared to the rigid panel. We do believe these differences are reasonable unfortunately.
This meant a readjustment of our plans and re-thinking how the panel is attached and used on the pack (one of the beauties of the folding panel was that it folded away into the lid of the pack when raining, which meant that the batteries and connectors were always kept dry).
The design is simple: tie the four corners of the panel to four different anchor points on the pack with tiny carabiner clips (for easy on-and-off attachment). The guys lines with line locks to tighten the attachment, and I crossed the lines from right-to-left and left-to-right across the pack to ensure that the panel doesn't move sideways.
I love the line locks that Hyperlite used on our MID 2, and so bought some to use on these fixings.
I have been using 101 Knots as a reference for all my knot tying for some time… I identified the Trilene Knot as an appropriate one to use.
The panel is extremely stable (I can't move it laterally at all), so I'm pretty happy. Previous attachments always had issues with the panel sliding left or right when doing something odd (like crawling under a tree blocking the track). I'm pretty sure this is going no where (except forward with us).