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A solar panel kit is one or more of our super strong, portable solar panels combined with our adapters, connectors and/or batteries. The possibilities are endless so we narrowed it down to the most popular and useful combinations. In general, we recommend kits for people that are familiar with solar and/or are comfortable experimenting.^back to top
Think about the biggest thing you need to charge and how much you need to charge it. The more solar panel area and battery power you have, the faster your device will charge, but price, size and weight also increase. As a general rule, we recommend:
Cell phone sized devices: 3.5 Watt or higher
Tablet sized devices: 6 Watt or higher
Digital Cameras: 6.8, 11, 12, or 18 Watt (you need 12 Volts to power DSLRs, requiring at least two 6 Volt panels or one 18 Volt panel)
Laptop sized devices, lead acid batteries: 11 Watt or 18 Watt^back to top
It depends. If your device requires a stable, regulated output, a battery may be necessary. Batteries can also be incredibly useful as they store power and deliver it on demand. In general, most laptops require a battery (like our V60). iPhones do not currently work direct from solar panels, but many Android phones will charge directly from 3.5 Watt panels in direct sunlight with our F3511-MicroUSB adapter.
If you have a single panel that you are trying to put into a Voltaic battery, you can plug the panel into one of our Female 3511 adapters and then the adapter to the battery. You will need the F3511-MicroUSB for the V15, F3511-5525 for the V39 and V72. Here is a photo of a single panel going into the V15 and V39 via these adapters.
If you have multiple panels, you will need to use a circuit box. Our circuit boxes have between 1 and 4 solar panel inputs. Here is a closeup of the 2 Panel Circuit Box. There are 2 inputs for solar panels, an output for an LED wire (optional) and two power output cables. On some of the circuit boxes, there is a switch that allows you to change the Voltage output of both the output cables.
In this example, connect the panels to where it says "Solar Panels In". Then connect the battery to the circuit box’s output, in this case the MicroUSB plug. In each of the kits, we suggest the appropriate circuit boxes that will allow you to connect from the panels to your battery.
A circuit box allows you to put multiple panels together. When you combine panels the total power goes up and you can increase current or Voltage of the output. The Voltage switch puts the panels either in parallel or series. As a reminder, in parallel the Voltages stay the same and the current increases. In series, the current stays the same and the Voltage increases. Here are a couple examples:
2 x 2.0 Watt panels going into our 2 Panel Circuit Box
6V Setting – Output = 6 Volts @ 666mA
12V Setting – Output = 12 Volts @ 333mA
3 x 3.5 Watt panels going into our 3 Panel Circuit Box 6V Setting – Output = 6 Volts @ 1.7A
18V Setting – Output = 18 Volts @ 566mA
Here are closeups of the 1, 3 and 4 panel circuit boxes.
It depends on what device you are charging. As a rule of thumb, we find that the Voltage of the solar panels generally charges devices most efficiently when it is 1.5X the Voltage of the cells that it is charging. So if you are charging a 3.7V cell, 6V works well. For a 12V battery, 18 Volts works well. We are assuming you have a charge controller in both cases. Our batteries have charge controllers built in, so if you are using our battery you do not have to worry about that.
For Voltaic batteries:
V15 – 6V
V39 – 6V
V60 – 18V
Note– the 12V and 18V setting will only work if you have solar panels going into all of the inputs. For example, if you have one panel going into a 2-panel circuit box and switch to 12V, the output will be zero.^back to top
If you have a Voltaic battery in your kit, go outside with your kit and point the panels at the sun. The LED indicator on the battery should light up sequentially. If you do not have a Voltaic battery, we suggest using multi-meters to measure the Voltage and current output of the panels.^back to top
Each of the panels has screws embedded in the corners. We use these screws to mount and secure the panels into the fabric of our solar chargers and bags.
You can use those screws to mount onto any fabric, webbing or thin piece of metal. If you have multiple panels, mounting the panels makes them easier to manage.
No. Most devices and our batteries have blocking diodes built in so we removed them.^back to top