Photography and Solar Power

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by juno444444, Oct 4, 2006.

  1. juno444444

    juno444444 TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2006
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    0
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Hi there - I'm a photography student (new) and I have also been doing some research on the use of solar power for running cameras and laptops etc when we are far in the wilderness... does anyone have experience with using portable solar power or know of any good sources?

    Let me know if you have any advice!
     
  2. Rob

    Rob TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2005
    Messages:
    6,217
    Likes Received:
    134
    Location:
    London
    Cameras these days have rechargeable batteries (as do laptops). Batteries of this nature and power generally need a mains charger. AFAIK there aren't any portable solar options which could generate the amount of power which would be needed to charge a battery.

    I'd personally say there's no chance in the near future of anything short of a ten acre field of solar panels being able to recharge something as power intensive as a laptop. That's a guess, not based on science or anything clever.

    Rob
     
  3. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2006
    Messages:
    14,491
    Likes Received:
    206
    Location:
    Europe 67.51°N
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    well, charginge requires usually something around 12 V only. That is why you can charge your laptop in your car for example.

    there are even projects of laptops where you use muscle power to charge it and then use it for say half an hour. this is in the context of giving people in underdeveloped regions without electricity the chance to use a computer ...
     
  4. Rob

    Rob TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2005
    Messages:
    6,217
    Likes Received:
    134
    Location:
    London
    Well without getting into VA / Watts etc... Laptop chargers are generally in the order of teen volts and unit amps, so a power draw of perhaps say 3W for a charger. Having done some quick and very unreliable google research, there are some portable solar chargers out there which produce about half a watt at up to about 2A, which would probably be able to charge a small battery in a matter of a day or so.... so I guess I'm probably wrong and it's possible! You could certainly give a bit of zing to something like a mobile phone or camera battery. Laptop batteries tend to be quite a lot more powerful though.

    Whether it's feasible is another matter, especially considering the proprietory nature of such devices.

    EDIT, that didn't really explain what I meant - Cars are generally in the order of 12V and 30A power supplies (360 ish Watt max), whereas mains is 110/240V and 13A (1-2k ish Watt max). A solar charger is likely to produce about half an amp at say 8V (4W). Therefore, to build the charge (ooh, watch me skip the workings), based on one hour on a mains charger, a car will take two to three times as long and a solar charger 250x as long. So... it would work, 250 hours later... ***

    *** Apologies for bad science. Can you do better?
    +++ Aren't you glad I'm not an electrician!?

    Rob
     
  5. fightheheathens

    fightheheathens TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2005
    Messages:
    1,011
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Berkeley
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    my advise? get a fully manual film camera. only battery needed is the light meter :-D
     
  6. xfloggingkylex

    xfloggingkylex TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    May 5, 2006
    Messages:
    1,292
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Frederick, MD
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Im not too fluent with electrical talk, but here is a charger that can charge an IPOD in 2 to 3 hours. I'm wondering if a modification or combining of two or more of these would be enough to charge batteries, or at least be enough to sustain a camera

    http://www.thinkgeek.com/gadgets/electronic/7d34/
     
  7. captblue1

    captblue1 TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2005
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    new jersey
    you can wire solar panels for a wide range of voltage. we have 12 - 48 voltage systems at my work. i have a couple of 12volt 5 watt trickle charges to maintain the batterys of my toys. i set it up for over the winter and the batterys are in good shape in the spring. the charger you use for the camera, has a wattage on it. or at least it should. this is a good estimate as to what size panel you would need to charge it in about the same amount of time.
     
  8. Azuth

    Azuth TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2005
    Messages:
    262
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Sydney 'strailya
    Here's a reasonable guide - http://www.brunton.com/tech_data/Solar_Power.pdf it's from a product spec but it covers off what size panel can do what. Essentially a comercial & portable panel to put out enought juice to charge a notebook up over about 8 hours will run you $300-$400. You could probably build something more cumbersome for a lot less.

    You'll likely need some sort of car adapter for your notebook to take the 12V supply from a solar panel and step it up / down / regulate it correctly for your notebook.

    Rob, very glad you're not a sparky :)
     
  9. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2006
    Messages:
    6,071
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    in the middle of north carolina
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    and if you use the very old light meters no battery needed at all. I have a half dozen of them. Some are very accurate indeed.
     
  10. W.Smith

    W.Smith TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2006
    Messages:
    440
    Likes Received:
    0
    Carrying enough spare, charged batteries seems a helluva lot simpler...
     
  11. hilasker

    hilasker TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2006
    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    in actuality, laptops require anywhere from 30W to 80W of operating power. smaller electronics need much less. you can figure this out by looking on the AC wall adapter you have for you laptop. multiply the output voltage by the output current. this will tell the power consumption.

    now, there are already commercially available solar power backpacks and bags made for this application. two i know of are called "the Reactor" and "Voltaic". However, these two do NOT have enough power to charge a laptop battery. the highest power output i've seen is only 4W.

    there is also a company that makes rugged, foldable and flexible solar panels for outdoor travel/expeditions and usage. checkout www.ctsolar.com for their products.
     
  12. juno444444

    juno444444 TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2006
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    0
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Hi! I'm back - sorry I was away for a while...

    Thanks, this information is helpful...

    Meanwhile I have found out that there ARE portable solar power devices with enough power to charge laptops. You have to make sure that you get the right one, and it does take longer than charging it from a wall socket!
     

Share This Page