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Discussion in 'Photovoltaics' started by Igi, Jan 9, 2005.

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  1. Igi

    Igi Guest

    I'm starting a long bicycle trip shortly and, because I use the trip for
    some investigations, I take along a laptop. Besides that there are
    further needs for power, e.g. camera, light, etc.
    I'm not very proficient in electronics but as far as I understand, I can
    go for a 12V system and look for devices that support car adapters
    (lighter plug) or I could use an inverter (to 230V in my case) and use
    the normal adapters.
    What are the advantages and disadvantages of the two options and which
    one would you choose?
    Has anyone got experience with such a setup?
    Any recommendations for panels that are best fitted onto a bicycle?

    Thanks a lot,
  2. Steve Spence

    Steve Spence Guest

    I'd go native 12volt for everything you can. Saves on the small wattage
    loss in the inverter, and cuts down on the equipment required. saying
    that, some items are not cheaply converted to 12vdc, so using a inverter
    might be a smarter move.

    Steve Spence
    Dir., Green Trust
  3. Remember that a lot of laptops run at voltages higher than 12v, but the
    inverter (yes that's how they increase DC voltage) in the DC adapter for the
    laptop will have a lower loss than a combination of the inverter and and the
    power adapter. Most laptops will REQUIRE a universal adapter as the OEMs
    don't typically make 12V adapters. For you lighting, if you only need a
    small amount of light to light your keyboard (and maybe a surrounding area
    of a few inches), go with a USB light, this will run off the laptop, so you
    don't have to worry about power for the light, but your laptop battery won't
    last as long per charge. Cameras can be tricky, if you can use rechargable
    NiMh AA cells for you camera get a 12v charger.

    Since you will be on a bike, you will not be likely to be able to use a
    solar charging system, so you will have to charge the battery pack from the
    mains. If solar charging is needed, you may have to camp out for a few
    hours to a few days depending on your charging system and battery size.
    This setup will get heavy so be prepared to pack lightly for everything
    else. If I had more information about your trip, I would be able to help
    you more.
  4. ptaylor

    ptaylor Guest

    Why not use a dynamo used for bicycle lights? (I'm sure some of you
    remember those tire-rubbing noise makers)
    That way you could power/charge stuff while you ride all day.
    I've seen some newer designs for dynamo-hub's for the wheels,and
    apparently they are available with a fair amount of output power.
    Maybe one in each wheel if you need to?
  5. Gymy Bob

    Gymy Bob Guest

    I can just see it now. Picture this!
    -Riding down the hiway with two huge generators, one on each wheel.
    -Large sign on the back with the lamps sequence flashing a huge right arrow
    for the traffic to use the other lane passing.
    -Bike rider swearing out loud "Why is this damn bike so hard to peddle? Why
    is this damn bike...?"
  6. Mel

    Mel Guest

    Most dynamos I've seen have an on and an off - so when you need to
    charge, you can; just be aware that whatever goes into the charger isn't
    going to push you forwards.


    ymy Bob a écrit :
  7. ptaylor

    ptaylor Guest

    Yes,it does..
    But adding 10-20lbs of solar panels will require energy to move also,not
    to mention the possible aerodynamic issues..
    Besides,where are you gonna put solar panels on a bike? I suppose you
    could put one across the handlebars,but that brings up the aerodynamic
    issues again..You could mount them along the sides(probably better
    aerodynamically),but your legs will be covering part/most of them..
    If you're gonna be riding the bike anyways,ya might as well charge *as*
    you ride,instead of waiting around all day for batteries to charge from
    If the terrain has lots of hills that you'll be riding over,you could
    just switch on the gen as you coast down the other side of the hill.

    I used to have one of those "tire-eaters" on an older mountain bike I
    had.I remember feeling a little drag in the wheel,but I think alot of
    that was just the little metal generator wheel trying to spin against
    the tire.It was noisy,and ate tires up,but it worked,and didn't kill me
    to ride a mile or two with the generator on,hardly noticed.Granted the
    load on that little generator(and then my legs)was only a couple watts.

    About a year or so back I was reading about bicycle dynamo's and
    lighting systems.They've made leaps-and-bounds since those "tire-eater"
    days.The brushless hub-generators are supposedly pretty efficient,with a
    higher output(some up to like 30Watts I think.),and one guy said on his
    site that his hub-genny system was unnoticable,even under appreciable
    load (recharging his dead batt.pack for the lights.)
    Some of these guys are running some serious lights on thier bikes,and
    don't seem to complain about the drag from it much.

    I know the energy has to come from somewhere (IE,the rider of the bike.)
    but compared to the energy you're expending to move the bike,I don't
    think a couple more watts will be too noticable..
    Granted a 50W generator loaded down will make it difficult to pedal!
    Just be sure to pack an extra energy bar or two. ;-)
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