Showing posts with label solar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label solar. Show all posts

Tuesday Tip - Phone Charging at a festival

Ah Tuesday. Time for a Tuesday tip.

This week I'm off to a festival and so are many others so I thought I'd refresh your memories about electronics in fields. We all love to get away from it all, when 'all' doesn't mean our mobile phones! I'm as addicted to the online world as the next person and so when I camp I have several options to keep my smartphone charged up (and my tent lit so I can read after dark)

An alternative to using apps and smartphones but still having the ability to stay in touch is of course to take a cheapy phone with a new preloaded SIM (no panic then if you lose it or drop it into the toilet)

For example the Samsung E1200 is available on Pay As You Go (PAYG) for just £5 (when you top up £10 credit) on Virgin. The 800 hours of standby battery life will probably last longer than you do and losing it won’t ruin your whole weekend. It’s the ideal festival phone!
Available from:
But assuming you really do need that power hungry smartphone... First off check your car, many cars have a charger (what was in the olden days the cigarette lighter) some will work to charge a phone via the appropriate cable when the car is switched off - some will not - so check yours. My Fiat for example loses all electric connection when the ignition is off, while my husband's Ford has 2 charging points (one in the boot) that work when the ignition is off.

But maybe 5 days of draining your car battery (and the trek to and from the car park) is not for you. In which case you could try taking a precharged battery power pack, the one I use will charge my phone about 4 times. There are various types and prices, in general the more you pay the more power you'll be storing. Check the output too as some smartphones (and tablets) need quite high amp ouutput. My power pack has two output options via two usb ports, 5V/1A and 5V/2.1A . These power packs need to be fully charged via a plug socket before you leave home.

A third option is a solar back up battery - these too can be charged prior to going away and then refreshed and topped up via the sun. The only problem with them is that to be able to get power on a dull day you need a fairly large solar array. The smaller versions are great but only really work on a sunny day, last year I tested a tiny one and it was hopeless, while my Sun Bell (light and charger) worked well, the Sun Bell has a larger solar panel and can be left to charge even under glass (eg in a car or a conservatory) , it provides a great light and also has a charger point.

Don't for get that some festivals (Camp Bestival included) also offer a charging option, this can cost money though, and you will need to be prepared to leave your phone with 'strangers'.

This year at Camp Bestival I'll be using a few of these options I expect! I normally take the solar lamp away fully charged and the battery back up, if the battery back up charge fails, I move on to the solar. Are you going to be mobile free at festivals this year? Or are you attached to your phone?

Oh and one last thing. The mobile phone signal at Camp Bestival (and many other festivals) can be quite terrible, so power or not, keeping in touch with home or your online friends can prove tricky!

Small But Mighty Camping Light - Review

My favourite solar light company (you can tell a hippy camper when they have a favourite solar light company) has sent me a little Christmas gift!

The rather cute but extremely bright, SunJack. It's not a solar light by itself, it's a usb light, it looks like a traditional bulb and is very light (in weight!) it can be hung up. At first I wondered how I would use it - but I not only take solar camping, but some rechargeable power packs. They are handy on dull days when there is little sun, and can charge phones via USB. It turns out they can power the SunJack too!

To test it I didn't get the tent out, but I did try it on a dark night at home. DD helped to demonstrate the power of this tiny light.

It's a great little light and would be useful with a solar charger with a USB port too. Check out The Solar Light Company for some Christmas gift ideas for the camper in your life (or treat yourself!)

The SunJack® CampLight - the ultimate in portable lighting!  £9.95

It's bright and highly portable. Plug into your powerbank or laptop or any usb connection and off you go.  It lights the equivalent of a 40W incandescent light bulb so is easily bright enough to light a tent or a food preparation area and weighs almost nothing, ok thats not true but it only weighs 100g, roughly 100 Smarties®. 
When connected to the SunJack® Fast Charge Battery (8000mAh) it will light up for up to 20 hours. Amazing. So thats your lighting fixed. The long cable, an incredible 2.1m, allows you more freedom when placing it and it comes with an inbuilt hanger so you can hang it wherever you want.
The latest version only uses 2W of power and even comes with an on/off switch.  The materials used in the construction are top grade so the SunJack® CampLight is durable – shatter, shock, and vibration resistant. 
Main Features 
  • Super bright 8 LED USB light bulb
  • 340 lumens, equivalent to a 40W incandescent bulb
  • 2.1m long USB cord
  • 270 degree beam angle
  • Powered by any USB source
  • On/Off Switch for easy use
  • Compatible with all USB wall plugs, USB powerbanks and laptops

 The SunJack retails at £9.95 but I was sent one free for the purpopses of this review

Free Energy, the power of solar

I was lent a solar light/charger. And also given a couple of solar lights to review by The Solar Light Co.

After a few festivals over the summer (some of which had very few 'sunny' days!) I am ready to report back!

Little Sun Solar Light from the Solar Light Co
The first test was the cute and frankly adorable 'Little Sun'. A cute yellow sunflower shaped solar light, complete with lanyard. Perfect for children to wear during the day and use at night. Having the solar panel on one side meant ensuring it hung with that side on display in the daytime! And at night it's super bright LED light (there are 2 settings but the lower one was always bright enough for us!) was great for walking back to our tent and then had loads of light for getting ready for bead and even reading, and the best thing was you didn't have to worry about falling asleep and wasting the battery because you could charge it again as soon as it was light! The light worked brilliantly (quite literally) at every festival. I would give the Little Sun 10/10 and say it's perfect for kids.

Nokero Start solar light from The Solar Light Co
The second like was the wittily shaped (it looks like an old fashioned light bulb) Nokero Start. Suitable for outdoor use as it has a screw tight seal, it can be set to come on at dusk and then switch off and recharge at dawn. It's a great light. Enough light to see by, including to read. It hangs up nicely in the tent and gives a 'proper light' not a torch beam, so it's good for sharing. The handle can be used to rest it on a surface and angle it too - so it's pretty flexible. I don't love it as much as the Little Sun, but it's a nice light. 9/10

Last is the more expensive but excellent Sun Bell. It is a light and a charger. At home in the sunny conservatory it charged up fully in a day - used at a campsite it didn't fully charge in a day - but then I wasn't around to ensure it's solar panel was in full sun all day. The Sun Bell is fab though. The light is amazingly flexible, can be used on 3 brightness settings and can be used as a torch with a fine beam or when used in the 'bell' it creates a really bright ambient light. We didn't test the 'using the bell as an ipod speaker' but that looked like a fun (if slightly 'neighbour annoying') idea. Because the solar panel is attached by a long lead it's perfect for charging on the outside of the tent while the main light is inside. You can even hang the panel up
Sun Bell solar light from the Solar Light Co
outside if you have a bungee etc. As the panel spent half of each day in the shade it didn't fully charge, but I did manage to get about a 50% charge from it each day for my phone which meant I could tweet and check emails for the full 4 days of each festival. Even on a dull day I had some charge, and you all know I tweet for England!

I'm sure I've missed telling you some vital specification so do check it out on the website. I'll give this product 10/10 too and I have already been told by my camping parents that they want one for Christmas after they saw it in action. They were especially impressed with the quality and the bright light. There are three colours to choose from too - red, green and yellow.

Sun Bell solar light and charger from The Solar Light Co
I'm a sucker for free energy and really love solar when travelling/camping/festivalling. Up until now I've been using a few strings of solar fairy lights and a solar nightlight from the 99p stores! Reviewing these better quality products has made me see the light! (sorry) and I really think you do get what you pay for.

The Solar Light company has a great range of really nice products. The service is excellent, they even send you some seeds to plant to offset the carbon used in delivering the lights! How lovely and green!

Thanks to the Solar Light Company for the loan of the Sun Bell, and for the Nokero Start and the Little Sun.

If you choose to buy any of the products on the site - do say hello to Alan from me :-) 

Update - The Solar light Comapny no longer stock the Sun Bell - they have other new and exciting things though. So take a look

A quick "pre- review" - Solar power, lights, charger, action!

This is a very short review based on a weekend away, a fuller review will appear after I've tested these lights and charger at festivals over the summer,

I was lent a SunBell light/charger by the rather lovely Solar Light Company. They are superbly green and sent me  (as they send all customers) a little tin of seeds to plant to offset the carbon used in delivery of the product! Which was a rather nice touch.

The SunBell sounded so good on the write up I was sceptical...but it is as amazing as it sounds! A full charge on 3 hours of bright sunlight (we've had plenty of that) and it had power to light my tent and recharge my phone!

The ability to pop the solar array outside the tent and leave the battery etc inside due to the 3m cable was excellent.
I might be a bit in love, and I heartily recommend it. My parents. who camped with me were also impressed, enough to add it to the'Christmas wants' list! So that's one Christmas gift sorted. They fancy a yellow one. Did I say it came in various colours? It does, I'm testing a red one.

I am also testing the adorably cute Little Sun (perfect for kids and no danger of them wasting the battery!) and the Nokero Start (rather wittily shaped like a lightbulb, the old fashioned sort)

More news as it happens! Stay tuned...

Night night, sleep tight - Camping sleep mats review

For a long time I have searched for the perfect comfy night's sleep when camping. As I'm in my 50s the simple thin foam mat favo...