Solar Chargers for Drones

This post details how to use our solar chargers for drones. We explain how to connect from our battery to most drones on the market and set expectations for charge times. If you have questions about a drone that is not listed here, feel free to reach out to us directly.

NOTE: Many of these drones require a lot of power to operate for a relatively short amount of time. We recommend that you review the specifications and make the appropriate choice for your particular application.

 

Phantom 4 Solar Charging, solar chargers for dronesSolar Chargers for Drones – DJI

In general, the easiest way to charge a drone battery is by connecting our V72 to a car charger designed specifically for your drone’s battery. You can often find third-party car chargers that are much less expensive than the ones sold by the drone manufacturer, but you will be taking a risk with quality. If a car charger is not available, you must use a LiPo battery balancing charger or hack your drone’s charging cable to connect to one of our Voltaic cables (you risk over-charging the battery since there is no circuitry to balance the drone battery cells, so proceed down this path at your own risk).

The real-world recharge numbers below include the loss that occurs when you transfer power from one battery to another.

Charges from Voltaic Battery Pack (V72)

Battery % Refill from V72
DJI Mavic (with 2 x V72s) 250%
DJI Phantom 2 87%
DJI Phantom 3 73%
DJI Phantom 4 61%
DJI Inspire 1 (TB47) 50%
Yuneec Breeze 391%
Yuneec Typhoon 4K 83%
Yuneec Typhoon H 63%
Parrot Bebop 2 167%
3D Robotics Solo 65%

 

Solar Charge times for V72

Panel Size V72 Solar Charge Time
10W Kit (Three 3.5W Panels) 12 hours
17W Kit (One Panel) 6 hours
Arc 20W Folder 5 hours

 

DJI Mavic Pro

The Mavic Pro is compact and lightweight, and has a much smaller battery than other DJI drones, but is currently *more* difficult to charge than other DJI batteries.

The 43.6Wh smart battery used to power the Mavic has a minimum current threshold that is required to reliably charge it. Tests in our lab have revealed a single Voltaic V72 battery cannot output the required current to charge the Mavic battery. We’ve tested two V72 batteries connected in parallel, which increases the current output to about 7 amps while maintaining a constant 12 volts, which did meet the smart battery’s requirements to accept a charge. Test results revealed a completely flat Mavic battery will charge to full from 2 V72’s in 90 minutes using the setup below:

The splitter cables are currently available on our site. Additionally, you’ll need to use the car charging socket that ships with all V72’s and a Mavic car charger as shown above.

Note: The DJI branded car charger does not work with this setup.

Here is a list of everything you’ll need to keep your Mavic charged up wherever your adventure takes you:

  1. Arc 20W Solar Charger Kit
  2. Extra V72 Battery
  3. Mavic Splitter Cable
  4. Mavic Car Charger

DJI Spark

The Spark is DJI’s latest and smallest drone. DJI claims a 16 minute flight time from the 16.87 watt-hour battery, which you can charge from the USB port on any Voltaic battery pack using the micro-USB to USB cable included with the Spark.

Estimated Spark battery charges from Voltaic batteries are as follows:

V15 (15 watt-hour) = 70% Spark charge

V44 (44 watt-hour) = 175% Spark charge

V72 (72 watt-hour) = 340% Spark charge

DJI Phantom 4 

The Phantom 4 was the first drone from DJI with automatic obstacle avoidance and visual tracking of its target. It boasts 4K video resolution, 28 minutes of flight, and 44mph top speed. By using the Phantom 4 Car Charger, its 81 Wh battery (15.2V 4480mAh) will get about 60% recharge from our V72 battery.

Check out this video or this video of Voltaic customers charging their Phantom 4’s.

DJI Phantom 3 

The Phantom 3 is the most diverse single product in DJI’s lineup, as you decide between the Standard, Advanced, Professional, or 4K model of the Phantom 3. Check out DJI’s comparison page to see the differences between Phantom 3 models.

By using the Phantom 3 Car Charger, the 68 Wh battery (15.2V 4480mAh) will get about a 75% recharge from our V72 battery. There are plenty of third party car chargers on Amazon or eBay for the Phantom 3 and we’ve even hacked a cable from the DJI standard charger when there was no other option.

DJI Phantom 2 

The Phantom 2 is an entry-level drone for beginners that is much less expensive than other Phantom models. It has a smaller battery than the Phantom 3 or 4, so by using the Phantom 2 Car Charger with our V72 you can get almost a full recharge for the 58 Wh battery (11.1V 5200mAh).

 

DJI Inspire 1 

The Inspire 1 uses a monster 130 Wh TB48 (22.8V 5700mAh) or 100 Wh TB47 (22.2V 4500mAh) rechargeable battery. Fortunately there is an Inpire 1 Car Charger available through DJI that can provide the pure sine wave necessary to recharge this battery.

Unfortunately since these batteries are so large, you will not get a full recharge from our V72 in one sitting. The TB47 will fill up around 50% from a full V72, and the TB48 will fill up around 38%.

Yuneec Breeze

The Breeze is a relatively inexpensive drone that still boasts 4K video performance, though only 12 minutes of flight time. No car charger currently exists for the Breeze 12.8 Wh battery (11.1V 1150mAh), but you can use an 11.1V LiPo battery balancing charger with a 12V input from our V72 to get over 3 full recharges.

Yuneec Typhoon H / Typhoon 4K

Typhoon drones come standard with car chargers, so no additional purchases are necessary. The Typhoon 4K 60 Wh battery (11.1V 5400mAh) gets approximately an 83% recharge. The Typhoon H has six propellers instead of four for more stability and load carrying ability. It’s 80 Wh (14.8V 5400mAh) battery will get about a 60% recharge from our V72.

Parrot Bebop 2

Bebop 2 is also relatively inexpensive for casual drone users, and while it does not shoot 4K video it can be piloted directly from your cell phone. Even though no car charger exists for this drone, you can use an 11.1V battery balancing charger with a 12V or 16V input to get over 1.5 recharges to its 30 Wh battery (11.1V 2700mAh).

3D Robotics Solo

3DR Solo uses a GoPro to capture video similar to the Phantom 2. Currently, there is no car charger available for the Solo, but we have successfully hacked a Solo charging cable to our V72 output cable to charge the battery directly. Pictures attached below. Contact us directly for more info about this solution, as it is very possible to accidentally plug in the cable backwards and fry your battery. You can also use our 5V-9V regulator cable to charge your Solo controller.

Hacked Pics for 3D Robotics Solo

3DR Solo, solar chargers for drones

solar 3D robotics Solo, solar chargers for drones

Solar 3DR Solo, solar chargers for drones

 

 

 

Solar Charge Phantom 4, solar chargers for drones

Hacked Cable Pics for Phantom 3

solar drone cable, solar chargers for drones

 

solar chargers for drones, battery for drones

 

About The Author

Testing / Product Development Engineer

Got an idea for a solar powered project? Let us know about it! Drop me a line and I'll see if I can help out

30 Responses

  1. Divyesh

    Which type of battery can you supply for 11.1 and which type of solar panels? How much time take panels to recharge battery?

    Reply
    • Tony Kauffmann

      The V72 laptop battery will recharge the phantom battery and any of our 10W, 17W, or 20W solar options will charge that battery

      Reply
      • Tlhabano Mmusi

        Hi there,

        I thought the solar panel is mounted on the drone to charge it while its airborne?

      • Tony Kauffmann

        the size of the solar panel necessary to charge the battery would be impractical, and anything small enough to fit on the drone would not be powerful

  2. Rashid Ellis

    Maybe not indefinite flight, but maybe extended fight, with respect to aerodynamics? could there be a benefit to solar additives to the phantom?

    Reply
    • Tony Kauffmann

      The battery’s positive and negative leads need to be exposed to recharge it, and they can’t be exposed when the drone is in flight because they are connected to the drone to deliver power. You have to remove the battery from the drone to recharge it with our solar battery.

      Reply
  3. thomas freddie

    Might be off topic but do anybody know i there is a solution for on ground solar charger?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Tony Kauffmann

      We have many ground solar chargers, check out our Shop Gear page

      Reply
  4. Barry

    Hello,

    Do you make any products that will charge the inspire 1 drone batteries? I am heading off on a film project to a remote area soon and hope to be able to charge from solar power if possible. I read that the batteries need pure sine wave power as they are high capacity, do your products provide this type of power? If so what would the charging time be?
    Many Thanks
    Barry

    Reply
    • Tony Kauffmann

      You can use this DJI Inspire 1 car charger with our V72 laptop battery: http://store.dji.com/product/inspire-1-car-charger-kit

      I can’t comment on charge times because we haven’t tested the Inspire 1 battery, but based on its specs the Inspire batteries are very large so you won’t get a full charge from our V72. The TB47 will get about 55% recharge from a full V72, and the TB48 will only get about 42% recharge.

      You may want to consider bringing multiple V72’s to get a full charge for mission critical shoots.

      Tony

      Reply
  5. Matthew

    Hello,

    Can you daisy chain multiple panels together to charge a single V72? i.e. one Fuse 10w backpack panel, and two additional Fuse 6w panels.

    Scenario: 10w panel mounted on back of backpack, two 6w panels mounted on the top and either side (depending on direction of sun) of backpack, all charging a single V72 battery?

    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Voltaic Systems

      You can connect multiple panels (or sets of panels) together as long as the voltages roughly match up. So you could combine a Fuse 10W which outputs 18V (three 6 Volt panels) with 3 x 6 Watt panels (the ones on the Fuse 6W) connected in series. You can connect the three panels together using our three panel circuit box.

      Unfortunately, this gets messy really quickly. It would be better to combine it with either our 17 Watt panel or Arc 20W panel.

      http://www.voltaicsystems.com/17-watt-panel
      http://www.voltaicsystems.com/arc-20w-folding-solar-panel

      If you want to combine the Fuse 6W / 6Watt panels, we suggest using these edge mounts
      http://www.voltaicsystems.com/edge-mounts-2
      http://www.voltaicsystems.com/3-panel-6v-18v-circuit-box

      Also, here’s our blog post on combining different power sources – http://www.voltaicsystems.com/blog/combining-non-matched-power-sources/

      Reply
      • Matthew

        Thank you for the information.

        What is the viability of mounting the 17w model in some sort of backpack mounted configuration. I know it would be awkward but do you have any pictures or information regarding someone that has mounted the 17w model in a backpack configuration?

        I need a configuration that can charge an Inspire 1 battery to full capacity in a day. Per the specs listed above the 17w model could charge an Inspire 1 battery to full capacity in approx. 11 hours. This is fine, however, I will be hiking the majority of this time so the configuration needs to be backpack mounted.

        I will also be carrying the Inspire 1 in the same backpack so the panels need to fit around it. Here is the backpack I am using.

        http://www.511tactical.com/all-hazards-nitro.html

        If you click on the second picture you can see the expandable space in between the front and main compartments. This is where the Inspire 1 will sit. Ideally, I could mount the Fuse 10w model on the front compartment, and a 6w model on the side. And it would be relatively easy to jerry rig an additional 6w onto the top. The 17w model would be preferable, however, due to its size would be difficult to mount/carry with the Inspire.

        Can you provide a picture of the 17w model next to a standard size backpack for reference?

        Thank you.

      • Brian McCann

        Hi Matthew,

        Here is the picture you requested for the comparison of the 17W panel to our Array backpack.

        17W Panel vs Array Backback

        If you use the 17W panel with the corner mounting system it is capable of being mounted via a bungee/paracord mounting system.

        Hope this help!

  6. Ariel

    Hi,
    I dont understand why a 72Wh battery only charges 75% of a 68Wh battery (the 68 Wh battery (15.2V 4480mAh) will get about a 75% recharge from our V72 battery)

    or is it 95% ? there are 2 different info on your page and I did not grasp the difference .
    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Tony Kauffmann

      Hello, thanks for pointing out a typo in the blog. The correct number is ~75%.

      The reason a 72Wh battery does not provide a full recharge to a 68Wh battery is there are electrical inefficiencies that lose power along the way. A 72 Wh battery will not provide exactly 72Wh because of this loss, and a 68Wh battery requires more than 68Wh to full charge because of this loss. In total, we’ve calculated about a 30% loss from one battery to another from many different devices. That is how we calculated the 75%.

      Reply
  7. antoni murcia

    Regarding Mavic Pro:

    I measured 5 Amps going into the car charger adaptor of the Mavic Pro, which makes sense, taking into account the specs found in DJI site:

    Input Voltage: 12.3-16 V (Sedan); 25-30 V (Coach)
    DC Output: 13.05 V; 6 A; 78 W
    Charge Time*: 54 min

    will the V72 voltaic Battery be able to deliver that much current ( 5-6 A) ?? in the spec page it seems limited to 3.6 Amps….

    Reply
    • Tony Kauffmann

      Hello, yes our V72 will still charge the Mavic Pro, we even have a customer who confirmed it works. Normally batteries do not require their max input amps to be able to charge, so even if the V72 charges it at a slightly slower rate, the drone battery will still accept power from the V72.

      Reply
      • Matteo Accornero

        I just received the Array solar backpack and it’s V72 battery pack. I tried to recharge my Mavic Pro battery with it using the Mavic Car charger adaptor but it doesn’t seem to work. The green led on the charger ,after a few seconds it’s connected to the V72 and the battery, will start flashing really slowly and the pattern of the battery’s led is not matching the intended “Charging mode” . Any ideas?

      • Tony Kauffmann

        Hello, there can be 3 possible explanations for that. 1 is that the V72 is set to 16V or 19V by accident, while the car charger is expecting 12V. Please confirm the V72 is set to 12V. Second possible explanation is the drone battery always blinks the LED’s like that when the car charger is used. Can you charge your drone battery in a running car with the car charger to compare the blink pattern to the V72? and third possible reason is the LED’s blink in relation to how quickly the drone battery is charging, and the V72 might be charging it slower than the AC charger. In that case, it simply requires more time to charge than the AC charger but it will charge fine nonetheless. Feel free to respond via email to support@voltaicsystems.com for further questions. -Tony

  8. PlanetVisible

    I have a question regarding charging the DJI Mavic Pro battery daisy chaining two V72 like in your example above. You are mentioning a charging time of 90 min. which is great but can you give us more detail about the number of batteries that could be charged that way using 2 fully charged V72 daisy chained? Thank you

    Reply
    • Voltaic Systems

      A bit more than two charges.

      There is a loss going from one battery to the next (20-30%). Each V72 is 72 Watt hours and the Mavic is 43.6.

      Reply
  9. Jeffrey Thompson

    7/22/17….HI, I have several questions and the answers will help me and maybe others should they have the same issue.I wish more detail info would come with products for those who are not electrical engineers.I have the Arc 20w kit with one v72 battery.I just received the NANUK 904 Solar ready case along with a 4ft,and 10ft extension cables.I see how to charge by solar the v72 while in case using extensions.Question:I can’t charge the v72 by solar at the same time I charge another device that is outside of case?also.your on a kayak that has a DC car type out. You want to charge the V72 by 12v DC with the battery in the case at your feet.How does the cable go thru the water tight seal on the Nanuk case.Can the cable already in the case be switched or are there adapters .I want to be able to protect v72 battery in case while charging either phone,tablet or using the car charging adapter outside the Nanuk.Again would like to be able to charge v72 in nanuk case by the voltaic car charger cable coming out of case to DC on car or kayak.I also plan on having the option of charging my DJI phantom 4pro batteries on car charger from either car, kayak, or v72 battery in Nanuk case.My Drone battery is 15.2v rated capacity 5870 mAh, 89.2 wh. I understand I may need another v72 battery with splitter cable.Question:will (2) v72 batteries fully charge this drone battery? I believe Jeff said 2 V72’s will fit in a Nanuk 904. How can I have the voltaic car adapters output or input go thru the water tight valve. I’m not sure about unscrewing that on case or even if wire is switchable.Sorry about long message.I just wanted to make clear my questions I hope.

    Reply
    • Voltaic Systems

      Hi Jeffrey –
      1. Yes, you can charge the V72 at the same time you charge your devices
      2. We haven’t designed the case to accept another input from say a 12V DC battery, but we could potentially hack a cable so that the DC charger has a male 3.5×1.1mm connection with the waterproof plug. Email us at support@voltaicsystems.com with that request
      3. Yes, you can fit two x V72s in the Nanuk 904 – There tends to be about a 30% loss going from battery to battery so 2 x V72s will give an effective charge of about 98 Watt hours which would more than fully charge the drone battery – however, nothing beats testing as the 30% is an average across a wide range of device tests

      Reply

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