What Voltaic solar chargers can I use to charge my camera?
How do I use solar power to charge my camera battery?
Remove your battery and look for the model number on the pack. This is typically a short alpha-numeric code. Below are examples of the Nikon EN-EL8 and the Canon BP-511 battery types.
Step 2. Purchase the Appropriate Charging Cradle
The charger supplied with your camera most likely requires AC power and may not have the DC power input required for solar charging. We have a variety of battery charger cradles available that accept DC input and have been tested to work well with solar. If you need one we don't offer, typically any camera cradle that has a removable car adapter cable will be compatible with our solar chargers. If you do buy one elsewhere and have one of our V15 or V39 bags, you'll also need to buy our 3.5x1.3 mm adapter to connect to the solar output.
Step 3. Connect the Battery to the Charging Cradle
For 4 Watt and 8 Watt Chargers (Come with a V15 or V39 USB Battery)
Step 4. Disconnect the V15 or V39 Battery Pack
This will ensure the camera cradle receives 100% of the solar power.
Step 5. Switch the Output of the Circuit Box to 12 V
The switch is located inside of the bag.
Step 6. Connect the Camera Cradle to the Solar Output
Connect the female solar output lead to the female input of the camera cradle using the 3.5x1.1 to 3.5x1.3 adapter. (This part comes with our camera cradles but can be purchased here if you purchased your camera cradle elsewhere.)
For our Laptop Chargers (Come with a V60 Laptop Battery)
Step 4. Set the V60 to Output 12 V
Select the 12 V setting on the V60 battery using the switch. The LED will indicate the selected voltage once something is plugged in.
Step 5. Connect the Camera Cradle to the V60's DC Out Port.
Connect either by using the DC Out cable and the 3.5x1.3mm adapter ("O") from the laptop adapter set...
...or by plugging the car adapter supplied with the cradle into the car socket included with the V60...
...or by connecting the cradle directly to the bag's female solar output wire (from the circuit box, which should be set to 18 V if your bag has the option) using either of the connection methods above.
Finally, just point the panels at the sun!
Do I need to test before I leave on my trip?
Yes. Camera batteries can be slightly trickier to charge than cell phones. We've seen some limited issues where manufacturer batteries will not charge from low-power solar. We highly recommend testing your setup before you leave on your trip and contacting us with any questions.
How long will it take to charge my camera battery?
On the battery, you'll see a Voltage (typically 3.7 or 7.4 V) and capacity (e.g. 1200 mAh). Multiply these numbers together and divide by 1,000 to calculate Watt-hours. A 7.4 V, 1200 mAh battery is a 8.9-Watt-hour battery. With our 4-Watt solar bags and solar chargers, each Watt-hour of battery capacity takes about 35 minutes to charge in direct sun. So an 8.9-Watt-hour battery will take about 5 and a half hours to charge. For our 8- and 10-Watt bags, each Watt-hour takes about 18 minutes. Our 16-Watt laptop charger will be slightly faster.
What camera cradles do you have available?
Is there a list of which camera uses which kind of battery?
This is constantly changing, but here is the most recent list based on data from photo sharing site Flickr.
How do you recommend storing my camera gear in your backpacks?
We think both the Domke 414 and the Camaroo Compact III camera inserts fit well in the Array and OffGrid. The Domke 414 holds a lot more gear and is more plush, the Camaroo is better if you want storage room left over.
Here's a short video showing the Domke and Camaroo in the Array Solar Laptop Charger.