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Old Feb 26, 2013, 04:40 PM   #1
hansmueller
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Macbook Air powered by sun

I would like to power my Macbook Air 11" via solar power when outdoors and travellling. Has any of you guys experience with that?

I thought the "Sherpa 50 Kit" (includes solar panel and battery) from Goalzero (see http://www.goalzero.com/sherpa50.html) could do it, but I am not sure. The output from the battery is 19V and I think the Mabook Air requires 16V. Moreover, I do not know if and which additional adapters I would have to use?

There are plenty of other solutions, of course. Most notably various solar panels from "Brunton" (for example http://store.bruntonoutdoor.com/port...olaris-26-12v/) and the the "powergorilla" battery from powertraveller (https://powertraveller.com/iwantsome.../powergorilla/). But I have not figured out how it would all fit together yet.

Thus, if you have found a solution that works for you I would be most interested to hear. Thanks a lot!
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Old Feb 26, 2013, 07:51 PM   #2
Mrbobb
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There should be more people interested in your subject at the Outdoors forum etc.

HERE, you are asking couch potatoes.
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Old Feb 26, 2013, 07:57 PM   #3
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I think the first option would work. As long as you are using the MBA charger it will convert to the appropriate voltage.
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Old Feb 26, 2013, 10:28 PM   #4
BeeJee
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That Sherpa is pretty sweet, but $500?
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 05:22 AM   #5
hansmueller
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mrbobb View Post
There should be more people interested in your subject at the Outdoors forum etc.

HERE, you are asking couch potatoes.
Yeah, you're probably right. So just consider this as a "rise and shine!" post or something like that ...
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 08:36 AM   #6
ctdonath
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I fiddled with solar-powered charging a while back.

The oft-overlooked imperative is continuous long-term unshadowed solar exposure. If you're going to mount solar panels on your roof, fine. Otherwise, it's surprising how hard-pressed you may be to find somewhere to leave the panels exposed for ~10 hours: shadows move, you move (travel every few hours), theft & damage concerns abound, clouds are frequent. You very well may become dismayed at the expense & hassle. Often the only time you'll be sitting still long enough to effectively put out a panel is night .

You may very well live a lifestyle and location where solar charging is viable. Don't be surprised if you don't.

For an interesting alternative, see http://www.biolitestove.com - a portable wood stove with thermoelectric generator.

Could you elaborate on your planned scenario for charging the MBA?
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 09:49 AM   #7
travis.jennings
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get past magsafe first

I looked at external batteries before, one issue with Mac in general is the magsafe cable so you need to get around that. Converting power to AC with an inverter then back to DC is dumb. But Apple does not make it easy to get DC power directly to mac. Their "Airline plug" has been discontinued.

Here are some links to get you thinking the right way. Once you get a cable into the mac from an external battery, connecting that to solar or cig lighter or whatever is easy.

http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1385372
http://www.hypershop.com/HyperJuice-...e-USB-s/91.htm
http://mikegyver.com/IdeasnProducts/

Last edited by travis.jennings; Feb 27, 2013 at 09:55 AM.
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 09:57 AM   #8
FuNGi
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Those options you posted are overpriced. Check out the V60 battery and panel options from a company called Voltaic. I bought three panels, the battery, and the magsafe adaptor cable then built my own foldable fabric sheet to hold the three panels. Mind you, it will take ~10 hours of direct sun to boost up the V60 so if you are looking for all day productivity you are going to need more panels. If your needs, like mine, include a few hours of work every other day while traveling or in the field (I'm a field ecologist), then this can work and is relatively cheap. The V60 can also top off your smart phone, ipad, or camera battery.

Also, call the people at Voltaic and tell them your needs and they will help you with your order. *I am not affiliated with this company but like there customer service and pro-peace corps (read low budget) approach.

http://www.voltaicsystems.com/10wattkit.php
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 10:13 AM   #9
hansmueller
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Originally Posted by ctdonath View Post

Could you elaborate on your planned scenario for charging the MBA?
Thanks for suggetions on the the CampStove. However, it seems that this only provides a USB output, so it is not really suitable.

Initially I thought of doing the following:

Goal Zero Nomad 27 solar panel -> powergorilla battery -> MBA

The Nomad 27 [http://www.goalzero.com/shop/p/10/No...ar-Panel/3:4/] is fairly large when unfolded but still compact and light enough to be carried around. The powergorilla battery [https://powertraveller.com/iwantsome.../powergorilla/] can provide 100 Wh and is thus very powerful; it should be able to provide more than one full charge for the MBA, i.e. 5 h of working time (if we believe Apple ...). It also has also an additional USB ouput and can therefore charge other devices, such as an iPhone, for example, simultaneously. The problem with the powergorilla battery is that it requires at least 16V to charge, but the Nomad has only 12V output. This meens that you would need an additional adapter to convert the 12V output into 16V. But I want to carry around as less stuff as possible.

I also considered the Brunton Solaris 26 as a solar panel [http://store.bruntonoutdoor.com/port...olaris-26-12v/] which is lighter than the Nomad 27, probably more robust, and smaller when folded. However, it is also twice the price of the Nomad and there are the same connectivity problems. Then I thought of combining the Solaris with the "Impel2" battery from Brunton [http://store.bruntonoutdoor.com/port...2-trade-black/] which has a capacity of 13000 mAh and an output of 4500 mA with 16V and should thus, if I am not mistaken, power a MBA for about 2 hours. But this combination is about 1000 $ and, although the battery seems robust, it is not as powerful as the the powergorilla that offers 21000 mAh.

Next, I noticed that the powergorilla can be combined with the "solargorilla" [https://powertraveller.com/iwantsome.../solargorilla/] which offers "ready to go pack". What I do not like about the solargorilla is that it is rigid and may be less powerful than the Nomad. And, again, you will have to connect a car charger socket to the powergorilla, and then connect an Apple MagSafe Airline Adaptor to the car charger and, if you use the lastest MBA, also a MagSafe 2 to Magsafe 1 converter to connect the Airline Adaptor to the MBA. Too many pieces that can get lost!

Currently, I tend to go for the "sherpa 50 kit" [http://www.goalzero.com/sherpa50.html]. It seems as if this package offers the best value. The Nomad 13 solar panel is compact, light weight, foldable and probably more powerfull than the solargorilla [???]; the sherpa battery offers with its 50 Wh only about half of the power of the powergorilla but likely enough to recharge the MBA once and is also compact and light weight; finally using the sherpa laptop powering kit [http://www.goalzero.com/shop/p/157/S...-MacBook/4:10/] you can connect the stuff togehter fairly simply, although this setup seems to be almost equivalent to the powergorilla with any solar panel.

If you are interested you may want to have a look at this very good article -> http://globetrooper.com/notes/solar-power-macbook/

and let me know what you think.
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 10:24 AM   #10
hansmueller
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FuNGi View Post
Those options you posted are overpriced. Check out the V60 battery and panel options from a company called Voltaic. I bought three panels, the battery, and the magsafe adaptor cable then built my own foldable fabric sheet to hold the three panels. Mind you, it will take ~10 hours of direct sun to boost up the V60 so if you are looking for all day productivity you are going to need more panels. If your needs, like mine, include a few hours of work every other day while traveling or in the field (I'm a field ecologist), then this can work and is relatively cheap. The V60 can also top off your smart phone, ipad, or camera battery.

Also, call the people at Voltaic and tell them your needs and they will help you with your order. *I am not affiliated with this company but like there customer service and pro-peace corps (read low budget) approach.

http://www.voltaicsystems.com/10wattkit.php
Thank you for this suggestion!
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 10:30 AM   #11
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10W (or 13.5W for the Nomad 13) isn't a whole lot of energy, especially when it's solar as that's a best case rating. Add the inefficiency of the required DC/DC converter(s), the batteries, the need for sunny days and actually pointing the panel directly at the sun. Handy in a pinch but I wouldn't count on it for a primary power source.

If it were me I'd consider something a little more battery friendly such as an iPad and keyboard and possibly a portable USB charger like the 60Wh Trent ones. If you can find one of those A5 iPad 2 your battery will last a long time.

If the MBA is a must then perhaps a HyperJuice battery pack (designed for MacBooks). You're still carrying a MagSafe charger and a battery.
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