Solar Panel for Bicycle Touring
Solar panels for bicycle tourers bikepackers are a popular option for staying charged off-grid. Read below to get the most out of a solar panel for bicycle touring and bikepacking.
Power with Limited Downside
Solar uses energy that is readily available: sunshine! A solar panel can provide great power output, conditions permitting, without additional riding resistance or relying on wall outlets. Solar panels can be the perfect fit for bikepackers and bicycle tourers who readily stop on their travels in sunny climates.
Designed for a Specific Riding Style
Solar panels are designed to be used while stationary with perfect alignment to the sun. Solar can be great if you ride with frequent stops in sunny climates. Riding in a desert? You're probably good-to-go. How about riding through a typical United Kingdom overcast climate? Maybe not so much. However, they are not designed to be used while riding a bicycle tour or bikepacking trip. In fact, some companies will void their product's warranties (see here) if used while riding. This limitation is due to:
1) Maintaining solar power output is impractical while riding. A bicycle's constant movement with different angles, tree cover, shadows, etc., means that panels must be routinely adjusted to maintain efficient output.
2) The vibration frequency of a bicycle in motion can destroy a solar panel's housing. Most solar panels hinges and housings are not built to withstand the vibration and movement from bicycle touring and bikepacking. Nearly all readily available solar panels are designed for a general outdoor consumer. Thus, manufacturers forgo the additional epoxy and other fail-safes needed in bicycle-specific electronics. It is not uncommon for riders who ignore this warning to replace their solar panel within a year.
Best Purchasing Practices
There is a multitude of solar options available. It is essential to note which solar panels work best for bikepacking and bicycle touring. See Do's and Don'ts below:
Reliably Charge while Riding?
PedalCell converts your bicycle's motion into charge for your USB devices. Unlike a solar panel, bikepackers and bicycle tourers don't need to stop to charge up their gear. PedalCell keeps working regardless of weather and generates charge as long as you're moving. Moreover, PedalCell is built out of automotive-grade materials made to withstand a cyclist's environment. Spend less time waiting to charge up and more time adventuring on your bike.