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Power Packages

As Featured On EzineArticlesApplication Notes:
Portable Charging Systems For Digital SLR Cameras
Specifically 7.4V camera batteries

This note is provided as a guide to those who want to solar power their digital SLR camera while outdoors & away from household power. For the purposes of this note, we will limit the discussion to cameras that use 7.2V or 7.4V lithium battery packs.

Articles in this series cover camera that use AA batteries, USB charging, 3.6V / 3.7V Lithium, 7.2V / 7.4V Lithium batteries in dSLR cameras & video camcorders.

Manufacturers...

Canon
Nikon
Olympus
Panasonic
Sony

Models...

> Canon 350D
> Canon 50D
> Canon 5D
> Canon 7D
> Canon Rebel T1i
> Canon Rebel XSi
> Nikon D3
> Nikon D7000
> Nikon D800

(see the manufacturer pages for more models)

So, let's get to your 7.4V solution...

Most manufacturers include an AC charger with their cameras, so this is likely the charger you have been using. This is the small charger that plugs into the wall and into which you snap your small camera battery.
Unfortunately, this little charger will not work direct from solar panels, as solar panels are 12V DC, and that little charger wants 120V AC. We could create a portable AC power solution using solar, but it would be larger, more complicated, & costly than you really need.

So, let's look at your DC options...

Modern Outpost stocks a wide range of AC & DC combination chargers for digital cameras. These work just like the one that came with your camera, but these let you charge your camera battery from your house power, car dashboard socket, or solar panel kit. A much better idea!
To find one for your specific camera, first look at the label on your camera's battery pack. It will tell you the model number, voltage (ie 7.2V or 7.4V) and capacity (ie 800mAH). Go to our charger page and find the charger for your particular model. OR, take a look at the universal chargers that can adapt to any camera you wish to use. If it is not listed, send us an email to find out about availability.

Now that you have the DC charger cradle for your camera there are two scenarios for using it:
1. charge the battery pack directly from a solar panel
- or-
2. use solar panel & solar power storage
battery combo

Option 1 : Solar Direct
In a DC-direct configuration, we connect the solar panel directly to
your new DC battery charger. This is the simplest, and least expensive method, since all you need is an appropriate solar panel to go with your battery pack & charger. The one drawback is that the charger itself requires some power to operate, and so the first 2-3 watts of your solar panel's power output will be consumed by the charger, and only power above this threshold will go into your battery pack. This simply means that it will take a little longer to charge your battery.

What panels are best for your battery pack?
In our experience, most 7.4v battery packs & chargers will usually operate well from 5W, or 7W solar panels. Although as mentioned, only the sunlight from the middle of the day, when the panel output is greatest, will be available for charging your camera battery due to the consumption of the charger itself. If you would like to charge other equipment each day, or would like to be able to charge your battery faster, then consider the next size up in solar panel size (ie 10W, 14W). These are usually the best way to go in terms of performance when using a solar-direct system.

Option 2 : Solar Panel with Solar Storage
You might have noticed that in the solar direct option, you can only charge during daylight hours, and even then you are at the mercy of the sun. The way to improve the situation is to add a solar power stoage battery between the solar panel & your new DC camera charger. Doing this allows the solar panel to provide charge to it all day at whatever rate it can, while you have access to the storage battery's reserve any time you need it.
This also means you can usually get away with a smaller solar panel too.

What do these solar power storage batteries look like?
The most popular & reliable model we carry is the Voltaic V72.

For a look at all the models we carry, visit the Battery Pack page.

Here is a diagram that shows how this all plugs together...

Solar battery chargers for dSLR & other cameras: 7.4V canada. Solar battery chargers for dSLR & other cameras: 7.4V canada.

Here are a few examples of popular dSLR supporting power systems...

Panel, Storage Battery, Charger... Here are a few sample systems designed for charging equipment like Nikon cameras in Canada...

Solar Panel (& Storage Battery)

Charger

Performance

Kayak 7
Powerfilm R7 panel + V72 Battery

Depends on your Nikon model

See below

1-2 dSLR batteries /day

Kayak 14
Powerfilm R14 panel + V72 Battery

2-4 dSLR batteries /day

Trek North 10
Powerfilm F10 panel + V72 Battery

1-2 dSLR batteries /day

Trek North 20
Powerfilm F10 panel + V72 Battery

2-4 dSLR batteries /day

Trek North 6D
Enerplex Kickr IV panel + PowerPack Dynamo

Pixo C-USB

0.5+ dSLR batteries /day
USB-based

And, for those who head overseas, here are a few sample systems that can best handle Nikon charging at altitude, and in hot climates...

Solar Panel (& Storage Battery)

Charger

Performance

Nepal 17
Voltaic 17W panel + V72 Battery

Depends on your Nikon model

See below

3-6 dSLR batteries /day

Sherpa 50 Kit
Goal Zero Nomad 7 panel + Sherpa 50 Battery

1-2 dSLR batteries /day

Fuse 10
Voltaic 10W Panel Pack & included V72 Battery

2-3 dSLR batteries /day

Nepal 6
Voltaic 6W Panel + V44 Battery

Pixo C-USB

1-2 dSLR batteries /day
USB-based
Please send us your questions

We'd like to hear from you.
Where are you going this coming season, and what equipment do you need to keep charged?
We'll help you get the best charging system to meet your needs.
Email details to: mail@ModernOutpost.com

NOTE:
At this point, we are still talking about a DC-only solar power system. Using a DC charger will help save some of the precious electrons your solar panel produces. By not using an inverter to create household AC power, only to convert back to DC for charging your battery, you will save approximately 20-30% of your power.

If you really need household AC power, then send us a note, and we will design a system to meet your needs.


Articles in this series cover camera that use AA batteries, USB charging, 3.6V / 3.7V Lithium, 7.2V / 7.4V Lithium batteries in dSLR cameras & video camcorders.


Was this application note helpful? Let us know!

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