Solar Batteries 101 with Goal Zero

Written & published on Solar Batteries by Goal Zero on their Off The Grid blog

Solar Batteries 101
Photo Credit: Goal Zero

Not a Solar Scientist? That’s OK. We’re going back to the basics of keeping your batteries healthy and your solar panels hot!

SOLAR BATTERIES 101

GOAL ZERO utilizes the latest and greatest in battery technology to accompany you on all life’s adventures. From versatile and lightweight lithium ion, to the robust and powerful Lead Acid, we’ve compiled some helpful tips to keep GOAL ZERO batteries their best.

i. Batteries need exercise.
The best thing for any battery is to use it. Don’t leave a charged battery sitting around,unloved and unused for long periods of time.

ii. The “Battery Memory” myth.
Thanks to old Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd) batteries, there’s a myth running around that you should completely drain your batteries before plugging them in for a recharge, called “deep cycling”. Although true with NiCd batteries, the typical batteries you’ll find in most of your gear today, including the advanced lithium and lead-acid batteries used in your GOAL ZERO rechargers, require no such draining. In fact, you should avoid deep cycling your batteries- it does more harm than good in most cases.

Solar Batteries - Myth Busted
No draining required!

iii. The “Stadium Effect”.
The stadium effect occurs when recharging your batteries. You’ll notice your battery quickly filling up in the beginning, then slowing down noticeably when trying to charge up the last several percentages. think of how quickly a stadium fills up when the doors first open- there are hundreds of open seats so it’s easy to find the one you want. Eventually there are only a few open seats here and there and people have to maneuver around to find a spot and filling those seats takes longer. The same theory applies to recharging batteries. It’s easy for energy to flow in and take up empty space in the beginning, and as time goes on and there is less space available, it takes longer for the energy to fill in those holes.

iv. Read the Manual.
Yeah, it might be a long read, but the manual is the best place to find the dos and don’t for the battery in your specific device. Reading your manual will ensure you’re taking steps to keep your batteries happy and healthy.

SOLAR 101: GOAL ZERO makes it easy to recharge your gear from the sun- we didn’t invent solar power, we perfected it. Some things to keep in mind when recharging your gear with solar power:

i. Solar panels don’t store power from the sun, they collect it.
We teach you to collect-store-use, which is the best way to utilize solar power to recharge your gear. Collect the sun’s energy with a solar panel. Store the power in a recharger. Use the recharger to power your gear, day and night. If you’re really a diehard, you can plug your gear directly into the junction box located on the back of our Nomad Solar Panels to recharge from the sun.

ii. Solar works, even in overcast conditions.
Solar panels utilize the UV rays from the sun that can penetrate through clouds. Although the efficiency of the solar panels will decrease in cloudy conditions, you’ll still be collecting valuable power from the sun.

iii. Proper alignment works wonders.
Keeping your solar panel angled toward the sun can dramatically increase solar efficiency. Set it up and let Mother Nature do the rest.

Solar Battery Charging Alignment
Find the sweet spot.

In Focus: Camping / Road Trip Gear

If you’ve followed along with my recent travels, you know I took a trip out to West Texas for a quick four day weekend and after all the dust settled, I decided to make a few videos to showcase some of the products I used. Take a look!

A clean campsite is a wonderful thing and if you’re tired of dirt or sand gathering on your ground covering, the CGear Sand-Free Mat is perfect for you. I recently took the 8′ x 8′ version (we also have a 10′ x 10′) out into the real world so check the video for the verdict!

Adventuring can work up a thirst but with the NRS Dura Soft 6 Pack Cooler, you don’t ever have to be too far from cold beverages. I recently took the cooler on a road trip to test out its cooling powers and the results are in the video.

I used the NRS Dri-Stow dry bag to hold all my clothes and gear on my road trip and used the NRS Tuff Sack dry bag to hold essential “just-incase” items for the car. These are two tough bags that lived up to their initial promise so watch the video for my insight.

If you’re like me, you don’t want to be without your music or mobile devices (mostly…) when you’re out camping or on the water. I used the Goal Zero Nomad 7 Solar Panel / Rock Out Speaker Combo and I wanted to showcase this unique device and those awesome little speakers.

-Trent @ ACK