Welcome to the Hardened Power Blog!
We hope that the HP Blog proves a useful resource for information, tips, and real world examples of our mission statement:
“We help you get more out of the gear you already have.”
So, let’s dive right in with some basic truths about portable power, and consider our portable solar generator, the JuiceBox G2.
First, something I am not supposed to say:
If you are new to portable power, you will probably be disappointed in the performance of our JuiceBox.
Most people simply do not appreciate what it takes to deliver electrical power from something that is portable. This is understandable, with the proliferation of grid power and relatively inexpensive electricity. We flip the switch, we get light. Flip the switch, get coffee, cook a meal, surf the web. The amount of energy, or ‘work’ that flows out of the ubiquitous wall socket is hard to appreciate, and we generally take it for granted.
As soon as you endeavor to take a useful amount of stored ‘work’ and make it portable, the compromises begin. First, batteries are relatively heavy and bulky. Second, most common electrical devices are designed with performance as the primary goal and efficiency as a secondary goal.
The first question you should ask is what do I expect a Solar Generator to do? If your expectations are not realistic, you will be disappointed every time. For example, we had an unhappy customer who bought a JuiceBox to run Christmas lights. He had several hundred feet of AC powered incandescent bulbs, and was very surprised when the JuiceBox would not run them for more than a few hours. We were able to make the customer happy (by suggesting LED lights instead of incandescent), but it would have been better experience if his original expectations were more informed.
Another customer, who did some research before he bought and called us a few times with questions, has a different story:
“Bill, I wanted to drop a quick note with an update. If you remember, we live in an apartment in the South, and we lose power at least a few times a year mostly in the summer. I cannot have a gas generator. This last storm was why I have a Juicebox! We woke up Saturday morning to no power. I grabbed the juicebox from the laundry room (it stays plugged in all the time) and moved it to the living room. I plugged the solar panel in and draped it over the railing on the balcony. First thing was to plug in two small 12 volt fans I bought at a truck stop after the last power outage. It was already getting stuffy, and the fans helped a lot. I used an extension cord and plugged in our router and modem to the juicebox and used the laptop to check local news (I really need a battery powered radio!). Anyway, we were able to keep our phones charged, watch some movies on the laptop, run the fans, and have light that evening. Power came back shortly before we went to bed. I also helped a few neighbors that needed their phones charged. My wife likes the juicebox more and more! Thanks for making such a cool little machine.” D. Webb, Charleston, SC
Two very different stories, primarily due to the user’s expectations and the intended application.
Another basic truth about portable power:
Truth: A dead battery weighs the same as a charged battery.
Personal experience: A dead battery feels like it weighs twice as much.
Lesson: Have multiple methods of charging, especially solar!
I cannot stress this enough. A JuiceBox is a valuable tool, but without a reliable means of recharging, it can quickly become a liability instead of an asset. Our 27 watt folding solar panel can recharge the JuiceBox G2 in about 8 hours, and we modify that panel so it can fit inside the JuiceBox itself. Also, since you can solar charge the JuiceBox while you are using it, you can greatly extend the amount of stored power.
You can also use a larger solar panel, up to 60 watts, and cut that charging time in half. AllPowers, for example, makes a great 60 watt folding panel that is a direct connection to the JuiceBox G2. It is too large to fit inside the JuiceBox, but it is powerful and Amazon has a screaming price. Click the link below to check it out:
QOD, LOD, TOD:
Quote of the day:
“You know you’ve achieved perfection in design, not when you have nothing more to add, but when you have nothing more to take away.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Links of the day:
Dave and Beth Pruett do a fantastic job with their preparedness business, AMP-3. Fair prices, fast shipping, and some of the highest quality gear available. As an Emergency Room Physician, HAM Radio Operator, and instructor, Dave walks the walk. His medical and trauma kits are the real deal. Dave and Beth are also prolific YouTubers, and I encourage you to check out their channel.
Thought of the day:
‘Good enough’ is the enemy of great. We should be reluctant to accept ‘good enough’ too easily. It can become a habit, and that habit can foster a willingness to expect mediocrity.
Feel free to comment below. Thanks for spending a few minutes with us!