30 Dec Keeping Your Electronics Charged on a Bike Tour
Giving Them What They Want
One of my viewer on YouTube, Carol M, commented on my Lumos Helmet review to ask about how I keep my gadgets charged on a bike tour. So I decided to answer her question this week.
The Most Essential
The most essential item to buy when you are trying to keep your electronics charged on a bike tour is a battery pack, preferably something with high milliampere hour, or otherwise known as mAh. Of course with higher mAh rating, you’ll notice that the packs get heavier as well.
So the trick is to find something that gives you a good balance of weight to mAh rating. Having these high-capacity batteries should allow you to charge your devices multiple times before having to recharge the battery pack itself.
How about the sun?
Carol M did mention that she was thinking about using a solar panel. We’ve been carrying a solar panel for a few years now on a few of our trips.
If you’re traveling in places that don’t have that much sunshine, it’s a bit of a waste. But if you’re riding through plenty of sunshine, it should work out very well. Therefore, getting an idea of the area’s weather pattern should be part of the legwork in planning your ride.
Check out my review of the solar panel that we use.
Another way to keep things charged is installing a dynamo hub on your bike to generate electricity on the go. The downfall of this is you won’t be able to charge your device as the bike’s rolling. It just isn’t consistent enough to give you a full charge.
A better idea is to have it charge battery packs instead, so that you can use it off the bike.
My initial thought on this was that the high cost of installing a dynamo hub compared to everything else, just didn’t seem worth it. Of course, if you read the comments for the video, you’ll notice that there is a huge contingency of people using dynamo hubs and loving it.
Finding Places to Charge
So if you don’t have a solar panel or dynamo hub, there are several ways to get power besides asking a restaurant, laundromat, or a library.
Yes, behind those vending machines outside of a supermarket, you’ll find outlets to use. This is probably something the owners of the establishment would frown upon, so asking nicely beforehand would be helpful.
You’ll definitely run into folks while camping who are doing it more luxuriously with an RV or mobile home. Ask them if they can help you charge your device. Offer something in exchange like food, beer, or even money. Most people would do it for free, but it’s good practice to offer something out of respect.
Get a Light Bulb Plug
This was something we read or saw somewhere a long time ago. Go to a hardware store, like Lowes or Home Depot, and pick up a light bulb socket with 2 plugs for about $3. Find a place like a bathroom that has an exposed light bulb. Unscrew that and screw the bulb and socket back in. You’ll have light and power.
Buy GE 54178 Socket Adapter Adds 2 Outlets to a Bulb Socket from Amazon.com. (Affiliate link)
Join in on the conversation
Do you have any other ideas for keeping your electronics charged? Leave your comment here or join in on the conversation on the YouTube video.
Mark ClousePosted at 09:45h, 05 January
Thanks for the info. Really got me thinking.
Cycling RamblerPosted at 13:43h, 28 March
Three tours, and 15k later. I would have to agree to most of what your write up has to say. I’ve found libraries to be very relaxing when charging my electronics. Large super markets usually don’t have a problem with someone using their soda machine’s outlets. I’ve never thought about asking RVers, they seem unapproachable at times. Stand offish and a bit skittish. The bulb plug seems interesting, but doesn’t really feel practical. Many lights are covered and practically impossible to access. I have placed some thought into solar panels, and now seems like a logical investment. Should be great to keep my battery pack topped off.
Thanks for the article, it was great!
Johnny LamPosted at 20:19h, 08 April
@Cycling Rambler – Thanks for your input on this topic. The solar panel have been great for the Southern Tier so far. Keeps the lights and phone charged up especially when the days are starting to heat up.