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Has anyone hiked with the Goal Zero Switch 8 Solar Recharging Kit? The whole kit is only 90 grams.

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  • Roleigh Martin
    Has anyone hiked with the Goal Zero Switch 8 Solar Recharging Kit? The whole kit is only 90 grams. Review commentators at BackpackingLight.com on the topic of
    Message 1 of 15 , Jun 17, 2013
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      Has anyone hiked with the Goal Zero Switch 8 Solar Recharging Kit?  The whole kit is only 90 grams.

      Review commentators at BackpackingLight.com on the topic of solar recharger recommend this company and this company's ultralightest product that can do an Iphone (3, 4 or 5) is this one -- actually it will charge anything small (not a laptop) that has a cable that can plug into a USB port.

      http://www.goalzero.com/shop/p/147/Goal-Zero-Switch-8-Solar-Recharging-Kit/1:4//

    • john_friend
      You aren t getting a solar charger for 90 grams. The Goal Zero Switch 8 Recharger (essentially a battery with a USB plug to charge other USB things) is 0.2lbs
      Message 2 of 15 , Jun 17, 2013
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        You aren't getting a solar charger for 90 grams.  The Goal Zero Switch 8 Recharger (essentially a battery with a USB plug to charge other USB things) is 0.2lbs (the 90 grams you mention), but that weight doesn't include a solar panel.  You could use this by itself if you only need a few charges from the Recharger and you started with the Recharger fully charged.

        The solar panels themselves (if you want to charge the Recharger battery or directly charge your own electronics from sun power) is 0.8lbs.  The whole thing looks like about a pound to me (solar panels + recharger storage).  I'm also researching solar chargers for my JMT trip this summer so I don't have any experience with it to share.  My understanding of the advantage of using the recharger is that it works better than some devices with the solar charger (some USB devices don't handle the on/off voltage/current from a solar charger on the move, but the rechrager handles that well) and you can then charge multiple devices from the recharger in the evening after the recharger was charged up during the day.

        --John


        --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, Roleigh Martin wrote:
        >
        > Has anyone hiked with the Goal Zero Switch 8 Solar Recharging Kit? The
        > whole kit is only 90 grams.
        >
        > Review commentators at BackpackingLight.com on the topic of solar recharger
        > recommend this company and this company's ultralightest product that can do
        > an Iphone (3, 4 or 5) is this one -- actually it will charge anything small
        > (not a laptop) that has a cable that can plug into a USB port.
        >
        > http://www.goalzero.com/shop/p/147/Goal-Zero-Switch-8-Solar-Recharging-Kit/1:4//
        >
        > Thanks.
        >
        > Reference source:
        > http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=76488&disable_pagination=1
        > -------------------------------------------------
        > Visit my Google Profile (lots of very interesting research
        > links)
        > _
        >
      • Jim W
        Bought a Goal Zero Nomad 7 solar panel at Costco. It s the newer one with a zippered case to hold a device being charged. Spec weight per the package is 0.8
        Message 3 of 15 , Jun 17, 2013
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          Bought a Goal Zero Nomad 7 solar panel at Costco.  It's the newer one with a zippered case to hold a device being charged.
          Spec weight per the package is 0.8 pounds.  Actual weight is 15.7 ounces, or 1.0 pounds.

          Took it up Big Pine Creek this weekend for some "real world" testing at 9,000' elevation in the Sierra.
          In bright mountain sun with the panel propped against a plant for best charging, I got about 40% charge per hour into my iPhone 4s.  This was pretty consistent both late afternoon and mid-morning. 

          The Nomad 7 panel is rated at 7 watts under perfect conditions, but the built-in USB converter is rated 5 volts at 1 amp, or about 5 watts.  

          I didn't get one of the battery units- they offer the Switch 8 and Guide 10 models.  I figured charging directly to the iPhone or Kindle would be more efficient than using an intermediary battery.  After my test I'm happy with the output.  We will have 2 iPhones, a Kindle (original model), 2 iPods and possibly a camera that charges from USB.  We should be able to keep them all working by charging only during longer breaks and in camp.

          If I was planning to use the panel strapped on top of my pack I would use a battery unit- intermittent sun like you would get hiking past trees supposedly confuses the smarts of smartphones and they stop charging.

          I'm not happy with the Nomad 7's weight.  It's 3 ounces more than the claimed spec.  Keeping four people's devices charged will be worth the weight, but I wish it was less.

          Jim
        • Roleigh Martin
          Thanks Jim, I found out that REI sales the kit with the 3.5 Nomad Panel which is 4.7 oz lighter.
          Message 4 of 15 , Jun 17, 2013
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            Thanks Jim, I found out that REI sales the kit with the 3.5 Nomad Panel which is 4.7 oz lighter.


            I've ordered it to see how it works out.  Some others told me that was the lightest unit that they liked.

            -------------------------------------------------
            Visit my Google Profile (lots of very interesting research links)
            _



            On Mon, Jun 17, 2013 at 9:11 PM, Jim W <jimqpublic@...> wrote:
             

            Bought a Goal Zero Nomad 7 solar panel at Costco.  It's the newer one with a zippered case to hold a device being charged.
            Spec weight per the package is 0.8 pounds.  Actual weight is 15.7 ounces, or 1.0 pounds.

            Took it up Big Pine Creek this weekend for some "real world" testing at 9,000' elevation in the Sierra.
            In bright mountain sun with the panel propped against a plant for best charging, I got about 40% charge per hour into my iPhone 4s.  This was pretty consistent both late afternoon and mid-morning. 

            The Nomad 7 panel is rated at 7 watts under perfect conditions, but the built-in USB converter is rated 5 volts at 1 amp, or about 5 watts.  

            I didn't get one of the battery units- they offer the Switch 8 and Guide 10 models.  I figured charging directly to the iPhone or Kindle would be more efficient than using an intermediary battery.  After my test I'm happy with the output.  We will have 2 iPhones, a Kindle (original model), 2 iPods and possibly a camera that charges from USB.  We should be able to keep them all working by charging only during longer breaks and in camp.

            If I was planning to use the panel strapped on top of my pack I would use a battery unit- intermittent sun like you would get hiking past trees supposedly confuses the smarts of smartphones and they stop charging.

            I'm not happy with the Nomad 7's weight.  It's 3 ounces more than the claimed spec.  Keeping four people's devices charged will be worth the weight, but I wish it was less.

            Jim


          • john_friend
            I ve read some reports (no first hand experience) that the smaller solar cell of the 3.5 has a hard time generating enough current to charge some devices
            Message 5 of 15 , Jun 17, 2013
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              I've read some reports (no first hand experience) that the smaller solar cell of the 3.5 has a hard time generating enough current to charge some devices directly and obviously takes a lot longer to charge too. I'd definitely suggest doing some good testing before you rely on it in the backcountry. It would be nice if the lighter option worked, but feedback I read suggested it didn't work for all people and all devices. It could be that it will always be able to charge the recharger (just slower due to the smaller solar cell size) and the issues are only when trying to charge devices directly.

              --John

              --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, Roleigh Martin <roleigh@...> wrote:
              >
              > Thanks Jim, I found out that REI sales the kit with the 3.5 Nomad Panel
              > which is 4.7 oz lighter.
              >
              > http://www.rei.com/product/851177/goal-zero-switch-8-solar-recharging-kit
              >
              > I've ordered it to see how it works out. Some others told me that was the
              > lightest unit that they liked.
            • Roleigh Martin
              Good input, I read that the lighter 3.5 Nomad takes longer to charge the charger, but it gets the job done, it just takes longer. At 4.7 oz, it s a
              Message 6 of 15 , Jun 17, 2013
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                Good input, I read that the lighter 3.5 Nomad takes longer to charge the charger, but it gets the job done, it just takes longer.  At 4.7 oz, it's a considerable weight savings.  The amazon ratings on the 7.0 panel are quite high, while those on the 3.5 panel are lower.
                -------------------------------------------------
                Visit my Google Profile (lots of very interesting research links)
                _



                On Mon, Jun 17, 2013 at 10:21 PM, john_friend <yahoo@...> wrote:
                 

                I've read some reports (no first hand experience) that the smaller solar cell of the 3.5 has a hard time generating enough current to charge some devices directly and obviously takes a lot longer to charge too. I'd definitely suggest doing some good testing before you rely on it in the backcountry. It would be nice if the lighter option worked, but feedback I read suggested it didn't work for all people and all devices. It could be that it will always be able to charge the recharger (just slower due to the smaller solar cell size) and the issues are only when trying to charge devices directly.

                --John



                --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, Roleigh Martin <roleigh@...> wrote:
                >
                > Thanks Jim, I found out that REI sales the kit with the 3.5 Nomad Panel
                > which is 4.7 oz lighter.
                >
                > http://www.rei.com/product/851177/goal-zero-switch-8-solar-recharging-kit
                >
                > I've ordered it to see how it works out. Some others told me that was the
                > lightest unit that they liked.


              • Tim
                It s fantastic , I got 3 full recharges out of it on iPhone 5. The price is very good as well. Woody
                Message 7 of 15 , Jun 17, 2013
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                  It's fantastic , I got 3 full recharges out of it on iPhone 5. The price is very good as well. 

                  Woody

                  On Jun 17, 2013, at 11:16 AM, Roleigh Martin <roleigh@...> wrote:

                   

                  Has anyone hiked with the Goal Zero Switch 8 Solar Recharging Kit?  The whole kit is only 90 grams.

                  Review commentators at BackpackingLight.com on the topic of solar recharger recommend this company and this company's ultralightest product that can do an Iphone (3, 4 or 5) is this one -- actually it will charge anything small (not a laptop) that has a cable that can plug into a USB port.

                  http://www.goalzero.com/shop/p/147/Goal-Zero-Switch-8-Solar-Recharging-Kit/1:4//

                • rb
                  The instructions for the Nomad tell you that charging a device directly won t work. You have to charge the charger which then charges the device. (Sounds more
                  Message 8 of 15 , Jun 17, 2013
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                    The instructions for the Nomad tell you that charging a device directly won't work. You have to charge the charger which then charges the device. (Sounds more like military maneuvers than anything electronic.)

                    --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, "john_friend" <yahoo@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > I've read some reports (no first hand experience) that the smaller solar cell of the 3.5 has a hard time generating enough current to charge some devices directly and obviously takes a lot longer to charge too. I'd definitely suggest doing some good testing before you rely on it in the backcountry. It would be nice if the lighter option worked, but feedback I read suggested it didn't work for all people and all devices. It could be that it will always be able to charge the recharger (just slower due to the smaller solar cell size) and the issues are only when trying to charge devices directly.
                    >
                    > --John
                    >
                    > --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, Roleigh Martin <roleigh@> wrote:
                    > >
                    > > Thanks Jim, I found out that REI sales the kit with the 3.5 Nomad Panel
                    > > which is 4.7 oz lighter.
                    > >
                    > > http://www.rei.com/product/851177/goal-zero-switch-8-solar-recharging-kit
                    > >
                    > > I've ordered it to see how it works out. Some others told me that was the
                    > > lightest unit that they liked.
                    >
                  • larry mann
                    Oorah Motivator!
                    Message 9 of 15 , Jun 17, 2013
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                      Oorah Motivator!


                      On Jun 17, 2013, at 9:16 PM, "rb" <boliviarob@...> wrote:

                       

                      The instructions for the Nomad tell you that charging a device directly won't work. You have to charge the charger which then charges the device. (Sounds more like military maneuvers than anything electronic.)

                      --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, "john_friend" <yahoo@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > I've read some reports (no first hand experience) that the smaller solar cell of the 3.5 has a hard time generating enough current to charge some devices directly and obviously takes a lot longer to charge too. I'd definitely suggest doing some good testing before you rely on it in the backcountry. It would be nice if the lighter option worked, but feedback I read suggested it didn't work for all people and all devices. It could be that it will always be able to charge the recharger (just slower due to the smaller solar cell size) and the issues are only when trying to charge devices directly.
                      >
                      > --John
                      >
                      > --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, Roleigh Martin <roleigh@> wrote:
                      > >
                      > > Thanks Jim, I found out that REI sales the kit with the 3.5 Nomad Panel
                      > > which is 4.7 oz lighter.
                      > >
                      > > http://www.rei.com/product/851177/goal-zero-switch-8-solar-recharging-kit
                      > >
                      > > I've ordered it to see how it works out. Some others told me that was the
                      > > lightest unit that they liked.
                      >

                    • sanfran_rwood
                      ... The specs for the Nomad 3.5 Solar Panel has this info: • Rated Wattage, 3.5W • Open-circuit voltage 6.5-7V • Converting efficiency 17-18% • USB
                      Message 10 of 15 , Jun 17, 2013
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                        --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, "john_friend" <yahoo@...> wrote:
                        > I've read some reports (no first hand experience) that the smaller solar
                        > cell of the 3.5 has a hard time generating enough current to charge
                        > some devices directly and obviously takes a lot longer to charge too.

                        The specs for the Nomad 3.5 Solar Panel has this info:
                        • Rated Wattage, 3.5W
                        • Open-circuit voltage 6.5-7V
                        • Converting efficiency 17-18%
                        • USB output 5V/0.5A max (same for "Solar port")

                        The equivalent specs for the Nomad 7 Solar Panel has this info:
                        • Rated Wattage, 7W
                        • Open-circuit voltage 6.5-7V
                        • Converting efficiency 17-18%
                        • USB port 5V/1.0A max (same for "Solar port")

                        So the only difference is that panel size for the latter is approximately twice as big, generating twice as much wattage. The charging voltage required for Lithium batteries is a little over 4V, so the charging regulator will drop it to that.

                        There's a nice calculator for this over at http://www.csgnetwork.com/batterychgcalc.html

                        Figure out how many milliAmp-hours your battery is and plug it into the first box. The iPhone5 is 1440mAh, for example; the Kindle Paperwhite is about the same. An iPad3, on the other hand, is 11560mAh. The storage battery in the Goal Zero Switch 8 is 2200mAh. If you went with Voltaic System's kit instead, they've got a 10600mAh storage battery available.

                        If you plug in an iPhone5's 1440mAh into the calculator with the USB port amperage of 0.5A max (500mA), you'd see that the Nomad 3.5 will take about 3.5 hours *minimum* for a full charge. The Nomad 7 cuts that max time in half. If you need to charge up several devices (camera, GPS unit, or stuff for several people), it could take a long time. But an iPad would take at least 13.87 hours in full sun with the bigger solar panel, which is why they don't advertise these as working for tablet.

                        If you strap one of these solar panels to the outside of your pack, your efficiency will decline, but if your power needs aren't too heavy -- and there's plenty of sunshine -- you stand a decent chance of getting the internal Goal Zero Switch powered up maybe every other day or so, which mean you might be able to transfer that charge to your gizmo overnight every other day or so.

                        If you're going to depend on any of these, it really should be put through a dry run. If anyone wants to spend the money to test several of these, you might check out the kits at http://www.voltaicsystems.com as well. Their 3.4watt panel with 4400mAh storage battery, appears to price in at $75 and weigh around 9.7oz all together.

                        (My choice of options is to get just the 4400mAh storage battery, recharge it beforehand and at the resupply points, and skip the worry about sunshine and zero days for recharging.)
                        --
                        Richard
                      • sanfran_rwood
                        ... Actually, I d skip the fancy case and go to Adafruit and pick up the 6600mAh battery and then figure out how to DIY the electronics.
                        Message 11 of 15 , Jun 17, 2013
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                          --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, "sanfran_rwood" <MrRedwood@...> wrote:
                          > (My choice of options is to get just the 4400mAh storage battery, recharge
                          > it beforehand and at the resupply points, and skip the worry about sunshine
                          > and zero days for recharging.)

                          Actually, I'd skip the fancy case and go to Adafruit and pick up the 6600mAh battery and then figure out how to DIY the electronics.
                          http://www.adafruit.com/products/353
                        • john_friend
                          ... I was wondering how you recharge a spare camera battery via the storage battery? The camera battery is a 7.2V battery (higher voltage than USB) and it
                          Message 12 of 15 , Jun 18, 2013
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                            --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, "sanfran_rwood" <MrRedwood@...> wrote:
                            >
                            > (My choice of options is to get just the 4400mAh storage battery, recharge it beforehand and at the resupply points, and skip the worry about sunshine and zero days for recharging.)

                            I was wondering how you recharge a spare camera battery via the storage battery? The camera battery is a 7.2V battery (higher voltage than USB) and it doesn't have a USB charger (the charger I have for it just takes 12V or 110V).
                          • sanfran_rwood
                            ... You won t be able to charge a 7.2V battery with any of these options. A little technical background: the chemistry for each type of battery determines the
                            Message 13 of 15 , Jun 18, 2013
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                              --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, "john_friend" <yahoo@...> wrote:
                              >
                              >
                              > I was wondering how you recharge a spare camera battery via
                              > the storage battery? The camera battery is a 7.2V battery
                              > (higher voltage than USB) and it doesn't have a USB charger
                              > (the charger I have for it just takes 12V or 110V).

                              You won't be able to charge a 7.2V battery with any of these options.

                              A little technical background: the chemistry for each type of battery determines the voltage; the "quantity" will determine amperage. Lithium ion (and lithium ion polymer) are 3.7volts, NiCad is 1.2V, alkaline is 1.5V, lead acid is 2.105V. By putting multiple cells in parallel, they can multiply that. So six lead acid cells make a ~12 volt car battery. So a 7.2V lithium battery has two balanced cells.

                              In voltage to charge a 7.2V is 8.4V, which is what the output of your 12V/110V charger will be.

                              I suspect this is for a DSLR or other nice camera; that's where I've seen these starting to creep in. A large image sensor might be the key difference.

                              The recharge options are even more limited. Take a look at Voltaic Systems' "V60 Universal Laptop Battery", which is a 16000mAh battery and associated electronics. Unfortunately, it's currently out of stock. Look at the range of adapter tips in the photo at far right; you would try to find one that plugs into your device in the same spot your current recharger does, and set the output to 12V. I'd email Voltaic about your device beforehand, though.
                              http://www.voltaicsystems.com/v60.shtml

                              Their "Fuse 10W Solar Laptop Charger" would be the solar charger kit you'd want, if you wanted to recharge on-trail, as opposed to using the 110V power at resupply locations. Their claim is that full sun will recharge the V60 "from 16.8 Watts of solar panels", which is odd, since this thing is only 10.2 watts.
                              http://www.voltaicsystems.com/fuse10w.shtml

                              As far as I can see, the folks at Goal Zero have no backpackable options here, yet. (Their Escape 150 does 12V, but weighs 13lbs.) But that doesn't mean other companies aren't out there. My recommendation is to buy spare batteries and recharge at resupply points.
                              --
                              Richard
                            • Bill Hegardt
                              Maybe I m a sucker, but I took a GoalZero Nomad 13 on the JMT. It can put out up to 13W, but weighs 1.6lbs. It directly charged my DSLR batteries successfully
                              Message 14 of 15 , Jun 18, 2013
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                                Maybe I'm a sucker, but I took a GoalZero Nomad 13 on the JMT. It can put out up to 13W, but weighs 1.6lbs. It directly charged my DSLR batteries successfully when aimed at the sun in the late afternoon.

                                - Bill


                                On Tue, Jun 18, 2013 at 4:11 PM, sanfran_rwood <MrRedwood@...> wrote:
                                 



                                --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, "john_friend" <yahoo@...> wrote:
                                >
                                >
                                > I was wondering how you recharge a spare camera battery via
                                > the storage battery? The camera battery is a 7.2V battery
                                > (higher voltage than USB) and it doesn't have a USB charger
                                > (the charger I have for it just takes 12V or 110V).

                                You won't be able to charge a 7.2V battery with any of these options.

                                A little technical background: the chemistry for each type of battery determines the voltage; the "quantity" will determine amperage. Lithium ion (and lithium ion polymer) are 3.7volts, NiCad is 1.2V, alkaline is 1.5V, lead acid is 2.105V. By putting multiple cells in parallel, they can multiply that. So six lead acid cells make a ~12 volt car battery. So a 7.2V lithium battery has two balanced cells.

                                In voltage to charge a 7.2V is 8.4V, which is what the output of your 12V/110V charger will be.

                                I suspect this is for a DSLR or other nice camera; that's where I've seen these starting to creep in. A large image sensor might be the key difference.

                                The recharge options are even more limited. Take a look at Voltaic Systems' "V60 Universal Laptop Battery", which is a 16000mAh battery and associated electronics. Unfortunately, it's currently out of stock. Look at the range of adapter tips in the photo at far right; you would try to find one that plugs into your device in the same spot your current recharger does, and set the output to 12V. I'd email Voltaic about your device beforehand, though.
                                http://www.voltaicsystems.com/v60.shtml

                                Their "Fuse 10W Solar Laptop Charger" would be the solar charger kit you'd want, if you wanted to recharge on-trail, as opposed to using the 110V power at resupply locations. Their claim is that full sun will recharge the V60 "from 16.8 Watts of solar panels", which is odd, since this thing is only 10.2 watts.
                                http://www.voltaicsystems.com/fuse10w.shtml

                                As far as I can see, the folks at Goal Zero have no backpackable options here, yet. (Their Escape 150 does 12V, but weighs 13lbs.) But that doesn't mean other companies aren't out there. My recommendation is to buy spare batteries and recharge at resupply points.
                                --
                                Richard


                              • Bill Heiser
                                I used a Brunton Solaris 26 to charge Nikon EN-EL14 (7.4v, 1030 mAh) batteries on my thru-hike last summer. It s fairly heavy, though, listed at 28 oz plus
                                Message 15 of 15 , Jun 18, 2013
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                                  I used a Brunton Solaris 26 to charge Nikon EN-EL14 (7.4v, 1030 mAh) batteries on my thru-hike last summer.  It's fairly heavy, though, listed at 28 oz plus the required cables, usb charger, etc.

                                  http://www.brunton.com/products/solaris-12 (scroll down)

                                  I also used it to charge an iPhone 4 (and in fact charge the iPhone & a Nikon battery simultaneously).

                                  The only real downside is the bulk & the weight ... it worked great.



                                  sanfran_rwood wrote:
                                   



                                  --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, "john_friend" <yahoo@...> wrote:
                                  >
                                  >
                                  > I was wondering how you recharge a spare camera battery via
                                  > the storage battery? The camera battery is a 7.2V battery
                                  > (higher voltage than USB) and it doesn't have a USB charger
                                  > (the charger I have for it just takes 12V or 110V).

                                  You won't be able to charge a 7.2V battery with any of these options.

                                  A little technical background: the chemistry for each type of battery determines the voltage; the "quantity" will determine amperage. Lithium ion (and lithium ion polymer) are 3.7volts, NiCad is 1.2V, alkaline is 1.5V, lead acid is 2.105V. By putting multiple cells in parallel, they can multiply that. So six lead acid cells make a ~12 volt car battery. So a 7.2V lithium battery has two balanced cells.

                                  In voltage to charge a 7.2V is 8.4V, which is what the output of your 12V/110V charger will be.

                                  I suspect this is for a DSLR or other nice camera; that's where I've seen these starting to creep in. A large image sensor might be the key difference.

                                  The recharge options are even more limited. Take a look at Voltaic Systems' "V60 Universal Laptop Battery", which is a 16000mAh battery and associated electronics. Unfortunately, it's currently out of stock. Look at the range of adapter tips in the photo at far right; you would try to find one that plugs into your device in the same spot your current recharger does, and set the output to 12V. I'd email Voltaic about your device beforehand, though.
                                  http://www.voltaicsystems.com/v60.shtml

                                  Their "Fuse 10W Solar Laptop Charger" would be the solar charger kit you'd want, if you wanted to recharge on-trail, as opposed to using the 110V power at resupply locations. Their claim is that full sun will recharge the V60 "from 16.8 Watts of solar panels", which is odd, since this thing is only 10.2 watts.
                                  http://www.voltaicsystems.com/fuse10w.shtml

                                  As far as I can see, the folks at Goal Zero have no backpackable options here, yet. (Their Escape 150 does 12V, but weighs 13lbs.) But that doesn't mean other companies aren't out there. My recommendation is to buy spare batteries and recharge at resupply points.
                                  --
                                  Richard

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