Looking into a little bit of solar for my disaster prep. What's got me paralyzed is deciding how much power I actually need.
I rent, don't own, so no installation. No way I can do something big enough to keep a fridge running, for example. So, if not the fridge, then what?
Charging a few small electronics (cell phones, Kindle). Maybe running a few lights. A radio. Conceivably a fan could be very nice. A small cooler? That seems like a luxury.
Carrying it should be an option, in the event of evacuation.
Clearly I won't have anything in place in time for Hector. But Amazon's choices are overwhelming. Thoughts from people who have already made choices? What did you learn?
I wanted a self-powered weather band radio for emergencies, and tried the Ambient Weather WR-334-U. I liked the variety of power options: recharge its battery using USB port (car/PC/wall plug), crank, or just install and use standard batteries. After using it for a year or so, it was recalled, and the company sent me a check for the full price. I had a problem with it not holding much of a charge, so the recall was fortunate.
Now I have this one: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01K6OCSI6/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1
This Eton is great. Charging options are USB or crank (like the Ambient), and also solar. The whole back of the radio is a solar panel. I leave it in a spot where sunlight hits it for a few hours a day, and it always shows fully charged.
It has AM/FM/Weather bands, station memory you can set, weather alerts, and bluetooth so you can stream from a phone, iPod or Tablet to its speaker. Did I mention the speakers are 5 times better than the first radio? It really sounds better than any other compact radio I've owned.
The kicker: it has a 5v—2.1A USB output port. You can use it to charge any other electronic.
It also has a built-in flashlight, a red emergency beacon, and digital tuning which is much nicer than analog and allows for memory presets.
It won't run too many lights, but it does most of what you want. For the price, it's a good alternative power generator.
I have a Toyota Tacoma with a power inverter. I can run extension cords from there if I ever need that much emergency power. I also have a portable power station (basically a car battery in a chassis with all kinds of ports & lights) which charges with AC power. It provides power for cell phones (cig lighter port), jumps cars with dead batteries, has an air compressor for flat tires or beach toys, and a 120V DC/AC inverter for running small electric devices. It lasts quite a while between charges, and I could recharge it using my truck's inverter.
You could also look into solar power generators. They are really just solar-charged batteries that offer more amps/power time for appliances & lights. Some of them are pricy and can take a day or more to fully charge depending on the size solar panel you buy.
GoalZero was a top seller, but many more have hit the market since it was popular.https://www.solarreviews.com/blog/what-are-the-pros-and-cons-of-a-solar-generator-are-they-a-bit-of-a-gimmick