6 Ways to Produce your own Mobile Electricity when you Travel

There was a time when people didn’t carry electrical devices with them when they went travelling. But for the biggest part, these times are over. So, especially when you travel in a van or with...

There was a time when people didn’t carry electrical devices with them when they went travelling. But for the biggest part, these times are over. So, especially when you travel in a van or with a tent, the question where you can get mobile electricity when there’s no café around.

Electrical Devices seem to have become normal these days. Nomads should have sources of Mobile Electricity.The answer to this question leads us to producing our own electricity. In this post I will try to list all the tips and tricks I know about producing mobile electricity. No matter if you travel with a van, boat, tent or just a rucksack.

If you know about more ways to do this, please let us know in the comments below and I will include them in a follow up post! Also, if you think this post is helpful, please share it with your friends and followers!

 

1. Solar Power – the perfect Mobile Electricity Source:

Probably the most obvious. Especially if you try to reduce your travels to sunny areas, this is one of the most logical energy sources to invest in.

At this moment in time I can only tell you which van solar panels I intend on getting one day, because so far I’ve only used a smaller version of them.

 

USB Solar Chargers:

Only recently I found out that there are even more powerful solar chargers out there than the one I own. I have the Anker USB Solar Charger (Get it from Amazon US, Amazon UK & Amazon DEaff), which doesn’t cease to amaze me. When it arrived, I picked it up from the nearby post office and tried it straight I tend to strap my solar charger to my rucksack. Mobile Electricity doesn't get more mobile!out of the box on my 20 minute walk to the van. There in the Viennese afternoon sun of a very lightly cloudy Autumn day, it managed to charge more than one percent of my phone’s battery per minute. 

It’s the only mobile electricity producing device I have used over the last six months and in combination with the power plugs of cafés I never really needed more. It’s especially great for travellers who only have a small budget and who want to charge mainly their phones and USB powered Tablets.

By now, I even fix this mobile electricity charger to my rucksack when I walk around (I walk a lot). Especially in Sunny places like Valencia this is amazing.

 

You can get my Solar Charger here on Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon DE (aff)

 

As I mentioned above, there are more powerful foldable Solar Chargers out there. With those you can even charge Laptops (no Macbooks, I think. Their unique plug seems to be a disadvantage).

But as you might have guessed, they come at a higher price too. Also, they take up quite a bit of space when unfolded. But if you are in nature, you don’t really worry about that, I guess. Also, you can unfold it on your van’s roof or your sail boat’s deck. Most of them are waterprove. I wouldn’t fix it to the roof permanently, though. But maybe there’s somebody who think it’s worth a try? 😉

 

You can get those hyper strong Solar Chargers at Amazon US, Amazon UK and Amazon DE (aff)

 

If you try one of these more efficient Solar Chargers, please let me know what you think about it! I’ve been eyeballing them for some time.

 

Proper Solar Panels

The roof of your camper van is perfect to produce mobile electricity!You fix them to the roof of your van, or your boat and they can power pretty much everything in there, if it’s a sunny day.

They come with higher expenses and you will need electricity converters and proper batteries as well. Since I don’t have any practical experience with the installation of solar panels, I forward you to Mike, one of my European colleagues over at VanDogTraveller. He has an intensive post about how he installed his system himself.

Here is a list of the basic appliances you will need to install them, though:

 

The panels you can get on Amazon US, UK and DE (aff)

Here is a Solar Charge Controller that goes with them on Amazon US, UK and DE (aff)

And of course the batteries to capture all that power on Amazon US, UK and DE (aff) 

Seriously. To all the vandwellers out there, who have this luxury: I envy you.

2. Wind energy

The second most obvious to most people. Just recently I walked along the harbour of Porto Saplaya and was (probably a bit too) amazed by the logical thing of putting a wind generator onto a sail boat. Two ways to use wind power on one ‘vehicle’. Awesome!

I researched a little if there is something that vandwellers or backpackers could use as well, but only came across this little device (Here on Amazon US – aff) that doesn’t look too promising. But if you think about it. If you put two of them onto the sides of your van, the wind coming your way while driving would probably produce quite a bit of power, that would go to waste otherwise…

If you are on a boat or other ways to travel that can afford this quite clunky way of charging your batteries,

you can find a Wind Energy Generator here on Amazon US, UK and DE (aff)

 

 

3. Use your engine, fellow van dwellers

engine powerI do it all the time, when Hermes is in travel mode. Whether it’s a long distance ride or just to the other side of the city. Having a power adapter to charge directly with your car’s engine is one of the most logical things you can do to get mobile electricity. 

I’m using an USB Adapter with two plugs (Find the one I use here on Amazon US, UK and DEaff) but there are also converters that let you charge any other electrical device, like laptops (find one here on Amazon US, UK and DEaff).

But as I said, this is only for the times when you drive. Do not charge your devices from the van if it is parked for a longer time or else, your car battery will die sooner or later. And you want to be able to start the engine again, right?

 

4. Do you walk a lot?

I surely do. Plenty of hours almost every day. Especially when I’m in small cities and don’t feel like paying for public transport. As I already said, I strap the Solar Charger onto my rucksack and charge while I am on these walks.

gokin-8But in my opinion, we should use every source of energy, we could possibly access to get mobile electricity. And when walking, what’s even more reliable to provide energy than the sun? Even by night or clouds?

Your feet! Every time you make a step, it’s energy that’s only used to bring you from point A to point B. What if you could use this energy to charge your batteries at the same time? I know it would change a lot for me.

And that’s why I got really excited when I found this device that collects energy from your leg movement!

 It’s packed into your rucksack and two strings get attached to your shoes. From that moment on, you become a human power generator. Plug your batteries into it and go hiking or simply for a long walk. Supposedly only five minutes of walking can charge a phone for 25 call minutes! I’m trying to imagine what my three hour walk last night could have done…

I almost always carry my rucksack with my devices with me, when I leave the van, so this would be a great solution for me. Sadly the company is still in start up mode, but you can already pre order your Go Kin Pack!

Also, there is this ingenious Philippino kid who has invented a power generator, that you put directly into your shoes that could potentially be one of the main mobile electricity sources of the future.

This is not yet in production either, but I have a feeling Google is right on it…

 

 

5. Cook the Cheap and Environmentally Friendly way while Charging your Phone

This is probably one of the things I will get myself, as soon as I have the money for it. I’m planning to stay more in nature in the future and not as often in cities. Therefore I will cook outside more often.

Doing so with butane gas gets a little expensive over time. And it also doesn’t make sense to use it, if there is wood all around me.

Making a fire a alone, wastes a lot of energy. You get even more aware of that, as soon as you see what this little thing is capable of.

cookerThe BioLite CampStove takes the most energy out of a couple of twigs, as you possibly can. And at the same time it filters the smoke so much, there’s hardly any pollution happening. One liter of water boils within about four minutes. And it get’s better: It charges your phone. Yes. This camping cooker takes all the energy that would otherwise be wasted and turns it into mobile electricity.

I’m curious if the company, producing this little miracle can even top the functionality of it.

Whether or not doesn’t won’t change my buying decision much, though. As soon as the money is on the table, I will get this power machine.

EDIT: I finally bought the BioLite Campstove and I love it!

 

You can get it as well. Over at Amazon US, Amazon UK and Amazon DE (aff)

 

By the way, it also seems great for backpackers, since it collapses into itself, becoming a really small and comparably light weight (especially comparing it to normal camping stoves where you need a gas bottle with you all the time) bundle that can easily be attached to your rucksack.

 

 

6. Crank it up: Only for pure Survival Situations.

Yes, they exist already. Just like you can power a flashlight with your hand power, you can now charge your smartphone by cranking this little mobile electricity machine.

But to be honest, I don’t see myself cranking it up for more than five minutes a time. So I would suggest, if you intend to use this little device, you should use it with an old and not a smart phone and only in survival situations.

Just a suggestion 😉

You can get this little life saver here on Amazon US, UK and DE (aff)

 

Conclusion:

solar readingPersonally, I think we still have a long way to go, when it comes to the science of electricity production. As Tesla said: There is energy in everything. It’s just a matter of harvesting this energy. 

But for now, I would also say, that we have come a long way and that we have a good equipment for starters. If you are prepared you never have to be without mobile electricity. That doesn’t mean, some people wouldn’t want that…

Can you think of more ways to charge your devices on the road? Please tell us down in the comments. I will write a follow up article, if we find enough.

Also, share this article with your friends and followers. It might be useful to them too.

 

  • Raffi Barker (Living Even Smal

    So not strictly ‘harvesting’ energy anywhere, but I’d definitely have some portable battery packs on this list. That way, if you are at a cafe or something, you could charge those too and have them as a back up. I use one of the little battery chargers and it helps just to top my phone up when I’m not somewhere with power… (my 12v actually broke in my van so I can’t charge from the battery whilst driving). It’s good, but it seems to get pretty hot so I don’t leave it on whilst I’m asleep. Some cheap ones have this problem – they get hot and fry the device – happened to my brother – so buy a nice one or keep a close eye on it…

    • I agree with you. I was considering putting it on the list, but since this post was about producing your own energy, I decided to keep it for one of the follow up posts I have planned 🙂

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