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    • For anyone who doesn't actually plan on multiple days away from a power outlet or super heavy loads, there's cheaper simpler options, once you let go of the idea of solar charging.

      If you're always going to juice up from a 120v power outlet, and the max load you really care about is, say, a laptop--getting your hands on a laptop-oriented power bank might be all you need. Maybe less flexible...but within its limited scope...great bang for the buck. And sometimes...dirt cheap.

      The distinct value of going w/ something that charges itself off of a dedicated power cord is simple... 30 W wall chargers gives you *fast* recharge time. 6-8 hrs over solar panels? Psshhh... AC baby...

    • One benefit of lead acid is it can be used for jumpstarting a car. Do we know if lithium ion batteries can jump-start a car without destroying/damaging the battery?

      I'd like to also have a portable power solution that I can use to start the car if its battery is dead. It would be awesome if there's something that would fullfill all my needs.

    • For backpacking you of course wouldn't want anything like this, though I do sometimes carry a small USB power pack if I want to keep a phone charged.

      I also camp in an a-frame camper, often off the grid. The camper has an on-board battery, but I'm usually also powering a laptop and astronomy equipment.

      One of the pictured units would probably work for me, but for a cheaper solution I use a deep cycle battery. It's in a plastic battery box (like you would have on a camper for for a trolling motor), where I've added fused 12V power ports (power poles and auto DC sockets) and a volt meter. It's heavy, but lasts a long time.

      I recharge both the camper and battery box using a 100W solar panel and charge controller. I just hook it up to whatever needs charging for the day and leave it out.

    • I bought one of these from Costco for $79 for one of our cars and it turned out to be so handy, we bought one for every car. Works great. I dunno how many jumps we get per charge, but I'm guessing 6.

      We have old cars and if the kids leave a door ajar or something, we need to jump.

    • Actually these days I don't do as much... I was doing astrophotography, so I needed to power an equatorial mount and laptop, and dew heaters if needed.

      These days though I'm doing more visual astronomy. My thinking is that I shouldn't spend time outside staring at a computer screen when I could be looking up!

    • There are a few tricks you may want to try to see if it's up to the task. If your battery is really dead, often I find that it takes more than a minute for enough energy to transfer to the dead battery to crank the engine. Also making sure the clamps have sufficient surface contact to support a decent amount of current. The more surface contact you can make with the clamps, the less patience you'll need. But regardless you will need *some patience* . Only after you've waited a while would I try the ignition switch.