Solar to USB to Figjam cooler and a powerbank

Swamp Coolers, Cooler Management, Dry Ice, Misting Systems, and just plain how to beat the heat.
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Leap
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Solar to USB to Figjam cooler and a powerbank

Post by Leap » Mon Jan 18, 2016 2:30 pm

Hi folks, I read through many pages of the 117 page Figjam thread and didn't see a setup like I am considering. If you could take a moment to regard this and critique, I'd be very grateful.

Tent: Decent sized such as a 10 x10 Kodiak for example. If I was driving in, I wouldn't think twice about buying a big battery and be done with it. However I am flying in from the east coast so I could buy a battery when I get there and then gift or donate it.

Alternative: a folding solar panel designed for camping/device charging to power the cooler and also trickle into a powerbank I could use to power USB lights and speakers. I am not sure if posting links to Amazon products is cool in this situation so I'll use descriptions.

Option A: a folding 20W solar panel with dual USB ports. At peak, it will put out 2.4A max per port or 3.1A max overall if two devices are plugged in and pulling. One port would trickle into a 50000mAh powerbank. The other could run the cooler. I don't know if I can cut up a USB cable and simply splice it to the pump and fan in the cooler or if I need a step-up converter.

Option B: I'm also looking at a 26W Solar solar panel that has both USB and 12v outs but its more expensive and it only puts out 2.1A via USB and 2.2A for the 12v out. It looks like this would suffice for the Figjam (1.45amps per hour) but I do like the output of the above panel better. Maybe I really don't need it.

I must confess the above specs (wattage and subsequent output) seem off to me but I must also confess I'm not good at electrical math.

The solar panel angle is attractive because I would keep these toys, so I don't mind it's a little more expensive. These things are really neat so I might get one either way.

BTW I would build the cooler here on the East Coast to make sure it works and then fly with everything except the bucket and ducts, which I would buy locally. I have a buddy in Reno that has tools and will let me use her place to assemble the cooler. After learning how to so it here, I would still budget a few hours to assemble in Reno.

Option C: Just looked... it looks like I can ship a box big enough for the 5 gallon bucket for $41. I'm estimating 20 lbs to be safe. I;m sure thats more that enough and I could pack some extra socks it too. $41 to waive extra stress and give me more time to shop an chill isn't a bad deal.

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Captain Goddammit
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Re: Solar to USB to Figjam cooler and a powerbank

Post by Captain Goddammit » Mon Jan 18, 2016 3:32 pm

You should see my thread called A Burner Analogy For Understanding Electricity. viewtopic.php?f=278&t=65368
It greatly simplifies the relationship of volts, amps, and wattage.
USB power is 5 volts. The solar panel providing 2 amps at 12 volts is over twice the power of one providing 2 amps at "usb" 5 volts. The components FIGJAM has specified are 12 volt.
I'm pretty sure FIGJAM coolers have been successfully run on solar, but the best bet is to build and test well beforehand.
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Re: Solar to USB to Figjam cooler and a powerbank

Post by FIGJAM » Mon Jan 18, 2016 4:31 pm

If you build the cooler to spec, with the recommended fan and pump, it's just under 2 amps.

Fan is 1.60 amps, and the pump is .38 amps I think. 8)
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Re: Solar to USB to Figjam cooler and a powerbank

Post by some seeing eye » Mon Jan 18, 2016 8:04 pm

I think it is AWESOME when new burners dig into the threads for research to plan their burn!

I'm a big fan of the packing list plan. We have many fly in burners packing discussions. Bring by plane vs buy in Reno. Rental car drive in, carpool drive in, Burner Express drive in. Then there is the plan for donating stuff before flying out. And being sure your newly purchased deep cycle battery is all charged up.

If I was a first year fly in burner, swamp coolers, deep cycle batteries, solar panels, charge controllers, evaporative coolers and the water to run them might not make my packing list.

The fly in shade structure is enough a challenge IMO.

I think the Figjam cooler rocks! And I fully admit that I am not answering the OP question.
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Leap
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Re: Solar to USB to Figjam cooler and a powerbank

Post by Leap » Tue Jan 19, 2016 6:13 am

Thanks Captain! I've actually read your great analogy 2 or 3 times. Regarding electricity, I feel like I am learning how to use a clutch for the first time. I understood the concept but it took "that moment" for me to figure it out. I am almost there. I will certainly test the system many times via camping trips with the wife and kids.

Thanks FIGJAM!

Thanks SSE, I appreciate the suggestion. I don't really approach new things conservatively (hence the username) when I know I'll be into it. Especially when so many best practices have been set. I'll take that feedback under advisement. Perhaps my tent and some aluminet will suffice for my first year.

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Re: Solar to USB to Figjam cooler and a powerbank

Post by some seeing eye » Tue Jan 19, 2016 9:32 am

The best with your burn projects!
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Re: Solar to USB to Figjam cooler and a powerbank

Post by Leap » Tue Jan 19, 2016 10:26 am

some seeing eye wrote:The best with your burn projects!
Planning is fun!

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Re: Solar to USB to Figjam cooler and a powerbank

Post by JohnEBGud » Tue Jan 19, 2016 10:44 am

My FIGJAM bucket cooler, built with recommended fan and pump, was unable to keep my Kodiak 10 x 10 cool last year. It's possible that my cooler build execution as at fault, but I suspect the tent volume was also too great for the fan. Directing the vent on me kept me comfortable, but did not lower the temperature inside the tent. I used a deep cycle marine battery for power which lasted throughout the week.
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Re: Solar to USB to Figjam cooler and a powerbank

Post by asr9754 » Tue Jan 19, 2016 2:16 pm

I have built the FJ cooler with the exact components and had great luck. But OP: the solar power option has proven elusive to me and many others because the solar output will not be anywhere near 100% of the panel's listed capacity. The panels get hot, dusty, and are not at max exposure angle, all of which reduce their effectiveness, and there are cloudy days on the playa. I would expect intermittent production and probably only about 50% of the max listed output of the equipment even in ideal conditions. So you will likely need to double your power estimates if you want to run the cooler directly off the solar panel.
Also, you will likely want to run the cooler in the mid-morning to sleep in or later afternoon when it's sweltering, both times when the sun is not at a great angle to power solar panels. And if it gets cloudy, everything shuts down.

Solution: Add a 12V deep cycle battery to your system. You will run your electronics directly off the battery and the solar panel will charge the battery when the sun shines. You can use your gadegets when the sun isn't out and you'll charge power passively the rest of the day. Get the biggest 12V solar panel you can comfortably afford and transport. I use 12V deep cycle battery with a 26 W panel and it keeps me going all week with the bucket cooler, a few LEDs, and to charge the camera once or twice. I'm frugal with it, if I could go up to 50W I would do so.

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Re: Solar to USB to Figjam cooler and a powerbank

Post by Leap » Tue Jan 19, 2016 3:58 pm

Thanks JohnEBGud. Did you think it was a venting issue or a CFM issue? If I run it off a battery, I can go with a bigger fan.

Great points sr9754. If I bring the f*cking cooler out I might as well trouble myself with a trip to Pepboys or Wallmart to get a battery. I might just settle on a proper shade structure and be done with it.

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Re: Solar to USB to Figjam cooler and a powerbank

Post by JohnEBGud » Fri Jan 22, 2016 8:13 am

Leap wrote:Thanks JohnEBGud. Did you think it was a venting issue or a CFM issue? If I run it off a battery, I can go with a bigger fan.
CFM. Being a long-time Arizona resident, I'm evap cooler savy. Inadequate venting would have made the interior humid as well as hot if the CFM was adequate. It was just hot.
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Re: Solar to USB to Figjam cooler and a powerbank

Post by Leap » Fri Jan 22, 2016 10:44 am

Thanks!

I went to a regional happy hour this week and discovered very few people bring a swamp cooler. They just use shade. I may be over-building my first burn.

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Re: Solar to USB to Figjam cooler and a powerbank

Post by asr9754 » Fri Jan 22, 2016 11:10 am

Counterpoint, my FJ swampie was and is still my best playa project. Getting your sleep structure under shade should be a top priority, but after than, the swamp cooler is the best thing if you are concerned about heat and/or napping in the day. Good luck!

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Re: Solar to USB to Figjam cooler and a powerbank

Post by Captain Goddammit » Fri Jan 22, 2016 11:23 am

Totally agree, he'll I've never been to BRC without an A/C.
You cannot overdo comfort out there! Decadent sleeping accommodations for the win.
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Re: Solar to USB to Figjam cooler and a powerbank

Post by JohnEBGud » Fri Jan 22, 2016 12:13 pm

To be clear, I'm glad I had the cooler because it cooled me as long as its output was directed on me. It just didn't work as a whole tent solution given the size of my tent.
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Re: Solar to USB to Figjam cooler and a powerbank

Post by FIGJAM » Fri Jan 22, 2016 1:13 pm

The Bucket cooler as designed is good up to 600 cu. ft.

In a tent without shade and closer to 700 cu. ft., it just wasn't enough cooler. 8)
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Re: Solar to USB to Figjam cooler and a powerbank

Post by Leap » Sun Jan 24, 2016 10:00 am

Thanks again guys!

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Re: Solar to USB to Figjam cooler and a powerbank

Post by silverfish » Wed Mar 30, 2016 6:27 pm

I've used a combo of a 18V 14W Solar Panel, a charge controller, a 12 Volt 18 Ah SLA AGM battery and a Figjam style cooler. Last year I upgraded the cooler for my tent with a larger 12 in. 12V fan. The combo works well but I am at the limit of drawing enough power to keep the swamp cooler running for 8 days. To be fair it might have been better to just get a bigger battery and avoid the solar panel, charge controller and extra wiring.

I had some electrical issues on playa and never got full power out of my fan last year. But with a sun resistant tent and the cooler temperatures last year we slept in and took naps anyway.

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Re: Solar to USB to Figjam cooler and a powerbank

Post by beau_s » Wed Aug 09, 2017 4:47 pm

FIGJAM wrote:The Bucket cooler as designed is good up to 600 cu. ft.

In a tent without shade and closer to 700 cu. ft., it just wasn't enough cooler. 8)
If you use two 120mm (250 CFM each) computer fans, would it cool a 10x14 kodiak? The tent is like 950-1000 cubic feet? I think i read once before that you need enough CFM to fill cubic feet 3-5 times, is that correct? i'm guessing using the two fans would increase the water usage also? Thanks!

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Re: Solar to USB to Figjam cooler and a powerbank

Post by BBadger » Wed Aug 09, 2017 4:57 pm

For home evaporation coolers, the ideal CFM is the cubic feet of your dwelling divided by two (2). In other words, exchanging all the air every two minutes.

If your tent is well shaded you can probably get away with less. I didn't even bother using mine last year when I was under my shade, but it all depends on what you have set up.
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