In this post we have compiled and reviewed a number of dynamo hub charging units for USB devices. We also have a VERY comprehensive resource which overviews every dynamo hub, solar panel and external battery, check out: ULTIMATE POWER RESOURCE FOR BICYCLE TOURING.
We've been using the Pedal Power + SIC cable and battery kit for a few years now, and since we made our purchase there are now a few more options in the marketplace. People with some electrical know-how have also been making their own battery kits, and I believe there are a few 'how-tos' floating around the internet if you wanted to give it a try…
Here is a small list of USB devices we charge from the dynamo:
- Apple iPad Tablets, Apple iPhone, Sony TX10 Digital Camera, Maxell Airstash AO2 Wifi Pocket Server, Garmin Edge 800 GPS, Batteries (C123)
You can also use the dynamo to charge:- Batteries (AA, AAA etc), USB Powered lights, Headtorches, Speakers, MP3 Players.
Description: This is a cable/battery that connects to the dynamo hub. You can plug any USB device into the battery, and charge at your leisure. We've been using this kit for a few years now and we've been able to charge any device that we plug into the battery – it just works! It takes roughly 8 hours of ride time to charge an iPhone four-times, or the Garmin 800 GPS twice.
Pros: Heaps of battery power to keep your gear running the most out of all of these options. Plug in any device. Charge it up from the wall.
Cons: You really need a handlebar bag or front pannier to run this well. Battery charge slow from power point (same speed as charging from hub). Somewhat 'agricultural' in aesthetic.
Battery: 6700mAh Lithium Polymer
Price: $290 AUD for the V4i Battery Kit and a Super-i-Cable
Description: This is a cable with built-in battery that connects from the dynamo hub. The Super-i-Cable from PP+ is a fantastic product as you can charge as you go, or charge post ride.
Pros: Cable and battery in one with battery storage!
Cons: Mounting onto the bike doesn't come easy – we feel you need a front pannier to run it well, but not a necessity. Battery charge slow from power point (same speed as charging from hub).
Battery: 2200mAh Lithium Polymer
Price: $170 AUD
Description: This is simply a headset topcap which has a USB plug built into it. A cable then runs through the inside of the steerer tube and down to the dynamo hub. The 'blue tube' is a power amplifier which optimises power output – especially useful for smartphones/iPhone. It also sits inside the steerer tube; the power amplifier is optional for those who do not need it. The kit is a super neat system for riding and plugging.
Pros: Neat as can be. Just plug in what you need to charge and pedal away.
Cons: You cannot charge devices post-ride (no battery).
Battery: No battery! You must be moving to charge your devices…
Price: $240 AUD
Description: The B+M eWerk kit connects to the dynamo hub. You can then plug USB devices into it. A small stylus that is housed at the bottom of eWerk is used for adjusting two turning knobs controlling voltage (2.8 to 13.3 V) and current (0.1 to 1,5 A) quickly and variably for all the usual applications. eWerk provides power of up to 16 W, and all that with idle losses of only 0.03 W at 30 km/h! At a speed of 15 km/h, eWerk already charges as fast as a standard mains connected charger. Some devices, such as the iPhone, require a constant voltage from the charger, so for devices like this, an intermediary or buffer cache battery must be used. This battery is purchased separately.
Pros: Adjustable voltage and current depending on what you're charging. Great mounting kit for the top tube.
Cons: Quite expensive. Need the cache battery to charge iPhone (extra $105). Cannot charge post-ride unless using the battery. Neater units about.
Battery: 1400mAh Lithium Polymer
Price: $210 AUD + Cache Battery $105 AUD
Description: The Reecharge Kit wraps around the headtube neatly with a cable running down to the dynamo hub.
Pros: Charges most devices. Can be charged from the wall. Really neat mounting setup. Relatively cheap!
Cons: More powerful batteries in other kits mean that you'll get more juice out of them at the end of your day!
Battery: 1600mAh Lithium Polymer
Price: $99 AUD
Description: This particularly small and 100% waterproof charger can be hooked up directly to phones or power packs.
Pros: Completely waterproof (see the pic) and charges most USB devices. Manufactured in the USA. Relatively cheap!
Cons: You cannot charge devices post-ride (no battery), although you can fill up USB powered external battery for this duty. Zip ties make the bike mounting semi-permanent and not particularly neat.
Battery: Nil – but according to the manufacturer, a built-in battery version is in development.
Price: $120 AUD
Description: The LightCharge is the cheapest option if you want to charge and ride. From the Amazon reviews it seems to work well.
Pros: The price is right. Charges most devices. Super lightweight.
Cons: It doesn't incorporate a battery so it would be more suitable for those topping up GPS devices or phones.
Price: $90 AUD
Description: Introduced to consumers at the 2012 Eurobike tradeshow, this bright dynamo light incorporates a handlebar switch and USB plug to charge and ride.
Pros: It's a super bright dynamo light, with a neat cable and remote switch. There is nothing else like it. Charges most devices. Neatly integrated design.
Cons: It doesn't incorporate a large battery (cache only) so it would be more suitable for those topping up GPS devices or phones.
Price: $299 AUD
Description: I don't know too much about this product, however it sounds like it's designed for smartphone charging. The handlebar clip is a great idea for those not using a handlebar bag or front pannier. Nice and simple – great price. Any more info – give us a shout!
Battery: 2000mAh or 2700mAh (+$15) Lithium Polymer
Price: $125 AUD
For more information on dynamo hubs, solar panels, power supplies and external batteries for bicycle touring, check out our ULTIMATE POWER RESOURCE FOR BICYCLE TOURING.