List of Hub Dynamo Power Supplies for USB Devices

Alee March 27, 2012 24

In this post we have compiled and reviewed a number of dynamo hub charging units for USB devices. We also have a comprehensive resource which overviews dynamo hubs, solar panels and external batteries, check out the Ultimate Power Resource For Bicycle Touring.

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…

What can you charge from a dynamo hub?

We charge our Apple iPhone 5S smartphone, Sony TX10 digital camera, Airstash Pocket Server, Garmin Edge 800 GPS and 6700mA external battery.

You can also use the dynamo to charge batteries (AA, AAA etc), Kindles, GoPros, USB powered lights, headtorches, speakers, MP3 players and much more.

Which power supply do we use?

We've used the Pedal Power products for a few years now, and have recently made the switch to Tout Terrain's The Plug III, which we believe is the best power supply going around. It's simple and elegant, theft-proof and achieves full USB power (5V/500mA) at 12km/h.

Tout Terrain The Plug III

The Plug III is a USB port at the headset cap which draws power from a dynamo hub or sidewall dynamo. Sneaky electronic parts hide away in your steerer tube providing your bike with a very clean look, with a minimal weight penalty (perhaps 150g). The Plug cleverly converts AC into DC power from your 6V dynamo for charging USB goodies.

Review: HERE

Pros: By far the neatest solution to dynamo charging. It charges our smartphone at 12km/h. It's theft proof – you can leave it on the bike when you lock it in the street. It's aesthetically pleasing and well made. It's easy to install. The Plug has been refined over a five year period. Every release has been better and better and reliability issues have been addressed. We feel that The Plug is now near perfect.

Cons: There's no cache battery, so if you dip above and below 12km/h the charge will go on/off (we charge into a battery when this is the case). You cannot charge devices post-ride. The USB interface gets a bit rusty, although this hasn't affected our units performance. You can't mount computers/smartphones on your stem as easily. It's pretty pricey compared to other products.

Battery: Nil

Price: $215 USD

Pedal Power Plus Super-i-Cable

This dynamo cable features a built-in 2200mAh battery which allows you to charge as you go, or charge post ride. It worked flawlessly for the two years we put into it. The only issue we had was working out how to mount it to our bike – we eventually cable tied it on, but was always worried someone would touch it when we locked it up in the street.

Review: HERE

Pros: Cable and battery in one with battery storage. Cache battery allows you to not loose charge when you've stopped momentarily. Works flawlessly.

Cons: Mounting onto the bike doesn't come easy – we feel you need a front pannier to run it well, but it's not a necessity. Battery charge is slow from power point (same speed as charging from hub). Vulnerable to theft if left on the street with your bike. Didn't charge our smartphone (we could only charge via the V4i battery back – apparently there is a new cable attachment for iPhone 5).

Battery: 2200mAh Lithium Polymer

Price: $180 USD

Pedal Power Plus V4i Cable and Battery

This cable/battery combo allows you to charge straight from the cable or through the battery. 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. The battery takes roughly 10 hours of ride time to fill, and will charge an iPhone four times, or our Garmin 800 GPS twice.

Review: HERE

Pros: Heaps of battery power to keep your gear running the most out of all of these options. Plug in any device. You can charge the big battery up from the wall. We can even charge our iPads from this battery!

Cons: You really need a handlebar bag or front pannier to run this well (we charged the battery in the top of our front pannier). Battery charge is slow from power point (same speed as charging from the dynamo). Vulnerable to theft if left on the street with your bike.

Battery: 6700mAh Lithium Polymer

Price: $290 USD for the V4i Battery Kit and a Super-i-Cable.

Busch and Muller eWerk

The eWerk is one of the most widely used power supplies amongst bicycle tourers. The kit connects to your hub and from there, 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. The eWerk provides power of up to 16 W, and all that with minimal idle losses at 30 km/h. At a speed of about 15 km/h, the eWerk 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, a cache battery must be charged into and then the phone can extract power from that. This battery is purchased separately.

Pros: Adjustable voltage and current which allows for efficient charging of devices which have different charging requirements. Great mounting kit for the top tube.

Cons: Quite expensive. Need the cache battery to charge smartphones (extra $105). Vulnerable to theft if left on the street with your bike.

Battery: 1400mAh Lithium Polymer

Price: $210 USD + Cache Battery $105 USD

Busch and Muller USB Werk

The USB Werk is the more recent release by Busch and Muller. It is a stripped back version of the eWerk and with a cache battery built in. The price is now very competitive with other options. If you only need to charge basic USB devices (GPS, smartphone etc), this will do all that you need!

Pros: Cache battery built into this power supply (unlike the eWerk) so that you will not loose charge if you've stopped momentarily. Neat mounting kit. Much more affordable than the eWerk.

Cons: Vulnerable to theft if left on the street with your bike.

Battery: Unsure of the size, but presumedly it's less than 1400mAh.

Price: $150 USD

BioLogic ReeCharge

 Dahon-Biologic Reecharge Kit

This is one of the original USB charging products. The Reecharge kit wraps around the headtube neatly with a cable running down to the dynamo hub. It offers exceptional value for money!

Pros: Charges most devices. Can be charged from the wall. Neat mounting setup. Cache battery allows you to not loose charge when you've stopped momentarily. Really good value.

Cons: Vulnerable to theft if left on the street with your bike.

Battery: 1600mAh Lithium Polymer

Price: $99 USD

Sinewave Revolution

This small and 100% waterproof charger can be hooked up directly to phones or power packs, and is especially popular with bike tourers given it's affordable pricetag. The unit is actually matchbox sized, and had really proven itself in the field. The Revolution starts producing power at 5.5km/h and achieves full power at 14.4km/h.

Pros: Completely waterproof (see the pic HERE) and charges most USB devices. Manufactured in the USA. Really good value for money!

Cons: You cannot charge devices post-ride (no battery), although you can ride and fill up a USB rechargeable external battery instead. Zip ties make the bike mounting semi-permanent and not particularly neat. Vulnerable to theft if left on the street with your bike.

Battery: Nil, but according to the manufacturer, a built-in battery version is in development.

Price: $120 USD

Sinewave Reactor

This is the latest dynamo power supply by Sinewave, and is the only direct competitor to The Plug III. Currently, it's too new to the market to get an idea for how reliable it is or how well it performs.

Pros: Super neat with a smaller stack height than The Plug III. It's theft proof – you can leave it on the bike when you lock it in the street. It's aesthetically pleasing. Manufactured in the USA.

Cons: There's no built in cache battery. It's harder to mount computers/smartphones on your stem. It's pretty pricey compared to other products, however it does have a price advantage on The Plug.

Battery: Nil

Price: $180 USD

LightCharge USB Charger for Dynamo

 The LightCharge is the best value option for charging USB devices

The LightCharge is the cheapest option here, although it often gets mixed reviews in terms of reliability. We recommend having a look into this product before making a purchase.

Pros: The price is right. Charges many devices. Super simple and lightweight.

Cons: You cannot charge devices post-ride (no battery). Vulnerable to theft if left on the street with your bike.

Battery: Nil

Price: $70 USD

Busch and Muller Lumotec IQ2 Luxos Light

Introduced to consumers at the 2012 Eurobike tradeshow, this bright dynamo light incorporates a handlebar switch and USB plug to charge and ride. It is a fantastic, integrated design, however unfortunately has mixed reviews on it's reliability.

Pros: A super bright dynamo light with a really broad beam. It features a neat cable and remote switch. Charges most devices. Cache battery allows you to not loose charge when you've stopped momentarily. Relatively theft proof given it's bolt on mounting.

Cons: You cannot charge devices post-ride (no battery).

Battery: Nil

Price: $260 USD

Exposure Revo Light and Boost Cable

The Revo is probably the brightest dynamo light on the market. It has a port which allows you to hook up Exposure's 'boost' cable and charge USB devices with it. We've heard mixed reviews about the capability of the USB charging, which leads us to believe that you shouldn't buy it for USB charging alone…

Pros: Super bright and well made dynamo light.

Cons: From most reports, it's not the most efficient USB charger. It only fits on a handlebar mount. Vulnerable to theft if left on the street with your bike. You cannot charge devices post-ride (no battery).

Battery: Nil

Price: $300 USD

Zzing Battery Kit

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 USD

For more information on dynamo hubs, solar panels, power supplies and external batteries, check out our Ultimate Power Resource For Bicycle Touring.

 

 

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  • http://aushiker.com Aushiker

    Hi

    The Busch and Muller does not come with a battery but you can purchase a battery as a separate piece of kit adding to the cost of course.

    Andrew

    • http://www.cyclingabout.com/ Alex Denham

      Thanks Andrew.

      Since writing this post, we’ve discovered a bit more information about the eWerk battery! We’ve update the post accordingly, with a few more details.

      Cheers

  • Andrew Priest

    I notice that you mention you charge your iPad. I am curious as to what you use to do this. My initial testing with a PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable suggests it may not be able to to this.

    Andrew

    • http://www.cyclingabout.com/ Alex Denham

      Andrew,

      Apologises on the super late reply – your message got lost in the mix somewhere!

      You are correct that the SIC doesn’t charge iPads. We use the V4i kit to do our iPad charges (iPad 3 gets ~25% from a full battery).

      Regards
      Alex

      • Domain Admin

        A little update. I have found the Super-i-Cable will charge the iPad but the iPad 2 in my case will say it is not charging when in fact it does, albeit slowly.

  • Thadwgilbert

    Bausch and Muller are producing a dynamo light with built in USB charger with built in lithium ion battery buffer. It’s an adjustable light, up to 90 lux!

    • Thadwgilbert

      It’s the Bausch & Müller LUMOTEC IQ2 LUXOS U.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1390854847 Davide Tagliaro
  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1390854847 Davide Tagliaro
  • Isaac

    I have ewerks. How do I charge my iPad?

    • http://www.cyclingabout.com/ Alex Denham

      Hello Issac. We have not had any experience with the ewerk so we are not actually sure. If you can contact your local B&M distributor I’m sure they would be happy to help.

  • G

    I have the Lightcharge unit. I think for what you get the price is still quite high. It’s very basic and the quality is a little bit flimsy.

    However, it does exactly what it’s meant to do.

    The shortfall of not having a battery is easily and cheaply rectified on Ebay by buying a USB battery pack. (I think I paid £12 for a 5000mah pack).

    I’m heading off on a three week tour soon, camping most nights. I’m confident this will keep all my USB gadgets topped up.

  • Dentalcreators Venture
  • Pingback: Hub Dynamo Systems For Bicycle Touring: Part 2 » Tour in Tune

  • peter

    I have a USB Werk, an E-Werk and cache battery, as well as a bright lights device. So 3 different methods of charging devices. If anyone here in Australia has any questions about any of these, I’m more than happy to try to answer them.

    • Scott

      Hi Peter,

      I just got a USB Werk and am having trouble getting it to charge anything. I have it connected to a Son 28 by Schmidt and all the connections seem good. Any thoughts? Do you have to roll at a certain speed to get it to work? I got up to about 25 km/hr with no sign of charge on my iphone…

      Thanks in advance for your ideas…
      Scott

      • http://aushiker.com/ Aushiker

        What model iPhone do you have? Some iPhones are sensitive to the way they are charged, that is they need a constant charge so a buffer battery has to be used between the e-Werk and the iPhone.

        Also are you able to test the e-Werk with another device to see if it charges that device okay? If you have a light or similar that is charged via USB you should be able to test it.

        Good luck.

        • Scott

          The device I am using is the USB werk not the Ewerk. Any thoughts on that one?

          • http://aushiker.com/ Aushiker

            What amperage does the phone need to charge? Without knowing what model iPhone you have and/or the specs it is hard to help.

            Peter White has this warning on the USB Werk. It may or may not apply in your case.

            You should check the specifications on your device and determine that the input amperage is below 1 amp before buying the USB-WERK. The USB-WERK can delivery 1 amp when the internal cache battery is charged. However, since the hub dynamo cannot produce that much power, the battery will steadily drain. Once it has fully drained, the USB-WERK can no longer charge your device while the device is running. And keep in mind that some devices cannot be charged and run simultaneously.

  • Reuben

    Hi, thanks for such an extensive writeup!

    I’ve pretty much decided what touring setup I’m going for:

    - Schmidt SON 28 dynamo hub
    - PedalPower SIC cable + v4i kit
    - Lighting from Klite (a lesser known Australian brand that does a custom made 1000 lumen dynamo-powered headlight)
    - Garmin Edge Touring GPS computer (for navigation, speed, mileage etc.)
    - iPhone 5 (for taking pictures and checking occasional messages etc.)

    However I’m not sure if there’s anything additional I’ll need for wiring this whole system up, or to make things compatible with each other. For instance charging my Garmin from the v4i pack at night – would I need an official Garmin cable or does a generic micro-USB cable work?

    I can understand there may be some specialist knowledge required to answer these questions, but I’d appreciate any advice whatsoever from someone who’s actually used some of these things.

    Cheers!

    • http://aushiker.com/ Aushiker

      I use a Garmin Edge 810 and before that a Garmin Edge 800 and I charge them using the cable that came with my PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable. No issues there and would expect your Garmin Edge Touring to have no problems.

      I would be more concerned about the iPhone. iPhones are known to be more sensitive to the power source. I would suggest checking with PedalPower+ on that aspect.

      • Reuben

        Thanks. The guy from PedalPower said the v4i pack can charge the iPhone 5 with any old lightning cable with no compatibility issues. He said he’s got some new iPhone 5 adaptors for the SIC cable though which without it wouldn’t be compatible.

        So can you charge the Garmin Edge whilst using it at the same time? I’ve heard some of their models go into a mode that prevents you from doing so.

        • http://aushiker.com/ Aushiker

          I have used both of my Garmin Edge models and a Garmin Oregon 600 on my bike whilst being charged by my dynamo/PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable without any charging/use issues.

          • http://www.cyclingabout.com/ Alee Denham

            Thanks for providing tech support, Aushiker!