Is this a viable option for charging batteries via USB?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by TwoWheels, Mar 31, 2015.

  1. TwoWheels

    TwoWheels Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 28, 2014
    British Columbia
    I'm going on a trip in late April that will have me off the grid for about four days. I'm searching for some way to maintain charged batteries for my GM1--I can go through two plus batteries a day with it. My very limited understanding has been that camera batteries generally can't be charged via USB because of the limited voltage on USB. This kit claims to have a universal charger that can charge different lithium batteries and can be powered via usb connection. That allows the use of an external battery pack (or presumably a solar panel) to charge the camera battery. Any ideas whether this is viable and might actually work? Would it likely be an efficient approach or is it likely more bother and weight than just taking a handful of batteries?
  2. PacNWMike

    PacNWMike Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Dec 5, 2014
    Salish Sea
    Will you have a car? i.e 12v power supply. Then this works. Totally off the beaten track I take this but not sure it'll work on a camera and probably won't last you 4 days of your heavy usage. Then you'll need a solar charger, another battery pack and/or modify your usage.

    edit: I think you need something that outputs 12v to the Progo charger and my IOgear pak doesn't. Some newer ones do like this Anker. But for that price you can just buy enough of the progo batteries to last.
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2015
  3. TwoWheels

    TwoWheels Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 28, 2014
    British Columbia
    I'm going to be backpacking, so I'll have no car and weight very is important. With GM1 batteries weighing about 1.25 ounces each, I'm losing my optimism that I can find anything more cost and weight effective than just taking a bunch of batteries. If the batteries could be charged in camera via USB or even if the charger had a USB plug, there would be more solutions available. The Anker you linked needs a USB and it's heavy--over a pound. The set-up that I linked in my original post seems a little suspect so I was wondering if anyone had experience with it. The bottom line seems to be that the GM1 battery life is very poor and there's no apparent solution for people like me who don't always have a power outlet. The original batteries do last a little longer (25%?) than the cheap clones, but they cost $60 here in Canada so those really aren't an option. It's the one (and pretty much only) thing I really don't like about the camera.
  4. HarryS

    HarryS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 23, 2012
    Midwest, USA
    That's an interesting product. This is the first time I've seen an 8.4 volt (that's the usual output) charger running off USB. Maybe it works because the GM1 battery is such a low capacity battery. The Blue battery is your typical power bank unit used for smart phones. etc.

    So the big question is how many charges can you get out of the power bank before it runs down? If you go by capacity, they say it's 3000 maH, and a Panasonic BHL7 is 680 mAH, so that would suggest 4 charges at perfect efficiency, which isn't going to happen. I would guess 2 charges if you're lucky, but the only way to tell is to try it.

    If you already have a bigger power bank like this one, you would probably be OK with it and 4 charged batteries.
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2015
  5. Chris5107

    Chris5107 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 28, 2011
    The charger itself will likely be heavy. I would opt for getting more batteries and then trying to conserve power on the trip where possible (don't review photos on the camera till you get home, etc. ).
  6. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    The charger probably has a DC-to-DC converter so it can charge different voltage batteries. That battery used to run the charger is only rated for 3,000mAh so it can only probably fully charge a camera battery 5 times before it needs to be recharged.

    I suggest looking for a solar battery charger. A lot of the 3rd party battery charges will work with a 12v input. So any solar panel that puts out 12v would work.
  7. TwoWheels

    TwoWheels Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 28, 2014
    British Columbia
    I didn't realize you could just look at the mAH to estimate how many charges (it's been many years since I failed out of engineering school). That is helpful to know. But I do remember there is a lot of inefficiency. All that charging apparatus is going to weigh more than two or three batteries. And solar chargers aren't light either. So I'm still back at packing batteries.
  8. Paul80

    Paul80 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 6, 2014

    If there is and external mains adaptor available for your camera it might be worth going down the Li-Ion battery route as outlined in the YouTube link below

    I went down the 4 6000Mah 18650 route 2 in Parallel and then 2 in series which gives the 7.4 volts needed by lumix cameras and 12000Mah capacity which would probably last a week of very heavy usage, 4 batteries and charger where about £6 and the External battery Adaptor was about £10. The variable voltage device shown in the video is not needed if using the 3.7Volt 18650 batteries.

  9. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    I think you have your answer.
  10. robbie36

    robbie36 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 25, 2010
    rob collins
    I never found a USB battery charger for my EM1. I did however find one for my Sony A7 battery made by a company 'MTB'. This works very well and charges a NP-FW50 in about 4 hours (or pretty much the same as the mains) from a decent battery pack. I see the company makes a similar USB battery charger for the GM1. I cant guarantee it will work but it is certainly worth a try...

    In fact, I am in a similar position to you when I travel to Madagascar on the 10th of this month - with 3 consecutive days without power.

    Secondly, I really wouldnt waste your time with a solar powered battery charger. If you are lucky and buy a solar battery charger the size of a paper back, you will generate enough power in one day to recharge one battery.

    If, however, you bought a quality powerbank, the size of a paperback, you will get enough charge out of it to charge roughly 12 GM1 batteries. By quality and the size of a paperback I mean like this...

    Now this unit which is 100 watt hours or 27,000mah may well be overkill but buying a decent say 10,000mah powerbank makes a lot more sense than buying solar powered.

    And please bear in mind there is a lot of junk being sold in this area. This video is actually quite funny...

    ...but it wouldnt be funny is you were relying on it for a photo tour....
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