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Charging with Enerplex Solar at WAIS Divide, Antarctica

Enerplex-Always-in-Charge-GreenThis season in Antarctica, I was working at the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide Field Camp – an extremely remote field camp in Western Antarctica. Our camp consisted of a number of large communal tents, and individual “Arctic Oven” tents to live in. I had no power supplied to my tent, and in order to keep all of my gadgets charge and working, I relied on an Enerplex Kickr IV Solar Panel, and Enerplex Jumpr Stack 6 Battery, supplied to me directly by Enerplex.

DSC02538-2014-12-20 Sponsor Shots-Donenfeld-1920-WMI had the solar panel mounted on the outside of my personal tent. For mountain location, I chose to drape the flexible, 4-segment panel over a peak in the roof of the tent, so that each half of the panel was facing a slightly different direction. I figured this would let a portion of the panel be facing directly at the sun for more of the day, as the sun rotated overhead. Connected to the panel was an “Amazon Basics” extra long, heavy duty USB Cable, which snaked through an access port into my tent. I weatherproofed the USB connector with a bit of kapton tape, which held up just great,

Inside my tent, the USB cable ran down the wall of my tent and into the charging port of my Enerplex battery. I usually kept the panel connected to the battery at all times, except when I’d take the battery with me to work in the drill arch. When using the battery alone in the drill arch, it kept my UE Boom Bluetooth Speaker charged up and ready to rock while we worked.

DSC02297-2014-12-20 Sponsor Shots-Donenfeld-1920-WMRunning any type of electronic system in Antarctica is a challenge. The sun shines 24/7, with extremely strong UV radiation that’s amplified by reflections off of the stark white snow and ice. Wind whips at incredible speeds, and combined with ambient -30 temperatures, creates a windchill nearing -80. Everything freezes, and gets whipped around violently by the wind continuously. Needless to say, gear must be specially ruggedzed to perform in these conditions. I had my Enerplex gear setup on the outside of my tent continuously for my entire field season – and I can now say from personal field testing experience that the gear held up perfectly. The solar panel flawlessly delivered power to my battery system without fail. The panel did stiffen slightly in the cold, but never cracked or delaminated. Additionally, with the addition of a bit of kapton tape and elastic support ties, the USB connector stayed intact – although I’d have preferred a weatherproof, military-style USB port. The Enerplex battery system stayed charged continuously, and even when I was simultaneously charing three devices, while at the same time charging the battery from solar, the battery indicator never moved off of the Full status. The battery pack also provided a great power buffer when Condition2 storms would roll in and obscure the sun for prolonged periods.

For more on my entire season at the WAIS Divide, check out my entire archive. Additionally, be sure to see my full WAIS Divide Field Camp Tour.

Here’s a short explanation of my system.

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