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I want to buy a MacBook Pro 2016, probably the 15" model.

Since I travel around on my bicycle a lot, I'd find it really nice if I could charge it with a solar panel. Does anyone know how much Output a solar panel would have to have to power a MacBook Pro via USB?

  • 2
    Voltaic Systems; no affi. – klanomath Mar 12 '17 at 16:53
  • @klanomath - Great find. added to my list of suppliers. It will help people with MagSafe era hardware. – bmike Mar 12 '17 at 18:36
  • Direct charging from solar panels is not recommended for long term health of a battery. Output from solar panels is not constant and affects the chemical composition of the battery that is charging. – Cristi Mar 16 '17 at 11:49
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What I would recommend is going iPad Pro and keep a Mac mini somewhere else for things you simply cannot do locally. Since you are looking at the new models that accept USB C charging, you have lots more flexibility to use solar / iOS type chargers than before. The early 2017 lineup has 4W to 35W processors instead of the much higher wattage ones from 2016 and older.

Even so, running LTE network and remote access to where you have AC power for your Mac keeps your bicycle build light and reduces your cost for solar 10x or more.

I personally wouldn't bike with anything bigger than the MacBook with USB-C charging or iPad, but you could be thinking of a trailer where 35 pounds of gear and Arizona type sunlight would make a MacSafe MacBook possible. Also, the MacBook come with 29W, 61W, or 87W USB-C Power Adapters so you can pick a solar panel that would mimic those recharge rates. It's possible you could get away with a 29W charge on the biggest MacBook if you didn't run down the battery but 1/5 of the way each day and had good times to charge it (i.e. all day on the back of the bike in clear conditions).

I have heard of people using the 13" and 15" MBP for light work and running all day on a 10W range iPad charger. They lost battery charge all day and watched CPU intensive tasks, but for email, light web, no video or no encoding work - they made it most of the day with less than 10% battery loss and regained 25% battery charge with the Mac sleeping all night on the iPad charger. Now you have USB-A to USB-C charge capability with a small cable instead of lugging a MagSafe AC to DC transformer.

  • I guess I didn't express myself properly, I'm looking to buy a new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, which is what I meant when I wrote "MacBook Pro 2016". Sorry! Is the 2A (10W) that most solar panels I found can put out enough for these models? – Fail0hr Mar 12 '17 at 19:35
  • @Fail0hr My apologies - please edit out anything that didn't hit the mark for you or for others you see in your position. The new models are 100% the way to go. I tried to remove all the MagSafe advice and details. Please post an answer on what you selected. Lots of people will see and learn from your post here. – bmike Mar 12 '17 at 19:41

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