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  • Dec 13 2019

    Next Generation of Dynamo Charging Units

    The Plug5, Igaro D2 and Appcon3000
    The Plug5, Igaro D2 and Appcon 3000

    In the past 6 months we’ve seen 3 new dynamo usb charging units come to market and in my view these products represent the next generation in dynamo charging. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Plug III and have used it to charge my phone a lot, but that unit is soon to be moved to my commuter so I can make room for one of these newer, higher tech models.

    Two of them I see as a response to what is a clear trend among long distance and touring cyclists that rely on their dynamo charging unit. This trend is to use their dynamo charging unit to charge a power bank, then use the power bank to charge their device (phone, garmin, wahoo, etc). There are a large amount of devices needing to be charged on the road, yet info regarding how these devices manage being charged is hard to find (in particular, how each device would handle a low, fluctuating power supply). Thus, the safest bet is to charge the power bank. Specifically the Smart Power Pack II because this power bank is designed for getting charged via dynamo power and can be charged while charging a device (pass-through technology).

    The third option is strictly a dynamo charging unit with a usb-c port with some tech advancements that we’ve dreamed about, though this is the first time they’ve been available to us. The biggest advancement that we are most excited about is auto-reconnect. This is an answer to my comment above about not knowing how well a device can be charged when the flow of power fluctuates (namely drops to a tiny flow on a hill climb). Often devices stop receiving power when the current dips too low and then it ignores the incoming power…even when the power supply increases. Auto-reconnect solves this problem by recognizing the issue and reconnecting to the device when the power supply is at a level that the device will accept.

    Here are the 3 options (plus a runner up):

    Appcon 3000 w/ Bag Option

    Appcon 3000: The Appcon 3000 has a lot of tech happening in a nice little package. A 3000 mAh power bank is integrated into this unit. It can be mounted a few ways on the bike. Using the steer tube mounting setup is probably the cleanest solution, though you need to know that the headset cap is not the USB port (like some other units), but the USB port and the incoming power lines come out of the cap with a few inches of durable cable. Whatever mounting setup you go with, the Appcon 3000 is designed to be easy to remove from the bike. This is because you might want to take it in the tent and use the power bank, or you may want to bring it into the cafe and charge the power bank via usb wall plug. Another added feature of the Appcon 3000 is an iOS or android App. The App uses bluetooth to connect to the Appcon 3000 and gives you tons of information about incoming and outgoing power.

    Cinq5 Plug5 Plus

    Cinq5 Plug5 Plus: The Plug5 Plus also has an integrated power bank. The power bank on the Plug5 Plus is 1000 mAh and is not capable of being charged from a wall mount and there’s no app for your phone, but there’s loads of tech in this unit. The Plug5 Plus has power management built into it so that charging a device AND having your lights on is a possibility, though we must understand that the hub only has so much power to give and the charging will happen much better when the lights are turned off. The Plug5 Plus is designed to fit into a steer tube. When this is possible, it’s an awesome setup as the USB-C plug is built into the top cap and the power bank along with all the electronics are hidden inside your steer tube. If you prefer a less permanent solution for mounting the Plug5 Plus (or you have a carbon steer tube), you can keep it external by using a length of 1-1/8” aluminum tubing to act as your mock steer tube. This will easily fit it into a frame bag or handlebar bag.

    Igaro-UK D2

    Igaro-UK D2: The Igaro-UK D2 is a simple, super lightweight and very techy dynamo charging unit. All Igaro D2’s have Auto-Reconnect technology built into them. With Auto-Reconnect you can successfully charge a variety of devices that might fail otherwise. The fail happens because the the device being charged might lock on to a very tiny stream of power, or possibly stop charging altogether because of the drop in power supply on a big climb. The D2’s will see this issue as it’s happening and automatically restart the charge process when there’s a higher power supply available. This charging shut down is a somewhat common struggle when using a  dynamo charging units that are not incorporating a pass-through power bank, so this is a pretty exciting feature to have. The Igaro D2-Standard has charge optimization built into it which is set for 12 MPH. This adds a nice little boost to the power output that the D2-Lite (or any other dynamo chargers) do not have. 

    Worth Mentioning (runner up):

    Cinq5 Smart Power Pack II

    Cinq5 Smart Power Pack II: I would be remiss to not mention that while the Smart Power Pack II is not a new product, it is something that’s been gaining in popularity in the past 18 months. This is due to the fact that this power bank is pretty awesome. It is capable of adjusting it’s power intake with the power supply being offered AND it can charge and be charged (act as a pass-through). These are features that all 3 of the next generation of dynamo chargers are working to address. So if you have a charging unit that you’d like to breathe new life into, you might want to consider getting the Smart Power Pack II

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    Looking for more info about using dynamo power? Check out these blogposts:
    - Dynamo Lighting Basics
    - USB Charging w/Dynamo Power

    Here are some relevant links for our shop:
    Dynamo Charging Units - Dynamo Products - Dynamo Lights  -  Dynamo Wheels

  • Dec 31 2014

    Using Your Dynamo Hub for Device Charging

    This post was updated November 8, 2018 by Luke

    Dynamo Light Display Bike
    Our Dynamo Demo Bike at Perennial Cycle

    It's no secret that we're big fans of using Dynamo hubs to power lights. The idea of being my very own utility power station makes me smile almost as much as knowing that my lights will ALWAYS be ready for me when I'm headed out on the road. We also have a variety of products that use the same Dynamo hub energy to charge a mix of USB devices. Your dynamo hub can charge lights, an external battery, a GPS unit or your smartphone during rides. Touring cyclists can charge USB devices on the road. In order to do this you need a  front wheel with a dynamo hub and a charging device.

    Dynamo powered USB charging options:

    Busch $ Müller's Luxos U Light and USB charger
    Busch & Müller's Luxos U Light and USB charger

    IQ2 LUXOS U HEADLIGHT: This is a very technically advanced product in that it's a very powerful light that comes out of the box with a USB port for charging devices. If you're looking for a high power dynamo light AND the ability to charge USB devices, this unit is what you're after. Up to 90 lux of light (floodlight) with a lithium battery cache that charges while riding and powers the floodlight, standlight and USB port. The Luxos U uses the cache battery for overvoltage protection. A great feature being that you'll have expensive devices plugged into it.

    Busch & Mueller USB WERK
    Busch & Müller’s USB-Werk

    USB-WERK: Busch & Müller's USB-Werk uses dynamo power to charge USB devices. Like the Luxos U, the USB-Werk has a small buffer cache battery to safely charge your iPhone, Android phone, MP3 player, GPS or other USB devices at any speed. The USB-Werk can be used as a stand alone item that is connected to your dynamo hub, or (more commonly) it can be wired along with your dynamo light.

    Cinq5 The Plug III
    The Plug III, Dynamo USB Power Suppy

    Cinq5 Plug III: The Plug III is a USB charger and a 1-1/8" topcap for your threadless stem. It would be difficult to integrate a charger any more eloquently. It is a bit bulkier than a typical top cap, but there's a USB port! The PAT II technology used in converting the dynamo energy into a current that your device can pull from does an awesome job of allowing your device to charge even at slow speeds. I have used this device a lot (most often with an iPhone SE) and have found it to be very reliable. It successfuly charges my phone even when I'm running map aps and have bluetooth running. The Plug III is a lovely and very reliable charger. I'd recommend it whatever your needs are.

    The Sinewave Revolution

    Sinewave Revolution: The Revolution is Sinewave's USB charging unit. Sinewave manages the power flow to your device without utilizing a cache battery. It's the lightest option that we've seen and without a battery in the mix, it could potentially run indefinitely.

    Cinq5 Smart Battery Pack II
    Cinq5 Smart Battery Pack II

    Cing5 Smart Battery Pack II: lThis is not a charger, but it's worth adding to the page. We have found that some phones or devices struggle to get a steady flow of power to them for charging. Sometimes a device seems to lock onto a stream of power before the flow of power is at it's peak. In this situation the hub is pushing a higher amperage of power than the phone is letting in. I don't have that problem, but a friend of mine is sometimes challenged to charge his phone on the road. To get a steady charge he needs to get the bike up to speed, let the charger build up a cache of power and then plug in the phone so that it locks onto a higher amperage. With the Smart Battery Pack II in the middle, this problem is solved. You can simply charge the battery and later use the charged battery to charge the device, or you can use the battery as a buffer by having it plugged into your dynamo charger and your USB device at the same time. Another reason you might need the Smart Pack is that your device requires higher than .5 amps to charge it. No dynamo device is going to push more than .5 amps, so potentially you need to charge the battery and later charge the device with the battery. An iPad would be an example of something needing more than .5 amps.

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    If you are starting from nothing, we'd be hard pressed to recommend anything other than the Luxos U as the light is very high quality (and high powered) and the USB plug is wired to be on your handlebars along with the light's control button. If you already have a dynamo light, or want something different from the Luxos U (the Luxos U seemed a bit large for my Brompton folding bike), then the Busch & Müller USB-Werk,  The Plug III or the Sinewave Revolution; are excellent options for keeping your smartphone or other USB device powered up. We are the midwest's largest dynamo specialist with a large assortment of dynamo hubs, wheels, lights and accessories in stock. We also understand the importance of getting these systems setup properly and we have the expertise to do that very well. Give us a call or stop in if you have questions about getting a dynamo setup for your commuter or to get setup for an around the world tour. Here's a link to view our Dynamo related items at the shop: Dynamo Category

    Dynamo Lighting @ Perennialcycle.com

    NOTES: Dynamo hubs have limited power output and thus cannot charge all USB rechargeable units. If your device needs 1 amp or more, then you will need to use your dynamo power to charge the Smart Power Pack II which in turn can be used to power your iPad. iPads are known to require more than 1 amp to charge and thus cannot be charged off of dynamo power. The output of these dynamo USB ports is .5amps which is actually the same as a USB port on a PC. The reality is that if your screen is off, charging will occur, but very, very slowly so in reality it's best not to consider it a working option.

    MORE NOTES: Good quality dynamo hubs have an output of 6 volts/3 watts of power. These are the huge majority of dynamo hubs in use, BUT there are some 1.5 or 2.4 watt hubs that are made. These are quite low quality and will not work with any of the USB charging units. No worries if you have purchased your dynamo hub from a reputable bike shop, but if you're an Alibaba or eBay troller you'll need to be aware... *The reason I believe my dynamo system is inferior to my friend's is that I use a hub designed to small wheels (SONdelux), though my bike has 700c wheels. These hubs have a little less rolling resistance, but in theory you would need to be going faster to get full power out of them. He uses the SON 28, which is designed for the 700c wheel, which is what his bike has.

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