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I'll be on a car camping trip (with a rental car) with no power to plug in for a few days. While the phones can be sorted out fairly easily with a cigarette charger, my Olympus OM-D E-M10ii only has a charger that plugs into the wall, and the manual did not state whether it could charge the battery via USB.

So I'm wondering, what are my options?

I could get a cigarette lighter charger, but I do like camping, so most of the solar panel charger have usb outputs. Is there a way for me to plug the charger to batteries with USB outputs?

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Your best bet is to use the cigarette lighter in your vehicle via a 12V to 120V inverter. Plug the inverter into the car's cigarette lighter, then plug the camera's battery charger into the 120V plug on the other end of the inverter.

Keep in mind that inverters usually consume a fair amount of energy to do what they do (particularly if they have an internal cooling fan), so you may need to run the car's engine periodically to insure the vehicle's 12V battery stays sufficiently charged to start the vehicle when needed.

Another option would be to purchase a "battery booster pack" that has a built-in inverter and 120V plug(s). Such a booster would hold enough energy (15 Ah = 15,000 mAh) to charge your camera's batteries (2,000 mAh each) several times without needing to be recharged. With the proper connectors and following the instructions included with the above linked unit, a 30W solar panel can be used to recharge the booster pack in about 6-10 hours under full sunlight.

  • I think I'd go for the cigarette lighter inverter route. With the output for the charger being under 5W, I can only expect the input to be well under the inverter's max wattage. – Calyth Sep 26 '17 at 14:19
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Time to go third party.

There are several, mostly similar, options for you. All you need is a 3rd party charger that can charge Olympus BLS-5 and/or BLS-50 batteries (see the related question, Does the Olympus OM-D E-M10 II use the same battery as the previous version?).

You could get a 3rd party charger for Olympus BLS-5/BLS-50 batteries that uses USB for power; however, USB tends to charge the batteries very slowly. USB will provide only 5V, but the batteries need 8.4V to charge. Such a charger will use a DC-DC boost inverter, but in doing so, the output current will necessarily be lower than the input current. Lower current supplied to the batteries translates into longer time to charge.

Since you are already comfortable sorting out the phones with a cigarette charger, I recommend also getting a battery charger with a cigarette lighter plug option. This will provide plenty of power to charge your batteries faster than via USB.

Here's an example 3rd party charger that has a built-in AC plug (non-polarized US plug, NEMA 1-15p), with a 12V DC input jack and corresponding 12V cigarette lighter cord, for $10: Wasabi Power Battery Charger for Olympus BLS-50, BLS-50, ... (Amazon.com US).

Note there others to be found, but they're all rebranded versions of the same thing (and so is the Wasabi, it was just an example). Many times they will come with 1 or 2 extra batteries. These batteries tend to be usable, but usually don't last as long on a single charge as the manufacturer-branded batteries.

  • The 12V cords for Wasabi chargers have a dismal reputation for poor quality construction. Is there another brand available with a 12V plug? – Michael C Sep 26 '17 at 0:41
  • @MichaelClark I'm not surprised. If they look like the one I linked to, they're all made by the same Chinese manufacturer, and rebranded. If the cord is the only (main) problem, then I suggest solving the problem with a 12v cigarette adapter universal plug kit (the kind with changeable tips for different barrel connectors). I was trying to only link to chargers only (most of them seem to include batteries), because I didn't want to endorse those relabeled 3rd party batteries as well. – scottbb Sep 26 '17 at 0:47
  • @MichaelClark It's really frustrating, because other than USB, there is no DC power connector voltage/current standard. Hell, not all manufacturers even agree on polarity of the pin vs. barrel! Very frustrating. I'm trying to get my low voltage electronics needs consistent and settled, because I'd like to move into a travel trailer, and not have a bunch of AC-DC adapters that require me to turn on the DC-AC inverter... very frustrating, to say the least. – scottbb Sep 26 '17 at 0:49
  • When I travelled extensively I wired inverters (with inline fuse protection) directly to the vehicle's 12V distribution block. Of course being in a vehicle with 3-4 600CCA batteries wired in series (and usually a system that would auto-start the engine if voltage dropped below a preset point) meant I didn't have to worry about exhausting the vehicle's batteries when the engine was not running. I've seen way too many melted plastic cigarette lighter adapters. – Michael C Sep 26 '17 at 0:56
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    @MichaelClark interesting. Of course, nowadays for a travel trailer, a couple solar panels are inexpensive, and if wired thoughtfully and correctly, with a good whole system inverter and tender, can provide all the power needed daily. Still, I hate the thought of converting DC to AC, just to use stupid proprietary inefficient AC/DC converters. Really grates on my nerves. – scottbb Sep 26 '17 at 0:59
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I presume the Solar panel has no 'mains' power, only 12v etc, so you could get an Inverter - which lifts e.g. 12v to 120v or 240v.

They usually come with a cigarette lighter plug to be used in a car, but there may be other alternatives.
I'd check the usual suspects - Tandy/RadioShack/Maplins etc, depending on country.

This is just a sample search from Maplins, UK - models from £13 to £1800

It might also be worth checking camping/caravanning stores too - but that's a market I know nothing about.

  • The solar panels I was looking at have no mains power, only 5V USB output. That works for phones, but the Olympus charger won't take DC input (and as @scottbb pointed out, the charger actually requires 8.4V to charge... – Calyth Sep 25 '17 at 18:58
  • Then you can't get from USB 5v to mains voltage 120/240v, there is no inverter that will do that - so my idea would only work in the car, from the 12v supply. [I think you may have misread my post, though, inverters take low voltage DC input, but output mains voltage AC, so you can use your regular charger... or boil a household kettle, etc.] – Tetsujin Sep 25 '17 at 19:18

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