Garmin Instinct 2 Solar: How low can it go?

A few days ago I purchased a Garmin Instinct 2 Solar because I really hate the “Low Battery” notifications that appeared on previous devices I was using for longer bicycle rides. What can be worse than the data recording ending before the activity has been completed?

The benefits of solar charging extending battery life during long rides convinced me that solar was the best solution.

After one week of wearing the device 24/7 as a watch, sleep and heart rate monitor, and for several runs and pool swims, the battery indicator showed 9% of the charge remaining, or another three days’ worth of usage. I reckoned that the 3 days indication was for non-GPS mode use, not for sports activity recording.

Would 9% of battery charge be enough for recording a run? There was only one way to find out, so off I went.

It was four in the afternoon, the sky was cloudy with thunder roaring in the distance and very light rain falling, so the solar charging conditions were not optimal.

As the 54-minute run came to an end I pressed the GPS button (which is the activity start and stop button). The device monitored my recovery time and then I saved the activity. Absolutely no problem.

It was only after the activity was saved that the “Low Battery” notification appeared, prompting me to enable “Battery Saver Watch Mode”. At that point, the device indicated that there were still three days of charge remaining, and the charge level had gone down to 5%. Without the solar charging, the charge level would surely have been less than 5%, but I have no idea what the exact level would have been.

So I learned that a 9% battery charge is enough for a 54-minute run. Good to know, but in practice, I plan to charge the device when the battery nears a 40% charge, as that’s what my smartphone and laptop manufacturers have recommended for those devices. There was no guidance in the user manual regarding when to charge the device, so for now I’ll just follow the 40% rule.

Published by Thomas Timlen

Where to begin? Perhaps the web content says it best...

2 thoughts on “Garmin Instinct 2 Solar: How low can it go?

  1. I have a Garmin Forerunner 230. For my first Ultra, a 50k, I realized that I didn’t have the watch fully on the charger overnight. I only had about an hour in getting ready to leave for the race for it to charge! I’ve had my battery die during a marathon once, so I was certain that it would not last for the entire ultra, as it would take me 8 hours to finish. By some miracle and with keeping my phone on airplane mode for the first 7ish hours of the race, my watch made it! It’s crazy the anxiety that the possibility of our watch dying during a race can create!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I feel your pain! I had a similar experience a while ago when preparing for an event and setting a device to charge overnight, only to find that it was not correctly fitted to the charging cable, leaving less than an hour to charge it a bit before leaving home. But that was not for an ultra!

      Amazing that your FR 230 could go for 8 hours on a partial charge. Smart move putting your phone in airplane mode to lessen the drain on the FR 230.

      Garmin’s specs indicate that the FR 230 should be able to last 16 hours in GPS mode, or only 12 if one is using the GLONASS (Russian satellite-based navigation system that works alongside GPS) option – but those specs related to the brand new device just out of the box. Over time, and with each recharging battery cycle, the longevity of the battery charge decreases. I learned that early on with my first Garmin device, an Edge 500. I don’t think I ever saw the “Low Battery” notification when using my next device, an FR 310XT – but that thing was so big it might have had two batteries inside! A real brick on the wrist…

      The device that I was using before buying the Instinct 2 Solar was the FR 735XT which, when brand new according to the specs, should last for up to 14 hours in activity mode with both GPS and the optical HR monitor working. I had only been out on the bike for 3 hours and 47 minutes, so yeah, I probably started out with less than a full charge, but still, that’s nowhere near 14 hours! For ordinary activities the FR 735XT was fine all around, I enjoyed using it for 18 months, but with plans for longer bike rides on the horizon, I’m happy to have transitioned to a solar assisted device.

      Whether or not I’ll find the courage to try an ultra remains to be seen!

      Liked by 2 people

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