As you know by know I am a big believer in a lot of things, Baofeng handheld Ham radio, Petzl headlamps, LED Lenser tactical light, etc. What do these things all have in common? The need for “power.” Years ago I made the decision to standardize on AA & AAA batteries. By standardizing on those two sizes of batteries it becomes easier to have enough batteries, enough charging capabilities and enough redundancy built into my prepping plans. As with all batteries, alkaline batteries will eventually die. Rechargeable batteries will eventually need to be recharged vs. being “dead” and unusable alkaline batteries. I can’t do anything about the “dead”, but the rechargeable thing I can handle. Hence, enters the SolPad7 Solaraid AA & AAA battery charger.
As with everything I do that is equipment and gear related, before I make a purchase, I define the mission of an item. For this situation:
“Solar recharging capability of AA & AAA batteries that is reliable and highly portable allowing the recharging of batteries while on the move, either on foot or vehicle.”
Let me state up-front that I had two options to meet this mission requirement; 1) the SolPad7 Solaraid unit, and, 2) the GoalZero Nomad7 combined with the Guide10.
I absolutely love GoalZero equipment and I have GoalZero Bouldler 30 panels and Guardian charger/controller units. I love their quality. But in this case the GoalZero equipment was almost three times the cost of the SolPad7 unit. The SolPad7 unit got good reviews on Amazon and looked almost exactly like the GoalZero unit. The choice was easy, I bought two SolPad7 units for less than one GoalZero unit. OK, back to the review…
I did considerable searching and research for a unit that would meet our needs. GoalZero and others had units but the costs and/or design simply eliminated them. Then I came across this unit (SolPad7), it appeared to meet our needs and for 1/4 – 1/3 of the costs of other comparable units. I found it on Amazon and it had a 4+ star (out of 5) rating. The reviews were good and I took the plunge. I am glad I did.
First some basics:
- Folded up the unit is 6-1/2″ x 9″, less than 1/2″ thick except where the controller unit is. That adds another 1-1/2″ x 2-1/2″ x 1/2″ bulge in one spot. This makes the unit very portable, taking up very little space in a box or bag.
- Laid out, unfolded, the overall size is 24″ x 9″. That is very space efficient for the benefit you are getting.
- Nine loops to connect the unit to a pack, vest, tree, etc. The loops are securely attached to the unit and give you a sense of quality.
- The battery charger unit handles AA or AAA batteries. For AAA there is a “tray” that you use and it slides in where the AA batteries would normally go. Look at the tray as an “adapter” and it makes more sense.
- The unit came with 4 AA batteries. The batteries are private label “SolarAid” and I am not sure of their quality but hey, four more batteries in the cache is fine with me.
- It weighs about 1lb with the batteries in the charger pack. That is a minimal amount of weight and I have no problem allotting that amount of weight and space to my pack for the huge benefit and options that this unit provides.
- 7 Watt high-efficiency mono-crystalline solar panel with foldable design offers excellent portability, ideal for emergency preparedness, backpacking, Water Sports, camping, Hunting, and other outdoor activities.
- Power up your iPhone/iPad, Kindles, tablets, Android devices anywhere you go.
- Ultra-lightweight USB and solar charging system that fits in your pocket.
The performance testing was actually very enjoyable, this unit is sweet! So here is how it performed:
- I took four high-end rechargeable batteries that I knew were in good shape. I placed them in the charger unit and connected it to the power controller. It indicated that the batteries were 75% charged. It took less than 30 minutes to bring the batteries up to full charge.
- Then I took the batteries that came with the unit and wanted to fully discharge them to test both the batteries and the charging capability of the unit. I placed the batteries in a 2-cell flashlight and turned it on. It took 48 hours to discharge the batteries. I then did the same thing to the remaining two batteries. Again, 48 hours of flashlight time. Not bad, not bad at all.
- I placed the now fully discharged batteries in the battery charger unit and connected it to the solar panel unit. The built-in battery tester/indicator was showing the batteries had a 25% charge to them.
- I placed the solar panel unit in a sunny area facing due south. It was 0730 (7:30am) and the sun was striking the panels at a slight angle. The sky was somewhat overcast, maybe 20% cloud cover.
- The batteries were fully charged by 1200 (noon).
The performance testing exceeded my expectations completely.
And finally the great part – $44.99 for the unit and that included four rechargeable AA batteries. The unit appears to be well made, solid, good connections, nothing “cheap” about it. I like it!!
This is a “MUST BUY!” recommendation.
Here is the Amazon purchase link : http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CJJ4OUW?ie=UTF8&ref_=de_a_smtd&showDetailTechData=1#technical-data
Now, here is the part that sucks…it is “not currently available” for sale on Amazon. And worse yet, I can’t find the SolPad7 Solaraid unit available for sale anywhere on the Internet. So that leaves you with one option…GoalZero’s unit that is very similar. The item you want is the “Goal Zero 41022 Guide 10 Plus Solar Recharging Kit” It retails on Amazon for about $110.00
There is no question in my mind that the GoalZero kit is as good, and no doubt better, than the SolPad7 Solaraid unit. So I have the same recommendation for the Goal Zero 41022 Guide 10 Plus Solar Recharging Kit – but it!
“MUST BUY!” recommendation.
The Goal Zero 41022 Guide 10 Plus Solar Recharging Kit info:
- Directly charge a smartphone in 1 hour
- Charge up removable AA/AAA batteries from USB or sun
- Built-in LED light runs for 150+ hours per charge
- Kit includes Nomad 7 solar panel and Guide 10 Plus power pack
- 4 AA rechargeable batteries included
GoalZero Unit review coming soon. I put head-to-head with the SolPad7 unit. Keep your eyes open for it!
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