This is the seventh article in this series regarding the harvesting of the sun’s energy. In other words…solar panels collecting the sun’s rays. When this series of articles is complete you will have a solid understanding if this unit meets your needs and is worth your time and money. And of course you will have my overall “buy” recommendation as well when all is done. Yes, not till then. I will have a chart in the last article that provides a comparison of each unit against each of the other units. It is eye-opening to be sure. And it shows what is the best value for your hard-earned money.
If you haven’t already read the Introduction post to this series I would suggest you do so now.
To make sure we are on the same page let me quickly review two things…
Mission Statement –
“Provide a highly portable way to harvest solar power.”
Requirements & Restrictions –
- Must be reliable.
- Must be portable.
- Must be efficient.
- Must be weather (water) resistant.
- Shouldn’t be cost prohibitive (i.e. should be affordable).
- Should be as compatible with as many power storage options as possible.
- Should be waterproof.
- Can’t be weather/water intolerant.
The Eco-Worthy AM-L02SC30W-1 –
First thing I noticed right off the bat is the bulk and weight of this unit. It is way larger (i.e. fatter) and heavier (i.e. up to 3-times the weight) of the other units by a large margin. But, 3lbs for the ability to generate power can be a modest price to pay.
What really drew my attention to the Eco-Worthy unit was not the weight, it was not the size, it was not the 28w capability…it was the 12vDC option. Remember the Goalzero unit also has a 12vDC option on it…but at 1/4 of the wattage. That means the Eco-Worthy unit can push four times more power than the Goalzero unit at virtually the same over price. That is a significant difference and advantage that easily makes the Eco-Worthy unit far superior to the Goal zero unit.
As I inspected the Eco-Worthy unit I found it to be very well constructed. The case was quality material, loops well attached to the case, panels well protected, and overall just and solid piece of gear. Then I noticed one of my pet peeves…the charger/controller unit…it was exposed. I would much rather it be protected in some fashion but it isn’t. When using this piece of gear you would have to find a way to ensure that you aren’t going to get rained on. Also, in the southwest it is common to have blowing dust, protection from this menace will have to be figured out. And finally, this is not a sling on the outside of your backpack portable solar harvesting unit. Well, technically it could be. But, it has a much larger footprint than the other units, at least double. I could see this unit being more appropriate for in-camp use.
As I kept looking over the unit I had neglected to recognize the remaining contents of the box. There were the customary four Carabiners in there which is nice but not mandatory. And there was a 3′ USB cable as well, nice. And, there was a 40″ 12vDC power cable as well. Remember, this unit has 12vDC capability. And then there was the final surprise…10 adapter plugs for various devices to help ensure that your 12vDC device is compatible with the 12vDC cable that comes with the Eco-Worthy unit. SWEET!
Here is a “con” that I wish the Eco-Worthy folks would have thought about…a vehicle power socket with a DC5521 plug. Now please, don’t let your eyes roll back in your head, there is method to my madness. I want options to utilize the 12vDC capability of the Eco-Worthy unit. The most common 12vDC power delivery system at this point it the vehicle adapter socket and plug. That gives me a serious range of power options with the Eco-Worthy unit.
So why the 12vDC option? I want to be able to charge my Baofeng radio batteries with the standard charger base and the 12vDC power cable w/adapter. So why not go direct into the unit’s 12vDC plug? I did try that and I am not sure it is truly compatible with what I am trying to accomplish. I used a USB cable and my Baofeng charger base. I plugged in the unit and saw the correct voltage in the charger base. But, when I placed the battery in the charger base I didn’t get the steady red light indicating charging. What I got was a flashing red light, actually more light a spasmodic red light that I believe indicates that I am not getting a good charge.
So I went back into my shop and started digging around, 30 minutes later I have my vehicle adapter cable all ready to go. I repeat my test with the right cable, adapter, socket, and BINGO! I am in business. It works just as I wanted it to. Now I have a way to charge my Baofeng radio batteries from a highly solar panel unit. That is one of the big goals I wanted to meet.
Here’s how that test went…
Another interesting thing happened while I was doing my research on this unit…Eco-Worthy is big time into solar power. They make a wide range of solar equipment all the way to complete systems. And all of their stuff gets really good reviews. But, let’s take a challenging approach to this unit…Are there other 12vDC solar units out here comparable to the Eco-Worthy? Yes.
I looked them over, five other units in all. They were all over $100 with the exception of one, which was over $90 (16% more expensive). None of them rated as highly as the Eco-Worthy unit. So why test units that are significantly more money with poorer initial ratings? Well, coz I am a dummy. I will be ordering one of those $92 units from Sunkingdom to make sure I am getting you the best info possible.
Technical Specs –
USB Port: 1
Other Port(s): 1 12vDC (DC5521)
Maximum Efficiency: >17%
Panel Weather/Water Resistance: at least water & weather resistant ( I think it is waterproof but I can’t actually verify it)
Amazon Rating: 4.9 out of 5
Cost per Watt: $2.57
Extra Accessories Provided: 1x USB Cable, 1x DC cable,10x Laptop/Device connectors, 4 Carabiners
Product info from manufacturer –
- Automatically adjust the current and voltage to achieve maximum power.
- Dual Output: Standard USB output fit for 5V device, 18V DC&5521 output for 9-18V laptop and 12V car battery.
- Scratch resistant monocrystalline solar cells. Made of PET laminated, PVC waterproof fabric.
- ECO-WORTHY solar panel will fully charge a smart phone, iPhone, GPS, or e-Reader in about 2 hours.
- With Sun Track Technology you never have to worry about clouds or shade disrupting the charging connection or displaying error messages on your device.
- Strong Volt solar chargers can charge all of your USB powered device such as phones, Go Pro’s, cameras, battery packs and Power banks almost as fast as a wall outlet.
- It’s super lightweight, foldable and includes convenient grommet holes and carabineers clips so you can hang it from backpacks, chairs, tents, trees and more.
- Features: Auto-Reconnect, LED Power Indicator Lights, Device Selection Switch, Wallet Size Design, Lightweight, Grommets for Hanging.
Due to the 12vDC option on this unit I really like it. It sure gives you a lot more capability than simple 5vDC USB units. And the price per watt absolutely crushes Goalzero…and with just as good of quality, if not better, than Goalzero. This Eco-Worthy is a prized piece of equipment for my preparedness cache!
Note: There is one other aspect to this panel that really impressed me. But, you will have to wait until I write the articles about storing the harvested solar power. Yes, it will be worth the wait.
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Associated articles –
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