So by now hopefully you’ve read my previous articles; the introduction and subsequent reviews of each of the six solar panel charging units. Oooppsss, the solar harvesting units. If you haven’t read those articles I would suggest you read each in order so that you understand this “summary” article in context.
Start reading the previous articles if you haven’t already – < Portable Solar Power Harvesting – Part #1 >
This wasn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be. Before I really started this overarching project I just wanted a unit to keep my batteries charged…no big deal. But the more I got into it the larger the project got, I went from evaluating “combo” units like the SolPad and Goalzero to realizing buying individuals pieces was a way better to approach this. And…there were enough options to make my head hurt.
Then there was the dilemma of 5vDC USB units vs. 12vDC units, and which was the best option for an emergency, disaster, or grid-down situation. Of course there was the nagging issue of “cost” as well. If we all had unlimited funds there would never be this problem of money vs. value. As this project grew in complexity I had to go back to basics…What was the mission of the unit?
“Provide a highly portable way to harvest solar power.”
Would I change the mission statement at this point? Yes. It would read something like this…
“Provide a highly portable way to harvest solar power in the most efficient manner and compatible with the most needed and used preparedness equipment..”
So I went back and looked at each unit again in strictly terms of mission and nothing else. Then I prioritized other issues, second of which was cost. As I went through that exercise it started to become pretty evident which unit was going to be my pick. Before I give you the final answer let me go over some of the more prominent pros and cons to each unit. With a couple comments thrown in there.
The SolPad 7 unit –
Great little unit, I used it for several years now and I’ve not been disappointed. Bad thing is…it is no longer for sale anywhere that I can find. Looks like it was a clone of the Goalzero Nomad 7 unit…but at a realistic price.
Goalzero Nomad 7 unit –
Nice unit, love the 5vDC and 12vDC options. Solidly built but not noticeably better quality than any of the other units. Way, way overpriced for what you get! The company is preying on folks based on a perception of quality vs. actual quality. This unit is nowhere near worth what they are charging for it…even if it was on sale. I will not buy this unit.
Aukey BP-P4 –
I really liked this unit. Was powerful, charged devices quickly and obviously had an “intelligent charge controller.” Well priced, well built, and worked great. This unit was kind of the middle of the road in everything…neither the best, nor the worst in each category.
Anker A2421011 –
I really liked the quality of this product. I especially liked the way the charge controller was protected from the elements. The controller/charger on this unit was a “smart” one as well. The unit adjusted to different charging rates as needed and would shut down and switch between USB outlets to maximize charging capabilities.
Sunkingdom AMTCS19.5_B000046 –
This appeared to be the smartest of the units tested so far. This unit would even shut done the charge controller once the device was charged. It even had the ability to monitor both ports simultaneously and adjust both ports at the same time to maximize the charge on the port that needed the most amperage. Sweet! I didn’t like that the charge controller was exposed to the sun.
Eco-Worthy AM-L02SC30W-1 –
Hands down the coolest unit I tested. It was the highest wattage and had the 12vDC option to it. Actually it has 18vDC capability. That is awesome! Since it had so much more capability that the other units I spent more time with it doing testing. This unit will do more for the prepper than the others…period…hands down…discussion over.
Comparison Chart –
If you are looking for portability as your primary priority: Anker A2421011
If you are looking for the most powerful: Eco-Worthy AM-L02SC30W-1
If you are looking for the least expensive per watt of charging power: Sunkingdom AMTCS19.5_B000046
If you are looking for the lowest priced unit: Sunkingdom AMTCS19.5_B000046
If you are looking for the most versatile: Eco-Worthy AM-L02SC30W-1
If you want the overall Top Choice unit: Eco-Worthy AM-L02SC30W-1
Units I wouldn’t buy –
SolPad 7: No longer available so I can’t buy it even if I wanted to.
Goalzero Nomad 7: Way too expensive! Low power. Not a unit I would buy…period.
#1) The Aukey unit was a decent enough unit. I wouldn’t have any problem using it. It just wasn’t the best of any category, but also not the worst. Each category had a better rated unit than the Aukey, but the Aukey is plenty good enough to get the job done.
#2) Watch for an upcoming article where I tie the Eco-Worthy unit into an amazing storage device that is a wondrous piece of gear for the prepper.
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