Solar Powered Portable Lights

Testing complete…ready to deliver the info. And I really liked the results, good stuff!

So I bought a variety of solar powered lights to test. Wanted to see how they performed side-by-side. Boy, was I surprised and pleased…and disappointed. Here are the results…

Top #1 Light –

Kizen Solar Powered LED Camping Lantern: great light, top pick, clear winner.

Features:

  • Solar powered
  • Can be charged via USB cable
  • Can charge other devices via micro-USB cable
  • Both a lantern and a flashlight
  • Low/High power settings
  • “SOS” or flashing light capable
  • Unique adjustment capability to control amount of light
  • Very compact

I loved this unit even before I took it out of the box. It was very compact and lightweight. Once I opened it up I was even more impressed of its quality compared to the other units. It charged quickly via built-in solar panel. Its light was bright, 360°, adjustable, and warm. The built-in handle was a nice little feature as well.

There is plenty of smart technology built in to prevent over-charging and over-discharging. From fully discharged it takes about 5 – 8 hours of sun to recharge (varies depending on intensity of sunlight). It takes about 3 – 4 hours to recharge via USB cable (varies depending on the amp rating of your USB power source). It can recharge another device such as your phone but it won’t fully recharge it. More like mini-charge it so you can make those 2 – 3 calls to summon help. But hey, that is a great option to have!

Roughly speaking the light will last about 4 – 5 hours on high, 8 – 10 on low, and about 5 – 7 hours in the flashing mode.

Yes, it can handle some rain, just not sure how much. And no, don’t try to submerse it.

One area I was initially worried about was the expanding part of the unit. I thought it might wear out, crack and expose the unit to destruction. Ah, I was wrong. I’ve been testing it for over 6 months now and it is holding up fine. I would think you don’t want to expose the expanding plastic part to intense UV rays, I am sure it would break it down. But, normal use seems to be fine.

This is one great light! The ability of it to collapse to a very small disk is really a huge plus when it comes to saving space. To adjust the total amount of light you can turn it on to whichever power setting you wish, then expand it to get the exact amount of light you want. And the flash light feature is a nice little feature as well.

Clearly this light was my #1 choice.

Second Place Light –

Outlite 180 Lumen Portable Camping Light: nice light, useful features, clearly a good choice.

  • Solar powered
  • Can be charged via AC cable
  • Can be used with 3 AA batteries
  • 4800 mAh rechargeable built-in battery than can be charged via USB cable that you provide

Unit takes about 8 hours of sun to recharge, 4 – 5 via USB cable and the internal rechargeable battery.  The light is good for about 10 – 12 hours when fully charged. A couple of times I got significantly less when using the internal battery.

I like that you can simply open the unit to turn it on. Along with that you simply adjust the height to control how much light you want/get. The metal hanger/handle is great and you get a nifty “S” hook to hang it wherever you want.

The case is plenty sturdy and overall a nice little light and I am happy with it. But, it is not as feature rich and compact as the Kizen.

Two Loser Lights –
  • Outlite 240 Lumen Solar Rechargeable LED Camping Lantern Flashlight, Portable Water Resistant Outdoor Survival Lamp.  This lamp while rated at 240 lumen is not very bright at all. I think all the light tubes is a gimmick. Since it was by far duller than the two I did like, this gets a “no buy”.

  • ABC Ultra Bright Rechargeable Lantern , Solar Camping Lantern Powered Led, portable Camping LED Light. Light sucks! Fully charged it twice, worked for a little bit the first night. Didn’t work at all the second night. Light is now dead. This is for sure a “no buy”!!
Summary –

The whole concept of these lights is really great. What counts is the execution of that concept. Most everything you buy these day along these lines is going to be made in China. The quality of products varies widely but can be quite good at times. And it can really suck at other times. The trick is embracing the good stuff when you find it.

Have a couple of these on hand, they are worth the investment.

Yeah, I know…some of you like using solar yard lights. Nothing wrong with that, I do too. But, the Kizen and Outlight both have features that solar yard lights don’t have. and both are priced well within any prepper’s budget.

 

 

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without expressed written permission from AHTrimble.com
See Content Use Policy for more information.

Storing Harvested Solar Power (Part #2)

storing solar powerThis is a series of articles where I talk about storing harvested solar power. Not large residential solar systems, but small and portable field-going solar systems.

In the first article in this series I talked about the particular needs of a portable field-going solar system and how they apply. I showed my own examples for you to consider and ponder. This article will go into the different types of storage that is available.

If you didn’t read the introduction to this series of articles you can do so here < click here to read the introduction article >

Let’s Review –

Pick your portable solar panel system. It can be as large as a Eco-Worthy 28w less-compact system or as small as a Anker A2421011 21w really compact system. This part of the system is the “harvesting” stage, you have to be able to turn the sun’s rays into electricity.

< click here to read about portable solar power systems >

Second –

Now that you have the sun’s rays turned into electricity -harvested- you have to be able to store that power. The unit that stores the power is commonly called a battery. I’ve previously identified several different batteries that I used for my emergency preparedness needs, you will have to do the same for your specific situation. However, I will go into much more detail in the coming weeks about different battery brands are the best. For now, Tenergy is the one brand I feel is best and the one I trust when it comes to rechargeable batteries.

But, what if you can’t directly charge the battery you are going to be using (i.e. flashlight battery)? The real dilemma is not wasting the solar power you can be generating and how to store that energy until you can charge your device battery. Of course I have an answer, that is what I am here for.

Types of Storage –

There are two basic types of storage of power; 1) internal batteries, 2) external batteries.

It’s not complicated…an internal storage capability is the battery that the device actually uses. Say a AAA battery for a headlamp. The battery is internal to the headlamp, meaning that the headlamp uses the battery that is being charged. External on the other hand is a power storage unit that can’t be used directly by the device itself. Example: A 12vDC car battery can’t be inserted into a headlamp. But, the 12vDC car battery can store power. Then that 12vDC car battery can be connected to a battery charger that can charge a rechargeable AAA battery. Once charged, that AAA battery can be inserted into the headlamp for use.

Bottom line…your store solar power in a battery that inserts directly into a device, or store solar power in a battery that can’t/doesn’t go into a device.

And please don’t get confused with all sorts of industry and fad terms…all stored power that preppers will use is stored in batteries. Actually, is there really any other practical way to store generated power? No, batteries are it.

Internal Storage of Power –

Remember, we are talking batteries here, primarily in my case AAA & AA batteries batteries. However, there can be a case made for rechargeable “C” & “D” cell batteries…and yes, even Li-ion batteries such as the RCR123A. But, fundamentally we are talking about the batteries themselves, whatever brand or size of rechargeable battery you use, they have to be recharged.

There are only two ways to realistically recharge internal batteries; 1) 110vAC power, 2) non-110vAC power. And in case you didn’t know, 110vAC is normal house power supplied by a utility company. In a preparedness situation 110vAC power could also be provided by a generator system.

110vAC Battery Chargers  –

What I was looking for with this kind of charger was two-fold, ability to charger batteries via; 1) using 110vAC power when it is available, 2) using 12vDC power for emergencies or field use. You may be asking why both voltages…legitimate question. I want the capability to charge my batteries under normal conditions and as quickly as possible…hence, 110vAC power capability. But, if the regular utility power goes out I want multiple ways to be able to charge my batteries; 1) using my portable Honda generator, 2) 12vDC power available through car batteries, 3) my portable power box, 4) solar panel. “Redundancy” being a priority to me. The old “Two is one, one is none, three is a good start” mentality.

Mission Statement –

“Ability to charge standardized field operation batteries via 110vAC or 12vDC power.”

Requirements & Restrictions –
  1. Must be able to operate on 110vAC power for extended periods of time without damage to the unit or the batteries.
  2. Must have the capability to operate on 12vDC without modification to the unit.
  3. Must be able to charge AA and AAA rechargeable Ni-MH and Ni-CD batteries.
  4. Must have sufficient safety features to prevent damage to the batteries, the unit, or the area around the unit.
Test Units –
  • FrePow 8-slot
  • Tenergy TN160
  • Foxnovo F08
  • AccuPower IQ-338
  • BlueTech AV-1000
  • MaximalPower FC1000
  • Ansmann PL8
  • SunLabz SL00056

Each unit was tested against the Mission Statement, Requirements & Restrictions, features, and price. Units were tested recharging batteries via 110vAC and 12vDC. The 12vDC test was done via a 110vAC -> 12vDC power supply to ensure no variation in power such as solar power fluctuations or 12vDC battery charge level or condition. The purpose of the testing was to test the charger unit itself not a solar panel / charger combination. I did test with a 12vDC solar panel unit just to ensure compatibility and that it would in-fact work. These test units all ranged from being able to charge 8 batteries – 16 batteries.

FlePow –

Compact, sleek, and good looking unit. Nothing fancy about this unit and no frills or thrills. Both size batteries (AA & FlePow battery chargerAAA) were easy to insert and were held steady in the charger tray. Each charging station assessed the batteries individually and began charging within 5 – 6 seconds. The LCD screen was easy to read and made sense without any directions or instructions needed.

There was no attempt to charge defective or fully discharged batteries by the unit. The charger automatically senses between Ni-MH & Ni-CD batteries. Charging rate on AAA batteries is 250mA, for AA batteries it is 500mA. It is absolutely impossible to do a battery charge test “time to charge” on the charger, there are simply too many variables involved to make it objective. I can give you a range: 1000mAH AA battery about 2 hours, 500mAH AAA battery about 1.5 hours. Higher mAH batteries will increase charge time proportionately.

Here’s what made me mad…this unit was available with and without rechargeable batteries. Of course I paid the additional money for the unit with the batteries. Ah, one problem…no batteries came with the unit. And of course the unit is no longer available…FlePow gone!  Live and learn.

Needless to say…Do NOT buy this unit. Well, technically you can’t. But, if you could, don’t…because they don’t keep their word.

Tenergy TN160 –

Compact, sleek, and good looking unit. Nothing fancy about this unit and no frills or thrills. Both size batteries (AA & Tenergy TN-160 battery chargerAAA) were easy to insert and were held steady in the charger tray. Each charging station assessed the batteries individually and began charging within 5 – 6 seconds. The LCD screen was easy to read and made sense without any directions or instructions needed.

From the manufacturer:
•    12 channels PWM switching fast charger with MUC control; accurate voltage detection ensures no over-charging and under-charging
•    12 independent charging channels for individual charging and detection: AA & AAA, NIMH/ NICD can be mixed when charging. AA & AAA, NIMH/ NICD can be mixed when charging.Tenergy TN-160 battery charger
•    8 hours safety timer ensures extra safety.
•    Over-heat, over-current, short-circuit, & reverse polarity protection, (mechanically) ensures that charger and batteries will not be damaged when users insert batteries with reversed polarity.
•    Large LCDs indicate charging status.
•    Charger comes with refresh function
•    Input: 100-240v AC (Works Everywhere in the World).
•    Suitable only for1.2v AA/AAA NIMH/NICD batteries.

I really like the automatic protection built into this unit, especially the safety timer that shuts down the unit after 8-hours of operation. During testing the batteries never got hot and that is a really good thing. Heat is what damages batteries more than just about anything (operating environment) else. The unit won’t recognize damaged or fully discharged batteries.

Foxnovo F08 –

This thing is a hunk of plastic and electronics, there is nothing sleek or compact to it. There is no fancy LCD screen to look at, simply a series of flashing yellow status lights. When I was inserting the batteries (AA & AAA) it wasn’t the easiest thing to do. First off you have to move the spring-loaded negative contact manually to get each battery to seat in the charging cradle. And here is the stupid part…the positive contact is this little “nub” piece of metal. If you look at the positive contact on a battery it too is a little “nub” of metal. Try putting two little “nubs” together and see how that works for you! It was fairly easy to bump one battery while inserting another. Bumping a battery more than just a minimal amount and the positive “nub” contacts decontacted. Yes, decontacted is a word I made up. Once the batteries were all in-place they were fine.

From the manufacture:

  • Capable of charging 8 batteries of different sizes, types and capacities at the same time; Each of the eight battery slots charges independently
  • LCD indicators lights shows the charging process of every batteries
  • Automatically identifies Li-ion, Ni-MH and Ni-CD rechargeable batteries.
  • Automatically detects battery status and selects the appropriate voltage and charge mode. Automatically stops charging when complete
  • Come with a US-plug adapter for indoor use.
  • Adopts negative voltage control technology to improve charge efficiency.
  • Excellent features of heat dispersion and reverse polarity protection. Protect opposite connection and short circuit, 0 voltage alarms
  • Compatible with batteries: Li-ion 26650, 22650, 18650, 18500, 18490, 17670, 17650, 17500, 16340, 14500, 10440, Ni-MH and Ni-CD A, AA, AAA, C, SubC

Here’s where this unit is way cool…charging time. This unit is at least 30% faster charging batteries. This is due to a 30% higher charging rate than the other units tested. And no, there wasn’t any noticeable battery heat indicating that the higher charging rate was damaging the batteries.

And then there are additional cool features to this charger; 1) charges a long list of Li-ion batteries, 2) charges C, SubC, & D size batteries. That makes this unit considerably more versatile than the other units tested. If you are wondering about the Li-ion feature I can tell you that is will recharge the rechargeable version of the CR123A (RCR123A). The CR123A is a popular battery for flashlights and weapons’ optics.

The testing showed that the unit charged all the batteries of different brands and sizes in record time. It only took the unit a mater of 2 – 3 seconds to analyze the batteries current charge and begin the charging process. There is no fancy LED screen to indicate much of anything. There is a series of four lights that shows current charge. They flash to indicate that charging is taking place at a specific level (25%, 50%, 75%, & 100%). When the battery is fully charged all four yellow lights glow steady.

Periodically a blue light will flash in the upper right-hand corner on the face of the unit. I have absolutely no idea what that means. So you wonder why I didn’t refer to the instructions??? Ah, there aren’t any. Yup, no instruction guide of any kind with the unit. I searched all over the Internet looking for a user guide and nothing. But, fortunately the unit is pretty simple to use…so instructions aren’t really needed.

I like this unit.

AccuPower IC-338 –

This unit is sleek, compact, and way more intelligent that me. Yeah, surprising…right? Seriously, this unit has a ton of options for you and your batteries. The batteries fit in this charger like a glove, very nice engineering. The LCD screen is easy to read and back-lit as well.

From the manufacturer:

  • Fast Charge Li-ion or NiMH/NiCd Rechargeable batteries including most common 18650 size.
  • Test Li-ion NiMH/NiCd cells for actual capacity.
  • Automatic selection of NiMH/NiCd or Li-ion chemistry cells.
  • For use with the following: NiMH/NiCd: A, AA, AAA, sub-C, C-baby size
  • Li-ion: 26650, 22650, 19650 (protected 18650) 18650, 17670, 18490, 17500, 17355, 16340 (RCR123A), 14500, 10440
  • With the new AccuPower IQ338 charge or test most round cell batteries. Automatic selection of NiMH/NiCd or Li-ion chemistry cells. Includes the most common 18650 cells, can accept cells up to 70mm in length. Easy to use, easy to program, informative display.
  • Four indepentent channels programmed individually.
  • Easy to read large Backlit LCD display.
  • Digitally displays battery information.
  • Adjustable charging rate from 300 to 1000 mA.
  • Three modes of operation:
    •   Charge
    •   Fast Test
    •   Nor Test (Normal Test)
  • Delta Peak full charge detection for NiMH/NiCd cells.
  • 4.2V full charge for Li-ion cells. CC/CV charge profile.
  • 12V input powered and can be powered by an optional car adapter.
  • Worldwide voltage switching power supply.
  • Automatic detection of different battery type. NiMH/NiCd Vs Li-ion.
  • Thermal sensors to protect against overheat and overcharge.
  • USB charging socket. Supplies 5V 1000 mA.

So I figured out that this unit is actually a computer that also charges batteries. OK, on a more serious note, this is a great charger. However, it only has four slots for batteries. I wanted the ability to charge more batteries at one time than just four so I took some time and looked online to see if it has a bigger brother. It does, but the bigger brother is not the IC-338 with more slots, it is a carbon copy of the Tenergy unit.

And unlike the Foxnovo unit, the AccuPower unit does come with instructions…very, very good instructions. It explains how to take advantage of each unit feature.

I like this unit, just wish it handled more batteries at one time.

BlueTech AV-1000 & MaximalPower FC1000 –

You might be wondering why I am grouping these two chargers together for review purposes…GREAT QUESTION! Simple answer…they are the same unit other than a different name on them. Although there are two units being tested, I will refer to them as “unit” for the purposes of this article.

The unit solidly built, sleek, and compact. The LCD was clear and easy to read.

Comparison Chart –
Summary –

Let’s clear up one thing right off the bat…The FlePow and the Tenergy chargers are made by the same company in China, SunLabz. SunLanz simply does what’s called “private label” manufacturing. In addition to SubLabz selling their own chargers they market them to other companies such as Tenergy who then sell them under their brand. Since that is the case I ordered a SunLabz 16-bay charger for testing. I will add it into the mix as soon as it comes it.

You also might be wondering why I only picked three units to test. Valid question. I only wanted units that were both 110v/12v, were rated decently on Amazon, and had the safety features that I was looking for. If they didn’t meet that basic criteria then I wasn’t even interested in trying them. I also wanted to test high-capacity units (8 – 16 batteries) and low capacity units (4 batteries).

The ability to charge the other types and sizes of batteries could prove to be a real benefit in long-term emergencies and disasters. In terms of grid-down, the ability to recharge the rechargeable CR123a batteries (RCA123A) could prove really valuable. It should be noted that I am NOT a proponent of the CR123a batteries (rechargeable or standard), I only use and recommend AA & AAA batteries.

I can’t recommend the Foxnova unit, it simply cooks the batteries with too much heat.

 

Note: “PWM” – Pulse Width Modulation is the most effective means to achieve constant voltage battery charging. PWM regulation tapers the voltage according to the battery’s condition and recharging needs. PWM has recently surfaced as the first significant advance in battery charging.

  • Ability to recover lost battery capacity.
  • Dramatically increase the charge acceptance of the battery.
  • Maintain high average battery capacities (90% to 95%) compared to on-off regulated state-of-charge levels that are typically 55% to 60%.
  • Reduce battery heating.
  • Automatically adjust for battery aging.
  • Self-regulate for voltage drops and temperature effects in charging systems.

 

 

 

2016 Copyright © AHTrimble.com ~ All rights reserved
No reproduction or other use of this content 
without expressed written permission from AHTrimble.com
See Content Use Policy for more information.

Storing Harvested Solar Power (Part #1)

storing solar powerSolar Power Sucks!

OK, I bet that got your attention. And you are probably trying to figure out why me, of all people, would make such a statement. I have reviewed a number of solar products and integrated them into my various radio and other preparedness projects over the last 18 months. So why all the sudden change of heart?

Nah, no change of heart. I still love solar power; plenty more reviews and ideas coming in the future. But, for this article I should have named it, “Not Storing Solar Power Sucks!”

Here is the set-up…

You want to have the ability to recharge devices such as Baofeng radio batteries. You are out in the field, you have a portable solar panel set-up such as the Aukey or Eco-Worthy. But you also need the battery in the radio so you can keep using the radio for operational purposes. No problem!

The key to this is still using the portable solar panel set-up gathering in the sun’s energy (i.e. solar harvesting) and storing the generated power until such time that you can charge the battery. For instance…you have to stay on the move all day using the radio. But, you can still have the solar panel strapped to your pack or maybe left back in camp laid out in the sun. Great! That gives you options but only if you can store the power from the energy producing daylight hours until time is available for you to charge your radio’s battery.

The answer is really pretty simple…a storage battery. A place to store all that generated power until you can put it to proper use.

Now, do not allow your mind to paint some picture of a huge vehicle battery that weighs 40 pounds or something along those lines. That would simply be impractical in the field in a situation that I described. But, a smaller, lighter, easy to store and pack option is a great alternative answer. And please, don’t get caught up in the catch-phrase of the day…”solar generator.” That is a fancy term for a solar panel and battery (maybe an inverter attached as well) and normally marketed for way more than its worth. What I am talking about is simple…store power till you need it.

I wrote a bunch of reviews on different portable solar panel units. You can read about them here < click here to read the series of articles on portable solar panel units >

OK, now you have some options and alternatives on lightweight, reliable, portable power generating solar panels. Let’s get back to storing that energy until it is needed.

Obviously the most simple option that comes to mind, or should come to mind, is to store the power in the battery that you are going to eventfully use. That way there is no transferring from one energy storage container to another. Besides, during the transfer you would undoubtedly lose some of that precious power. Remember, I am no highly educated electrical engineer or anything even remotely related. I am just an emergency preparedness guy trying to find gear and systems that work for you and me in the field. And that can be a challenge at times…getting theory into the field to validate that it actually works. Let’s just say I have been pleasantly surprised.

Remember my Seven Preparedness Risk Priorities? If not, a quick review…

  • Violence
  • Sickness/Injury
  • Lack of, or Poor, Communication
  • Lack of, or Poor, Organization
  • Dehydration
  • Hyper/Hypothermia (shelter)
  • Starvation

Failure to properly mitigate these threats/risks in the proper order will result in failure. And failure will not be pleasant, usually fatal or near-fatal results.

Why in that particular order? The order is based on the “fatality factor.” What can kill you, or your family, the quickest.

You mitigate those threats/risks by having the ability to:

  • Defend yourself, family and community.
  • Provide medical care.
  • Use non-standard communications.
  • Use ICS (Incident Command System)
  • Produce, filter and purify water.
  • Provide basic shelter.
  • Provide initial food supply and grow more.

Staying strictly within my priority system I would have to then place my “stored power” priorities this way –

  1. Batteries for weapons’ optics.
  2. Batteries for tactical flashlights.
  3. Batteries for headlamps for use during first aid administration.
  4. Batteries for radios.

Let me address those issues…

The batteries for my weapon’s optics are not rechargeable. The Aimpoint Micro T1 that I love so much takes the CR32 batteries. They last two years if left the optic turned on. I have a supply of five for each optic. I replace that supply every three years. The shelf life of the batteries is ten years. That ensures that I have a minimum of seven – ten years of usable life for my optics with the CR32  batteries. Based on my age I am plenty good in that department should the grid ever go down hard.

And, just in case you want to be a little on the critical side because my optics use batteries…ah, don’t. I have a non-battery back-up optic for each of my weapons. And, then a back-up to that as well, it’s called “iron sights.”  So that gives me triple redundancy for weapons optics, plenty good enough for my needs.

Next comes batteries for tactical flashlights. I use the LED Lenser flashlights. I reviewed two versions; < LED Lenser T2 >  < LED Lenser V2 >  Let’s touch on tactical flashlight usage for just a minute. The only time I use a tactical flashlight, or foresee using one, is for just that – tactical situations. That being said, I can easily see that there are times when it would be needed outside of tactical operations. However, I don’t plan on extended periods of hours, or even minutes where the light would be actually on whatever the situation.

My tactical flashlights are all the same manufacturer and virtually the same model (I have T2s and V2s) so they take the same size battery, AAA. I don’t have any other flashlights, so no other need for other types of batteries. I have an initial supply of regular 10-year shelf life alkaline batteries stored. That in and of itself gives me a head start. And, to back that up I have multiple sets of rechargeable batteries for each flashlight. I use the Tenergy rechargeable batteries. My research and testing showed that they were the #1 rechargeable battery. Tenergy batteries recharge quickly, reliably, and have a great shelf life. I know there are some Enloop fans out there, but sorry, Enloop batteries just aren’t as good a battery in my opinion. First, they are only 750mAh batteries, that is only about 75% of the Tenergy battery life. And more than anything else…they are associated with Panasonic. I have used Panasonic batteries before…Panasonic batteries suck, they suck as badly as Kodak batteries. They even suck far worse than Energizer batteries. So, in my opinion, Tenergy batteries are the better batteries…period. Now that is settled, I will close the loop…I have a pile of AAA rechargeable batteries, Tenergy batteries. That makes having a way to recharge them a priority, otherwise what use are rechargeable batteries?

Then there are my headlamps. I use only the old model Petzl Tactika headlamp (no longer made) or the Princeton Tec Tactical Quad Headlamp. And recently I tested and reviewed the Ozark Trail 150 lumen headlamp…sweet! The headlamps use AAA batteries just as my tactical flashlights.

< click here to read about Princeton Tec Tactical Quad Headlamp >.

< click here to read the Ozark Trail headlamp review >

As you well know by now, my standard radio is the Baofeng UV-5R radio – A & MHP models. For batteries I normally run the standard 1800mAh. But, I also have and use the 3800mAh battery as well. Boafeng radio batteries require a proprietary battery-charging cradle. If you do the math, the larger capacity Baofeng battery take almost four times the power that the Tenergy AAA batteries need to recharge. Think it through…then the Baofeng batteries either need a lot more power going in to recharge them quickly, or they need less power going in, but for a longer period of time. That is important concept for your power supplying/recharging system.

So here is what I came up with to recharge batteries, and to store power for later recharging.

First –

Pick your portable solar panel system. It can be as large as a Eco-Worthy 28w less-portable system or as small as a Anker A2421011 21w system. The first step of the system is the “harvesting” stage, you have to be able to turn the sun’s rays into electricity.

< click here to read about portable solar power systems >

Coming –

The next article in this series will go into storing all that energy that is being created from your portable solar panel. Storing the energy until you need it, then transferring to the device, or battery, that you need to use.

 

Related Articles –
Associated Articles –

 

 

2016 Copyright © AHTrimble.com ~ All rights reserved
No reproduction or other use of this content 
without expressed written permission from AHTrimble.com
See Content Use Policy for more information.

 

 

 

Recharging AA & AAA Batteries Via Solar Power

Recharging AA & AAA batteries with solar powerThis is the first in a series of “solution” articles based on the need to recharge devices via solar power. I hope you find these articles of value when solving prepping needs that you might have. I hope that you find this article informative enough that you don’t get sucked into overpriced retail solution packages that sound and look pretty but are hardly the best choice…or even a good choice.

So, let’s get started by defining the need…

“The ability to recharge four AA batteries at a time using solar power.”

Seems simple enough, yes? Well, on the surface it sounds simple but as you well know there is always more to a problem/solution than what first appears. Let’s talk about a couple of those issues:

  1. What kind of AA batteries are involved, Ni-CD and/or Ni-MH?
  2. What is the mAh (milli-amp hour) rating of the batteries?
  3. Are they high quality batteries such as Tenergy?
  4. How many hours of sun will be available each hour of the day for charging purposes?
  5. Will this be a man-portable field operation or fix-location operation?

Lets take the solution options in order…

Batteries –

Please never use rechargeable batteries other than Tenergy, Eneloop, or Duracell. Any other brands pretty much suck. Generally speaking use the highest rated mAh battery you can find and afford. The higher the mAh rating the longer the battery will last; technically speaking mAh rating implies the “capacity” of the battery which infers the length of “run time” of a battery.

It is my personal experience that I have seen little to no difference in battery performance whether NiCD or NiMH batteries. But, you must know what type of battery you are using to ensure that the charger you choose is designed to charge that type of battery.

I personally use Tenergy AA & AAA batteries for my emergency preparedness requirements.

Type of Batteries –

NiCD batteries are Nickel-Cadmium. Cadmium is used in the battery and it is a toxic heavy metal. Please tenergy-nicd-batteries-aa-001dispose of them properly if you use this kind of  battery. The benefit of this type of battery is it won’t self-discharge as fast as a NiMH battery. NiCD batteries can also handle a higher charge rate than a NiMH battery. If your device requires a heavy or high load of amperage then the NiCD is the right choice. Most people will use a device such as a camera, flashlight, or weapons optical…a NiCD battery is probably not your best choice for those devices. Depending on your two-way radio, this type of battery may be the right choice.

NiMH batteries are Nickel-Metal Hydride. NiMH batteries will self-discharge faster than a NiCD battery. They tenergy-niMh-batteries-aa-001will also take a higher charge rate than a NiCD battery. Yes, that means they will charge faster. MiMH will not handle a high amperage load as well as a NiCD battery. A NiMH battery is more suited for long duration usage where there isn’t a high amp load required. Such usage would be something similar to a camera, flashlight, or weapons optical.

The reason why it is important to know the difference is to ensure you are using the right battery for your device to get the best performance. Another significant reason to know which battery you are using is the battery charger. A few older generation battery chargers can’t sense the difference between a NiMH or NiCD battery. And since they can’t sense the difference they won’t properly charge the battery. An example of an older generation battery charger that isn’t suited for NiCD batteries is a Goalzero Guide 10 charger…it can’t properly charge NiCD batteries.

Battery “Memory” –

Do rechargeable batteries have “memory” which affects their performance and ability to be recharged? Technically neither the NiCD or NiMH rechargeable batteries have “memory” issues. However, both types of batteries are affected by the “voltage depletion effect”. Simplifying the whole memory thing is this, both battery types benefit from being fully discharged occasionally, then fully charged immediately afterwards. You want a battery charger that can discharge the battery then immediately fully charge the battery. Battery chargers like the Goalzero Guide 10 or Sunjack unit do not have the ability to perform the battery “discharge” and then immediately fully recharge the battery.

Warning/Note: The Goalzero Guide 10 doesn’t have the ability to properly charge NiCD batteries. The company recommends that the charger not be used for NiCD batteries. The Guide 10 unit can not sense a NiCD battery if it is inserted into the unit. Battery damage may occur should you attempt to charge a NiCD battery in a Goalzero Guide 10 charger.

Lastly, how many batteries are you going to be needing to charge? Our example is four.

Hours of Sun Available –

The sun generates rays that reach the earth. Harvesting those rays and converting them into electricity is the key. solarpower-100The fewer number of hours the sun is available, the higher the harvesting capacity the solar panel system needs to have. If you have 12 hours of sun per day that is efficiently reaching your solar panels that is great. But, if you only have 6 hours, then you need at least twice the harvesting capacity in your panels.

But, before you worry about that you have to know that total power needed to properly charge a single AA battery. This is only for “rough calculation” purposes, there is an entire science behind the scenes that we won’t go into. So generally speaking figure 1 – 3 hours of sun per battery at 7watts. We have to charge four batteries. If we are going to charge them all at once we need a 4-slot charger connected to a 28w solar panel system working for 2 – 3 hours. That is all under ideal/optimum conditions. There are many factors that can reduce the efficiency of the charging rate. An option would be a 14w system charging for 4 – 6 hours of sunshine time, potenitally up to 8 hours if charging NiMH batteries. A 7w system would need 8 – 12 hours minimum, maybe much more. Remember, perfect conditions rarely exist.

However, you may also only have partially discharged batteries that only need partial charging. But, occasionally you may want to “condition” your batteries to extend their life and improve their charge delivery efficiency. So you have to allow for the discharge process, then charging them fully back to maximum. Some folks would call this, “clearing the memory.”

I don’t recommend any solar charging panels less than 14w. Anything less than 14w doesn’t allow for anything PortableSolarHarvestingSuningdom-600other than ideal conditions. I like the Sunkingdom solar panel system, a 19w system. The unit can handle two battery chargers at once if needed. The unit’s built in SmartTechnology (IQ) can vary the power delivered to the USB ports to maximize the battery charger efficiency.

As a basis of comparison: The Sunkingdom solar panel unit is nearly three times more wattage than the Goalzero Nomad 7 unit. And the Sunkingdom’s full price is 33% less expensive than the Goalzero unit. And last I looked Amazon had the Sunkingdom on sale making it half the price of the Goalzero unit. More than twice as powerful at half the price…a no brainer.

I will hold off on a “fixed-loaction” option for a day or two. For now you have some great options for portable solar power units and AA & AAA battery chargers.

Summary –

Solar Panel Unit Comparison Chart –

Portable Solar panel unit comparison chartBattery Charger Unit Comparison Chart –

batterycharger5vdc-comaprison-chartWhat to buy & use?

Battery Charger –

If you are only using NiMH batteries then the Sunjack unit is a great choice. If you are going to use, or potentially use NiMH & NiCD batteries then go with the PortaPow unit. The PortaPow unit also gives you the discharge/recharge clearing capability (memory affect). If you are going to go with a NiMH or a Lion battery (a.k.a. Li-Ion, LIB, Lithium-Ion) then you need the XTAR unit.

Note: The Goalzero battery charger (Guide 10) is a 1st generation battery charger that is not capable of properly charging NiCD batteries and has no auto-shutdown capability. That, coupled with a poor warranty and extremely high price I would not buy the Goalzero Guide 10 battery charger. The Sunjack is a more advanced battery charger at 1/3 the price of a Goalzero.

Solar Power Panel Unit –

I really like the Aukey BP-P4 21watt unit. It has a power sensing/sharing 2-USB port delivery system allowing you Portable Solar Harvesting Aukey 21Wto run two battery charger units at the same time. It has the highest “efficiency” rating on its panels and protects its controller unit really well. On top of everything else it has the best warranty of all the units tested.

Note: The Goalzero Nomad 7 unit is an “old technology” unit. It has only 1/3 the wattage rating of the Aukey unit while costing 40% more. The warranty on the Goalzero unit is also only 6months vs. 2 years on the Aukey unit.

Bottom line & Ultimate Combo –

Hook up the Aukey BP-P4 solar panel unit to two PortPow battery chargers and you are good to go! Yeah, charging up to 8 AA or AAA batteries at a time, keeping those batteries properly conditioned, and not spending a bundle of money doing it.

Aukey 21W Dual USB Solar Charger

amazon-portapow

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note #1: I never stop testing. If I find a better solar unit or a better battery charger unit for charging AA & AA batteries I will get that info posted.

Note #2: If you purchase either the Aukey or PortaPow items by clicking on the Amazon icon above I will make a small commission on the sale. Any and all the money I make through any potential commission will go right back into testing emergency preparedness equipment for reviews that are posted on this website.

 

 

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No reproduction or other use of this content 
without expressed written permission from AHTrimble.com
See Content Use Policy for more information.

Portable Solar Power Harvesting – Part #7 (Eco-Worthy AM-L02SC30W-1)

PortableSolarHarvestingSuningdom-700This 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.

< Portable Solar Power Harvesting – Part #1 >

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 –

Portable Solar Harvesting Eco-Worthy 28wFirst 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.Eco-Worthy 12vDC & 5vDC USB

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 PortableSolarHarvestingEco-Worthy-705menace 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 Eco-Worthy 28w accessoriescustomary 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!12vDC vehicle power socket adapater

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 Eco-Worthy 28w testingand 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 Eco-Worthy testing 12vDCand 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…

I the cable I made worked perfectly and shows the panel putting out 18.27vDC just as advertised.

I the cable I made worked perfectly and shows the panel putting out 18.27vDC just as advertised.

 

I attached the vehicle power outlet to my new cable.

I attached the vehicle power outlet to my new cable.

 

Next came the 12vDC power adapter.

Next came the 12vDC power adapter.

 

The adapter turns 12 - 24vDC into 5vDC.

The adapter turns 12 – 24vDC into 5vDC.

 

I attached the DROK USB 2.0 Digital Multimeter and my regular multimeter to that the power cable now turned the 5vDC into

I attached the DROK USB 2.0 Digital Multimeter and my regular multimeter to that the power cable now turned the 5vDC into 10vDC (+/- 1vDC) to power the Beofeng charging cradle.

 

The Baofeng charging cradle shows the correct voltage in the cradle to charge the battery.

The Baofeng charging cradle shows the correct voltage in the cradle to charge the battery.

 

I slipped the battery into the Baofeng charger and the light immediately turned solid red indicating that it was charging the battery. Seeral hours later I had a battery ready to go to work.

I slipped the battery into the Baofeng charger and the light immediately turned solid red indicating that it was charging the battery. Several hours later I had a battery ready to go to work.

If you are interested here in the guts of the charger cable. The little circuit board is what turns the 5vDC into the 9 - 11vDC power for the charger.

If you are interested here in the guts of the charger cable. The little circuit board is what turns the 5vDC into the 9 – 11vDC power for the charger.

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 –

Watts: 28
Amps: 2.1a
Voltage: 5vDC
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)
Weight: 3.1lb
Amazon Rating: 4.9 out of 5
Warranty: 2yrs
Price: $53.99
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.
Summary –

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.

 

To return to the Introduction page < click here >

Associated articles –

 

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See Content Use Policy for more information.

 

 

 

 

 

Portable Solar Power Harvesting – Part #6 (Sunkingdom AMTCS19.5)

PortableSolar Harvesting Suningdom 19.5wThis is the sixth 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.

< Portable Solar Power Harvesting – Part #1 >

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.
  • Shouldn’t be cost prohibitive.
  • Should be as compatible with as many power storage options as possible.
The Sunkingdom AMTCS19.5 –PortableSolarHarvestingSuningdom-600

This unit was much different than any of the others as I took it out of the box. By now I was getting a little bored with this project. Don’t get me wrong, at first I was all excited about this option for generating (harvesting) power to keep my batteries up and running. You see, all of these units were performing well, they were all doing exactly what they were supposed to do. This unit was no different. One thing I noticed with this unit as I took it out of the box…slightly heavier that the others. I couldn’t identify why exactly but the solar panels themselves appeared to be better quality, or at the very least really good quality.

I also noticed at that time that the back of the panels were really well padded. These panels appear to be able to Suningdom dual USB porttake a decent impact from the backside and avoid damage. No, I am not going to test it with a hammer or any such thing. Why? Because that is not what would happen in the field under anywhere near normal conditions. But, while I was looking the unit over in regards to the panels something did stick out to me that I am not sure what to make of it. The dual USB port is completely exposed. It’s not tucked away in a pouch, not even a flap to cover/protect it.

Not only isn’t it not protected, the USB port charger/controller isn’t even on the backside of the unit. It is was then the it would receive some protection from the tilted, or leaning, unit itself. As it is the USB port charger/controller is exposed to the sun for one which will cause the plastic to degrade quicker. On top of that, any blowing dirt or sand will have unrestricted access to the internals of the charger/controller unit. I don’t think I am real crazy about that idea.

Speaking of the USB port charger/controller…it has built-in smart technology that senses what amperage that your device needs. It will adjust to that amperage specific for your device. If you have two devices plugged in, one in each port, and one device requires that full 3.9a draw, the other port will shutdown so your higher demand device gets enough amps to charge it. When that device is charged the unit will switch that port off, and transfer the power to the remaining, previously de-powered, port. Kind of nice capability in my opinion.

Technical Specs –

Suningdom solar panel chargerWatts: 19.5
Amps: 3.9amps max (2.1a port & 2.5a port)
Voltage: 5vDC
USB Port: 2 (2.1a & 2.5a)
Other Port(s):  no
Maximum Efficiency: 18.5%
Panel Weather/Water Resistance: waterproof & weather resistant
Weight: 1.6lb
Amazon Rating: 4.3 out of 5
Warranty: 1yr
Price: $45.99
Cost per Watt: $2.36
Extra Accessories Provided: none

Product info from manufacturer –
  • Highly Portable and Ultra-thin – Unfolding size 29.2 x 0.1 x 9.7 inches and folding size 9.27×7.48×0.31inch; 1.6lb light weight.
  • High Quality – Dull polish surface for scratch-resistant; Waterproof; Environmental protection.
  • Wide Compatibility – Compatible with iphone 6 5S 5 4 4S,Samsung Galaxy, PDA, MP3, MP4, PSP game console, digital cameras, GPS, Blackberry, mobile DVD, Bluetooth headset and any 5V USB device.
Summary –

Nice unit overall, decent price per watt, sturdily built for sure. At first I thought the attachment loops were a bit lightweight but I am not going to complain, they are 1/4″ nylon strapping so unless you really try and tear them off, I am sure they will be fine under normal field conditions. And there are plenty of the attachment loops so that is nice. There is a pouch for attachments and I like that, but they should have put the USB charger/controller unit in the pouch. And that brings up the one point I am concerned about…that USB charger/controller unit is exposed to the elements. And to me that is not acceptable. I do like one aspect about this panel that really impresses me…it is one of a line of solar panel units. In the Sunkingdom line you have from a 16w unit all the way to an 80w unit. Yup! An 80watt 8-panel portable unit. I like that option to pick a unit based on my power usage/need.

 

To return to the Introduction page < click here >

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No reproduction or other use of this content 
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See Content Use Policy for more information.

Portable Solar Power Harvesting – Part #5 (Anker A2421011 )

Portable Solar Harvesting AnkerThis is the fifth 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.

< Portable Solar Power Harvesting – Part #1 >

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.
  • Shouldn’t be cost prohibitive.
  • Should be as compatible with as many power storage options as possible.
The Anker A2421011 –

Portable Solar Harvesting AnkerThis was a no frills unit coming out of the box. First hing I noticed was the grommets built into the case vs. nylon or paracord loops. I thought this was an interesting twist. But, after testing it, it is just another way to secure the unit to a backpack, tent, tree, etc. What I did notice though was sound. If you attach this unit to your backpack with metal Carabiners it can make a little bit of noise when the metal Carabiners move around in the metal grommets. It’s really not that big of a deal, just my OCD kicking in.

This unit, like the previously tested Aukey unit, has a good quality feel to it. I liked that the controller/charger unit was undercover. It was well protected tucked inside the case and the flap secured with Velcro.

The panels appear to be really good quality and scratch resistant. And I did notice the higher efficiency rating, nice. The unit tested out as producing the claimed voltage and was easy to position to maximize solar ray harvesting. I did notice that the the max amps was only 3. But, I am starting to wonder if the manufacturers are somehow playing games with their amp ratings. Truly the only way that you could test the units would be side-by-side, charging the same device, with the same everything…and that simply isn’t practical, let alone possible. But, this unit did everything I asked of it and then some.

Technical Specs –

Watts: 21
Amps: 3a max (2.4a x 2 ports)Portable Solar Harvesting Anker
Voltage: 5vDC
USB Port: 2
Other Port(s):  no
Maximum Efficiency: 23.5%
Panel Weather/Water Resistance: water & weather resistant
Weight: .9lbs (yes, less than 1 pound)
Amazon Rating: 4.6 out of 5
Warranty: 2yrs
Price: $59.99
Cost per Watt: $2.86
Extra Accessories Provided: 3′ micro USB cable

Product info from manufacturer –
  • Fast Charging Technology: PowerIQ delivers the fastest possible charging speed up to 2.4 amps per port or 3 amps overall under direct sunlight. 21 watt SunPower solar array is 21.5-23.5% efficient, providing enough power to charge two devices simultaneously.
  • Incredibly Durable: Industrial-strength PET polymer faced solar panels sewn into a rugged polyester canvas offers weather-resistant outdoor durability.
  • Highly Portable: Compact size (11.1 × 6.3in folded or 26.4× 11.1in opened) and stainless-steel eye-holes on each corner allow easy attachment to backpacks, trees, or tents. Lightweight (14.7 oz) and ultra-thin design (1.1in folded or 0.2in opened) make it ideal for long treks.
  • Industrial-strength PET plastic faced solar panels sewn into high-wear polyester canvas ensure it’s able to withstand the trials of your outdoor adventures.
  • Short circuit and surge protection technology keep you and your devices safe.
Summary –

This is a nice little unit. While it may not be as well padded as the Aukey, it is still plenty durable for field use. The charger/controller is well protected from most elements. When all was said and done I was neither overly impressed or in any way disappointed. It’s just a nice little unit that does the job well. A little on the high side for price per watt but well within the affordable range.

To return to the Introduction page < click here >

Associated articles –

 

2016 Copyright © AHTrimble.com ~ All rights reserved
No reproduction or other use of this content 
without expressed written permission from AHTrimble.com
See Content Use Policy for more information.