Thursday, February 23, 2012

Review: Going Solar!

When the going gets rough, and the lights flicker out, we will want to power and run our gadgets and drive back the night with the familiar glow of electric lights. I've been collecting solar chargers for a while now, and I thought I would give you a quick review of them.

First up is the B-Squares Modular Solar Electronics which I backed on Kickstarter. This allows the user, in theory, to run a USB outputting rechargeable triple AAA charger, a set of LED lights, or a iPhone charger. The single solar square generates 0.325W of power, which is enough to run the LED's, charge the batteries or run the iPhone. Or at least, it's supposed to. I have had little or no luck with it, and am afraid to say I've been very disappointed with this device. 

 The second of these devices is the original Solio Universal charger which is a mains-capable charger, with a battery pack. It folds out into a tri-leaved floret  is capable of output ranges from 1.5 to 5W, the internal rechargeable battery has a capacity of of 3.7V 1000mAh. It comes with a variety of output ends for the included cables and will even charge iPhones via a USB output. One cool feature of this is that it can be orientated by feeding a pencil through the central hole, propping it up to achieve maximum solar  contact. I've been very happy with this device, and take it camping and adventuring with me frequently.

Lastly is the solar charger that came with another Kickstarter project, the Packlights which I have previously reviewed. I delightful sweetener to their deal was the inclusion of these purpose built charger and battery packs. Also mains-chargeable, these these packs generate  0.77W at a Voltage of 5.25 +- 5% and the internal battery has a capacity of 2200mA with an output of 5.6V at a maximum current of 600mA. It includes a USB output, and both a bright LED light, and a dim LED charge indicator. Another interesting feature is that they give estimated times for charging, which are: by Solar Charge:10-14 hours depending on lighting & weather conditions and by DC Charge: 2-3 hours where the charging current: 140mA (per hour). This is a really nice package, and I'm very glad i acquired two of them. They fit nicely stowed into one of the Platatac FUP pouches so I can imagine wearing them out in the field, ready to recharge my tech. 

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