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#200447 - 03/19/18 01:38 PM Are small cheap solar chargers any good?
Wasatch Offline
member

Registered: 09/13/09
Posts: 53
Loc: California
Brand: Diazul
Item: Solar Charger 5000mAh

Small cheap solar charger for phones and tablets. Has anyone tried one of these? Could these work well and be valuable out in the sticks when phone battery runs down on a very long hike? Or are they impractical?

3" x 6" weighs 6 ounces.


Edited by aimless (03/19/18 02:56 PM)
Edit Reason: removed link to Amazon

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#200448 - 03/19/18 02:08 PM Re: Are small cheap solar chargers any good? [Re: Wasatch]
Pika Online   content
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1759
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
I’m sure more knowledgeable folks will chime in but I don’t think this 3” x 6” charger would be much help. When I walked the JMT in 2014 I spent several days in the company of a guy who had a solar array that was about 18” x 24” and he had problems keeping his electronics charged, especially on cloudy days. He had 432 sq. in. of array, the one you are looking at has 18 sq. in. or about 4% of his. All other things being equal, output is a function of area so your example would have about 4% the output of the larger array. TANSTAAFL.
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#200450 - 03/19/18 03:03 PM Re: Are small cheap solar chargers any good? [Re: Wasatch]
aimless Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2951
Loc: Portland, OR
Based on the 22% of reviews giving this item the lowest possible rating and the sheer volume of bad experiences described by its users, this item sounds like there is no quality control at all, resulting in large numbers of dud devices, and the solar component (as opposed to the battery pack aspect) is nearly worthless. When all that warning info is openly available to you, why would you even ask about it?

You'd be better off getting a rechargeable external battery from a reputable manufacturer.

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#200454 - 03/19/18 07:51 PM Re: Are small cheap solar chargers any good? [Re: Wasatch]
Petro1234 Offline
member

Registered: 10/27/16
Posts: 28
Loc: engeland
Nope no solar chqrger is any good for the wants of people in lite gear. 1watt per 6oz, in good sun, so if you are moving quater that, if in cloud 10%. 1 watt equals 1 watt hour per hour charge. A standard battery is 6 watts ie 6 watt hours in good sun. So 150g equals 6 hours in good sun. If you got that in one day it would be good, whilst altering it to the suns angle etc. You walk and move the sun goes up and the sun goes down at different angles, clouds come over, rain.

You need a solar charger to be 5 times the needed, in my opinion. So you would need a charger weighing toward 2 pounds for a reliable charge, a 1lb battery can charge your phone 6 times. To put it in perspectiv3 people pay 100 dollars to drop 4oz from a sleeping bag, and 50 dollars to drop 2oz from a pot !

Ps if your in range for a phone signal, you do not need a solar charger, a big smoky fire will do far better !


Edited by Petro1234 (03/19/18 07:53 PM)

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#200455 - 03/19/18 09:31 PM Re: Are small cheap solar chargers any good? [Re: Petro1234]
Wasatch Offline
member

Registered: 09/13/09
Posts: 53
Loc: California
Thanks everyone! Looks like I have my answer.

BTW, On a similar issue...

I use a $39 Pen style UV water sterilizer and it runs on AA batteries (four) and will do 50 liters on a battery set. A pocketful of 4 more batteries will supply another 50 litters.

But even then I use it for camping and at home, and backpacking use a tiny bottle of tablets and put up with off tasting water, just to save hassle and weight. But probably eventually will get tired of the taste and take the pen doohicky with me. Its an SteriPen Aqua Pro (Ebay $40).

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#200456 - 03/19/18 09:41 PM Re: Are small cheap solar chargers any good? [Re: Petro1234]
41253 Offline
member

Registered: 12/28/14
Posts: 88
I have a cheap one I bought from a Chinese seller on Ebay for 10 or 15 dollars. It's a good size, 5.5x6.5 inches, and very light, 3.3 oz. It does not include an internal battery, just the cell and a usb jack on the end of a short pigtail. I've taken it on two desert backpacking trips. The first one was in the spring and worked great. The cell was on top of my pack and it kept my phone battery level through fairly heavy GPS+map use in airplane mode. When I arrived at the site I set it in the sun and the phone a few feet away in the shade turned off and it slowly topped off the battery. It took some watching to keep the cell pointed towards the sun though.

The next trip was a different story. It was summer and well over 100 deg. F. I set it up, went for a dip in Ribbon Falls, and after a half hour went to re-orient it and the usb connector was loose on the board and it was no longer charging.

I've been meaning to try to fix it with a heat gun but the bottom line is that it's not dependable to take again except as a novelty. I like the idea of a large cell with no built-in battery because my phone already has a battery. The small, cheapish units with integral battery seems like an especially bad idea because the cells aren't big enough to produce much juice and the batteries and voltage delivery circuits aren't likely to be particularly good. I know from experience that bad battery packs aren't worth the trouble. I've since bought an Anker 10000 mah unit and tried it on a few trips. It gives several full charges and keeps delivering usable power until the end (the cheap ones begin to just trickle the charge out as they run out of juice).

If someone knows of a dependable, reasonably large, light cell it might be worth it for longer trips in bright environments (and low wind, and slow-moving enough that fiddling isn't a problem, ...) but a decent battery pack like an Anker will probably make the most sense for trips of a week or less and be a lot less trouble.

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#200462 - 03/20/18 07:09 PM Re: Are small cheap solar chargers any good? [Re: Wasatch]
HPD Offline
member

Registered: 12/22/16
Posts: 56
Loc: Colorado High Plains
Looked into solar and rechargeable chargers for my iPhone and decided I liked the rechargeable units better. This one ~ Anker PowerCore 13000 does multiple charges and weighs about 8-1/2 oz. The advantage to me is that you can charge overnight or whenever you want vs doing in the daytime if the sun is out. They're a little cheaper also.
Just my 2 cents.

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#200575 - 03/28/18 02:50 PM Re: Are small cheap solar chargers any good? [Re: HPD]
mogwai Offline
newbie

Registered: 03/27/18
Posts: 4
Loc: Texas
Same here as a newb wondering the same thing. Amazing to think that a solar charger isn't really a reliable method for the cost & weight so wife and I are opting for the Anker.

We were trying to not bring our phones at all (and may opt for that), but the camera's on a phone these are are simply fantastic...so we settled on bringing one...and the recharger you suggested.

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#200710 - 04/10/18 05:10 PM Re: Are small cheap solar chargers any good? [Re: HPD]
Petro1234 Offline
member

Registered: 10/27/16
Posts: 28
Loc: engeland
Yep thats about th3 maximum weight you want to aim for. 8.5 oz should give 3 charges. In days gone by people just used to buy replac3m3nt batteries at 2.5oz ish. Obviously great sunshine (arizona) you are laughing off a 1 watt charger( 150g) but most arnt that lucky,over a 7 day period ! 150 or 6 oz equates to 2 extra charges

R3m3mber to turn your radio off though.


Edited by Petro1234 (04/10/18 05:14 PM)

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#200867 - 04/28/18 10:51 PM Re: Are small cheap solar chargers any good? [Re: Petro1234]
toddfw2003 Offline
member

Registered: 01/08/16
Posts: 353
Loc: Texas
I just take a battery pack that II can get 2 or 3 charges out of. Most places I go I dont have phone service. The only thing I use my phone for is for a camera. It might be even better to by a light weight camera and leave the phone in my car

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#200869 - 04/28/18 11:56 PM Re: Are small cheap solar chargers any good? [Re: toddfw2003]
balzaccom Online   content
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1776
Loc: Napa, CA
That's what I do. And my camera battery lasts at least a week on the trail...
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#200871 - 04/30/18 09:57 AM Re: Are small cheap solar chargers any good? [Re: toddfw2003]
4evrplan Offline
member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 717
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
Originally Posted By toddfw2003
I just take a battery pack that II can get 2 or 3 charges out of. Most places I go I dont have phone service. The only thing I use my phone for is for a camera. It might be even better to by a light weight camera and leave the phone in my car


I put mine in airplane mode and use it as a camera only as well. Don't plan to ditch it any time soon though, because it's my backup navigation, backup light, and potentially an emergency communication device in the off chance that I do have a signal when something goes wrong. I don't rely on it as my primary for any function, save the camera.

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#200924 - 05/07/18 05:46 PM Re: Are small cheap solar chargers any good? [Re: 4evrplan]
Alf Offline
member

Registered: 04/15/18
Posts: 48
Loc: London, UK.
Speaking of Solar panels, you really need to look for one that is designed specifically for backpacking, as that will be one that is very light and very compact when folded away...The only one on the market that meets both of these criteria is the PowerFilm LightSaver. It has a built in 3200mAh Li-ion battery, that the panel can charge fully from flat in about 6 hours of bright sunlight (pretty comparable to larger, much heavier panels), so it has enough capacity to charge an average smartphone fully between 1 to 1.5 times. It's very compact when rolled up and when rolled out it can be easily mounted onto the back of your backpack so it will charge as you hike...The best bit is that it only weighs 135g (4.76oz), making it one of the lightest solar panels avaiable. They do a larger more powerful model called the Lightsaver Max, but it's about twice the size, and weighs significantly more so it's not exactly what I would call ultralight, but it does have a much larger internal battery. The Lightsaver currently costs around $100 in the US, and in the UK it's about £100.

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