This panel actually outputs 12 volts and the operating current is 370mA – a USB cigar lighter adapter is used to step the voltage down to 5V. A 500mA adapter is provided but the one in the picture above is a 700mA motormonkey from PowerTraveler.
I’m not sure how efficient this stepping down process is and would perhaps prefer the panel to output direct to USB (there is a USB version available) but having the 12V option makes it much more versatile when wishing to charge 12 Volt systems (caravan, boat, car).
The 230g lightweight panel folds down small enough to fit in my #manbag. The space in the middle could easily be used to store extra cables and connectors.
I found it charged a PSP using the 5V adapter.
The panel produces charge even in cloudy conditions due to the quality of the solar cells and the panel can be fixed behind glass (caravan, car) and be left unattended.
I found that the Kensington battery pack (http://j.mp/df3uGI) took 6.5 hours to fully charge using the 5V adapter. The pack is a 1800mAh Lithium-ion Polymer battery and once charged can be used to charge an iPhone one and a half times so it’s pretty powerful.
The panel would not charge my iPhone 4 direct, but I have been told it will charge the 3G and 3GS with the Apple cable and WILL charge the iPhone 4 with a specific Kensington cable (http://j.mp/cGeKTK). Since I’ve started looking into iPhone charging I’ve realised that the iPhone either needs at least 700mA or the cable needs to ‘trick’ the iPhone into being charged at a lower rate by using the two data connections in the USB socket (see videos below) this is backed up by the fact that an iPhone will charge from two AA batteries (http://j.mp/dpeMOz) as long as the circuitry is telling the iPhone what it wants to hear!
When buying a portable solar panel you really have to decide what you want to charge, how long you want it to take and how large you are prepared to go.
This panel at 6.5W is a great starter panel which will charge in cloudy conditions, takes up to 7 hours to charge a 1800mAh battery but it is small and light. For around £100 it’s a quality product that I would be happy to have in my kit and would be ideal for off grid camping and trekking as it would fit on the back of a backpack.
I’d like to try a panel double the size, double the weight and double the price! and see how long it takes to charge the Kensington. But this may be too large and expensive for the casual user of solar power?
If you want one then head over to the website of @Select_Solar and check out their massive range of panels … http://www.selectsolar.co.uk/pics/6.5W-USB-folding-solar-powered-charger.php
If you think this review helped, have any questions or end up buying one then I’d love to hear from you in the comments below 🙂
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