According to ecoworld.com, a full sun delivers about 100 watts of solar energy per square foot. That’s a bunch of energy just falling on the ground all around us. This energy delivery from the sun does a lot of important things like give us light, heat the earth and feed the plants through photosynthesis, but you can also harness it to charge your devices using solar panels. There’s this free source of energy that occurs every day when the sun rises, and it will even work on a cloudy day as long as we have the technology to capture it. You just have to buy the panels and the free energy will come.
Choetech has graciously given us the oppotunity to review their 19 Watt Dual Port Solar Panel Charger. I’ve had it for several weeks, and I’ve had a few opportunities to stretch the solar panel’s legs on the weekends since I work during the day indoors. I see it getting even more use when summer comes.
I’ve been thinking of reasons, other than just “being green,” that you might want a solar charger, and I’ve thought of a few:
- If you’re away from walls and cars. I would expect that those of you that like to go camping in the wilderness probably don’t care to bring your phones with you. But if you do, you could charge your phone or other device wherever there is sunlight.
- You can still take advantage of the solar charger even when there isn’t sunlight, if you pair it with a battery pack. Charge the batteries during the day via the solar charger and have power after sundown from your solar-charged battery pack.
- Emergency preparedness. If the power goes out in your area, owning this solar charger means that you would no longer need to desperately conserve the battery power on your devices. Unless something *really* bad happened like the sun stopped working, the sun would be there to power your phones.
The design of the Portable Solar Charger is quite simple. Choetech offers a 12 Watt version with two industrial strength PET-faced solar panels and a 19 Watt version with three. In both cases, they fold up nicely and are held together with a flap and magnet for storage when not in use. The Portable Solar Charger offers different options for use with a stainless steel eye hole and lots of fabric loops, so it can be hung in the sunlight or attached to a backpack while hiking. I just layed it out on a table when I used it. The charger also has a mesh pouch that contains the USB ports for charging, and it can hold your phones while they’re being charged if you’re on the go.
The 19 Watt Choetech Portable Solar Charger that we reviewed has two charging ports that can provide up to 5 Volts at 2.4 Amps. It can take advantage of auto-detect technology to charge your device at the fastest possible rate. In the plot on the right, I compared the solar charger to my current personal favorite battery pack, the Choetech 10,400 mAH Quick Charge 2.0 Power Bank. As you can see, with the sunlight I had available during this particular test we achieved a charging rate of about 0.466 % per minute during the linear portion of the test. Eventually dusk came, and you can see the charge rate fall off. The 1 Amp power port on the battery was able to deliver a charge rate of 0.556 % per minute. So, under the conditions of the test, the solar charger was slightly slower than the battery pack, but using the sun to charge my phone was pretty stinking cool.
Overall, I’m impressed with the Choetech Portable Solar Charger. I don’t have another solar charger to compare it to, but it seems to work as advertised and I do like the design. It folds up into a very manageable size and I like the eyelets and loops for hanging and the pouch for device and cable storage. I also think it will be super handy to have for emergency purposes and on hot days out at the park with the kids.
The 12 and 19 Watt Choetech Portable Solar Chargers can be picked up on Amazon for $39.99 and $49.99, respectively. In the box is your solar charger, a microUSB cable, and a manual. It also comes with an 18-month warranty. Looking around the interwebz, there are decently-rated solar charging power banks out there around $20 or less. So this price seems a bit steep, but the solar charging power banks seem to have way less panel area and probably less power output. This Choetech 19 watt charger might get you charge faster, but I’m purely speculating. Also, a built-in battery sounds super handy, but probably adds a lot of bulk and weight. So if you’re looking for good power output and light weight, this Choetech Portable Dual Port Solar Charger might be your jam.
How do you feel about using the sun to charge your mobile devices? Do you feel like it’s worth the effort and money? Would you take this camping with you? Or is camping more about disconnecting from the grid? Let us know your thoughts and questions by commenting below.