Customer Reviews


6 Reviews
5 star:
 (4)
4 star:
 (1)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brunton Solar, Best of the Best on the Go
I'm a bit of a technophile, and gadgets like thin film solar panels really raise my eyebrows. Aside from the WOW factor, there is the practical application of the device.

I'm in the Army, and two things are important to me. Portable power and ease of transport. I have owned Brunton Solar products before, namely the Solaris 25,and it did a terrific job providing...
Published on February 8, 2009 by J. C. Little

versus
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dramatic Price Jump!
I was ready to purchase this folding solar array when I noticed the dramatic price increase of approximately $300 to $1,099 in one month! I believe this is a good product and this price is ridiculously inflated.
Published on December 8, 2011 by J. Ray


Most Helpful First | Newest First

52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brunton Solar, Best of the Best on the Go, February 8, 2009
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Brunton SOLARIS 52 CIGS Foldable Solar Panel (Black/Silver, 12 Volt) (Sports)
I'm a bit of a technophile, and gadgets like thin film solar panels really raise my eyebrows. Aside from the WOW factor, there is the practical application of the device.

I'm in the Army, and two things are important to me. Portable power and ease of transport. I have owned Brunton Solar products before, namely the Solaris 25,and it did a terrific job providing me power but at the cost of size and limited use for high power consuming devices. The Brunton Solaris 52 was the answer.

Other solar products tell you that they can charge portable devices....but how many of them can actually RUN them. The answer is a resounding zip....zero....nada. The Solaris 52 can power your device, and provide a trickle charge to other applications. It is voltage regulated once devices are connected, so while the panels can produce upwards of 28 volts....it is paired down to 12 volts for your devices.

The Solaris 52 is about the size of a regular textbook. The folding cover has a Velcro closed pocket for the three types of cables provided with the device, and even with those cables in the front pocket the device presents a minimal profile in your pack. The panels are applied to a thin type of waterproof canvas. It's a sturdy material which retains the folding pattern of the panels so set up an tear down are a snap.

I tested this unit late on an overcast day. I live in Kansas, so I am not in one of the peak sun belts, and I tested this unit during one of the coldest months in this region. The panel was completely unfolded, I connected it to my Solo 15, and even with a considerable amount of cloud cover the device kicked out the promised 12 volts of DC. I watched the charged device closely to see how much tinkering I would have to do to get maximum output from the panels....the answer...NONE! I was amazed by just how simple, elegant and effective this device truly turned out to be.

I continued to run tests with my voltmeter and found that on top of the steady 12 volts I was able to use the available second power adaptor port to charge my cellphone at the same time. This additional flow was no where near what was being drawn by my Solo 15, but it was still more than enough to charge my phone very quickly.

What Brunton has produced here is an efficient, lightweight and extremely capable portable power plant that will require no maintenance from the user due to the self-healing qualities of the newly developed CIGS cells. All the device needs is a little cleaning with a cloth every now and then to remove dirt or debris...that's it!

The price is a little halting for most. I Realize that, but rest assured you are paying for quality and the assurance that you will have electricity anywhere you need it as long as the sun is in the sky. That kind of reassurance is truly worth he price. As the CIGS technology becomes more mainstream, which it will, expect prices to drop. Or just be a savvy consumer....I picked my Solaris 52 up here on Amazon for around $680. A steal in my opinion.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lightweight & Worth the Hefty Cost!, August 19, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Brunton SOLARIS 52 CIGS Foldable Solar Panel (Black/Silver, 12 Volt) (Sports)
Imagine being able to take electricity anywhere you go so long as you have sunlight. This device might seem a bit costly, but you definitely get what you pay for. It will power most laptops, most high-powered electronic devices, and most battery chargers. You can even use it to charge your car or boat's battery. Just plug any 12v device into it or hook up its jumper cables. What you'll need to use it as something similar to a standard household outlet is another device called the Solo 15, which is is a lithium battery pack that comes with an included AC/DC inverter. All together all of this equipment should weigh less than 10 pounds.

To figure out whether this device will be enough to run your laptop with a positive net charge, calculate the wattage of your laptop. My laptop is an old Dell Inspiron 1100, which runs off 20 volts & 4.5 Amps. So, the formula to calculate wattage (Volts x Amps = Watts) tells me that my laptop requires 90 watts. That means that I won't get enough energy out of this to keep my laptop running all day. In order to do that, I'd need two sets of solar panels to connect together. However, since I'm still getting a charge, I can use this to slow the discharging of my laptop battery and extend my overall playtime. However, once powered off, this would be enough to charge it. Newer laptops are more energy efficient, so this may be just enough or more than enough power for you.

You'd be surprised what you can accomplish with this. I've read online about a woman who lives off the grid and powers her fridge with this.

All in all, this is the top-of-the-line when it comes to foldable solar array panels meant for personal travel purposes. A steal at this price.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


25 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wondering about the built-in voltage regulator in the Solaris 52 ..., January 4, 2010
By 
Matthew Moneymaker (San Juan Capistrano, CA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Brunton SOLARIS 52 CIGS Foldable Solar Panel (Black/Silver, 12 Volt) (Sports)
This foldable Brunton panel certainly produces more power than any other little portable panel. It is truly amazing in that regard -- around 3 amps of power in direct sunlight.

Somehow I must have fried the voltage regulator on mine, because it puts out 26volts even when connected to devices and batteries seeking only 12 volts. I ran the current, using the clamps, through a volt-meter, as the power comes out of the panel, before it goes into a Brunton SOLO 15W (12volt lithium-polymer battery).

The meter still reads 26 volts or so, not 12volts. The panel's "regulator" is supposed to drop it to 12volts if that's all the device needs, right?

The manual for the SOLO 15 says it can be directly connected to any portable Solaris panel ... but 12volt batteries, including the SOLO 15, simply cannot handle a 26 volt charging current. That will ruin the battery, and I've already done that once ...

I did, however, accidentally connect a 12v battery to it with the wrong polarity one occasion, so that may have fried the regulator. But any day now I will be receiving another Solaris 52 -- a brand new one. I'll connect it to a Brunton SOLO 15 and see if the voltage coming in and out is "regulated" to 12 volts before I do anything else to the panel.

I'll give an update after that little experiment.

It would be really nice if it does automatically regulate down to 12v, without needing an external 24v-to-12v converter, because two of these Solaris 52 panels together could re-charge the best portable 12volt power source for your money -- the Duracell 600 (Xantrex 600 under the Duracell label) -- in only a few hours (hypothetically - will be able to confirm in a few days).

Two of those big batteries will power the most power hungry laptops for 12 hours, and Mac's for twice that long. They hold 28aH of juice. If you've got four of the Duracell 600's to capture and store all the power these Solaris panels can generate in one day... then you should be able to keep any laptop going 24 hours from stored sunlight power only. A Duracell 600 costs only about $[...].

It is kinda sad that Brunton's SOLO 15 lithium 12v battery is so fragile (and costs $[...]), because they are so light and small ... two of them would provide (hypothetically) almost as much power (24aH) as one Duracell 600s (28aH) ... with one fifth the weight, and half the size.

When I say "fragile" I don't mean it breaks easily from rough handling. They are actually very sturdy in that regard. The fragility relates to how the battery stops working properly after only a few uses, especially when they are drained completely while charging a laptop, or perhaps charged with too much voltage from a malfunctioning Solaris 52 panel ...

Brunton will have a winner if those SOLO 15 batteries can be redesigned with better circuitry to protect them from the common things that will hurt any battery: excessive discharge, and over-the-limit voltage while charging.

As for the Solaris 52 foldable panel itself ... the bottom line:

Even if I fried the built-in voltage regulator through my own error, or those voltage regulators don't always do what they are supposed to, and therefore I must use a small external 24v-to-12v converter, like the one made by Velleman (costs less than $[...]) ... then it's still a very worthwhile product.

There are many things on the plus side. My favorite is how small it reduces to when folded. I also love how fast I can set it up on a vehicle windshield facing the sun. Then all that energy baking my dashboard is transformed into juice for my laptop ... pretty cool.

Let's hope Brunton's partners in China start acting more like the Japanese and refining the quality of these winning designs, rather than merely figuring out how to make more of them, and make them faster and cheaper. Focus on the quality and feature improvement first. Then you'll have some VERY popular must-have products for people who might want to use their laptops in the great outdoors ... like me.

------------------------------------

Update:

The Solaris 52 is powerful indeed ... but it may be TOO powerful for many gadgets. I just received the second Solaris 52 and tested it various ways in direct sunlight. I needed to test a brand new one, right out the box, to make sure I wasn't getting skewed results from the one I THOUGHT I had accidentally damaged ... But the brand new one behaves exactly the same way ... so I did not damage the first one afterall. That's a good thing and a bad thing. It's a bad thing because the Solaris 52 is definitely NOT a "12 Volt solar panel" ... They really should not call it that. That claim is dangerously misleading.

The Solaris 52 goes WAY over 12volts under normal direct sunlight conditions (more than twice that voltage, actually). Most 12volt devices will fry if the input power is above 16vdc! The Solaris 52 package itself says the voltage will vary with the amount of sunlight, but it does not say the output will become regulated down to 12volts if attached to a device only needing 12volts. No, the panel cannot tell the difference, and it will hit a connected device with whatever voltage is being generated -- up to 26vdc. It can easily go as high as 26vdc in direct sun.

The only way to bring down the output voltage to around 12 volts, without a converter, is to have two 12volt devices plugged in at the same time (there are two (2) power ports on the Solaris 52). That will split the voltage nicely to about 12 volts per port ... but it cuts the amps in half also.

Sometimes you want to have all the amps powering a single 12volt battery!

That must be what other users are doing -- they must be using both power ports simultaneously, to get 12volts with half the amps ... because otherwise there would be a lot of damaged devices out there, and some very irate customers. I would not want to be a customer service person for Brunton, because the manual for this does not sufficiently warn users what can happen.

I will soon be receiving a proper 24vdc to 12vdc converter, and then I'll be returning Brunton's "Solar Controller" because it doesn't do voltage regulation/conversion for currents as high as what the Solaris 52 will put out. The Brunton Solar Controller will be damaged by the Solaris 52 in full sunlight while recharging a big 12volt battery.

The package for the Solar Controller says to ONLY use them with 12volt solar panels ... It is mainly designed to prevent over-charging (with respect to amps) of big 12volt batteries, like the ones in RV's and cabins and boats.

The manual for the Brunton SOLO 15 lithium battery says you can definitely connect a Solaris 26 (not a Solaris 52) solar panel to it ... It doesn't mention Solaris 52 at all.

Bottom line: It's a mighty powerful, portable solar panel, but the "12volt" output is NOT regulated, either as an open current, or when powering devices. To use it safely in full sun you must either be powering two 12volt devices at once ... or you must use a 24vdc to 12vdc converter to keep it from hurting some of your gadgets.

I am really surprised that the manual for the Solaris 52 does not provide adequate guidance in that respect. It wouldn't be so hard to do. One more paragraph would do it guys!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars outstanding product for the outdoor person, December 16, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Brunton SOLARIS 52 CIGS Foldable Solar Panel (Black/Silver, 12 Volt) (Sports)
I purchase this Brunton Solaris 52 CIGS to charge the battery on my tent trailer during my trips. I do not camp in campsites where there is a direct power source. I camp mostly out in the open BLM land area. I connect the Solaris to the top of the tent trailer with a connection going directly to the Brunton Charger Unit to control the charge for no overcharge of the battery. With cloud coverage my battery was fully charged by sunset each day. I felt rest assured that I can use more of my battery power at night such as lighting and charging other devices. The best part is I do not need to run a gas generator just for electrical power. Keep it simple, Quite, and Peaceful. this will help you enjoy your camping trips.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Solar, March 7, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Brunton SOLARIS 52 CIGS Foldable Solar Panel (Black/Silver, 12 Volt) (Sports)
Great product. Bought it for a boat to keep the batteries up during the day. Works exactly as I expected.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dramatic Price Jump!, December 8, 2011
By 
J. Ray (Martinez, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Brunton SOLARIS 52 CIGS Foldable Solar Panel (Black/Silver, 12 Volt) (Sports)
I was ready to purchase this folding solar array when I noticed the dramatic price increase of approximately $300 to $1,099 in one month! I believe this is a good product and this price is ridiculously inflated.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.