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732 of 755 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great entry level solar portable unit
As part of my long-term goal of living off the energy grid, I decided to get my feet wet with a small, inexpensive solar power charger for my iPhone and other small electronics. My Solar ReStore solar battery pack turned out to be a great way to get started using free energy from the sun.

Priced around $30, my Solar ReStore unit arrived swiftly in a white...
Published on April 25, 2011 by Jill Florio

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316 of 327 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad for the price...works in a pinch.
I bought this to help keep my iPhone charged while backpacking. While the reviews for this item are mostly good, I have to be middle of the road on this one. It's only $30 so one can't really expect 5-star results. Overall I would say it has met my expectations. My 3-star review simply means it is average. Not great, not bad.

I do a lot of overnight and weekend...
Published on June 1, 2011 by Kernman


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732 of 755 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great entry level solar portable unit, April 25, 2011
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: ReVIVE Series Solar ReStore External Battery Power Pack with Universal USB Charging Port for Portable E-readers , MP3 Players , Smartphones & More USB Powered Devices (Wireless Phone Accessory)
As part of my long-term goal of living off the energy grid, I decided to get my feet wet with a small, inexpensive solar power charger for my iPhone and other small electronics. My Solar ReStore solar battery pack turned out to be a great way to get started using free energy from the sun.

Priced around $30, my Solar ReStore unit arrived swiftly in a white plastic bubble-pack mailer. The package is made of that rigid clear plastic that you need scissors to open and can give you a deep 'paper' cut if you are not careful. I cut off the top of the plastic with kitchen shears and carefully made a cut down the side to pull out the materials.

The charging unit itself is almost exactly the size of my iPhone, being a tiny bit larger and considerably lighter. The front consists of a solar panel. The sides offer a USB port, an AC charging port, an LED light on a long, flexible stem that wraps around the side of the unit, an LED light button and a charging indicator light. The back of the unit has a press button indicator showing how charged the unit's battery is - 20, 50, 80 and 100%.

My solar charger arrived 50% charged from the sun, which is apparently as much of a charge as the unit can get from solar power only. I hooked the unit to a wall outlet with the included AC adapter and waited around an hour to see the charge total listed as a full 100%.

From this point I connected my iPhone, which was down to a 20% charge, to the unit to see how long the stored energy in the charger would take to top up. It was a simple matter to plug my iPhone cord right into the USB port on the charger. At that point I clicked the sliding switch to "on" and waited. After two hours my phone was 100% charged. It only took an hour to bring me to a 50% charge, for reference. I disconnected the charger and plugged it back into the wall to get back to a 100% charge.

PROS

Since the charger has both a solar panel for energy charging and a battery to hold the energy, I am pleased that I can run my phone indefinitely off the power of the sun. While running the unit purely with solar has limitations (ie - you can only charge the charger to the 50% mark), I can easily work around those limits by paying attention to my use and charging habits. The price was excellent, I was pleased with the thoughtful accessories included, the LED light runs for 20 hours off a single charge, and I can be confident to have a working iPhone no matter when/where I go.

Besides charging my phone, I can also charge other electronics like a Kindle, Nook, a GPS unit or any USB-connectable handheld device.

There are three ways to charge the charger - using the sun, using an AC cord (included), or by using a USB cord (also included) to take energy from your laptop or other fully-powered electronic item. This is convenient versatility.

Since I do a lot of camping and RV boondocking, I anticipate getting a lot of use from my Solar ReStore charger. I would also use this for overseas traveling, long car drives, cruise ship trips (any boating really), and in emergency situations when the power is down or unaccessible.

The two included window suction cups are useful for charging the unit in car or home windows.

The LED light is plenty to read by at night, or cook with, or provide enough low lighting to find your way around camp or a dark house. The flexible stem makes it easy to direct light where you want it.

I like the included cloth protective bag. It protects the solar panel when sliding around in my purse! It also lets my fingers know that I am not grabbing my phone, since they are the same size and configuration.

CONS

The unit does NOT have a clip, grommet hole or any way to attach itself to the outside of a backpack. Many units like this do come with some kind of attachment point you can clip a carabiner or bungie cord to. My solution is to place the solar panel facing out in a freezer strength Ziplock bag and duct tape the edges of the bag to the outside of my pack. It takes six hours to charge the unit (and again, only to 50% using the sun's energy), so you do have to make sure the panel receives as much light as possible. What's nice is that it does not have to receive direct solar light to charge - although direct light does help speed things up.

I would still rather see an upgrade of this unit have some kind of attachment point for clipping purposes.

A car-charging (cigarette lighter outlet) is not included, which would have been a thoughtful charging option for auto travelers on overcast days or at night.

The Solar ReStore charger is not designed to be used while charging. In other words, you can't sit in the sun and run your phone while it is charging in a continuous manner. You either charge the unit or suck the charge from the unit.

I was aware of this point when I bought it, but it's worth noting here. For the price, it's an outstanding charger. To buy an active solar electronics charger you need to step up into the $300-$500 price range and look at 'sherpa' type models.

You have to remember to turn the button off and on when charging your phone. It won't automatically start charging your phone once plugged in, and you have to also remember to turn the charger officially OFF once charging is complete, unless you wish to run the battery completely dry.

OVERALL

Altogether, from my research this is the best quality small electronic solar unit available for an entry-level price. I'm very pleased with the quality and performance of the Solar ReStore, the LED light is worth having for the price alone, and the accessory kit is thoughtfully assembled. Well recommended.
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316 of 327 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad for the price...works in a pinch., June 1, 2011
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: ReVIVE Series Solar ReStore External Battery Power Pack with Universal USB Charging Port for Portable E-readers , MP3 Players , Smartphones & More USB Powered Devices (Wireless Phone Accessory)
I bought this to help keep my iPhone charged while backpacking. While the reviews for this item are mostly good, I have to be middle of the road on this one. It's only $30 so one can't really expect 5-star results. Overall I would say it has met my expectations. My 3-star review simply means it is average. Not great, not bad.

I do a lot of overnight and weekend hiking, and in August 2011 I will be climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa. I'll be without power, water and other luxuries for 7 days. I plan on using my phone as my camera, for texting and updating Facebook while on the mountain. I have run this charger through several tests over the past two weeks. It charged to 100% with no problem using an A/C outlet. I then attached it to my phone when it had only 5% battery remaining. The ReVive recharged the phone to 100% within 2 hours using my own iPhone cable and if I can believe the LEDs on the back, which showed 50% remaining, I still had enough juice left to top off the phone later. So far so good.

The real test, and the reason for my purchase was it's solar capabilities. I followed the instructions and set the depleted ReVive outside in the bright sun for approximately 6 hours. As advertised, the LEDs showed a charge of 50%. I then plugged it into my phone when it was showing 60% battery life and wanted to see how long the ReVive would last. After about 35 minutes my phone was at 80% and that's when the ReVive shut off. So ultimately I got another 20% of battery life added to my phone from a 50% recharged solar unit. That's not what I would call great results, but in an emergency 20% is better than nothing. I'll just have to remember to conserve while on the mountain.
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192 of 210 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Solar Charger I've had so far, February 3, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: ReVIVE Series Solar ReStore External Battery Power Pack with Universal USB Charging Port for Portable E-readers , MP3 Players , Smartphones & More USB Powered Devices (Wireless Phone Accessory)
Before I decided to spend the money on this charger I had Scosche SolBAT II Solar Powered Backup Battery and Charger. The first one I had worked as long as you didn't use the cable they provided, but I left it on a plane and bought another one. The second one fried and you could smell the electrical smoke from a component blowing up internally and I sent it back. The third one wouldn't charge my Droid 2 at all so I returned it and bought this one.

I love that it has a diagram that tells you how quickly it will charge as well as the percentages. It is a bonus it has a light...but a feature I wasn't particularly "looking" for. I also like that it has a switch so you get to choose whether it dissipates energy or not. I have had no issues charging my Droid 2 with this charger and would recommend it to friends. I will update if there are any issues that come up later.

Arrived when stated and with appropriate accessories. I haven't tried the suction cups yet.

Note: LED light and charger will not work at the same time. Not an issue for me...but it should be noted.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not exactly what you think, August 14, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: ReVIVE Series Solar ReStore External Battery Power Pack with Universal USB Charging Port for Portable E-readers , MP3 Players , Smartphones & More USB Powered Devices (Wireless Phone Accessory)
This isn't really what the description implies. You can't charge your phone directly from the solar cell, it's more like a spare battery that can be used to charge your phone. The solar cell can't charge the phone directly. There are three ways to charge the battery in this device. 1) You can either plug it into a wall outlet which will take 3 hours to charge to 100%. 2) You can plug it into a USB port which will take 5 hours to charge to 100%. 3) You can set it in the sun and let the battery charge from the solar cell which takes 6 hours to charge to 50%. You can't charge the battery in this device over 50% from the solar cell, it just isn't powerful enough. All this information is printed on the back of the device. So if you want to charge your phone, the battery in this device has to be charged first, then you use it to charge your phone. The solar cell doesn't charge the battery while you are charging your phone either. It can't charge your phone directly from the sun.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extra solar panel, August 3, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is a must have if you already own the ReVival solar charger. It increases the charge to 100% in about 6.5 hours instead of the 50% without it. A full 100% charged my I phone from 40% to full and my Kindle from 50% to full on a single charge using this extra panel. It's well worth the purchase price. Shipping was fast on this item.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Does what it says, July 31, 2012
By 
Captain Spungo (Catalina Island, Long Beach, Ca) - See all my reviews
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It works perfect. I have the solar restore and it would only get to about 80% if i left it out for multiple days and in direct sunlight. This add on bumped a drained battery it to 50% in about 2 hours. It hovered there till the next day. After another full day of charging, it got to 100%. At maximum capacity this will charge my iPhone 4s from 15% to about 70% battery. Definitely worth it. The light is okay for reading but not much else. Only a few seconds in the sun and the LED had about 2 minuets of run time.

Somethings to consider:
The description says charging time is less. With solar power, everything is an estimate. However, this product, when coupled with the Solar reStore makes a great product super fantastical. It is roughly the same size as an iPhone 4s (a tad bit wider, shorter and much thinner). Mini USB plug makes this somewhat proprietary and it only works with one product (solar reStore 1500mAh).

I use this with my solar restore as my back up battery for my phone. It adds almost no weight and takes up very little room. Great product. A decent backup battery and solar charger set up for less than $50.

ReVIVE Series Solar ReStore External Battery Pack with Universal USB Charging Port for Portable Smartphones / E-readers / MP3 Players & More USB Powered Devices
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yes its a solar rechargeable battery for charging other things, March 28, 2011
By 
Thom Doonan (Los Angeles, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: ReVIVE Series Solar ReStore External Battery Power Pack with Universal USB Charging Port for Portable E-readers , MP3 Players , Smartphones & More USB Powered Devices (Wireless Phone Accessory)
I have been looking for either a solar or hand cranked charger for our iPhones. This seemed like the best option and it seems to do the job. Although the description doesn't specifically say that it will charge an iPhone it charged mine just fine. I just wish that the item description said that you can only give a 50% charge to a phone off of the battery, once the battery is fully charged. Which is better than no charge at all when the power goes out. I live in Southern California so with the ever present threat of earthquakes it seemed important to have an alternative form of power for my phone. I am going on the assumption that if the power goes out the cell system will be up before the whole power grid since so much of the services, police, fire, EMT, etc. rely on cell phones these days.

As soon as I got the charger I plugged it into the wall adapter to charge it up to 100%. It arrives with a 50% charge according to the LED lights on the back. And it didn't take too long to get up to full charge. I then plugged my iPhone in, using my own docking cable since Apple insists on using their own cables. The phone charge up from half to full in about 45 minutes. The charger had dropped to 50% so I set it in the window in direct sunshine and charged it back to full capacity in about 90 minutes.

So on the whole I am happy with the charger and the LED light on the side is a nice bonus. It is pretty bright and may come in handy when the batteries in my flash lights die.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Does pretty well, October 12, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Got this for the Solar Restore, because without it the solar charge time is pretty horrible- especially if you can't find a place to park it in direct sunlight for a whole day. The base Solar Restore is handy for emergencies and occasional use, but to be honest it's not much of an everyday utility since it simply takes too long to charge and doesn't charge past 50% unless you plug it into a USB/wall source.

With the add-on panel it's much more useful in general. Typically if I leave it just sitting around near a window, it charges to 80% within a few hours. I haven't seen it hit 100% yet but I usually don't leave it in direct sunlight. Either way, this allows it to keep my power-sucking Android phone topped off without anything else, unless for some reason I'm making calls all day.

I know they now have a bundle that includes this with the basic Solar Restore, and I definitely recommend getting that if you haven't purchased the base unit already. It's pretty essential if you plan on using it more than once every few days.

The only gripe I have about this panel is mounting. The suction cups don't work too well, and there's no other means to attach it to anything. I'm also a bit concerned that after a while I'll pull the skinny little wire loose just from picking the thing up. Additionally, from looking at and handling the unit, it doesn't look particularly rugged- I wouldn't expect it to last long if left outdoors. I guess at any rate though, it was pretty cheap so it wouldn't kill me to get a replacement.

Pro:
Like Solar Restore itself, is cheap and compact
Charges the battery a lot faster and to higher capacity
Works well even in indirect light

Con:
Only has suction cup mounting
Looks pretty fragile, especially the connector
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28 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just what I needed for camping and campus life!, February 22, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: ReVIVE Series Solar ReStore External Battery Power Pack with Universal USB Charging Port for Portable E-readers , MP3 Players , Smartphones & More USB Powered Devices (Wireless Phone Accessory)
Great little gadget! Took it hiking, and the night light was perfect for reading and walking around the trails. And knowing it was never going to run out- a dream!

I'm planning on stringing it up so that it is always on my backpack, and then I'll never have to worry about my gadgets running out at a bad time, and not having recharged the portable batteries.

Hooray!

Update:
It's holding up really well so far. I haven't gotten around to making a
strap or carrier for it yet, which I'd like to do so I can keep it hanging
on the outside of my book bag. Perhaps a simple plastic ziploc would make
it so I wouldn't care if it got rained on, too?
I use the light frequently, that's quite nice, and I've used the battery to
charge my iphone several times now, so that's a good feeling to know I've
got the juice for my gadgets, and if we lost power, I'd still be able to add
some electrons to certain important portables. We've got to worry about
power outages here, in Hawaii. :o
[...]
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent product, so far, February 28, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: ReVIVE Series Solar ReStore External Battery Power Pack with Universal USB Charging Port for Portable E-readers , MP3 Players , Smartphones & More USB Powered Devices (Wireless Phone Accessory)
This solar-chargable battery pack does its job nicely. I like the button to Check the percent of charge by how many of 4 LEDs light up, and the Status LED that shows blue when switched on and ready to power a device, and red when it is charging from the sun. The white LED light on a flexible support that folds up into the side of the pack is clever.
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