24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2012
Though I don't think of myself as a "treehugger" I do find something incredibly fascinating about having the ability to generate and store electricity. Once I discovered the Go Solar 42 W kit, I knew I had to have it. Thus far, my expectations have certainly been met.
For me, one of the best things about the kit is that it's a kit. What I mean is that it's great for a novice, like me. It's great because I get to learn much of the basics without trying to cobble together something. The directions are easy to follow and within minutes after opening the package I was up and running.
I saw some complaints that the panels are heavy. I reckon "heavy" is a very subjective term. No, they aren't featherweight, but unless you think a gallon of milk weighs a ton, heavy seems to be a bit of a misnomer. To me, the solar panels feel, if nothing else, sturdy. However, I will concede that despite their sturdy feel, they are constructed of glass, so there is some fragility. Caution should always be taken when handling them.
If there is any complaint to be had, it's that the LED readout on the MPPT controller doesn't give a good indication of how much charge has been achieved. Also, the manual, while easy to follow, could still be better written. Perhaps they could label the panels with a warning to read the brief instructions first. Finally the housing for included battery is not the best. Mine cracked, but never fear, duct tape is man's best inanimate friend.
Those minor complaints aside, I can only say good things thus far. I have been able to recharge my computer, phones, and even other battery packs with ease. The charging time is quite satisfactory - especially given this is winter time in the northern hemisphere (I'm in LA) so I can't really complain when I go from a dead battery to fully charged in less than four hours. Thanks to another reviewer's suggestion, I'm looking forward to pairing this up with a portable generator such as the ones made by Duracell or Schumacher. The unit has the ability to output via 110AC, USB, or DC. I might even get adventurous one day (perhaps during long days in the summer) and charge up a stand alone battery using the supplied cables.
If I could give this product 4.75 stars I would (after all, there's always room for improvement, lol). But since Amazon only allows whole stars, I think this kit is well deserving of five for it's portability and ease of use.
PS (4/18/2012): First, to the reviewer having problems getting more than 1/3 charge to the battery, perhaps he should check to make sure he has the panels properly angled toward the sun. I use the inverter to charge my MacBook Air and thus far, i have had no issues at all.
I have now had my unit for four months and I guess you could say I'm still in the honeymoon phase. About a month after purchasing the panels, I bought the Schumacher PP-2200 portable outdoor power unit. Once again, my expectations have been solidly met. Using the DC output, I'm able to sufficiently charge the battery pack and use it operate items such as a printer and handheld vacuum. Why have I had such success and others have not is beyond me. I am fortunate enough to live in an area with abundant sunshine - and on top of that I live in the foothills above LA (alt. 1500 ft.) so perhaps that adds to my good fortune?
At some point in the not too distant future, I hope to take this unit out on the road with my other accessories and attempt to "rough it" just a little bit. Now if I can find a decently priced VW Bus, my very own "Summer of Love" will be complete! Peace!!
68 of 83 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2011
I am surprised to see so many glowing reviews here for this kit.Agree with other reviewer here who wrote that many of the reviewers seem to be in some way related to the seller and are leaving glowing reviews to increase sales of the product.I got one of these panels from another site at much cheaper price and compared it to Brunton Solaris 26 which I also bought at about the same time and found this 42 W panel to be much inferior in quality and performance.I currently have a Brunton Solaris 26 watt panelBrunton 26 Watt Foldable Solar Array, two sunlinq P3 62 watt Panels(which I can connect with Y cable to get 124 W!)P3-62 Watt Black Foldable Sunlinq Flexible Solar Panel and recently acquired a Goal Zero Guide 10 kit(only 7 watt) for casual/light useGoal0 12301 Nomad 7M Solar Panel.Both Brunton and sunlinq P3 both are Flexible CIGS Panels,while Goal Zero uses MonoCrystalline rigid panels like this Gosolar product.
When compared to these other panels, Gosolar gives the impression of a cheaply made product. Gosolar panels are very heavy and thick for the wattage they provide and blue fabric and stitching are of cheap quality on a casual visual inspection. Mono-crystalline panels used in Goal zero product seem to be much thinner and encased in a better fabric and higher quality stitching and also available in higher wattage if you are interested in getting mono-crystalline panel ,personally I prefer flexible CIGS technology as they are more durable and much less likely to break or get damaged and also are much lighter and easy to carry and probably due to these reasons are used by US army . Another advantage of CIGS/amorphous thin film(Powerfilm) panels is that though they are less efficient then mono-crystalline ,but work better in indirect and low light places which you are more likely to encounter in real world situations.
Battery and MPPT controller which come in this kit also seem to be cheaply made and likely will quit working if used for any more then light use. Another issue I had with this kit is proprietary connections between the kit components and will be very hard to find any replacements.
If you are interested in getting a compact foldable panel I wont recommend this panel.I returned this panel promptly after comparing side by side with other panels and would strongly encourage you to carefully compare it with other available options before making a purchase. Glowing 5 star reviews here are either from people who work for seller or have not much experience with portable/foldable solar panels technology and available options.
Bottom line:if you need a lot of power get p3 /brunton 62 watt or powerfilm 60 watt folding panel but these are very expensive (these panels are built to military specs).If you need something lighter but powerful enough for everyday use which is rugged and likely wont break/fail then get Brunton Solaris 26 watt,you will have to buy a charge controller and a battery separately but you can tailor the kit to your individual needs.If you only need to charge your phone/iphone/ipod or any other USB powered device then would recommend Goal Zero 7 which has the added convenience of having a USB outlet built-in which makes charging gadgets super easy.If you still decide to get this kit then can get exact same kit for cheaper price 40W Solar Panel Kit. Good luck!
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on April 13, 2012
This thing is ok I guess. It's mediocre at best. From what I've noticed, in a FULL day in full, direct sun (from 7AM to 8PM), the included 8AH battery will get about 1/3 charged. It's better than any of the other solar chargers I've tried, but nowhere near what I expected for a supposed 42W, $400 charger. I was expecting to be able to charge my laptop but my laptop requires 19V (most laptops do) and this only charges at 12V. this is marketed as a laptop charger, but I don't think there really are any laptops that can charge at 12V.
So basically, what you have is a 12V, 8AH battery that can be fully charged in 3 days with a solar charger...Had this set up been about $50, it would have gotten 5 stars. But this is $400 and marketed as the "most powerful on the market." So check your laptop charger, if it says 19V, this product will not work for you. Not even with the inverter. I thought that since it says it can power just about anything and that it runs at 110V, I'd be able to use that for solar charging my laptop...Nope, still not enough power. What this thing IS good for is charging very small, low voltage things like smaller portable chargers, cell phones, MP3 devices, small cameras, anything that can be powered by USB pretty much, or below 12V if it's not USB (which isn't a whole lot) which really sucks being $400 and all.
And finally, last but not least, after just a few days of using the inverter on a cell phone, it went kaput. Doesn't light on, power on, anything. The inverter also fit very loosely both into the charger as well as whatever you plugged into it.
I really had really high expectations for this thing, so I am very sadly disappointed. I am going to contact the manufacturer and see if maybe I just have a defective unit and if I can get a new inverter and update my post once I hear back.
I don't really think when it's a day of full sun, "angle" really matters lol...besides, it's meant to be folded which kind of implies you don't have to "angle" it anyway. It's simple, this is just a garbage product. For about $100-$250 more, you can get your own 100W (ACTUAL 100W) Grape off-grid solar panel (the ACTUAL best on the market...18% module efficiency which is the highest possible), and an MPPT controller (the controller with THIS product was so completely cheap and generic) which turns "leftover" voltage into current to more quickly charge your battery, a 110VAC pure sine wave inverter, MC4 connectors, cables, cable stripper, and a solar panel mounting kit (you can make your own plywood mounting platform to which you can mount it for 10 bucks plus 6 bucks for the legs). And for another $80, you can get a 12v 100AH battery. One 100W Grape panel with a GOOD mppt controller (morningstar sunsaver MPPT, or blue sky SB200E, the cheaper ones are not "true" mppt controllers) can charge, in full sunlight, a 12v 100AH battery within 3 hours.
So...just in math terms, if this product could only charge 1/3 of a 98Wh battery in a FULL DAY OF FULL SUN, a 100W panel should charge roughly 2/3 of a 98Wh battery in a full day of full sun...but this is not the case. Instead, this 100W panel charges a 1200Wh battery in THREE HOURS of full sun. So...again, if you do the math, where a 100W panel should theoretically be just a little over 2x as powerful, is actually close to 113 times more powerful and efficient! That tells me that this product is garbage and clearly has an extremely low module efficiency which is coincidentally not published. This wouldn't really bother me that much had it been maybe $100-$150...but $400 for something 113 times less powerful than something only twice the wattage? I didn't really think that negatively of this product until I did actually build my own off-grid solar panel system that works amazingly at just about the same price and saw such an incredibly improved performance. I mean, I went from this product that wouldn't even charge a cell phone fully within one day, to this new system that can keep my entire multimedia system (TV, 7.1 700W surround sound system with separate 12" plugged in subwoofer, ps3, modem, cable box, and random fans) going 24/7. I mean, that is quite a difference. And you could get away with being able to power your TV all day for about $500 for a home built system (if you're not looking for portable I suppose). I went on the high end on a lot of things, so I spent about $720 which included a $250 125AH AGM (gel/dry cell) battery.
What really gets me is even if this thing turned out current flawlessly, just the fact that it isn't compatible with anything beyond 12V gets me...How can you advertise as a laptop charger and not go beyond 12V? That's insane.
Anyway, now that I have my own off-grid system up and running (still "kinda" portable as it's not mounted to my roof and I can move the batteries around and the platforms around with a second person lol...) I am even more disgruntled with this product seeing this system put out 100 amps within 3 hours, again, 113 TIMES what this product can output. OH, and my panels are on the same "angle" as this product was lol...They do, however, have a GREAT marketing schtick!
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on September 8, 2011
It did an excellent job, totally works great and charged my HP laptop fine from an empty battery. I actually got mine for a whole lot more than the current price listed here on Amazon so this is definitely a bargain. I will definitely buy more of these solar panels in the future and would recommend them to anyone wanting a super powerful solar panel.
60 of 75 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2011
I purchased this kit and decided to return it. A big con: unlike most modern solar panels now (like Powerfilm, etc.), this is BREAKABLE GLASS (old-school solar) and it is heavy. I also agree with the otehr reviewer that the battery pack is poor quality.
I'd also note some interesting things about this seller; draw your own conclusions. Note:
1) all negative reviews for this product *AS WELL AS ALL THE OTHER PRODUCTS BY THE SAME SELLER* are QUICKLY downrated (receive many unhelpful votes), and all positive reviews QUICKLY receive many helpful votes.
2) check out the reviews written for the seller's other products. They're all written in the same, glowing, "wow! this really changed my life" style.
Finally, I purchased the same kit from another seller here on Amazon (I think another reviewer here provided the link) for about a hundred dollars less, so the price offered by this seller is not a good price. Like most people, I'm not an expert when it comes to solar, so bundling everything in an "all-in-one" kit, it's easy to get ripped off.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 2012
This solar system is being used in West Africa to charge a netbook and satellite phone. It has proved to be very effective for those purposes. I have been impressed with its portability and simple design. I also have a full solar system installed for bigger needs, but this system is perfect for traveling with the netbook and satellite phone.
The customer support has also been very good. When I first tried using the system, I let the battery charge for a few hours in the sun. However when I hooked up the inverter nothing happened. When I contacted customer support, though, they very quickly replied with some suggestions and assurances that they would do whatever it takes to make the system work. As they suggested, I charged the battery for a few hours through the included cigarette light adapter and then everything worked fine, including charging through the solar panels. Very satisfied and impressed. Several others have been eyeing it and might well be buying systems of their own.
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2011
First off, I like the product. It operates as advertised. But there were a few things that bothered me. First, there was no manual. It would have been nice to know what the LED lights on the MPPT meant rather than just figure it out on my own. Also, some information on how long it would take to charge the battery under varying light conditions would have been nice. And there are some components included with no explanation of what to do with them.
I sent an email to the manufacturer asking about a manual but received a notice that the mail was undeliverable. Doesn't really fill me with much confidence.
I tried to determine where the device was manufactured before it was delivered. Didn't find out until it was delivered. It's made in China, in case you were curious.
The LEDs seem to indicate the following: before you connect the battery the green LED will flash off and on when the panels are conducting electricity; after the battery is connected, the red LED will flash off and on indicating that it is charging. Once fully charged the green LED will flash off and on.
It took three days to charge the battery in an unseasonly deep marine layer.
Review revision: Nika at theGroupDeal (the seller) apparently read my review and emailed me the manual (Thank you, Nika). The manual looks more like an advertisement, but does contain useful information like there is a preferred order when connecting the panels, MPPT and battery. Also, a description of what all the components could be used for was helpful like you can use the cigarette lighter adapter to charge the battery...good to know:)
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 23, 2012
We have a camper and do alot of dry camping. I purchased this for the convienence and portablility of being able to set it up wherever we go camping. I just plug the camper into the solar system. This runs a fan,charges my laptop and cell phone,runs an electric light and also a night light. The idea of being able to plug into the SUN without a bill is so great. When the battery is full I take it into the house and run the fan and small light...The other night I ran the fan on low speed all night and only used two bars off the battery. I was floored at how this worked. I have called the company to inquire about purchaseing another battery. They do not have any now but are planning on carrying them in the near future. If you are looking for an easy and portable solar system this is it!
13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2011
My kit arrived so fast from Amazon as these guys ship directly from the Amazon.com warehouse. When I opened it up the solar panel and all accessories were organized neatly as if I should use the box to store the panel. Upon opening up the panel I can see they used high quality solar panels that fold up nicely into the shape and size of an ipad. Upon reading the included manual I was able to start charging my iphone in just a few minutes using the battery and usb plug. One thing I really have come to like about this kit is the included battery, power inverter (so i can plug in my laptop or non-usb device). The other kits I researched did not have this option as an included accessory. What a great folding solar kit. I can see that everyone should have one of these in the future.
14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on September 8, 2011
I used this solar panel about a few days ago, and already it recharged all my cell phones. My intent was to have a portable HTC My Touch 4G charger, but it has become so much more. I recommend this product to anyone who wants a reliable backup power generation. This is a must have!