879 of 899 people found the following review helpful
on January 22, 2014
-UPDATE 3/18/14- [Just because your iPhone/iPad/etc. says "Not Charging" when you plug this in doesn't actually mean it's not charging or not compatible. It just means it's not charging as fast as usual, but it probably is still trickle charging, which is fine. If you plug into this solar panel and get no response whatsoever, that's when I'd be concerned about not charging.]
For the price and output, this solar charger is unmatched. A lot of solar chargers require direct sunlight to charge an iPhone any significant amount. Standard iPhone wall chargers use 5 Watts. This solar charger can give you that much even on a bad day, and much more than that on sunny summer afternoon.
On the other hand, iPad Air wall chargers are 10 W, so you'll certainly need some good sunlight to achieve that much with this panel. But I was able to trickle-charge an iPad Air with about 3 W lying on the floor next to a window that was letting in low winter sunlight. I estimate 3 W because it was charging a bit faster than my PC USB port does (which is 2.5W) but it still wasn't enough to recognize the panel as a charger, which for the iPad requires 5 W I believe. Holding the charger up to the window made it surpass the 5 W mark because it instantly recognized that it was charging, and the percentage went up much quicker (still not as fast as the wall charger though). I can't wait for summer so I can use this outdoors to its full potential.
Anyway, I'd say this is definitely worth the price, even if you don't really need it on a regular basis. It will be handy in an emergency (specifically in conjunction with a portable battery charger) and it's quite a cool accessory to show your friends. It is well-built, folds up nice and small to fit in anything but the smallest of bags, and it has two outputs so you can share your clean, free juice with the world (or if you're like me, you have about 50 devices with USB charging cables). Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to rant.
--------END OF REVIEW---------
OK, I see a lot of people here confused about electricity. I am an electrical engineer, so please bear with me.
Power is measured in Watts, not Volts or Amps. Power is equal to Voltage multiplied by Amperage.
Energy is measured in Watt-hours. One W-hr is how much energy you have consumed if you have used one Watt continuously (or on average) for one hour.
Batteries are rated in Amp-hours. This rating, multiplied by the nominal operating voltage of the battery, will give you the maximum amount of energy in W-hr that the battery can discharge.
Battery charging is not an efficient process, meaning it will take quite a bit more energy (sometimes 2-3 times as much) to fill up your battery than it can actually give back upon usage.
Lithium polymer batteries charge up more quickly and efficiently when they are depleted than when you're just topping them off. With the wall charger, an iPhone can go from 0-80% in a couple of hours, but takes another couple hours to get to 100%.
Solar panels are rated at their maximum power point in ideal conditions. So, if you buy a 5 W solar charger, you will probably never get 5 W out of that thing unless you are using a solar concentrator.
All this is to say, in a perfect world, the 5.45 Whr iPhone battery could theoretically be fully charged by a 14 W solar panel in about 24 minutes. Obviously, there are many losses and limitations that make such speed and efficiency impossible. So, please don't complain about how this solar panel won't charge up your 10,000 mAh portable battery in four hours. You must do a little research and temper your expectations with these kinds of products, or you will just be sorely disappointed. The cool thing is, technology is always improving, so those losses and limitations will be reduced over time.
1,542 of 1,632 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2013
So you're thinking about trying solar energy? Get a little thrill by charging off the grid? This 14 watt portable panel is an entry level device often referred to as a "gateway" panel. Sure you'll get free solar energy, and yes, you will lower your carbon footprint. But be careful because the satisfaction of off grid charging can become a steady habit.
You'll start off with this little 14 watt panel and it will feel great. Then you decide you need a battery pack to store all the solar energy that's wasting when your phone isn't charging. That'll be fun for a while. You might even make some crazy vow to charge your cell phone off solar energy only. But that won't satisfy you forever.
Next thing you know you're getting the Instaspark 27 watt portable panel. Charging your cell phone and 12 volt devices off the grid and it's one heck of a ride. Spending less time with family and friends as you surf the web learning everything you can about solar energy. And then it happens... You invest in a hard core 200 watt 12 volt home solar energy system. Now you're sucking up solar watts like free cake at your neighbor's kid's birthday party. And it all started by experimenting with this little 14 watt portable panel.
154 of 162 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2014
Tested using a Nexus 5 on a sunny day in the Bay Area. Measurement done using a USB power monitor from portapow.co.uk.
The Nexus 5 show a "Charging: USB" and a current draw of 0.47A.
Uploaded picture of the actual current draw. You will have to click on "See more technical details" to view the picture.
203 of 220 people found the following review helpful
This is the best direct-charge panel I've seen for anything near this price. It isn't the most lightweight or compact unit out there, but it's reasonable at both and does a very good job charging for the size. The panels are well protected and the package is built to last.
The charger has two 2 Amp, 5V ports- however the total output is 2 Amps. So you can charge two devices at 1 Amp or one at 2. Aside from a few tablets, there's not many out there that can handle more than 2 anyway- most phones use 1 Amp input. The panel does not have a built-in battery, but you can just hook one up. I've used it with the Astro E5 and it works fine.
I was able to charge a smartphone from dead to 100% in about 4.5 hours, with the panel unattended in somewhat direct sunlight on a partly cloudy day. The phone in question was a HTC One V with a 1,500 mAh battery. This is great performance, considerably better than several 7W panels I've tried. I should also note that this is able to charge anything I've thrown at it even on not particularly sunny days. That can be an issue for some smaller panels, as they simply don't have the power to charge certain devices. In fact, if it's a partly cloudy day some smaller panels can actually end up draining a device's battery- especially if it's a device that wakes the screen or shows something when it starts charging. Since the charge is more likely to be intermittent, dropping in and out of the necessary minimum voltage, it can repeatedly wake the device and actually kill the battery.
The panel folds up into a roughly 8.5x11" package, about an inch thick. The dual charge ports are enclosed in a pocket large enough to hold most smartphones, with a velcro fastener. There's four metal holes for attachment, and the whole thing has a velcro flap to keep it wrapped up. The whole thing is wrapped in thick canvas. When fully unfolded, it's a pretty good size- about a yard long; you can choose to leave it partly folded and it'll work, but at less power. This is definitely more suitable for leaving out on a table or chair somewhere in the sun, not carrying strapped to your back or somesuch. It weighs a pretty good amount too, so I wouldn't use it for backpacking or other activities where space and weight are at a premium. However, it's plenty rugged and effective for a camping trip or emergency use. I'd even say that this is suitable for daily home or work use, as it can provide a significant boost to your smartphone or external battery pack within a reasonable time. I've found that smaller panels are usually not practical for this as you'd have to leave them out in the sun for hours on end to get any significant result, and due to their small size a slight change in weather or shadows can greatly impair their effectiveness.
As with most panels, leaving it behind glass does impair the charge rate pretty heavily. Fortunately for this one, it's very well protected with hard, clear plastic on all the panels and will work fine outdoors. This protects them well against scratches and impact. The panels themselves appear to be weather resistant as described, though I doubt the charge ports are- it can probably hold up to some light rain since they're covered by the flap, but otherwise I wouldn't leave it out in inclement weather. Honestly though, as far as leaving it outside charging, I'd be more concerned about someone making off with it than the unit being damaged by the elements. If you can seal off the ports and whatever devices you have attached, I have no doubt that the panels will be able to take whatever nature can throw at them.
This panel is worth the cost, for sure- it's better than some considerably more expensive ones on the market. It's a good compromise between power/function and portability. It isn't for every use scenario imaginable (nothing really is) but it works well for what I'd use it for (camping, topping off my phone at lunch, emergencies). The build quality is solid, and it charges things fast. Under ideal circumstances, it is actually as fast as a wall charger. Hard to beat.
33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on April 3, 2014
I have a USB power analyzer and the most I can get is 9.2 watts while a generic folding panel that i got from one of those china import sites rated at 10 watts will put out 10.6 watts. Perhaps one of the 4 panels is bad on my unit but its past the return period so ill have to live with it.
After using several times recently in full sun, the panels have developed little bubbles between the strips of PV material. Also the max power output has gone down to 6.7 watts @ 4.88 volts. It looks good on paper but this has not been a very good solar charger given the price paid.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2015
While I was excited to receive this solar panel/charger (it is my first such device) my initial excitement has been tempered by some realizations after several weeks of use. First, I would like to state that I'm not as device savvy as some of the other reviewers here: I don't have a fancy volt meter, nor the ability to give you technical specs on the device other than what is already listed on the product page or other reviews. Having said that, I can offer my experiences with the product.
My first complaint is that the panel drains will sometimes drain battery power from the device it is meant to charge. Now, I realize after some reading that panels have to have a certain extra item (controller or some such thing) to prevent this type of thing, but at the price point I don't think it's too unreasonable to have it included in the panel. This wouldn't be so frustrating if it were occurring under a certain set of circumstances (such as too low light level) but it isn't. I put this out in full sun one day and hooked up two devices (an mp3 player and a phone, neither of which were apple products) and the mp3 player initially began charging but an hour later it had been completely drained while the phone was completely charged. It's almost like the panel took the juice from the player and put it into the phone on top of the solar charge it was generating. I've had the panel charge (albeit slowly) an android tablet under less than ideal sunlight conditions yet drain a lower-powered device under the exact same conditions. It is, to but it mildly, very frustrating to be unsure of when the panel will charge and will it will drain an attached device.
My next complaint is that one of the ports outputs more power than the other. If I were to stand the panel upright (using the printed text to determine the "top") and look at the ports, then on mine the "top" port is the strong one and the "bottom" port is the weak one. Now, obviously I don't charge devices with the panel standing, as it needs as much direct sunlight over the entire panel, but I'm simply saying for descriptive purposes which port is good and which is not so good. I can take the same device and, over a period of days and weeks, charge it on each port and it will always charge faster on the top port. I even had a less than perfect sunlight day where it charged a phone faster on the top port than it did on a full sunlight day on the bottom port. Now again, I don't have the technical skills or knowledge to describe why this would be happening, but it seems like a fairly obvious design flaw or hardware flaw somewhere int he panel. The bottom port does still charge of course, it's just much much less powerful than the top port--so much so that a layperson like myself can notice the difference because the amount of time a device spends on the panel is longer on the bottom port. Also, this holds true whether or not anything is plugged into the top port. So even when just one item is plugged in, if it is plugged into the bottom port, it charges slowly.
My final complaint is with the Anker customer service. First they send me automatically generated emails (kind of nagging considering one needs some time to test a product such as this) asking that I contact them if I have concerns/questions and asking to leave a review. Second, when I did have questions regarding the complaints I outlined above, the response was basically that it is normal for it to drain a battery if there isn't enough sunlight (even though I've had it occur randomly in full sunlight) and that it's also normal for one port to output more power. If it were normal, then why doesn't the description mention that the output on one of the ports may not be at the full power rating that it gives? Seems a bit of to me.
Overall, and if I had it to do over again, I wouldn't buy the product. The glowing reviews sucked me in as a first time buyer and raised my expectations, but my problems with the product and customer service have led to me wishing that I had tried a competitor's version. I wish I could give the product a 2.5 star rating, but as the ratings system only does whole stars, I rounded it down to 2 because the description of 3 stars is "it's okay" and I really feel that it's a little less than "okay". It's really just "almost okay".
So I'm now into my second month of ownership and I, as many others have also noted in reviews, have bubbles appearing on the solar panel from heat exposure. Granted I do live in a very hot place (when it is summer) but the average temperature has been in the high 70s. I'm very disappointed in the quality of this unit and am downgrading my review from 2 stars to 1 star. Too many issues for it to even get a 2 star rating. I'd avoid buying this.
115 of 138 people found the following review helpful
on August 29, 2013
I took a chance, this was very low priced for what it is. I have similar products from Instapark, 10 Watt and Goal Zero, 7 Watt panels. This being 14 watt and so low priced, I was not sure it would work, but it worked amazingly well. Compatible with Ipads, Ipod touch, and charges very quickly, faster than the other two panels, which was expected since they are lower watts.
I used this to charge the "Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus" (which came with my Goal Zero Nomad 7) with AA batteries....and it charged fine, and quickly, roughly twice as fast as the Goal Zero 7 Watt Nomad, which is expected since it is twice the wattage. I will be getting an additional "Guide 10 Plus" to keep with this new panel, since it comes without a battery pack, which I wouldn't expect at this price. You can however direct charge the Ipad or Ipad touch or any cell phone (I think! Mine works anyway) right from the panel in direct sun, and it has TWO USB ports to charge a few things at the same time. Even in partial shade or when it's overcast, this panel delivers though somewhat less of course.
Very happy with this one. Very good value for the money, and it is quite a powerhouse. I don't wait for the power to be out to play with these, and use all my little folding panels simultaneously on a sunny day... the Goal Zero Nomad, gives a quick charge to the Cell phone, the Instapark 10 Watt, ideal for the Ipod Touch, and now this bigger one is ideal for the Ipad Mini which needs more power. Had I not had the other panels first, I would have just gotten a few of these. Cheaper, and more powerful, though I am happy with the performance of all, this one is the best of the bunch. Very small and light folded up too.
Id have given it six stars if they had them!
PS....an update the next day.... I linked via USB Cable (normal regular size)this panel to my Goal Zero Nomad 7. The Goal Zero has a 12 Volt charger cable, which I could use to charge a small Stanley Auto Jump Starter....though it takes forever to get any juice to it that way. So I wanted to see what would happen if I linked the Anker to it. The Stanley was maybe 70% full I would guess. In two hours, now with a total of 21 watts, it was at full, with the green blinking light when you tested it via a wall plug. I can only say, I am ordering a few more Ankers to link together to make this happen faster. You can it seems link different brand panels together...BUT....they were both Monocrystaline... I am not sure you could go from a mono to a ploy or amorphous, so check what you have, not sure if that would damage it.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2015
I hesitated for months to pull the trigger on the Anker 14W Solar Charger and I'm not sure why now. I just received it and laid it out on my south-facing deck in a full-sun day in SC (in late March), and it charged my Moto X phone from 61% to 100% and my Kindle Fire HD6 from 79% to 100% in about an hour. I was blown away. I guess if you're in a south-facing extremely bright situation, this thing is really putting out close to the advertised 2 AMPS. (I did use the much thicker USB power cord that came with my Kindle.)
I purchased this because I'm planning a month long canoe expedition and I was concerned about charging my phone, camera batteries and headlamp batteries. I plan on using this in connection with the Anker 13000 mAMP USB battery pack I purchased (by the way, another awesome Anker product). After seeing what this solar charger is capable of, I'm no longer concerned about sustainable energy.
Way to go Anker! Highly recommend!!
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 2014
I have had this solar charger for around a week now, which has given me time to thoroughly test it. I am very impressed with its performance.
Test One: iPhone 5C Charge from 0% to 100%:
On my first test, I totally discharged the battery on an iPhone 5C by running the flashlight until the battery was completely drained. The next morning at 9AM, I connected the iphone to the solar charger. The screen indicated the phone was charging. I placed the solar charger on the rail of my deck - and at that time, it was sunny out but the sun was obscured by a large oak tree on the edge of my property, so the solar charger was not in direct sunlight.
I checked it again at 1PM (4 hours later), and the battery was at 41% charged (as indicated by the iPhone's display). It was mostly sunny that day - and at some points, the sun was obscured by clouds - although at around 10:30AM, the trees no longer obscured the sun from the solar charger.
At 4:30PM (7.5 hours of charging), the battery was at 82%. When I checked it this time, I noticed a message on the iPhone's display which read "This accessory may not be supported." I saw that the little lightning bolt charge indicator was also not on, so I disconnected and reconnected the charger. The lightning bolt charge indicator came on again. Based on my experience - and in other things I have read, this message appears if the solar charger is producing a low amount of current (when obscured by clouds, etc.) - however, charging continues during these periods of time although at a lower rate.
I checked it again at 5:30PM and the iPhone had 100% displayed for the battery level. So within 1 hour, it went from 82% to 100% (during a period of the day when it was clear and sunny). I am extremely pleased with these results.
Test Two: Charging the Anker 10000mah External Battery Pack
I bought the "Anker® 2nd Gen Astro E3 10000mAh with PowerIQ(tm) Technology" external battery pack from Amazon at the same time I purchased this solar charger. I paid $29.99. Link is:
I totally charged the battery pack, then used it to charge some devices until the battery pack was totally discharged. I then connected it to the solar charger the next morning at 8:30AM and left it plugged in the entire day. I checked it periodically throughout the day. The day was very sunny, although there were some intermittent clouds - but very few. It took around 4 hours to go from 0% to the 25% mark (as indicated by one of the 4 LEDs remaining steadily lit. I left it plugged in the full day until well after dark. When I checked it after arriving home late, the 3rd LED was blinking and 2 of the 4 LEDs were steady. This indicates that the battery pack was between 50 - 75% charged.
I plugged it up again the next morning at 9AM. When I checked it again at 1:15PM, the battery pack was totally charged. I unplugged it and plugged it back in to confirm. I am also extremely satisfied with these results. This battery, at 10000mah, holds a lot of charging potential. I can charge an iphone at least 3-4 times and and ipad with it as well.
I also bought a little USB fan from Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003XN24GY/ref=oh_details_o02_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1). When I plug this up to the ANKER solar charger, if it outside during the day (even in the shade), the USB fan will run uninterrupted.
I almost bought the 14W Anker Solar Charger instead of the 8W one, but after these tests I am convinced that this 8W unit more than fulfills my needs.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on August 29, 2014
I would think that one of the biggest considerations when building a solar charger would be that it would survive exposure to, you know, sunlight. Evidently, Anker didn't receive the memo.
Does it charge? Barely. In the bright, cloudless Arizona/Utah sun, an iPhone 5 can get maybe 10-20% charge per HOUR, if you have airplane mode on and the screen turned off. That's decent. It works better to charge an external battery pack and then subsequently use the pack to charge devices.
The problem is that this charging mat can't take the heat generated by the sun. The first time I used it, I had it laid out on a wooden campsite table. That's not a very hot surface, as far as surface candidates go. Still, when I came back to it three hours later, the entire solar panel array was covered with small little bubbles formed by melting plastic (or whatever the material is). In my opinion, that's rather pathetic. That's akin to creating an underwater camera that doesn't do well with cold temperatures. Simply doesn't make sense. That said, the ability to charge doesn't seem to be too severely affected, though I've only tested over the course of a week or so in the wilderness; but, as previously mentioned, the charging ability is pretty poor too.
It looks/feels like a quality piece, but I'd go for a different product.