This summer (2017) I took it the Anker PowerPort 15 Watt Solar Charger with me on my travels...
I spent a few miserable days in the Alps and then on a trip around Serbia and Montenegro, for a month. I used it on a cloudy day outside the Torino hut on Mont Blanc, in 40 degree heat in the car and strapped on my rucksack.
A review of the Anker PowerPort Solar Lite (15W 2-Port USB Solar Charger).
COST: £39.99 (52.99 USD) on Amazon
- Firstly here is a list of what you get when ordering this charger.
- Anker PowerPort Solar Lite (15W 2-Port USB Solar Charger), 3ft Micro USB cable, welcome guide & 18-month warranty.
- The Charge itself is fairly compact at 11 × 6.3in folded or 18.1 × 11in when opened.
- It has elastic loops on each corner to allow to be hung up on trees, tents or attached to a backpack.
- It weighs 12.5 oz and is 0.7in when folded or 0.2in when opened.
- It has 2 USB ports and, according to its own blurb: "PowerIQ delivers the fastest possible charge up to 2.1 amps under direct sunlight. 15 watt SunPower solar array is 21.5-23.5% efficient, providing enough power to charge two devices simultaneously"
Now, I don’t know how this efficiency is measured (apologies of into being geeky enough) but here his my experience of using the 15w PowerPort. I chose this solar charger because eI thought I would need more power than smaller (e.g. single panel) chargers would offer. Having two ports I also though would be more useful when travelling as a family.
Initially I set it up on a table to charge my GoPro. In between clouds it was pretty effective although when I also plugged in my iPhone 6s Plus it didn’t seem to generate enough power to do two devices effectively.
Given the poor weather I was pretty happy to get anything from it.
Almost everyday the temperature was well above 30 degrees and the sky cloudless so I had ample opportunity to use the Anker PowerPort.
In Direct Sunlight
I set it up outside on the grass in the middle of the afternoon and in direct sunlight it charged a phone really fast.
In the Car
Whilst travelling I also tried it in the car. Naturally its powers were significantly reduced given the reflective car window reducing the amount of sunlight. I also noticed that it varied depending on device type (no idea why). An older phone seemed to be almost unable to charge, whereas a wifi hub charged slightly better, although still obviously very, very slowly).
On a Backpack
On the mountain I strapped it on my pack and plugged in my iPhone. It was fantastic. To illustrate how best it worked I can give you a scenario.
One morning I was out in the early morning when the sun was fairly weak. I was filming a lot on my iPhone which tends to drain the battery pretty quickly - even more so because I was running Gaia GPS (read this article by Alex Roddie for more on this).
Not having a battery pack with me, for reasons of weight, I put the Anker PowerPort on the back of my pack and plugged in the phone.
It charged my phone up slowly, but keep in mind these factors: the time of day, the fact that I was, running Gaia GPS, twisting and turning and therefore not in direct sunlight and the fact that I was regularly filming on the phone.
I was very happy with this performance and below is an illustration of the time / percentage of the phone battery being charged in the above scenario.
All in all, I am very happy I bought it although this review is not entirely conclusive. Firstly (spoiler alert) I think you really need bright sunshine for this to work effectively.
- Given a cloudless sky then I was very happy with its performance.
- With more overcast conditions it was a bit slow, but then that is probably to be expected.
- I was very happy with it when strapped on my rucksack and in morning sunshine.
- With two devices plugged in I am not entirely convinced yet.
- For longer trips in the wild it is well worth charging a battery pack, even if it does mean carrying extra weight. It think by doing this you will get the most from what is, in the right conditions, an excellent solar charger.
You can read my recommendation of the Anker Powerport Solar Charger on The Wandering RV web site.
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