Who can resist taking advantage of free energy and power provided by the sun? I know that I can’t and for that reason I opt-in to try out as many solar products as I can. Free energy that is renewable every twenty-four hours is difficult to ignore!
Over the years I have tested a number of portable solar panels. I recall the first one. It was heavy and cumbersome and the stupid mix and match of cables was a nightmare. These days, portable chargers rely on USB ports and standard USB cables you already own and not an oddball mish mash of proprietary cables. Thank goodness.
With that introduction, I would like to introduce the newest solar charger in my collection, the Archeer 21W Foldable Solar Panel. And,of course, I have one available to give away to a lucky Backdoor Survival reader. More about that in a moment.
The unit itself is very lightweight and compact, This belies how sturdy it is. The outer covering appears to be quite durable as well as water resistant. It is a three-panel system and for those of you that don’t know about these things, the more panels you have, the faster the charge. Three is good, and In this case, the three panels deliver up to 21 watts of power to the USB ports.
Something else that is good is both USB ports are equally rated at 2.4A which eliminates having to remember which port is “high” (typically for Apple devices), and which is not.
Inside, there is a pouch, and inside the pouch is the controller with two USB ports. For my testing, I used both ports, one for my iPhone and the other for my Goal Zero battery charger. I chose these two devices because by now, everyone knows that portable solar panels are great for charging phones and tablets. The reality, however, is that life does not begin and end with gizmos. Having some way to charge your AA and AAA rechargeable batteries is more than handy,it is essential.
As with all solar chargers, you get the fastest and most reliable charge in direct sun. The problem this poses is that phones and tables will literally fry in the direct sun and in my experience, will power themselves down as a protection mechanism if the sun gets too intense. Please do keep this in mind with any solar charger you may be using to power up yur devices.
One other thing I like about the Archeer Solar Charger is that it has an easily used pouch for tucking your devices out of the sun for the duration of the charging process. The same pouch can be used for storing extra charging cables when the unit is not in use.
Finally, I want to mention there are four braided loops you can use for using carabiners to hang the charger from your pack while hiking. This makes it easy to keep your devices charged while outdoors.
How Did It Perform?
I did not have the time to closely monitor the charging process other than to note the time I started which as 10:25AM. Here in Arizona, the sun was quite bright and the phone was at 18% and the batteries were deader than dead.
Totally dead battery!
Note: These were 10 year old rechargeable batteries and old technology, nothing like the Eneloop’s I prefer.
At 1:30, as I write this, the phone is 80% charged and the batteries are fully charged.
One thing I was unable to figure out was the red light on the USB controller. It came on indoors under normal lighting conditions and stayed on while outside, even in partial sun. It went off in the shade. Although I did not test it, this leads be to believe that the unit may work, albeit very slowly, from a bright indoor location.
As far as technical specs, in my usual manner, I will send you to the product page here for details. Specs notwithstanding, what I care about most is that it works It is a portable solar charger and it does what it is supposed to do easily and intuitively.
To enter the giveaway, you need to utilize the Rafflecopter form below. Select one or more of the options after signing in using your email account or Facebook, the choice is yours. The best way to start is by clicking on “Free Entry for Everyone”. After that, each option you select represents an additional entry. There are a number of different options so pick and choose or select them all.
The deadline is 6:00 PM MST next Tuesday with the winner notified by email and announced on the Rafflecopter in the article. Please note that the winner must claim their prize within 48 hours or an alternate will be selected.
Note: Due to Customs requirements, this giveaway is only open to those with a mailing address in the United States.
The Final Word
As we head into November, I have lined up a number of reviews and giveaways so you can win some great survival gear for free between now and the end of the year. That being said, truth be told, I hate doing reviews. A good thirty percent of the time, the items are not worth sharing plus, the process gets costly for me personally. Still, when I do share a review you have my word that the product is something I will use myself.
Subscribers, take note. You will be getting some exclusive giveaways of your own via email as a thank you for your loyalty and trust. Not a subscriber? No worries, you can join the fun by subscribing now.
Getting back to business, I do hope you enter the giveaway so you have a chance to win the Archeer Foldable Solar Panel. Like I said, it simply works.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
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Below you will find the items related to today’s article as well as other personal favorites.
Archeer 21W Foldable Solar Panel: This portable solar charger does a fine job of charging up phones, tablets, cameras, batteries (using a USB charger) and more. Lightweight, compact, and very sturdy. The Archeer does what it is supposed to do and does it well.
Amprobe BAT-250 Battery Tester: I do not know anyone that is sorry they purchased or gifted an inexpensive battery tester. Mine sits in my desk drawer and is used 3 or 4 times a week. This newer version is an upgrade from the BAT-200 and well worth the additional dollar in cost. I especially like the redesigned side cradle that holds batteries securely in place during testing – no more erratic battery readings from movement off contacts.
Panasonic eneloop AA New 2100 Cycle Ni-MH Pre-Charged Rechargeable Batteries: These days, I try to use eneloops as much as possible. They hold a charge forever – or so it seems – and work well in flashlights and small electronics.
SunJack USB Battery Charger for AA/AAA Ni-Mh and Ni-Cd Batteries: Keep your AA or AAA battery powered devices fully charged anywhere. The SunJack USB battery charger charges your AA/AAA Ni-Mh/Ni-Cd batteries from any stable 5V USB port or power bank. It will charge fully drained batteries in about 5 hours.
Note: I own the Goal Zero charger but I think it is a bit pricey. I bought it years ago and it is a study little thing. As an alternative, I suggest the SunJack Charger. I just ordered one so I can do a head to head comparison.
Carabiners: If you have never used these or don’t know what they are, check these out. They are extremely handy for all sorts of things, most notably for handing things from your pack.
Sunferno Flintstone Portable Solar Panel with Rechargeable Battery Pack: This sturdy solar power pack is lightweight and small enough to be used in an EDC kit. I especially like that it has 2 USB ports.
EasyAcc Monster 20000mAh Power Bank: This is a robust power bank that can be charged from your laptop, a wall charger, or a solar charger. This one is beefy, with 4 USB ports that can be used at once. It also appears to hold its charge for a long time. I charged mine up then set it aside for a couple of months, When I pulled it out of its box, it was still fully charged. A nice unit that comes in very handy when power is out.
iRonsnow Dynamo Emergency Solar Hand Crank Self Powered AM/FM/NOAA Weather Radio, LED Flashlight, Smart Phone Charger & Power Bank: This unit has it all in one portable package. It can be also be powered using 3 AAA batteries. This is a great value.