When it comes to solar panels that charge portable electronics, you have a lot of choices. At the top of my head, I would say I have reviewed at least six different set-ups and have given as many away to lucky readers. So, when I was approached by Enerplex to review their entry into this field, I sighed and thought “here we go again”.
But wait. There was more. In addition to the Enerplex Commandr 20 Solar Panels, they had the Generatr S100 battery unit that included a 19V laptop port and an integrated AC inverter. That’s right. A laptop port. Taking things one step further, the battery unit could be charged by a standard AC or solar panels.
Was I interested? Heck yes. Not only that, Enerplex was willing to give the complete set-up away to a Backdoor Survival reader. That got my attention as well, and I was excited.
Enerplex Commandr 20 – A Solar Panel Like No Other
The Commandr 20 looks different right out of the box. In addition to being extremely light weight, there are a total of six panels which is more than the norm. The panels are made of a proprietary solar on plastic design and the entire package folds up in a compact pouch weighing less than two pounds (1.65 to be exact).
While extreme portability is nice, the defining moment came when I unpacked the included “regulator”. This was different. The regulator attaches to the panel and the devices you wish to charge attach to the regulator. Make sense?
The back side of the regulator box
After setting up the panels, I connected the regulator box. At first I thought something was wrong because it made an obnoxious noise which I later determined to be a fan. As soon as I plugged in a device, however, the noise stopped. I suppose that makes sense; the panels were generating energy and the energy had no where to go.
As I mentioned above, the devices you wish to charge plug into the back of the regulator box. There is a USB port and 12V/19V port. To access the 12V/19V port, you use one of the included laptop tips and cable. I had no problem connecting to my standard size Dell laptop but did not have a tip that would work for my 2 in 1. Not to worry, though, as there is a workaround I will describe below.
According to the Enerplex website, the Commandr solar panels are designed to operate in even the harshest of condition. To quote:
The Commandr Series can be dropped, kicked, run over by a car, and can even get wet and still be fully functional
I did not run the panels over with the Subaru but I did drop them quite by accident. They suffered no ill effect and still work perfectly.
All this is well and good but where the Commandr 20 really shines is when it is connected to the Generatr S100. This is because the Generatr S100 gives you a way to store solar energy!
Enerplex Generatr S100 – A Portable Battery & Inverter Powered by Solar Panels
What you see is a lot more than what you get. Why do I say that? Because this portable battery solution will charge a laptop – any laptop! Remember when I said my Dell 2 in 1 could not be charged using the solar panels directly? With the Generatr S100, all I had to do was plug my 2 in 1 into the integrated AC outlet and voila! I was in business.
The LEDs on the side of the Generatr S100 indicate the charging level.
I realize I am getting ahead of myself so let me give you some specs. The Generatr S100 comes with with two USB ports, a 19V laptop port, and an integrated AC inverter. With the USB ports you can charge almost any portable device you can think of, including smartphones, tablets, Kindles, and other eBook readers.
The integrated laptop port is used with included connector tips for most Dell, HP, and IBM laptops. If one of those tips does not work, there is also an AC outlet. This AC outlet can also be used to power a lamp or other AC device up to 120W. I actually plugged my Maximal Power Alkaline Battery Charger into the AC outlet and it worked perfectly.
For testing purposes, after fully charging the Generatr S100 using the solar panels, I was able to bring both my Dell laptop and iPad2 from 10% to a full 100% charge. This is consistent with the specs which indicate 2-4 charges for a tablet and 1-2 charges for a laptop.
Speaking of charging, you do not have to use solar panels to charge the Generatr S100 battery pack. You can also charge it using standard AC. During normal times, this is quite convenient and is a real timesaver. Of course that won’t work when the grid is down but for keeping the battery pack ready to use during short-term power outages, using AC is perfect
There are many other features and specs I have not mentioned. Although you can read about them on the Enerplex website, I will mention two. First, there is a series of LEDs on the top of the unit that will provide you a visual status of the charging state. Second, if the power is out and you are fumbling in the dark to plug in your devices, you can use the integrated flashlight to light up the back panel. Now how cool is that?
The Enerplex Giveaway! Total Value $650!!
This is the part you have been waiting for and it is so fabulous that I can hardly contain myself. Enerplex loves Backdoor Survival and is giving away both the Commandr 20 and Generatr S100 to one lucky reader.
You know the drill. 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 Pacific next Wednesday 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 residents of the United States.
The Final Word
After a short break, it is exciting to kick off the summer giveaway season with such incredible products. Both are available directly from the Enerplex website as well as from a number of retail outlets. (There is a search by zipcode box on the website). In addition, the Generatr S100 battery pack is available from Emergency Essentials as well as Amazon.com.
From my perspective, having the ability to charge a laptop when the grid is down is a real game changer. As useful as a tablet can be, serious work needs to be done on a laptop. Can you imagine having the ability to use Excel and Word to organize community resources after a disruptive event? What about access to stored financial and medical records?
I would like to thank Enerplex for bringing this opportunity to the readers of Backdoor Survival. Good luck everyone!
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
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Bargain Bin: Below you will find links to the items related to today’s article as well as some selections from the Amazon Top 10.
Maximal Power FC999 Universal Battery Charger: Using the Enerplex Generatr S100, I was able to charge batteries using this charge. I simply plugged it into the AC port and was good to go. This nicely built charger will charge AA, AAA, C, D, N, 9V, Ni-MH, Ni-CD, and Alkaline batteries. It has an LED display so that when you first put a battery in the charging bay, you know whether it is viable for charging or simply bad and ready to go back to the recycle box. See How to Recharge Alkaline Batteries.
SunJack CampLight USB Bulb: This 4 Watt USB LED light is bright and ultra portable at just over 3.5 ounces. It is highly durable – shatter, shock, and vibration resistant. Will fully illuminate a tent at night. Power it from any standard USB source – compatible with all USB wall plugs, USB batteries, and laptops.
Ultra Bright LED Lantern – Collapsible: I admit to now owning 3 of these collapsible lanterns. It uses 30 different LEDS and is powered by 3 AA batteries, including rechargeables. Instead of a switch, you turn it on by extending the lantern from its collapsed condition. With a lifetime warranty and over 1,350 close to perfect ratings, I can see why this is popular. Currently $9.99 with free Prime shipping. There is also a 2-pack for $15.99.
Tac Force TF-705BK Tactical Assisted Opening Folding Knife 4.5-Inch Closed: This is a newcomer to the list. It is currently priced at less than $8 and is ranked the #1 best seller in hunting knives. The reviews raved about this knife so I bought one and can recommend it. See my review: The Inexpensive Tac-Force Speedster Outdoor Knife.
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter: FREE SHIPPING! The LifeStraw is considered the most advanced, compact, ultra light personal water filter available. It contains no chemicals or iodinated resin, no batteries and no moving parts to break or wear out. It weighs only 2 oz. making it perfect for the prepper. For more information, see my LifeStraw review.
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