New reviews from Gearlabs for solar panels 2017.

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New reviews from Gearlabs for solar panels 2017.

Post by moab » Sat Dec 16, 2017 8:21 pm

This is one of the top review sites for outdoor gear. Professional hikers and trekkers take the gear for months and review it. Very well researched reviews by the hobbies top professionals.

Anker is making some GOOD shit lately. I use their cables, car chargers, ac adapters, bluetooth earbuds. Now their solar panels come in first place. Instapark 10w comes in 3rd. And Goel Zero dead last. I have not read why yet. But do yourself a favor and check this site out before you buy anything. I've not seen better, well written, reviews anywhere.

https://www.outdoorgearlab.com/topics/c ... ar-charger
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Re: New reviews from Gearlabs for solar panels 2017.

Post by Gunwriter » Sun Dec 17, 2017 9:16 pm

Thanks for posting. I have a number of old Brunton folding solar panels from maybe 12 years ago.
Would like to try some more modern designs.

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Re: New reviews from Gearlabs for solar panels 2017.

Post by moab » Sun Dec 17, 2017 10:00 pm

Gunwriter wrote:Thanks for posting. I have a number of old Brunton folding solar panels from maybe 12 years ago.
Would like to try some more modern designs.
Speaking of Brunton. Last year they had their small roll up solar panel in their reviews. But just for charging phones. It is very small and lightweight for hiking. Gone from their reviews this year though. But if all you want to charge is a phone it's a good one.
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Re: New reviews from Gearlabs for solar panels 2017.

Post by Woods Walker » Mon Dec 18, 2017 11:34 am

The only powerbank I ever had fail was an Anker. Maybe bad luck. Also there is this "Small accessory pouch won't hold average smartphone". I don't know if the reviewer has had much field experience but don't put a smartphone inside those pockets when solar charging. It gets way too hot. I mean way too hot. Put the phone behind the shade of the panel which should be at an angle then moved X degrees every few hours to keep track of the sun. I prefer to charge a powerbank first. I know ECEEN has a auto reset every 3 minutes which totally negates all charging errors including Apple devices infamous solar charging errors. I think Goal Zero might have (or maybe not) a similar feature on their new panels. Overall the ECEEN 10w is the best solar charger I have tested. It's great at everything. Low light, charge error prevention, UL, build quality and crazy cheap price. I reviewed both their 7 and 10 watt. Purchased one on Amazon and the other on EBay.





Also did a break down on Solar battery chargers.

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Re: New reviews from Gearlabs for solar panels 2017.

Post by Cephalotus » Wed Sep 26, 2018 1:22 pm

To me solar only makes sense if you save weight compared to spare batteries.

If you carry those ultra heavy stuff you should calculate how long you have to use those panles under your conditions until you have some weight saving.

I carried solar panels on two trips. One was in Tibet and one was the GR20 in Corsica, both trips longer than a week, with no possibility to charge and lots of sun and little shade (mountainous regions, often without trees)

I took the lightest panels I could find. At the moment this is a Lixada "5V 10W" panel for something around 10 Euro. Like most of the Chinese stuff this numbers are bullshit, the real output is a maximum of 5V and 1A, but this is 5W.
The module weights 66g which translates to 13g per real(!) Watt.

It is small enough and rigid, so you can mount it easily in such a way on your backpack, that i receives sun at a good angle. Large panels often just hang from the backside which is shitty, flexible and large panels often look in various direction and are partly shaded, which is the worst thing you can do to use it.

In real use I'm able to recharge one 3500mAh 18650 cell while hiking a day under a mostly sunny conditions or two 3500mAh 18650 cells if a stay in a place and repositionthe panal at ideal position to the sun during the mostly day.

A 18650 cell with real 3500mAh weights around 45g.

For me this makes sense for a backpack. (during summer at least)

500g solar panels are stupidly heavy for a backpack and you should do the maths BEFORE you buy them. If you buy them get some tools to measure both power under certain conditions (incl real life situations) and energy gained under real conditions. Most of you will experience a very bad surprise between advertisement and real life.

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Re: New reviews from Gearlabs for solar panels 2017.

Post by Burncycle » Thu Sep 27, 2018 6:57 am

I've been having a hard time finding the Anker panels anymore it seems like they're drying up

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Re: New reviews from Gearlabs for solar panels 2017.

Post by majorhavoc » Thu Sep 27, 2018 7:44 am

Burncycle wrote:
Thu Sep 27, 2018 6:57 am
I've been having a hard time finding the Anker panels anymore it seems like they're drying up
I was able to find a couple of Anker models on Amazon, but wow, they're getting prohibitively expensive (e.g. https://smile.amazon.com/Anker-PowerPor ... olar+panel).

It's likely a combination of their good reputation and recent changes in international trade with a certain country whose name begins with a "C" and ends with an "A". Changes we probably shouldn't talk too much about because such discussion could quickly devolve into something that runs afoul of certain forum rules.

FWIW, I've had good experience with an alternate brand. I strongly suspect many of these panels are made in the same factories in the aforementioned country of origin and are merely sold under different brand names. Aside from differences in marketing, customer service and possibly QC, I strongly suspect many are functionally similar, if not identical. Assuming you get one that isn't DOA, I think you can expect equivalent performance from the lesser known, but more affordable brands.

By way of example, this one seems to have similar performance specs to the Anker model referenced above, but the price is quite a bit more attractive. https://smile.amazon.com/Foxelli-Dual-U ... olar+panel. To be clear, I don't have any direct experience with that model/brand.

In the interest of full disclosure, this is the one I bought several years ago. Besides no longer being available, It's now dated in design features and overall performance. I think you can do much better today. But it's been a flawless performer and is an example of a successful experience with a lesser known brand.
https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00 ... UTF8&psc=1

Last thought: again referring back to changes in international trade, if you're interested in purchasing one of these imported solar panels, I'd strongly recommend buying sooner rather than later.

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Re: New reviews from Gearlabs for solar panels 2017.

Post by JayceSlayn » Thu Sep 27, 2018 8:20 am

I used to work in the solar cell manufacturing industry, and understand the physics, manufacturing techniques, degradation conditions, and rating systems better as a result. A few notes:
- Solar cells are rated based on standard, ideal lighting and temperature conditions, which rarely occur outside of a laboratory. And of course they are then typically marketed using this idealized rating. Expect that any solar panel you buy (portable or full-size) will almost never reach its nameplate wattage, unless "the stars align" (or just one star, in particular :) ).
- Shading any part of a solar cell can dramatically reduce the output of the cell, and depending on how other cells in the panel are wired (series or parallel) to that cell, partial shading can dramatically reduce the performance of the entire panel. Make sure to keep dirt, objects, and shadows off your panel to get the most out of it.
- Perhaps obvious to most people: the angle of the panel towards the sun also matters. It doesn't have to be perfect, as +/- 10 degrees is still basically full insolation, but it starts to fall off after that. Since portable panels are often flexible while in-use (compared to rigid glass panels), the possibility exists that a few of the cells/sub-panels can be at different angles. Try to get all the cells as planar and aligned with the sun as possible. Similar to partial shading: the panel will generally perform only as well as its weakest cell, so if part of the panel is angled off, expect that the overall output will fall.

Despite those notes making solar sound bad, I don't think it compares less favorably to any other practical energy source. I still think it is a really excellent technology, and is probably my favorite alternative energy source for a variety of reasons.

As far as what portable solar panel I bought for myself: I recently got an Allpowers 80W panel (https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B01M5DCPKD). It is deliberately over-sized for most things (like charging a couple of phones), so that I can still expect to get full charging speed in practical conditions, and still get at least useful voltage and power in fairly adverse conditions. It also has an 18V 2.5mm DC output, which is really just the direct solar output (so it can float up to ~23V at Voc). The higher voltage output can be used to (very slowly) directly charge laptops, tablets, car batteries (if you monitor it), etc. I am building a module to regulate the 18V output down to a 12V bus, for some other equipment which uses that voltage. This panel supposedly uses some of the best cells on the market (SunPower), but it is still pretty bulky to attain this wattage, so I wouldn't call it suitable for backpacking - I bought it with the intention of using it during long-term power outages or for a mobile situation.

I've ran the panel through some basic tests upon arrival and am pleased with it so far, but I haven't had a chance to test it extensively or had it long enough to speak to its longevity. I'm worried about the long-term durability of any folding solar panels (imagining wires, cells, and interconnects bending pains me), but it seems like they should last a little while if not particularly abused.

EDIT: Allpowers also makes smaller panels, better suited for backpacking. I can't speak to those directly, but they seem like decent contenders ($/watt, features, etc.) to the others presented here as well.
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Re: New reviews from Gearlabs for solar panels 2017.

Post by moab » Sun Sep 30, 2018 5:31 am

These updated ratings for 2018 still apply. Very nice panels to be found in the sub $50 range. https://www.outdoorgearlab.com/topics/c ... ar-charger
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Re: New reviews from Gearlabs for solar panels 2017.

Post by EBuff75 » Sun Sep 30, 2018 7:45 am

When I couldn't find the Anker panels in stock earlier this summer, I bought a RAVPower 24watt panel instead. I've purchased items from both companies and had very good luck with them - no failures of any kind to date. The panel seems to work just fine, although I haven't done anything more than at-home tests to make sure it will charge battery banks and other items.

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