Solar Chargers Get Tough
New Brunton charging mats roll and fold for easy, 'virtually bombproof', outdoors use.
Posted: 23 May 2012
You've invested in a smartphone and maybe a GPS, an MP3 player for those lonely nights under the stars and a digital camera and now you're miles from anywhere and need to charge them - enter Brunton's new Solaris 2W and 4W solar chargers which use panels claimed to be 'virtually bombproof' to fully charge a typical smartphone in around three hours.
The interesting bit with the Brunton chargers are that they use up to the minute CIGS solar cell technology. That means, say the brand, that the panels are 'super-thin, durable, bendable and fold up neatly so you can tuck in your pack or pocket'.
The panels are actually a thin film rather than the hard, breakable cells usually used, and are claimed to work well in 'low-light conditions' as well as in full-on sunshine.
They're relatively light too. The more powerful Solaris 4, which has an output of 5v/800mA weighs 178.5 grammes, while the Solaris 2 gives 5v/400mA and weighs in at 113.4 grammes, it says here. Dimensions are 23cmx 63.5cm and 23cm x 38cm.
To put that in perspective, the Goal Zero Guide 10 charger we've been using for the past few months weighs almost twice as much at a real-life 364 grammes and while it puts out more power at a claimed max 7w compared to the Solaris 4's 4w - we think - it's also bulkier and less convenient to carry. That said, our test Goal Zero panel successfully managed a marathon bike trip in the Pyrenees with a friend, keeping his smartphone fully powered on the go and has been generally impressive, though finnicky with apple's iPhone.
So what's the snag? Lighter, tougher and, erm, predictably more expensive - think £135 for the Solaris 2 and a whopping £175 for the Solaris 4. Whether that's value for money for you probably depends on how much you need your charger and how important weight and portability is to you.
More details and stockists at www.brunton.com.
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