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Review: enCharge Folding Solar Charging External Battery

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If you’ve ever wondered how you’ll continue to take selfies and play Candy Crush after the zombies take over, look no further than the enCharge Folding Solar Charging External Battery. Fully charged, it packs a 8000mAh punch. That’s enough to charge my Z10 4.4 times. When the juice runs out, simply unfold and expose the 4 solar panels to the sun’s harmful rays.

IMG_20140821_195521If the zombies haven’t overrun the power grid you can charge the battery by plugging the included microUSB cable into a computer or wall charger. On the enCharge, the microUSB port is input (charge the battery) and the standard USB port is the output (charge your phone or tablet). The power button turns the unit on and the blue LED lights display how much power it is storing. When it is charging via the microUSB port or by solar power, the 4 LED lights turn on and off in a successive line.

IMG_20140821_195604When you double click the power button, the light at the opposite end of the battery pack illuminates. There are 5 very bright LEDs that easily light up a small jail cell, or your tent in the woods.

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The charging output is listed as 1.5A which is double the power of the standard charger that comes with a BlackBerry Z10. However, as I was testing the battery, it didn’t charge my phone noticeably faster than when I was plugged into a wall charger. As for charging the enCharge battery by solar power, that definitely takes longer than plugging it into a computer or wall charger. I haven’t had a solid sunny day to test it out on but I would estimate that it would take around 6-10 hours of full sun to charge from dead to full power. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could charge my phone while the enCharge was charging by the sun or using the microUSB input port. I am confident that the draw of charging a phone or tablet is more than the solar panels can provide, but it’s pretty cool to see that multitasking is possible.

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The size of the unit (179 X 105 X 39mm) surprised me at first, as did the weight. It is heavier than I was expecting (490 g) but it makes sense considering the large battery capacity. The solar panels fold neatly and 2 velcro strips secure the enCharge shut for safe keeping. The outer canvas is quite rugged with a small amount of extra padding for added protection.

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My own little man-purse/solar powered life saver.

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Along with the battery and attached solar panels, included in the box are a standard USB cable with adapter at the opposite end, and 3 attachments: microUSB, Lightning, and Galaxy Tab adapter.

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Overall, I am quite pleased with this charger. The solar panels make it much cooler than my other external batteries, and since we don’t have to pay to sit out in the sun yet, I can save on my power bills! The only improvement I might suggest is a higher output amperage. For those of you who spend a lot of time outdoors or in the wilderness, I highly recommend this product. It’s fun to watch the charging lights start cycling as soon as you open up the panels to the sun and all you have to worry about is the charging life of the battery and/or the sun being blacked out by volcanic ash.

For more information, including full specs and details on how to pickup your own, head over to MobileFun.com and check it out! They’re on sale right now for $83.99 USD.

 

 

 

8 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. I am still convinced that manufacturers can have this type of thing built into the phones now, perhaps a back cover solar panel. Things should get interesting with clear photo sensitive charging screens being seen in development brining this to the front.

    • Apparently Samsung did it back in 2009 (http://inhabitat.com/samsung-releases-solar-powered-phone/). I would guess that it didn’t take off because of the slow charge time and possible overheating issues.

      I have heard of photo sensitive screens as well which would be awesome. There was this one available way back in 2007 in China (http://www.ecogeek.org/content/view/721/) but I haven’t heard of anything since. Perhaps complications with the photo sensitive / touch screen combination?
      Either way, it is exciting to think that a charger free day may come in the future.

      • Something cropped up in the news this week about this, just trying to find it again. I honestly feel if BB embraced this, it would make a huge positive impact for them.

      • I used to have a watch with a solar panel on or right under the crystal, I for get which. It kept the watch running all the time. As I recall, the instructions said it worked best in sunlight but indoor lights would work as well.

        I know I never had any problems with it until I accidentally ran over it with a lawn mower. Somehow, that seemed bad for it.

        • Do you remember what the brand of the watch was? That’s an unfortunate end to a nice timepiece. At least it wasn’t on your wrist at the time.

          • I th8in it was a Casio. It’s been some years ago, over 20. Fortunately, I had the watch in my pocket because I was afraid the vibration from the power mower might damage the watch.

            It fell from my pocket and the first I knew of it was when I spotted pieces of the band in the cut grass.

            I have a different Casio now that claims to have a ten-years battery life. I think I’m now on 6 years and counting.

  2. Here it is, via Gizmodo: http://gizmodo.com/new-crystal-clear-solar-cells-could-power-your-smartpho-1624403522

    “A team of researchers from Michigan State University has developed a completely transparent, luminescent solar concentrator”

    http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2014/solar-energy-that-doesnt-block-the-view/

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