Having power on the go is nice, but being able to charge up when no other means are available… That’s essential!
I’ve wanted to have a good solar charger for a long time and had my eye on the Goal Zero Nomad 20 for a while, but at it’s $199 price tag, it was just too expensive for my budget. I thought I was settling on the 21 watt Anker Powerport Solar Charger initially since it was only $60, but after three months of use, I have to say that it’s been one of the handiest ways to keep charged up when I’m out.
The 21 watt Anker PowerPort Solar Charger has been the perfect charger for my phones, batteries and portable power packs!
I’ve wanted to have a good solar charger for a long time and had my eye on the Goal Zero Nomad 20 for a while, but at it’s $199 price tag, it was just too expensive for my budget. I thought I was settling on the 21 watt Anker Powerport Solar Charger initially since it was only $60, but after three months of use, I have to say that it’s been one of the handiest ways to keep charged up when I’m out. The Anker is a three panel solar charger that provides a metered 2.4 amps using either one of it’s two USB charging ports, or a total of 3.0 amps if you are using both ports at once. This means that if you have a power hungry Samsung Note 3/4 or iPhone 6/6+ or iPad, you’ll get a faster charge if you only use one of the two ports.
I have a Samsung 6S, and when the battery is around 3% the Anker charger will fully charge the battery in about 4 hours under full sunlight – that’s about the same amount of time needed from a wall charger. When I have my wife’s iPhone 6 plugged in at the same time, it took almost 10 hours, but the sun dropped below the tree line for the last hour and a half, so I don’t know if that’s a good test. She hasn’t let me borrow her phone for that long since, so I haven’t been able to re-test. Additionally, we both kept picking up our phones to check emails and send/receive texts during the day.
Best Way To Use The Anker PowerPort Solar Charger
The Anker doesn’t have a portable battery charger built in, so if you just leave it in the sun, you’re not harnessing any power. I’ve found that the best way to fully utilize the solar charger is to use it during the day to charge your portable battery packs. I leave the charger on the dashboard of my car while at work, or on the rear deck behind the tinted window if I’m worried about theft. I have two MicroUSB 3 foot cords running from the solar charger to the power packs.
I have the two Anker Powercore 21000‘s that we looked at last year as well as a new addition: The Anker PowerCore+ 26,800mAH portable charger. I also have six cheap PocketJuice 2000mAH Portable Chargers in my laptop bag as well, but those I don’t normally charge from the solar panel. My wife and I have started using the battery packs to charge most of the USB powered devices in the house rather than using the wall plug chargers. It may not do much for the electricity bill, nor save the earth much, but it’s really cool to charge up for free and feels good to know you’re using a free and limitless source of power.
Charging up a battery pack that can store the charge makes a lot more sense if you plan on relying on the solar charger. On overcast days, you might not be able to get a phone to charge more than half way if it was directly plugged into the solar panels, so having the portable powerpacks ensures that you can charge up fully when needed. You can let your battery packs take a bit longer charging because most phones will stay charged for 7 hours or more on a single charge, and the Ankers we have above will provide two complete charges for both my wife’s phone and my own before needing to be recharged itself.
Anker PowerPort Solar Charger Storage
We usually leave the Anker in the bay window on the south side of our house to get sunlight all day long, but there are times when it does sit on the dash or rear deck of the car. When it’s not in use — and that’s not that often, it will go into a custom made leather sleeve that my uncle who is a leather craftsman made for me. The leather sleeve has a flap that folds over, and two large eyelets so that the pack can be mounted to a backpack with carabiners. When we’re hiking, I’ll sometimes drape the solar panels over my backpack so we can charge up while we’re walking around. Other than that, there’s really no other way that I store the panels. They’re supposedly weatherproof to an extent, but I’ve never used the Anker in the elements — Because there hasn’t been a need to do so yet.
Other USB chargers that I’ve used on the Anker Powerport
I also purchased a AAA / AA USB charger so we can use the powerbanks and solar charger to charge our AA and AAA batteries. It’s a Powerex 4 cell battery charger. I’ve found that it takes about 3-4 hours to charge four AA cells and about2-3 hours to charge four AAA cells when charging directly from the solar charger using one port only (no other devices attached).
I have five 6LED USB Lights as well for general and emergency use. These are really low drain lights, and perfect for camping, around the house at night or any other use where you need a lot of light within a 10 to 20 foot area. I haven’t been able to drain one of the Powercores using these LED lights yet. They were on over 36 hours and I still had over 75% battery power left, and I had two of them in at full brightness.
Nitecore UM20 Li-Ion USB Charger – Well… you gotta have some way to recharge those flashlight batteries if the power is out! Works for 18650/18490/18350/17670/17500/16340/14500/10440 cells and charges two 18650 cells in about 4-6 hours or two 10440 cells in about 2 hours from the solar panel alone.