10 watt folding solar panel, weighing around 600g with 2 charging options – 5v usb or 12v, allegedly capable of charging laptops, as well as mobile phones, ipods and other portable electronics. The panel comes with adapters for all main phones and laptops. Optional extras include the Power Gorilla, a battery pack which transfers stored energy to your chosen device. This adds extra cost/weight to the set-up, so I only use the panel to charge the device directly.
Robust rubberised structure, compact folding and comes with its own storage bag.
I took the panel to Germany in September on a cycle tour and successfully charged my Nokia phone whilst static on a campsite from flat to full in around 3 hours of bright sunlight. I also tried to charge the phone whilst on the move, but had problems. The panel worked fine until it hit a shadow and then it went into reverse charge and began to drain the phone battery. This continued even when I’d gone back into the sunlight.
I called the manufacturers (Power Traveller) when I got home and it turned out that I’d bought one of the first generation of panels which didn’t have anything to protect them against reverse charging. They offered me a new panel, or a ‘solar nut’. I opted for a ‘solar nut’ which supposedly protects against reverse charging and stores energy for release when in shadow. Unfortunately, this solar nut only works with the USB, not the 12v charger, so ultimately they sent me a new panel. This was good on their part, but bad in environmental terms, since the old panel I sent back will presumably end up in landfill and since solar energy is eco-friendly, the contradictions are obvious.
In April 201o I toured Europe for 3.5 months (www.farewellburt.wordpress.com) and took the laptop. To be honest, the Gorilla was pretty useless at charging the laptop, increasing its battery life by only 3% after a day in the sun. The laptop in question is a 40w Samsung N120.
I also carried a Samsung digital camera with a 5v USB charger and the panel charged this with no issues.
In terms of using the Solar Gorilla as a cycle touring accessory, the only other issue I had was mounting it on the bike. On the rear rack, it was hard to keep it fully unfolded because of other stuff on the rack (panniers, etc..). On the front, a rack rather than lowriders would be preferable I think, so that you can mount it on top. I have used it on my xtracycle and it fits on the snapdeck really well.
If buying a Solar Gorilla second hand, avoid the mark one version for reasons outlined above.
I bought this panel because of my previous negative experiences with the Freeloader solar charger. I wanted something which could keep my electronics charged on the road.
After the European tour, I can say with some confidence that the Solar Gorilla is fine for 5v USB charging, but very dubious when it comes to 12v charging (items such as laptops). The panel cost me £135. For £25 I can buy a USB charger on ebay that will run off my hub dynamo. I’ll leave you to reach your own conclusions about the cost effectiveness of this product.
Additional reviews (quite interesting) from Amazon>>
Manufacturer’s website>> Power Traveller
Charging Digital Cameras from a Solar Panel>>
Here’s an interesting link I found on Solar Panel/Digital Camera compatibility