Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Prudent Prepping: Solar Panel Test Part 3

The dust has settled and the First 72 Hours have passed. Now we concentrate  on what to do in, and how to plan for, the long term via Prudent Prepping.

Solar Panel Test Part 3
Finally, Just Right!

Here comes the third and (I think) final installment of the Great BCP Solar Recharger Saga.

This is the Bushnell SolarWrap Mini. The name Bushnell should be familiar to outdoor sport enthusiasts from their history of producing a long line of optics, from binoculars, scopes and rangefinders, to new products like their LED camp lights. Their selection of solar panels is not as wide as Goal Zero, but seem to have an equal number of models designed to charge portable devices.

Shown in the picture is the SolarWrap Mini and its optional USB power cord. The Sharpie is there to indicate scale.

From the Bushnell website:
Weight: 3.1 oz
Size: 4.3" x 1.25"
Deployed Length: 18.25"
Wall Charging: 4 hrs
Solar Charging: 10 hrs
USB outlets: 1
Power Output: 5v, 1a
Battery: Li-Ion

The Test
Unrolled, showing the protective end covers
This charger is much more simple than the Goal Zero that I previously tested (and is borrowed from the same friend). The panel itself is a flexible material which allows it to be rolled up and stored in a very compact space. The SolarWrap Mini is said to be able to collect energy in less than ideal conditions and work without a perfect angle to the sun.

Since the SolarWrap is so small and light, I hung it on the edge of a table facing dead south, first thing Sunday morning . This did not fully charge the internal battery so the charger was hanging again Monday morning to top off the battery.

I allowed my iPhone to run down to 22% Monday and plugged it in to the SolarWrap with the Standard USB port (opposite end from the indicator light) about 8 PM and allowed it to run until full. It was still going when I went to bed at 11, so I do not know exactly how long it takes to bring my 4S to 100%, but it was complete by the next morning.

Red charging indicator light
The SolarWrap Mini does not have the ability to charge multiple items or chain connect several panels together, but for the light-weight camper, or the Get Home/Bug Out Bag user that just needs to charge a phone, this seems like a great fit.

An option worth considering is the AA battery charger seen here. This add-on costs more than the panel, but makes the kit much more versatile with the ability to recharge AA batteries used in small flashlights and other common devices.

I really like this charger!

The Good

  • Light weight 
  • Compact size 
  • Flexible panel is difficult to break
  • Buy it new on Amazon for approx. $50 

The Not So Good

  • Nothing I can think of in the time I had to test it.

For my intended use (and budget), this charger is near perfect! I have to give the Bushnell SolarWrap Mini 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

As always, if you have comments, suggestions or corrections, please post them so we all can learn. And remember, Some Is Always Better Than None!

NOTE: All items tested were purchased be me. No products have been loaned in exchange for a favorable review. Any items sent to me for T&E will be listed as such. Suck it Feds.

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