Solio charger?

Posted by: TeacherRO

Solio charger? - 03/28/10 03:30 PM

Has anyone tried the Solio charger? Opinions?
Posted by: hikermor

Re: Solio charger? - 03/28/10 06:13 PM

DD has a Solio. It works very well at keeping her iPod charged. With the internal battery, we could hook it up to several other gadgets. It would certainly be useful in an emergency. It does seem to be awfully expensive for what it does. I suspect there may be more cost effective solutions.
Posted by: joost

Re: Solio charger? - 03/28/10 09:53 PM

I was looking at a solio but went for something with more capacity instead: solar gorilla by powertraveller, 20v and 5v USB output. About the size of a small notebook.

I'm going to be spending the next 3 years in the least developed region of a very under-developed country (Guinea Bissau) so I needed something that could supply enough power to keep a small project running.

Based on the research I did before ending up with the solar gorilla: you should take a look at the powerfilm stuff, just about mil-spec, like their USB and AA charger: very small and well-made from what I understand.
Posted by: Alex

Re: Solio charger? - 03/28/10 11:48 PM

I was always puzzled by the solar panels chargers price tags (sometimes even down to a conspiracy theories). I bought 7 scrap pieces of Powerfilm off eBay several years ago for like 6 bucks each (I was not simply lucky - they were selling them for at least a year or so). Each 2"x5" sheet provides 7.2 Volt x 250mA of electrical energy. 7.2*0.25*7 ~= 12 Watt (when connected in parallel). Everything for just $40. They are much more flexible and compact than anything I saw on the market (so compact that I'm EDC'ing them like 90% of my active time).
Posted by: JohnE

Re: Solio charger? - 03/29/10 12:47 AM

I just bought a Powerfilm AA/USB solar charger. It charges 2 batteries at one time. Folds up to a nice small package, seems durable enough. With the correct cable it can be used to charge any number of USB appliances.

Got it at REI with my dividend and the annual 20% discount coupon.

It doesn't have it's own battery like the Solio. I've read varying reviews of the Solio stuff, very "it's good" to not very favorable. All the reviews of the Powerfilm gear that I've seen are very positive. Personally I'd rather have the charger and the batteries in separate pieces.
Posted by: Am_Fear_Liath_Mor

Re: Solio charger? - 03/29/10 12:26 PM

The specifications on the Solio website appear to be somewhat mis-leading with regard to the power outputs of the Solio chargers;

The power outputs appear to be the maximum power output from the Li-ion battery pack built in to the charger can deliver rather than the PV panel capacity. Judging from the size of the panels I doubt that the PV panels supply more than 1-2 Watts if that. As most devices the Solio charger is designed to be used with already have a rechargeable battery, it might be more useful to go for a flexible 6W panel such as the Sunlinq or Brunton 6.5W solar panel costing around $5-10 more. Additional rechargeable battery devices can then be added later if required ranging from AA and AAA battery chargers to equipment specific Li-ion chargers. Many GPS devices require just fresh AA cells and don't have the facility to be recharged via a 12V cigarette auto adapter. To recharge AA cells you would just connect a AA battery charger to the solar panel.

4.5W Silva solar II + Battery charger/Power supply Unit
Posted by: airballrad

Re: Solio charger? - 03/29/10 02:31 PM

I picked up a Solio about 9 months ago; had a gift card burning a hole in my pocket. I haven't done extensive field testing with it, but I used it enough to get a feel for what it needs to function.

It does require pretty direct sunlight to do anything; in less than optimal conditions it will likely take more than a day's sunlight to fully charge from empty. However, I have the internal battery fully charged up from my computer's USB port and after the last 8 months of just sitting around it is still showing 80-100% charge. The main benefit in my mind was the USB connector; since just about every device I would want to charge from this (sadly, netbooks and other laptops are too much for it) has a USB cable, I can rely on this to keep our cell phones, GPS, and even my wife's Kindle viable in a short-term emergency. In the long-term or on an extended backwoods trip it will provide enough juice to keep our com gear running. I even have a AA/AAA charger that runs from a USB port and so is covered if need be.

Posted by: Brangdon

Re: Solio charger? - 04/02/10 01:23 PM

Originally Posted By: IzzyJG99
One thing people don't realize is 90% of these solar chargers on the market require 100% direct sunlight to work I am told. So keep that in mind.
Indeed. I bought the 26 Watt Brunton foldable which was mentioned here recently. I've been testing it by leaving it near a window all day. We've had very little sunlight. Some days it's produced only 60mAHrs of charge; at that rate it'd take a fortnight to charge some AAs.

This is in spring, where at my latitude we're getting around 13 hours of sunlight a day. It'd be worse in winter with around 7 hours per day.
Posted by: airballrad

Re: Solio charger? - 04/02/10 02:32 PM

Originally Posted By: IzzyJG99
One thing people don't realize is 90% of these solar chargers on the market require 100% direct sunlight to work I am told. So keep that in mind.

Touching on this point again, there are times when this is kinda OK. I have a Eton FR150 radio I use as a backup weather radio. It has a little solar panel on the top in addition to its other power sources. I have found that the few hours of sunlight per day it gets sitting in a window is adequate to provide a maintenance charge to keep the battery healthy, which beats having to pull it out and crank it every couple months.