> TEOTWAWKI Blog: Folding Solar Panel Test



Folding Solar Panel Test

So I did have some time to get the new panel out and give it a very basic run through. My iPod touch was completely drained/dead, so it became the test subject. I set the panel up and plugged it in--tada, the iPod was instantly charging. I left it to charge for about 2 hours, in which time it went from completely dead to about 2/3rds charged. Not bad. I also tried to charge my PowerMate 400 (car jumpstarter/inverter/compressor thing), but it didn't appear that the panel was putting out enough power to charge it. I had to run some errands, so that was the extent of the testing for today.

The panel works as intended and is fairly fool proof. Plug the correct connector into the panel (the panel has some kind trailer-type electric hook-up), plug your car charger into that and then charge as normal. Position is important--the iPod charged faster when the panel was in a better position relative to the sun. It started out in an ideal position and went from 0% to over 50% in the first hour of charging. In the second hour, the sun had moved and the panel was no longer in as good of a position--it charged only about 15 to 20% in that time.

Now some pictures. First up is the panel folded up. It's quite compact--about the size of a folder or large day planner. Weight is around a pound.

Panel unfolded and ready to start charging. The panels are flexible and made to take a beating--apparently they will work even with a bullet hole! This model is rated for 12.5 watts.

Finally, a close up of the connector. I've got a dual USB charger plugged into the 12VDC adapter. I haven't tried two devices at one time--not sure how it would cope! Probably fine.

Overall, I'm pretty happy! It's lightweight, portable, completely silent and completely renewable. Being able to give an iPod/cell phone a good charge in 2 hours is pretty great.

For the weight and capability, a folding solar panel is a no-brainer to add to any set up where you plan to support portable electronics (phones, radios, NVDs, GPS, flashlights, etc.).  I will continue to put it through its paces. Now I need to get an inventory of rechargeable batteries and a 12VDC battery charger.

This particular panel is a "P3" model made by Global Solar; Sunlinq is I believe their equivalent civy brand. They're usually quite pricey, but deals are out there on eBay. If you're okay with paying full-retail, you can get the Sunlinq 12 watt panel on Amazon for about $170. If you want the camo/military model, Ready Made Resources has several of the P3 models in stock (starting at $300!).