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SolarCru – The smallest and lightest foldable solar panel for outdoor

For those looking for the latest in portable solar power, the SolarCru foldable solar charger is a new option for solar power on the go.  Let’s take an in-depth look at the product.

SolarCru solar panels are intended for use as a lightweight method of charging small devices. It can be folded and secured with a magnetic closure when not in use but it can also be hooked to a bag so you can charge even when you’re on the move. The surface is scratch resistant and water resistant to increase durability.

A built-in chip offers protection against overcharge and maximizes battery life. A weather and water resistant canvas covering helps protect the foldable solar panel against the elements. You have the added option of wall charging via USB for added convenience.

Review and discussion – Is it really worth it?

Although marketed as ultra-resistant, rugged and durable, SolarCru is coated with PET laminated panels. PET (polyester based plastic) materials have half the lifespan compared to ETFE coating, a fluorine-based polymer also used as a coating for flexible solar panels.

A single SolarCru panel on its own claims to take close to 4 hours to fully charge a phone and 7.5 hours to charge a tablet, making it difficult to charge larger devices without investing in multiple panels, which in turn takes up more space and weighs more than a single panel. And while it can efficiently charge small devices, it cannot charge larger devices such as a laptop. However, as different devices have batteries of different capacities, these numbers are a general estimate and intended to be a guide for charging times while utilizing solar energy.

Without the external battery, the Solarcru panel can only charge devices with solar energy and cannot store power for later use. The description of the product admits it charges low wattage devices adequately with the external battery pack, implying performance may be less than adequate without the upgraded version. However, even with the upgraded version, is a battery of 2000 mAh is suitable for fully charging higher wattage devices such as smartphones and tablets? Let’s take a closer look at the charging capacity the upgraded SolarCru’s battery can provide.

The upgraded SolarCru comes with a 2000mAh battery. The unit mAh (milliamp per hour) is a way to measure the energy capacity of a battery. As a rule of thumb, you need at least the equivalent of the battery size you are charging for a full charge. If you are charging a typical smartphone, the mAh of the battery can often range from 1800-3000 mAh meaning a 2000 mAh battery may not store enough power for even one full charge if the battery capacity of your phone is above 2000 mAh.  Not to mention tablets which come with an average battery capacity ranging between 4000 mAh to over 10000 mAh.

Constructed from mono-crystalline panels, the higher purity of the silicone promises greater efficiency and smaller space needed than comparable materials such as polycrystalline. The fluoropolymer film’s optical properties and resistance to weathering and ultraviolet degradation certainly are more efficient than glass, however, the claim of effectively harvesting solar energy in the shade needs to be more clearly defined. The use of fluoropolymer is certainly better when it comes to protecting the solar panel from moisture and atmospheric contaminants that would reduce its lifespan.

However, cloud coverage does not prevent solar panels from harvesting sunlight for energy, it may simply cause them to function with less efficiency. It also depends on the level of cloud coverage and the type of cloud, as sunlight reflecting off cumulus clouds can actually produce more solar energy than direct sunlight, while heavy cloud coverage could reduce solar panels’ efficiency by fifty percent or more.

Wrap-up

All things considered, after taking an in depth look at the specs of the SolarCru portable solar charger, it is a lightweight and portable alternative to many comparable products if you are only charging small devices and are not relying on it to charge devices quickly.

The capacity of the battery makes it adequate to charge low wattage devices but may not be enough to fully charge some of the devices offered as examples, such as smartphones or tablets. If you are looking for a speedy and more efficient charge time, combining the weight of the SolarCru with the additional panels, you’re looking at over two pounds and a much higher price.

At that point, there are many competing products at the market, such as this one, that offer a faster charging experience at a lower weight for a more reasonable price.

Charge your devices using solar power, with an integrated battery.
Charge your devices using solar power, with an integrated battery.
This campaign is now on funding on Kickstarter.
$29 $79
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8 Total Score
SolarCru Solar Panel

Ratings (rate yours)
8
PROS
  • - Scratch resistant and water resistant
  • - Prevent overcharging
  • - lightweight and foldable
  • - Affordable
CONS
  • - PET materials
  • - Not for larger devices such as a laptop
  • - Cannot store power for later
  • - Small battery capacity
User Rating: 2.5 (2 votes)
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