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Forclaz 10w portable solar charger review

A lightweight solar panel for charging mobile devices when you're out walking or camping. Plus we look at power banks for storing solar power

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
Forclaz solar charger and PowerAdd power bank

Our review

Forclaz portable solar panel offers serious charging power on-the-go at a reasonable price.
Pros: Easy to use
Works in overcast conditions (though slowly)
Provides plenty of power over the course of a day
Good value
Cons: Will not always charge a phone directly – hence the need for a power bank

Increasingly smart phones are the walker’s and camper’s friend. With a great camera, online mapping and gps locators, compass and, of course, a phone… The drawback is of course battery life and one of the stresses of camping in particular is trying to eke out battery life. It’s hard to find a plug socket at the bottom of a hedgerow.

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Now imagine a lightweight, energy source that provides a decent charge for free that you can pop in your backpack. A portable solar panel could be the mini power station to transform your days out.

The Forclaz panel has a single hinge and opens to offer a large area to capture sunlight. There are loops for you to connect the panel to the outside of a backpack, a tent or other suitable support. Or you can lean it at an angle. It is waterproof in light showers.

On the back it has a net pocket to hold a battery and an energy transformer so you can plug a USB cable. With 10W of power, in full sunlight it can charge a considerable amount of battery over a sunny day. Even in overcast conditions, the panel gathered an impressive amount of energy.

While the panel will charge a phone directly, it can be inefficient as many phones don’t like the intermittent nature of solar power. When it clouds over, the power drops and the phone may simply refuse to charge. Instead, I use the solar panel to charge a portable charger known as a power bank. Mine is a PowerAdd, which holds 20000 mAH, enough to charge my Android phone four times.

I’ve estimated the Forclaz panel can charge up half of the battery over a day in the sun, (which is two full phone charges). Using these devices, I haven’t charged my phone from the mains for six months though I haven’t calculated the cost savings involved.

What is mAH?

This is milliampere/per hour – a measurement of how much charge a battery can hold. For example, a good AA battery can hold 1500 mAH.

Forclaz Solar Panel

PowerAdd Power Bank

Also consider:

Anker Powercore Solar 20000

This versatile device is a Power Bank that also has a solar panel on one side – plus a decent torch. Its main use is as a store for energy – take it fully charged on a camping trip and it should power multiple devices (via a USB cable) for several days. The solar panel is a useful option but it is not particularly efficient.

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I left the Powercore (fully discharged) out in full sun for about 8 hours and it provided only about 30% charge for my phone. It would take several days of sunshine to fully charge this device – and about 7 hours direct from a plug socket.