Solar technology products are becoming increasingly popular every year as top manufacturers release new ways to harness the Sun’s power. While shopping at Amazon recently, we discovered that XTG Technology has released an innovative solar charger which not only charges you AAA or AA batteries but also can recharge any device which is compatible with USB.
The Apple iPhone 4 and Amazon Kindle 3G are just a sampling of products which can be recharged over a standard 5.0Vdc USB cable. In this review, we will examine all the functions of the XTG-SLRBC solar battery charger. Here are a few questions that we will answer for you: Will we be able to fully recharge a Choiix 10whr Power Fort with this XTG Solar Charger? How quickly will this solar product recharge 4 AA Sony Cycle Energy Ni-Mh batteries? How durable is this essential piece of emergency survival gear? Read On To Find Out!
PACKAGING AND INITIAL IMPRESSIONS
The AA solar charger from XTG comes in a large sealed plastic container which was designed to hang from a retail rack or even sit along on a shelf in a store. Strangely, the solar cells were not shown in the container because they are located underneath the hinged cover. I felt this was a poor marketing decision by XTG because buyers want to see the solar panels when shopping for their AA or AAA battery charger. Inside the package you will find the charger, an instruction manual and USB cable for connecting your mobile devices.
The batteries are stored underneath a special plastic battery cover. You can choose to charge with the cover off for rapid removal but I choose to use the XTG-SLRBC as a standalone cell phone battery charger instead and left them inside.
The USB ports in the front of the charger serve two purposes. The USB A port is used for charging cellular phones or a Nintendo DSi XL. The Mini-B USB port is used for recharging the batteries inside this charger from a laptop computer or even a cigarette lighter charger. The versatility of charging options makes this emergency solar charger a must for any hurricane survival kit.
The instruction manual for this portable camping solar battery charger is very detailed. You will complete coverage all functions of this product including some helpful troubleshooting tips. To help anyone looking for the XTG-SLRBC instruction manual on the Internet, we are providing this digital image.
The provided instruction manual claims that you could fully recharge four NiMh batteries in two days of full sunlight. The USB charging rate for your portable devices like the Amazon Kindle 3G is listed as 350ma. I was very interested in testing this device thoroughly before giving it any sort of endorsement from BayReviews. The following are the results of a suite of detailed scientific tests.
AA Sony Cycle Energy Charge Time
To test the charging capabilities of this product, I used the best NiMh AA batteries on the market today, four Sony Cycle Energy 2100 mAh. I also have a great solar testing area in my backyard, a 10ft high, galvanized steel, solar rack which gives any device full exposure to the sun in an elevated position. Since this testing occurred on July 17, 2011, the daily solar output was close to its peak and will aid in discovering how long it actually takes to get a full charge on these Sony NH-AA-B4K batteries.
The XTG charger was placed on the steel rack at 7:00 am and adjusted periodically during the day to gain the most power. Overall the day was only partially cloudy all the way into the afternoon. At 11:55 am, I checked the charger and it showed a green light when the battery indicator button was pressed. So, we can conclude in full sun conditions that it takes less than 5 hours to get a full charge. Of course this was in Lake Charles, Louisiana, one of the closest spots in the United States to the equator. Your results may vary wildly depending on elevation and proximity to the equator where the sun is the most intense.
Choiix Power Fort USB Charge Time
Using the same 4 Sony Cycle Energy batteries, a charge was started on a completely drained Choiix 10Whr Power Fort USB Lithium Ion Battery. The charge began at 8:05 am and stopped at 3:35 pm with the Choiix Lithium Battery reporting a 75% state of charge and in a darkened computer workshop to keep stray sunlight from affecting the results.. When I pressed the battery button switch after the charging appeared to have slowed down, I got no reading on any of the LEDs. If all the LEDs are off or they display red then the charger unit is indicating a recharge is needed or the batteries should be replaced. I recommend checking this indicator frequently while charging a cell phone because the unit will tend to continue attempting a partial charge burst that will trick your Apple iPhone 4 into thinking a charge is still occurring.
I was not surprised that the massive Lithium-Ion battery would only be able to pull a partial charge from the XTG solar charger. The 4 Ni-MH batteries only had 2100 mAh of capacity which was almost the same capacity of the Choiix USB Power Fort. You will always have a DC conversion loss when moving power between two batteries. The remarkable fact about this apparently simplistic piece of survival gear is that the electronics inside were able to fully deplete the four AA NiMh batteries. The feature allows for full consumption of the onboard power with no guess games when trying to get your USB device fully charged.
You should also take note that the USB charging feature will benefit greatly from being exposed to the Sun while recharging. In fact, I predict that you could actually fully charge a Choiix Power Fort 10Whr fully if it were charged with the XTG Solar outdoors in full sunlight for 6 hours.
POTENTIAL POINT OF FAILURE
While I keep recommending this for your survival kit, I must caution that the XTG Solar Charger has weak points. The entire device is not waterproof and care must be taken to keep it from getting wet or the parts inside will begin to corrode. The USB ports on the AA battery charger are also obviously not the highest quality so you should not put unneeded pressure on them or they may break. Still, I have had this device for two months and have had no failures in its operation yet.
I only needed 5 hours for a full recharge on 4 fully drained batteries. I find this fact very impressive for any charger. I have personally tested three of these devices and have yet to get similar results from any other AA charger.
You could call the XTG-SLRBC Solar the ultimate December 21 2012 survival device since it offers a combination of AA, AAA and USB charging capabilities in a small package that is very portable. Yes, it does take a long time to recharge a set of Sony Cycle Energy 2100 mAh batteries but thanks to the large solar panels on the XTG Solar Charger it works much better than other models on the market today. To give me more portable power charging capabilities, I have decided to purchase two more of these low cost USB charging units and place them in my hurricane survival kit for use in emergencies.
The XTG Technology SLRBC Solar Charger for AA or AAA batteries offers the ability to also recharge your cell phone which makes it an essential part of your hurricane or survival kit!
USB charging, eco-friendly and charges in less than 5 hours in full sun!
Small solar cells restrict the potential of this AA or AAA battery charger.