A few months ago Blitzwolf sent us the power bank, 2 cables and a solar panel, and asked us to review them. The products seemed interesting, so I thought “why not?” The power bank and the cables have been reviewed a while ago, but since the sun is a prerequisite to test the solar charger I needed to wait until the summer begins.
BLITZWOLF BW-L2 Solar panel review
As of now you can buy the solar charger for $37.99 USD. This gets you is a solar panel, 2 stock cables (that I replaced them with the higher-quality braided cables), and 2 small carabiners that can be used to attach the panel to, for example, your hiking backpack. The weight of the panel is 350 grams, or a little less than 9 ounces: manageable.
But the main question is: does it actually work? Can it charge gadgets? I packed it into my backpack next to my lunch, and headed to the beach after work.
Testing BW-L2 in the evening sun
It was a little after 5 PM when I got to the testing ground – the post-work downtown rush held me back a little. I picked English Bay beach as the location: it is on the Western side of Vancouver, which gives it the maximum sun coverage. It was a very bright and hot day, which meant that the test results would likely be as accurate as possible. I parked, walked down to the rocky area and commenced the process. The two devices that I wanted to test-charge were the power bank that they sent me and my smartphone. I also brought the voltage meter so that I can provide the more exact measuring.
I found a well-lit place for the panel and commenced the test.
- Material is sturdy and the build is high-quality
- The panel is reasonably lightweight and manageable
- There do not seem to be any immediate concerns with the damage susceptibility
The panel is held together with the velcro straps, which I didn't like because they are prone to wear, but I understand why they went with them instead of simple buttons – soft velcro reduces the amount of hard materials used which decreases the chance of cracking the panels. Inside we have a pocket with the velcro lock with 2 USB outlets. Based on the result of the test, I did not see any difference in the amount of power coming from either outlet.
Results of the charging test
The panel is giving out the promised 5V of power, and even a little more: I saw between 5.06 and 5.13V readings on the meter. Realistically, it is able to charge a 3,200 mAh battery in about 2.5 hours as long as the weather is decent (for example, iPhone 7 Plus battery is 2900 mAh so it will take even less). The solar panel is able to work in either sunny conditions or with periodical clouds.
Pro's and con's
- Actually works (I admit: I was skeptical at first)
- Reasonably priced and efficient
- Has a waterproof layer
- The USB module inside ins awkwardly situated
- The inside pocket is small and can't fit too many gadgets
- Velcro lock on the inside pocket is also small and doesn't prevent the gadgets from falling out – should've been a full length instead of a patch
This solar panel has really impressed me. It is easy to use, the loops let it conveniently be attached to the backpack, and the quality and company reputation speaks for itself. In addition to this it has a waterproofing layer to protect it and whatever is inside from the mist and light rain, and the USB ports allow you to charge at least 2 gadgets at once (more if you plug a USB hub into it). The ~23% efficiency in this price range is a rarity as well.
The only caveat for me was the pocket inside with a small velcro patch. But if need be, a top portion of the case can be spliced and I can add a thin zipper onto it to make up for the small capacity. It's more manageable if the panel is kept stationary. Which was the intended position for it anyway – for the more mobile people there are solar power banks.
With a reasonable amount of pleasure I will be using this solar panel during the longer camping trips (and rips) this summer, and will be doing it whenever else that a need for it will arise. Sadly, power outages still happen in my area.