13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Performs very well,
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This review is from: Powertraveller Solargorilla 5V and 20V Solar Portable Charger (Electronics)
I've used the Solar Gorilla for four months and thought it was time to share my experience.
The Solar Gorilla was bought to charge several of my portable batteries. These batteries are then used to charge a multitude of low voltage devices (5V-12V) which, at the moment, seemed to be permanently plugged into the mains. This procedure may seem rather cumbersome, but many of these low voltage devices appear to be rather sensitive to the fluctuating output of a solar panel. Batteries, on the other hand, are not so fussy and can provide a stable charge to the low voltage devices without any problems. Clearly the cost effectiveness of this procedure does not enter into the equation. I just like the idea of running all those bits and pieces off "sunshine".
The first problem that had to be overcome was the issue of the different charge requirements for all the different batteries (5V-18V). Most of the portable size solar panels only have one output voltage. The Solar Gorilla, although quiet expensive, does seem to cover my requirements. It provides 5V and a 20V variable output.
To get the best out of the panel I strapped it to an old camera tripod and adjusted it to be at 90 degrees to the sun. I was pleasantly surprised to find that all the batteries were happy with the output. The 20V output seems to adjust itself to the best requirement of a battery. On a clear day the panel provided 300-500mA, depending on the voltage. On an average dull day it still provide a useful 100mA.
To continuously get the maximum out of the panel the tripod had to be readjusted every hour to face the sun. Clearly that is not a practical solution. To resolve the issue I built a clockwork solar tracker on which I could mount the Solar Gorilla. This is a device that would faithfully track the sun across the sky without consuming any of the carefully harvested energy. Now I just place the tracker outside in the morning and bring it back in evening. It's a much better solution. With this arrangement any one battery can be fully charged in two to three days, depending on the weather. Talking about the weather, the panel did get wet a few times and has not shown any detrimental effects. Probably because the output ports, which are not waterproof, are facing downwards.
Since I've had the Solar Gorilla none of my low voltage gadgets have been plugged into the mains and I find that very satisfying.
If I'm so pleased with the Solar Gorilla you may ask why I only gave it four stars. It has one cosmetic flaw. After two months of continued use I notice the part of the casing that is always pointing towards the sun started to become sticky accumulating a lot of dust. The sticky stuff wouldn't wipe off with either a wet or dry cloth. I emailed Powertraveller describing the problem. When I didn't get a reply after a week I tried to remove the sticky stuff with various chemicals and eventually found that methylated spirit did the trick. It removed the sticky stuff and revealed the shiny base layer underneath. It appears that the top layer (the cosmetic layer that gives it the matt look) is breaking down when continuously exposed to full face sunlight. Once all the sticky stuff around the front of the panel is removed the case looks well worn but it has not been affected in any other way. For something that is suppose to be exposed to the sun this should not happen. A few days later a received a reply from Powertraveller offering an exchange. I declined the offer as I was of the opinion that the problem was an inherent design fault and the exchange unit would probably exhibit the same fault within a few months. As it is only a cosmetic issue and the panel that I have is working well I decided to keep it.