Watching the P&S modcast on Travel and Security (thank you Riafdnal), the subject of solar panel chargers came up. The last thread on it here is about 2 years old, so I'm wondering what the latest and greatest is. My use, in order of priority would be phone, batteries, other electronics. My environment would be hiking, all day events (working the Marathon) and power outages (secondary to generator).

I'm hoping for first hand use, because the on line reviews are all over the place and there's no way to tell if the negative ones are product or user issues.

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Original Post

It's funny that you posted this.  After reading that same thread earlier I started to research solar panels for USB power and to charge a big USB battery that we use for cellphones, iPads, etc. 

I found Goal Zero which seems to be well reviewed and also on Amazon a brand called Anker.  It has a lot of reviews. 

I'm looking forward to the inevitable learnin' from a Lightfighter expert.

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I have a Luminaid which works very well for me.

It's an inflatable LED lamp, but the larger of the two also has a USB port. Solar panel works as well as  any I've seen, charges if there is any light at all. This is small, so we're talking phone topping off not running a set of HTs, but I carry it a lot when outdoors now. 


To above references: 

Goal Zero always seemed overbuilt. Too complex and heavy for me to consider.

Anker is a long-time maker of accessories like USB batteries for recharging. Reputable generally, no experience with their solar products. 

Goal zero was hot stuff a few years ago but they aren't the best at anything anymore. Google reviews by Outdoor Gear Lab and they will break down the pro's and con's of all the latest panels. Anker is pretty solid.


Renology E Flex panels are cheap, fairly light and get very good reviews. I've used them a couple of times just to test them out and they seem to do the same as an older Goal Zero panel I have, and with a lot less weight and cost. I do not have extensive experience with any of them, just my 2 cents.

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My only experience is with a 20w goal zero panel. never really used it except for one time...   The battery on my Jeep had died because I had left the Cell phone booster on, and I did not notice because I rarely drove my own vehicle back then. it took all day in the full sun, but I was able to get the battery charged enough to start the Jeep.


I have a Anker 3 panel 21w usb charger and it works pretty well.  I use it during week long boy scout camping trips to charge a USB battery pack then charge my phone (or whatever) during the night.   The only disadvantage is that it is a bit large.  

I bought my son the 2 panel 15w solar panel and it seems to work pretty good.   Partner it with a battery pack and it works well.   If I was going to do it again, I would buy the 15w one for myself as I think it is adequate.  

I have had the Goal Zero panels before.   They work well but you are really buying the name.   The Anker ones work just as well (or better) are lighter and cheaper.  



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