I recently wrote about my experience with recent hurricanes in the state of New Jersey. It’s not fun losing power and keeping your tablets and smartphones powered is critical. I recently took a first hand look at the Anker 14W Solar Charger with PowerIQ Technology.
My reason for purchase was a simple one which is the need to power my devices in the event of an extended power outage. You see, after Hurricane Sandy, some New Jersey residents were without power for up to a few weeks. While extended batteries such as the Anker 2nd Gen Astro E4 Battery will provide several charges to your devices, you will eventually need to power those batteries. If I had a solar powered charger then that would allow me to charge my devices without worrying about when the electricity would be restored.
The Anker 14W Solar Charger has four solar panels attached to a canvas cover. Within a fifth foldout panel is tucked a dual port power charger. This is where you plug in your devices using your own USB cables (Micro USB for most devices except Apple which will use the lightning adapter). When folded up and not in use the size is fairly compact at 11 × 6.9 inches. When in use, the size is much larger, in fact it’s roughly 3 feet long. You need to lay it out where the solar panels can see the sun. There are a series of eyelets sewed within the panels to allow you to hang it from a hook or a carry it on a clip.
Hurricane Joaquin was making tracks towards the new Jersey coast a few weeks ago. It’s was time for me to finally check out the solar option and that’s where my interest in this product came to be. I immediately noticed that the red light indicator on the charger portion of the panels would only stay lit when the panels were exposed to light. So right out of the box, there isn’t enough power to use the charger immediately. Not a shortcoming, but worth noting in case there are expectations that it’s ready to charge your devices as soon as you open the box.
The next morning, I placed the solar charger out on the deck facing the sun and left it outside for the day. Later that day, I attached my devices. The red light was lit and it powered my iPhone 5s just fine. When I went to use it again the next day, the red light wasn’t lit and I realized why this is best for campers and outdoor use. Unlike a battery which stores the power in lithium cells, this doesn’t possess that ability. There aren’t any significant storage capabilities built into the devices. It’s meant to use outside and it quite capably provides adequate power for mobile devices, but not long term.
So the best way to use these during a disaster is to attach your devices or lithium batteries to the solar panels while they are outside. Let the batteries charge up during the day and then draw upon them in the evenings or when there is no sun due to inclement weather.
Coupled with lithium batteries, the Anker 14W Solar Charger with PowerIQ Technology is a nice accompaniment for extended power outages. While Hurricane Joaquin luckily made a right turn towards the ocean negating my immediate need for solar power, it was a good feeling to know that I had a backup power source for my devices.