Disclosure. I got one last Christmas as a gift from my nephew. The little guy knows prepping! The other from Ebay for under 8 bucks. LOL!


The backpacker/prepper fantasy. Clip this on your pack and it will provide energy to run your electronics. Sounds great doesn't it?





But how do these assumptions hold up to the field testing. The use of powerbanks has been increasing IMHO due to wide spread use of smart phones and other USB chargeable devices.


For example this little UL lighting system. USB chargeable and surprisingly bright.





With the right kit it's possible to USB charge most rechargeable batteries on the fly for little additional weight.





Those smart devices are hungry for power but not always near a wall outlet.





It is no wonder the allure of forever power for hikers, preppers and everyday life is strong. So let's take a look at these little Ebay gems. Both came with the same short white USB cable and similar little carabiner.





Info found on Ebay as there are many sellers. I believe this gear item is made for various sellers and manufactures. In some ways they appear to be a generic design.


Item listing is for the waterproof 5000mAh solar charger, which comes in a variety of colors. Pick your combination and head out to the wilderness with this portable charger! Charger comes with a top-head flashlight, 1A and 2.1A ports, 4 LED indicator lights, and comes with additional accessories, including a mountaineering clip, a USB-to-micro adapter and one 4-pin adapter. Compatible to any phone as long as adapter has a USB head. Outer-casing is shockproof rubber that secures charger while water-resistant tabs help keep it safe from water. Great for outdoors and useful in most conditions.


Specifications:
Size: 5.5" x 3" x 0.5"
Weight: ~7oz
Solar Panel: 1.2 W
Output: 5V 2.1A
Input: 5V 1A
Durable, waterproof, shockproof
Compatibility: All smartphones
What You Get:
1 x Solar Charger
1 x Mountaineering Buckle
1 x USB-to-Micro Cable
1 x 30 pin Adapter
Important Notes! (***Please Read!!!!***):
Lightning adapter for iPhone 5-6 and A/C power plug is not included with this product!
Solar charging is supplemental and shouldn't be used as primary form of charge.
To find lightning adapter, look for an iPhone 5-6 charging cable:

There is a wide price range. I have seen these from under 7 dollars shipped to 30. So shop around. It has been my experience cheap electronics on Ebay often has exaggerated stats. So how does these stack up during use. The Blue one has been used for 7 months. The Yellow is newer as wanted to verify a power anomaly with the Blue.


There are two USB ports for output and one micro USB port for input.








The micro USB port. The outer rubber easily peals back. There is a visible seam underneath so I question the weather resistant/waterproof claims. Also the USB flaps often don't remain closed. That said the rating is IPX-4 which is basically splash resistant. I don't bother testing IPX-4 ratings as basically consider it as not weather resistant. On the flip side I have accidentally dropped the yellow one and it survived. But on the double flip side I did pull off a USB flap as it's easy to accidentally grasp during removal of the USB cord. A little super glue took care of it.





The 5mm LED isn't all that bright however does work. The UI for the Blue is a double click for on or off. The Yellow it is a long hold of the power button. Despite being different both UIs take into account the possibility of accidental activation of the illumination LED. I think the solar panel could potentially add enough power to the battery for reasonable operation of the LED if it was dependent on solar power alone but never fully tested that aspect.





Testing performance.


Checking the capacity of the lithium polymer battery which is stated at 5000 mAh. Odds are even if accurate that rating would be 5000 mAh at 3.7 nominal volts. To charge and operate USB devices it would need to be converted into 5 volts. So there is going to be a hit when USB 5 volt power is actually used. Also loss comes from resistance of the cables, inefficiency of the circuit etc etc etc. For me the best way to judge battery capacity is to compare actual performance charging my devices. The device used was an iPad Air 2. The battery is rated for 7,340 mAh though not sure how it has held up over a year. I used an average of multiple tests from various starting levels of charge. Naturally a rounding occurs as there are no fractions within the percentage shown on the screen. The increase % reflects how much gain was added to the iPad Air 2.


Nitecore F1 with a stated 3500 mAh naked Sanyo red resulted in a 23.5% increase.


MyCharge Rugged Power with a stated 5200 mAh resulted in a 40% increase.


MyCharge Thin silver stated 3000 mAh resulted in a 26% increase.


MyCharge Rugged power 3000 mAh resulted in a 22% increase.


Pocket Juice black round stated 4000 mAh resulted in a 34% increase.


Pocket Juice black flat stated 4000 mAh resulted in a 31% increase.


Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus with stated 4XAA 2500 mAh NiMH resulted in a 23.5% increase.


Anker round stated 3200 mAh resulted in a 24% increase.


Square 5 dollar black stated 2000 mAh resulted in a 10% increase.


How did the Ebay solar power banks compare?


Blue solar power bank stated 5000 mAh resulted in a 32.5% increase.


Yellow solar power bank stated 5000 mAh resulted in a 27% increase.


There is an inconsistency between the two however good enough performance for the money IMHO. They seemed more comparable to the stated 4000 mAh power banks tested. The Sanyo 3500 mAh 18650 is a known quantity so am fairly sure the Ebay solar power banks are more than 3500 mAh at 3.7 nominal volts but not 5000 mAh as stated.


How was the solar charging? The rate listed is 5 volts/200mA which implies a 1 watt panel. However the panels look a bit different than some photos of similar chargers seen online. Aw heck even between the two they don't look identical. I think it's actually 5 volts, 0.8 watts 160 mA. Maybe they changed it or perhaps I don't know?


https://www.aliexpress.com/item/5V-0...0023.13.cq6MmY


To test the panel I used my phone as the target device with a 1642 mAh battery. My roll playing survival situation (love that phrase!) was an ER in which I have to charge the battery of my phone using one day's worth of sunlight. Basically how much can I push the phone up during a day of charging. Yea know... I am lost in the woods and need power! Sometimes a phone can send out a signal even if there isn't enough reception to complete the call if I am reading various survival stories correctly. Also smart devices have more functions than just the phone. In any case here is the testing.


I positioned the solar power bank for the most direct exposure to sunlight. Then moved it around 15 degrees every hour (best guess) to adjust for the changing sunlight.





The green light indicates solar charging. The yellow power bank has one less LED light and the first one turns red when solar charging.








The results were rather poor however I expected that. A 10% increase in my phone was the best I could muster in 6 hours of solar charging if doing everything right. I charged the power bank first then used that to charge the phone. Like the iPad it was put on airplane mode. If I just left the panel exposed to the sun but never adjusted to compensate for the hourly changes in sunlight direction it would only provide 1 to 3% increase. I compared the charger to another small option. The Bolt.





For the same exposure the Bolt could increase my phone by 30% at the end of the day. It was 3 times better at solar charging. True the two panels have a larger surface area however not by 3 times. The Bolt's panels are just better. On the flip side the Ebay solar charger has a larger battery.


Conclusion for solar charging via it's own panel.


It's not a good solar charger. I bet if clipped on a pack it would take days to gain any measurable increase in charging capability. That said if babied it did add charge to my phone. So yes it works but not like some might expect.


I tested it's ability to both take and give a charge from multiple sources. One aspect which is important for outdoors and prepping usage is solar compatibility. Tested with 10, 14 and 16 watt panels. Both proved totally solar charging reliable. No charging errors due to interruption or reduction of sunlight aka passing clouds or reasonable overcast conditions.


14 watt panel.





5.07 volts at .85 amps. This is exactly what I get when charging from a USB wall outlet adapter.





10 watt panel had similar results. In the real world the power is often in constant flux during solar charging unless it's completely clear.








As the charge increases more of the blue lights stay illuminated with one being nearly depleted and 4 being the most full. It seems to take around 5 hour via larger external solar panel to fully charge though never did run a stop watch.





Charging from power banks. Not sure why I would take energy from a power bank to charge the solar power bank but was curious.





Charging from a wall USB plug. I think this photo was with a 1A plug however right now using a 2.1A Apple wall adapter. I am getting 5.09 volts at .85 amps. I have some faster power banks but this one is ok.





Conclusion. It's near enough to 1A input for me.


Output testing. I rarely charge two things at the same time in the field but here goes. I am charging an Apple device plus headlamp simultaneously. I don't have two USB detectors however feel it can't output at a combined 2.1A. Just a feeling on my part. 4.79 volts, .56 amps. If charging alone the Apple device would be around 5 volts .8 plus amps.





Charging my phone.





By comparison a quality power bank. MyCharge All Terrian. It's very nearly the same performance.





Magnetic charging a headlamp.





USB chargeable headlamp.





It seemed to charge a bit slower than some other options but did ok IMHO. The slower rate for the headlamps were probably due to restrictions within them and not the solar power bank. Not too much of an issue as those batteries are smaller. The NU20 is around 600 mAh and 650 mAh for the Compass Mini R so they charge quickly. There is an issue with the blue one which might be related to a failing diode. The mini USB input port is actually showing a charge of the same voltage as it's lithium polymer battery. Being a mini USB input it should show no voltage. The yellow one has no power anomaly and so far neither has failed to work.


Conclusions.


Pros.


1. Dirt cheap if you shop around.
2. Very UL and packs small.
3. The power bank has enough capacity for the money. Not sure if it is 5000 mAh but good enough.
4. Main LED has a feature to help prevent accidental activation.
5. The solar panel does work but this will also be listed as a con given it's low power.
6. The power lights do work to show the level of charge good enough for field applications. I know if it is charged before being packed.
7. Comes with a short USB cable.
8. Kinda fun to play with.
9. So far they both have not exploded.


Cons.


1. Solar charging is very very slow. Some might have higher expectations than the gear item can deliver.
2. Inconsistency between units. Multiple sellers, features, different components like panels and probably battery capacity.
3. Power issue with the Blue one. Not sure why the input mini USB port is hot? Several people have mentioned a defective diode. In any case the yellow one doesn't have that issue.
4. I question the weather/water proof hype.


The testing was positive enough to warrant replacement the little solar powered LED light/charger in my Green Bag of Survival with one of these chargers. The GBOS is now officially stuffed to the gills.








Here is a video. Thanks for looking!