Saturday, 18 August 2012

Powerfreakz 3000 Solar

With today's gadgetry on the market that can be used for the outdoors (i.e. smartphones, tablets, GPS’s, book readers for camp etc) we can consume a lot of power out there. I know for me having the GPS active on my smartphone drains the battery quicker than my camelbak on a hot day. The selection on the market is vast, whether it’s a rechargeable cell or a pack which is fuelled by a handful of AA batteries and beyond. I’m not keen on the AA battery option, not very green and could get expensive long-term. A rechargeable cell for me is the best option.


When I was given the chance of a shot of the Powerfreakz 3000 Solar my smartphone and I were a bit relieved. I have been cutting it close to the wire when using my phone on the hill. Especially now I have Viewranger running for Social Hiking. As I mentioned there is huge amount of options for keeping batteries topped up. There are a few guys out there carrying spare batteries for their phones to change when required. I didn’t really want to go down that road as I foresee changing a battery in the pissing rain could mean dropping SIM cards, memory cards or backs off of the phone in puddles or mud.

Anyway, I digress, the Powerfreakz. On arrival I was pleasantly surprised, there was a plug socket charger. Probably nowadays with most electronic devices now coming with this kind of set up it should be the norm but the last solar charger I had (less said about that one the better – bin!) didn’t have one. It’s got the usual stuff you would expect to find; assorted ‘tips’ for the various models of gadget, for me the mini USB for my HTC was the priority but, it would seem, all the bases are covered in that respect. I’m sure if your device wasn’t compatible with the supplied tips then there would be an additional option available, can’t think what other option would be required though. Then there is the associated lead to connect the charger to the required device or the wall charger to the unit. Along with the wall charger there is some international options, handy when going abroad. For me the nice touch is the pouch that is supplied with the Powerfreakz, a handy little zipped pouch which holds everything supplied. I like this kind of thing. It would be good when your travelling, keeps everything together. Then there was the unit itself, it’s a nice size about the size of an iPod Classic, weight on the back states 114g. (Can’t check it as scales are broken, will update when they’re sorted)




What I have also realised is that you can use the wall charger then plug the USB straight into the phone giving you an ideal travel charger! As long as you bring your pouch full of goodies your gadget can be charged in all situations.


So before it even hit the hill I spent a couple of weeks with it keeping my phone charged on a day to day basis. I charged the 3000 Solar from the wall charger and drained my phone until it was completely flat. The web site states it will charge a smartphone around 4 times. I drained my phone fully and used as much of the held charge as possible from the 3000 solar as many times as possible before it was also drained. The maximum I got from a full 3000 solar charge was just shy of two full phone charges. I did raise this question with Powerfreakz and they told me some of the less technical smartphones would receive 4 charges, however, phones with battery capacities similar to the iPhone and my HTC would get around two charges. Initially disappointed with the output I decided I would wait until I measured how it performed in the outdoors before I whinged too much. Also, as it was pointed out to me, there is is the option for topping up with a bit of UV radiation.

I’ve pretty much taken the 3000 solar everywhere with me. If I think there is even a slight chance I might run out of phone juice then the pouch goes with me. If I’m going on the mountain then the pouch gets stripped down, I leave the pouch, wall charger and other bits behind and take the chargIMAG0598ing cable and the 3000 solar separately. The weight of these two items is hardly noticeable and having a phone with charge has several benefits. As I said the GPS kills a phone battery, it helps if the airplane mode is activated but when the phone is hunting for signal in those isolated areas we all visit the battery will drop into the red like a lead weight. As you would expect connecting the 3000 solar will keep your device active. It charges slowly, unlike a mains charge, which is normal for this kind of thing. I’ve spent a couple of long days out and I haven’t drained it yet. The next test for it will be on a wild camp but I will come back to you on that one. 

IMAG0594 The ports at the bottom are self explanatory. The button in the middle activates the unit to charge the connected device. I’ve had a bit of difficulty once or twice getting it to charge. I don’t know if I didn’t press it long enough or not enough. On the most part the button has worked well, maybe for me a definite switch could work better. Not a major gripe. Again, from an outdoor perspective, the water-proofness of the open terminals are a concern for me. I keep it in a waterproof bag when I’m out so not to expose it to too much water.

The solar feature is a great way to top up the charge of the cell in turn extending the battery of your preferred device. The modest panels are very sensitive, as soon as it gets a sniff of UV it starts to take a charge. The quirky green neon lights light up showing it’s charging, I like that bit. It will charge the device and allow the solar panels to charge the cell at the same time, my last one didn’t do that. I don’t know if it’s a common feature throughout solar chargers.


When I had it lying on the floor of a tent in bright sunlight the lights started to flash on indicating it was charging. It wouldn’t of been a brilliant charge but better than nothing.



Whilst out on the hill the only issue is exposing it to the sun. As yet Powerfreakz haven’t got an attachment set-up to fix it to a pack or fixing loops built in to the unit but I have suggested it. So I have come up with a solution. As I said it is a similar size to an iPod Classic so I got myself a runner arm holder thing to put it in so when out on the hill I can attach it to my arm or pack. I haven’t field tested this but I don’t see how it wouldn’t work.

IMAG0600  IMAG0602

All in all, it’s a neat little unit. It holds enough charge for what I need. I will soon test it on charging my newly acquired Nexus 7 and report back. So for travelling it’s an ideal companion. For outdoors and backpacking with a little addition to it’s already flush list of contents it will keep your phone charged whilst out and about for a good couple of days. And if we get any sun you could stay out all week. It should show that overall I like the Powerfreakz 3000 Solar and will continue to use it. You can pick this up for about £40 and I think it’s worth it. I was fortunate enough to get this one in for a test but I genuinely like it and would recommend it to others.