Thin film solar charger offers high performance in a lightweight package (Review)

Apollo 6 USB Solar Charger
© Endless Sun Solar

The Apollo 6 USB solar charger uses Copper Indium Gallium di-Selenide (CIGS) solar cells for better performance in low light and shaded conditions.

When trying to choose a portable solar charger for your gadgets, it's not enough to simply pick the one with the highest output (or quickest charge times for a specific device), because the question of how and when you plan to use it will play a big part in whether or not it will actually work well for you. Are you going to set it up during the day and charge gadgets directly, or are you going to want to set it up during the day to charge a power bank, and then charge your gadgets from the power bank after dark?

For some situations, such as camping or backpacking or traveling, where a small solar charger can be mounted onto a backpack to harvest sunlight while you're out and about, it's not necessary to carry a power bank or backup battery with you (although it can certainly make the system more useful if you do). That can help make for a lighter bag, especially if you choose an ultra-lightweight portable charger, such as the Apollo 6 USB Solar Charger, from Endless Sun Solar.

This solar charger, rated at 6W, is quite a bit different than most of the other solar gadgets I've reviewed before, because it's made with CIGS (copper indium gallium selenide) solar cells, which is a flexible thin film solar product well-suited to personal devices because of its light weight. Because CIGS cells are capable of harvesting the sun's energy over a wider range of wavelengths than conventional solar cells, as well as performing better in low light and shaded conditions, these 15% efficient solar cells are said to produce "on average, 20% more energy in total each day" than conventional crystalline solar cells.

By far, this portable solar charger is the lightest and most flexible model I've ever used, and despite a few weak points, which every gadget has, I really like it and think it could make a great addition to any traveler's pack for generating juice on the go.

Here's my review of the Apollo 6 solar charger:

Endless Sun Solar's 6 Watt Apollo 6 USB Solar Charger measures 20 x 13.5 x 2.5 cm (8" x 5.5") folded up, and opens out to 49 x 20 cm (20" x 8"), and weighs in at 250g (8.8oz). It can be purchased for just under $100 from Amazon or the company's website, Endless Sun Solar. To get the most out of this charger, consider buying an appropriately sized power pack to go with it, which can enable you to still get a solar charge even after the sun goes down.

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