Solarade Portable Solar Charger Is Powerful and Lightweight (Review)

©. Derek Markham

This small solar charger is as fast as charging from a wall outlet, and is portable and lightweight enough to go just about anywhere. I got to spend some time using this portable charger recently, and I'm quite impressed.

Originally billed as the world's fastest solar charger, as well as the smallest solar charger, the Solarade successfully launched on Kickstarter in May 2014. Measuring just 9" x 6.5" x .7", and weighing in at 6.5 oz, the Solarade packs a lot of power into a small package.

The Solarade does one thing - generate clean renewable electricity from the sun - and it does it well. The unit doesn't include any battery storage, as it's meant to directly charge mobile devices, but savvy users can extend the usefulness of the Solarade by pairing a battery pack with it to store energy for later.

The specs on the unit state that puts out 5V, 5W, 1A, and that it can charge a smartphone or other mobile device as fast as a wall charger can, giving a full charge to an iPhone in just 2 hours. The monocrystalline solar panel is said to be rated at 22% efficiency, and can "produce more power per size" than other similar solar chargers, "generating true 1000 mAh power."

The Solarade charger, designed by Nolla Design, features a "smart bar" for setting the panel at the optimal angle to the sun (and which stores on the top rail when not in use), a hole for hanging the panel with a carabiner or cord, and a single USB charging port.

The strongest features of the Solarade are its light weight and small size (which make it easy to pack along with you), its high power output, and the smart bar for positioning the panel at the best charging angle.

The weakest parts of the design, in my view, is the lack of a cover for the USB port, the lack of a carrying case or cover for the entire unit, and the incredibly vague red LED charging light (which only shows that light is hitting the surface of the panel, not the strength of the charge).

Here is my video review of the Solarade:

As far as I can tell, there is no website just for the Solarade yet, but it is available through Tekcases for $99.95, and it comes in either white or black.

[Disclosure: I received a review unit of the Solarade, but all opinions here, as well as any possible factual errors, are mine alone.]