iClever IC-SB21R Solar Power Bank REVIEW Solar charge in an emergency

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I have recently become more involved with the Cub Scouts, having completed two years. Last year I enjoyed the tiger cubs, with my now eight-year-old son and this year, I became a Lion leader for my 5-year-old son’s group. I have learned a few things over the past few years. Namely, gear is heavy, take only what you need and try to have items that cover multiple areas of need. We have a rule of no electronics on the campouts. Despite this rule, I still have my iPhone 7 Plus, in a Catalyst waterproof case, for emergencies, and for photo documentation. It never fails. Even with reduced utilization, it seems that there is more day than there is a battery. Battery packs thus are a life saver for overnight charging.

Most of our campouts tend to be 2–3 day excursions, but some of the camps extend beyond that point. With a 2900 mAh battery inside of the iPhone 7 Plus, I try to have at least one 10,000 mAh battery for every 2 days of a trip. If you assume 80% efficiency (which is about industry standard), you have 8000 mAh of available charging power. It is typical to have 15–30% power left at the end of a typical day (more if lighter use) and thus I will need to charge roughly 2000–2200 mAh daily. If you are using your device, while charging, you will get nowhere near the efficiency. I can thus expect about 3 to 3.5 charges for my phone with a full 10,000 mAh battery, depending on the situation. If weight is an issue, you may consider a rechargeable power bank like that from iClever.

The iClever IC-SB21R arrived in a very appealing retail package. The cover is adorned with an image of a black battery pack with red accents. On the top of the battery pack, you will notice a surface of solar panels. The white background serves as a really nice contrast to the black/red battery pack. The blue coloration along the edges of the packaging does provide a rather eye-catching experience. Turning the product over, iClever conveniently provides you with the specifications of the device. It will take 5V 2.0A input via micro-USB, 5V 200mA input via sunlight exposure and is capable of dual output up to a max of 3.4A (5V 2.4A and 5V 1A). The battery capacity is listed at 10,000 mAh and the device measures 2.99 x 5.28×0.83 inches (76mmx134mmx21mm) and weighs 11.29 ounces (320g). The specifications alone sound amazing, despite the low solar charging rate. Personally, having a backup method to generate some charge, is better than having a dead battery.

Remove the outer slip cover and open the plain cardboard box, to find the battery, a short USB-A to USB-micro charging cable, an instruction manual and warranty card. The cable is light-weight, yet I wish it was incorporated into the design or at least had a place to be stored. Using a DROK USB tester, I plugged my iPad into USB 1 and my iPhone 7 plus into USB 2. I was able to charge the iPad Air 2 at 2 amps and the iPhone charged at 1 amp. The device has smart ID and will only provide the maximum current demanded by your device. The ports are not equal, USB 1 is the higher output port. I was able to charge my iPad Air 2 from 16% to 53% in 1 hour, utilizing 25% of the battery.

The manual is very well written, with the diagram on page two being the most helpful overall. The battery is very well designed and has some very thoughtful add-ons. The sides of the battery are rubberized (silicone) for extra grip and each of the USB ports (output and input) are conveniently sealed with rubberized plugs. There is a hexagonal ring hook along the top right of the battery, but there is no included ring. This will allow you to clip the battery to a carabiner and charge your battery on the outside of a pack or tent. The back of the battery has a bank of 12 white LED. To activate the lights, press the button along the front twice (top-left). Press the button again and enjoy a low light and a second time for flashing lights. To turn off the lights, press the button two times. With a waterproof and dustproof shell, this device is ready for any environment.

It is recommended to charge the bank to full, before using it for the first time. There are 4 blue LED along the front that relay the remaining power in 25% increments. The manual details the charging of the device and recommends USB charging if able. The solar feature is meant to top off the battery. It will take about 4–6 hours to charge the device to full (from about 25%), at 2.0A. I have no way to determine the solar input to the device, except to look at the four blue LED. I left the battery out from 7 am to 6 pm, in full sunlight, and found the pack to have increased from 50% to 75% (2 LED to 3 LED). Without having a listed percentage, it is really difficult to list the actual percent charged. It will take multiple days of direct sunlight to fully charge the device. Even though this is inefficient, it is a method to have charge, when no other choices are available.

I have a few other 10,000 mAh battery packs and a few 20,000 mAh battery packs. The output to weight ratio is a good mix and the ability to store solar power for future use is convenient. Essentially, two of these devices should allow you to have more than an extra week of charge, comfortably. You can choose one and use it until dead (3–4 days) Once you deplete the battery, move to the second battery and leave the first out to charge. Repeat this process until you find a source of electricity to charge via USB. The manual states that you can use fluorescent lamps to charge the battery as well. I have never found this to work that efficiently. If I have fluorescent light bulbs, why would I use them to charge, when I likely have power for USB charging?

I wish that the device came with a carabiner. Luckily, I. Have plenty of these lying around. The light is incredibly bright and serves a role if you do not want to have extra flashlights. You can carry the main light and have this for extra emergency lighting. I typically have solar lights at my campsite and bring them in at night for lighting. If you are looking for a solar charger/battery this is not the device for you. If you are looking for a 10,000 mAh battery, with a variety of features and bonus solar charging, look no further. I was really pleased with the device and the options. I would rate it 5/5 stars.

Learn more about iClever products at iclever.com.
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Originally published at macsources.com on July 3, 2017.