RENOGY E. FLEX 10W Solar Charger REVIEW | Mac Sources9.7
Keep your devices charged on-the-go with the 10W solar charger from RENOGY.
As a father of four, tech connoisseur, Cub Scout leader, and avid/novice prepper, solar charging has always piqued my curiosity. According to zebu.uoregon.edu, our sun can provide 164 Watts of power per square meter each day. Put into context, this means that the Earth is bathed in 84 Terrawatts of power daily, while humanity only uses 12 Terrawats per day. Why then do we not rely more upon solar charging options? Approximately four to five times per year, our Cub Scout pack heads out on a fun-filled weekend excursion. Without a readily available source of power, I have relied upon fully-charged portable batteries to keep my iPhone charged. However, I have also started carrying a solar panel to add some extra charge during the day. Since we are out in the sun anyway, a simple solar panel adds an extraordinary way to remain juiced.
The RENOGY E. Flex 10W Portable Solar Panel Charger arrived in a 10 1/4 inches long by 6 5/8 inches wide by 1 1/4 inches thick black cardboard box. I loved the use of the dark black background with the contrasting soft blue E. FLEX title along the top left, the blue 10W/white “Portable Solar Panel Charger” along the middle, and the solar panel icon with the brilliant bold-white RENOGY name along the bottom right. Looking to the surrounding side panels of the packaging, the front/back panels were left unadorned and both side panels displayed the same blue solar panel icon/white RENOGY name as the cover. To find out more about the product, I placed the packaging onto the cover and examined the back panel. I was pleased to find the product specifications (Monocrystalline Silicon solar cell type, Laminated ETFE, Oxford framework material, 13.0 oz weight, -4F-158F operation temperature), the packaging contents (E. FLEX 10W, Carabiner x2, Suction cup X4) and the RENOGY.com web address.
I lifted the front flap of the packaging and removed the 6 inches wide by 9 1/2 inches tall by 3/16 inches thick tablet-sized RENOGY solar charger, the two lightweight aluminum carabiners, the four clear plastic suction cups and the four-paneled E. FLEX instruction manual. The main panel flipped the color scheme and used a blue/white background to display the black open-book solar charger. The second panel of the instruction manual listed general information about the device: High efficient monocrystalline solar cells, smart auto-optimization USB charger, ETFE material for more light absorption, Weatherproof and durable layering, Included carabiners for easy attachment, Included suction cups for easy window charging. Along the bottom of the panel, the company provided a paragraph which detailed some of the limitations of solar charging and warned about excess heat. The third panel detailed the simple RENOGY solar charger operation. To start, simply unfold the unit, place it in direct sunlight, then plug a USB A cable into the charger and into either a battery or smart device. Even though the message was clear, the manual suffered from several typographical errors, spacing issues and gaps in knowledge. As an example, the manual completely left off the end of one of the sentences: “As an added bonus, turn your E. FLEX into a window charger that you can conveniently” . The final page, like the back panel of the outer shell, provided the technical specifications of the charger. However, this time the panel compared the 5W to the 10W charger in a side by side tabular format. Each of the panels operates at 18% efficiency. The EFLEX5 promised 5V/0.96A peak, while the E.FLEX10 promised 5V/1.92A peak.
According to the solar.com website, most solar panels operate between 15–18% efficiency. Pleased with the promise of the 18% efficiency RENOGY 10W E. FLEX, I excitedly turned to the 10W RENOGY device. The front panel of the solar charger boldly displayed the RENOGY name/solar charger icon upon a black nylon surface. The opposite surface had a 1 1/4 inches by 1 3/16 inches wide by 1/2 inches thick USB-A output port upon a black nylon surface. The two panels were attached at the spine via two 1 3/8 inches long hinges. Opening the charger like a book, you will find four 1/2 inches by 1/2 inches by 5/8 inches triangular cutouts along the corners. Each of these cutouts was able to accommodate one-of the carabiners or one of the suction cups. Both of the panels were arranged in a 3 column/10 row array and the panels had a 5/8 inches wide gap between them. To test the output of the charger, I plugged a DROK USB-C LCD Multimeter into the USB-A Port and then a USB-A to lightning cable into my iPhone 11 Pro Max. The Multimeter read 4.93V/0.67A in poorer light conditions and read up to 1.8A with brighter light conditions.
I’ve taken this charger on two separate weekend camping trips, once to our local skatepark and another event to the beach in North Carolina. As noted above, I do not trust my phone to remain in the sun, so I paired the charger with a portable battery pack. With my phone in sleep mode, I allowed the solar panel to charge my portable battery during the day and then used the battery to fully charge the phone battery overnight. I found a full day of sunny-charging could keep my 3949 mAh battery on my iPhone 11 Pro Max nearly full. The USB-A port on the back of the charger did jut out from the main body of the charger. However, thanks to the placement of the USB port on the back of the charger, the device enjoyed a bit of splash resistance. I loved the included carabiner attachments for my backpack/tent and I loved the ability to stick the device to a window. The weight was under 12 oz and lived up to the expectation of the packaging.
I have tested several solar panels historically and ran into issues with heat. I found that it was dangerous to leave a smartphone in direct sunlight while charging. Thus, I have turned to portable batteries to capture the sunlight. The RENOGY EFLEX 10W panel will not charge your smart device as fast as a wall outlet, nor does it use USB-C output, but you can expect to have a powered smartphone when you need it. Navigating to the RENOGY website, I was shocked to find that the price of the 10W charger had been slashed from $49.99 to $21.99 and pleased that they also produced a red and blue version. The lightweight nature of the device, coupled with lightweight carabiners, will allow you to hang the E. Flex 10W from a backpack, tree, tent, etc. For under $25, I do not know that you could expect more from the lightweight device. In fact, there are several alternatives that are twice the cost of this device. You can charge your phone directly or you can protect your smart device and pair the solar charger with a portable battery. Either way, the goal of having a clean nearly perpetual energy source can be quite affordable. i
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Originally published at https://macsources.com on February 7, 2020.