As the air starts to turn cooler, this time of year is perfect for outdoor get togethers, camp outs, and cookouts. The air temperature is no longer stifling but the sun is still shining well into the evening. If you are the type of person who likes outdoor adventures, you will need some sort of backup power for all your mobile devices and camping gear. Renogy, a company that focuses on renewable energy, has released a one-of-a-kind power source specifically for the weekend warrior — the Phoenix All-in-One Solar Powered Briefcase.
The first thing I want to say about this device is that it’s heavy. It weighs just under 13 pounds. I say that because it’s not exactly easy to lug around on your back. That said, it’s perfect if you are able to pack it with your other gear on say a canoe or rafting trip, it’s much easier to deal with. The Phoenix is about the size of a small Pelican case and it’s designed to be waterproof. You can charge your device with a DC or AC output depending on which type of power you select. The Phoenix, as its name suggests, is an all-in-one solar system. It’s 100% rechargeable through AC input power, solar power, or a 12V car charging socket. There is a very easy-to-read display on the front of the case that shows how much power is available on the battery. The display also shows error codes as well as charging mode and strength of the solar irradiance.
The Phoenix’s internal battery has a capacity of 16,000 mAh, which to be quite honest, isn’t much for the size of the device. That said, my 20,000 mAh battery that is pocket-sized will only allow me to charge via USB while the Phoenix can give power to up to eight devices simultaneously AND one of those power options is a standard AC Out plug. This is a huge deal for tech heads like me because it means you can go into the wilderness and still have access to my precious laptop as I need it. The onboard inverter is really the main selling point (aside from the integrated solar panels) in my opinion. There are other products out there that will accomplish power conversion, but not in an all-in-one unit like this — at least not that I’ve seen.
Here are the exact power specs:
- DC Output: 2 x 12V@3A max (6A Total)
- USB Output: 4 x 5V@2.4A max (6A Total)
- Cigarette Socket: 12V 12.5A
- Output AC Voltage: 110 vac
- Output AC Frequency: 60 Hz
- Min Inverter Efficiency: 80%
- Max Continuous Output Power: 150 w
- Overload Protection: 170W Max
The battery cycle life of the Phoenix is 1500, which means you can recharge and use up the battery approximately 1500 times before you have to worry about replacing the battery. And by the way, Renogy offers battery replacements for the Phoenix through their customer service team.
You have a lot of options for charging devices when it comes to the Phoenix. It’s output ports include an AC port, CIG port, 2 x DC ports, and 4 x USB ports. In addition to all its charging capabilities, the Phoenix has a 3W LED flashlight on the side of the case. The light has 3 operating modes — Head Light, Dimmer Head Light, and Flashing. The on/off button for the light in on the same side of the case as the handle and you simply press it to cycle through its power modes or to turn it off.
As with any rechargeable battery, I ran the Phoenix through a variety of tests. According to the manual, it will take approximately 5 hours to charge the internal battery from 0% up to 100%. The timing is quite different if you plan on charging it via solar power. Also according to the manual, it will take approximately 15 hours to charge the battery completely with only the 20W of integrated solar panels. It’s important to note that that is 15 hours of direct sunlight that is needed for a solid charge. I did actually try solar charging with clear and overcast skies and the direct sunlight worked MUCH better, but it was still slow-going. One evening, prior to sunset, I opened the case in our backyard and let it sit in the sun for a few hours. After 3 hours of charging, the battery had only gained 1%. I do believe this was because of the time of day it was. You can expand the solar charging capabilities with additional solar panels (up to 100W more) and this will definitely speed up the charging process.
As far as output charging, I was pleasantly surprised with the results. We were recently rearranging our home office and I needed to plug in my laptop. Because I couldn’t get to an outlet easily, I grabbed the Phoenix and set it up for charging my laptop. I plugged in the laptop charger into the AC port and then turned the device on. You do have to select the correct mode before your device will start charging — in this case, AC Out was the correct choice. Now, this was a different story when I went to charge my iPhone 7, which required DC Out. I switched that mode on, too, and plugged in the USB cable into the port. The laptop not only grabbed a charge from the Phoenix, but it was also powered so that I could continue working. As for the iPhone, well, after 11 minutes on charge, I gained 5% battery. This is a bit slower than I am used to but found it satisfactory considering that I was charging my MacBook Pro at the same time. I also wanted to see if one of our studio lights would be powered by it. With no hesitation, the Phoenix powered the light and still had more power to share. This was really good news considering the fact that we will sometimes shoot video on location and need a backup power source.
The Pheonix is a really great all-in-one solar-powered generator. With it, you can survive most natural disasters or just have a fun weekend camping with friends.
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