The Amp Solar Charger is one of our new standalone chargers. We are excited because it has about the 4 times as much solar power and twice the battery power as other solar chargers on the market and 8 times the Highgear Solar Pod. It is not just the specs either. In field tests between the Amp and Solio, we ran our devices 3.8 times longer for every hour in the sun.
We think part of the problem is that these other solar chargers were designed pre-smartphone, when batteries were 35-40% smaller. In the end there simply isn’t enough solar cells on these other chargers to work effectively. Who has 12 hours to charge their phone? What if you have any other devices? Plus, the Amp and all our other new 4 Watt bags switch between 6 and 12 Volts which lets you charge your DSLR camera battery.
Here’s how we stack up:
Solar Charger Voltaic Amp Solio Classic Power Monkey eXplorer Highgear Solar Pod
Solar Power 4 Watts < 1 Watt 1 Watt < 0.5 Watt
Battery Capacity 3,000mAh 1,650mAh 2,200mAh 650mAh
Charges 7.4V DSLR batteries Yes No No No
Price $99 $79 $109 $49
Pictures of the field test. The cool building in the background is Brooklyn Tech. We admit that the Solio is very cute and the three fanned panels are a great piece of visual design.
Solio specs are here. Note that the stated Watts are a bit misleading as these are the battery output, not solar panel output. PowerMonkey specs are here.

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14 Responses

    • admin

      We like the Joos. They’re actually pretty similar in terms of solar power and charge times – JOOS didn’t skimp like a lot of the other products in the market. The Amp has a smaller form factor, but we think they’re both good products.

      Reply
  1. parker

    Hey I was wondering how well the amp goes up against the Goal Zero Guide 10 Adventure Kit. I understand that this might be a bit rigged and something like your Fuse 4W might be a better comparison based on price along with power and performance. So basically, a quick summary of who wins the battle for the Guide 10 vs Amp and one for the Guide 10 vs the Fuse 4W would be great.

    As usual thanks for the great customer support.

    Reply
    • admin

      Hi Parker,

      Overall, we think Goal0 makes good quality products so we certainly are not going to trash them here. There are a lot of solar charger companies that make way underpowered products (1 Watt of solar power) but that isn’t the case with them.

      Besides being lower in price, I think there are a few key differences between our products and the Guide 10:
      a) The Fuse 4W is designed to always be setup to catch sun. Once it is attached to your bag, you don’t really have to worry about taking it out of its case, unfolding it and laying it out. It is simply ready.
      b) While collectively the Goal0 panels are rugged when folded up, individually, they are relatively thin and more fragile than ours. This makes them lighter but also more susceptible to breaking. Our panels have a commercial grade aluminum substrate which is super rugged. The last time I had one come back to me, someone had driven over it with a car.
      c) The Guide 10 uses NiMh batteries for power storage vs Li-Polymer. If you’re charging lots of devices that use AAs, this would be useful. However, we’ve found that NiMh batteries charge much less efficiently than Li-Polymer and often have shorter lifespan. Li-Polymer also stores more power on a weight by weight basis.
      d) While they state 7 Watts of power, we were unable to generate that much from their panels – we think it might have to do with the circuit they have that is regulating power output from the panels.

      Hope that helps,
      Jeff

      Reply
  2. T

    Hello there.

    What’s your take on the Suntrica products? I’m mainly looking for something to charge up my phone while skiing, hiking, cycling and dh-skiing, when I’m using gps to track my route, so a high output is desirable. On the other hand, the charger should be easy to attach to any backpack (or the bike), and preferably quite lightweight (for skiing and hiking).

    Also, how weatherproof are your panels?

    The battery on my phone has about 1.2Ah, and is nearly empty after only 3 hours of tracking.

    Regards,
    Tee

    Reply
  3. Bob

    Can the Amp Solar Charger directly charge an Iphone 5 or would someone have to use the included battery to charge an Iphone 5?

    Bob

    Reply
    • admin

      Hi Bob,

      You would need the included battery. The battery produces a steady 5V, 900mA that charges the iPhone 5 quickly.

      Jeff

      Reply
  4. TominNH

    Will a typical cell phone fit in the closed bag to be charged on the go?

    Reply
    • admin

      Hi Tom,
      No, the case isn’t quite large enough to hold a phone. /jeff

      Reply
  5. Jerry

    I will be on a 17 day excursion down the Colorado River in Grand Canyon. I want to take my Nikon D800 DSLR that uses a 7.0volt 1900mAh
    Li-Ion battery. Can you suggest a cost effective, space limited suggestion for solar charging?
    Thank you

    Reply
    • admin

      Hi Jerry,

      That is a fairly large battery (13.3 Watt hours). I would go with the 7 Watt Kit so your cost will be $70 for the panels and circuit box. You can skip the battery as the camera cradle charges directly from the solar panels set to 12V. You can get the cradle for your EN-EL15 here: http://www.voltaicsystems.com/camera

      Jeff

      Reply
  6. Jonathan

    Hi,
    I am about a month from embarking on a 30 day backpacking trip in Alaska, and I want to take my GoPro Hero 3+ (silver edition) with me. I was wondering if you know what charger would be best for me to be able to charge my GoPro and how quick you think it would take (as in, how long would the charger have to be in the sun, and how long would it take to actually charge my GoPro). Lastly, I was wondering if these chargers, such as the AMP, hold a charge so that I could cary them around or leave them outside my tent to get sunlight and then at night, when there is no light, I plug in my GoPro to charge. Or would I need to be charging my GoPro as the Photovoltaic Strips are in direct sunlight.
    Sorry for the long question and thanks so much for your help!

    Reply
    • admin

      Hi Jonathan,

      All of our chargers will power the GoPro, here’s a quick guide – http://www.voltaicsystems.com/gopro-solar-charger.shtml

      For backpacking, we typically recommend the Fuse 4W or Fuse 6W as these can attach to your backpack which makes it easier to catch available sun. All our systems come with batteries so you can leave them out in the day to take a charge and power up your devices at night. Hope that helps!

      Reply

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