I’ve been testing out a lot of battery banks lately because I am a geek like that! I am in a lot of hiking/backpacking Facebook groups, and what I see over and over is backpackers talking about taking a solar battery bank with them.
Now, in my experience and knowing just enough about solar to really screw something up (hehe) I wanted to test one of the more popular types that are bought to see if it would be worth it to take on a backpacking trip. The specific one I am testing is the Suscell Solar Charger.
I chose it simply because it met the requirement I was looking for and was inexpensive.
Suscell Solar Charger Specs
These are the Suscell Solar Charger specs that they claim, not my testing specs.
Sun Powered Panel: 5V/200mA
Battery Type: Lithium Polymer
Capacity: 20,000mAh/74 Wh
Operation Temperature: -10-50 C
Flashlight Worktime: 55-65 hrs
Micro USB Input: 5V/1.6 A
USB Output: 5V/1 A+2.1 A (Max)
Charging Time (as claimed): Laptop 20 hrs; 5V/2A Charger 6-8 hours; Solar Power 8 days
Dimensions: 5.7 x 3 x 0.67 in
Weight: 8.8 oz
Weatherproof Rating: IP65
Short Circuit Protection
LED Flashlights with Steady-SOS-Strobe mode
Over Charging Protection
2 USB Outputs
For testing purposes, testing of the Suscell Solar Charger was done at home. The charger was left outside on a clear sunny day to recharge and each day was timed to get the final hours to charge. They claim it takes 8 days which is vague. My days lasted 10 hours over 6 days for a total of 60 hours. I did not test the length of the flashlight feature or the compass.
The weight on my scale came in at 8.75 oz.
Time to Charge
From a regular outlet: 5 hours
From the Sun: 60 full sun hours
iPad Pro Charged to 37%
iPhone 11 Pro charged in 2 hours 1.86 times
Simply put, this would work great in a go bag, bug-out bag, car camping, overlanding, for an emergency, etc… but not for backpacking.
For one, it takes way too long to recharge it via solar (which was expected since it had such a small solar panel) and that is assuming you are not hiking in a green tunnel like the Appalachian Trail.
On the other hand, it is pretty lightweight for a 20,000 mAh battery bank. However, I think the capacity is overinflated and it’s more like a 10,000 mAh battery bank. I honestly have no idea how to test that (if you know, please leave it in the comments), but this charges my iPhone about the same amount of times my 10,000 mAh battery bank does.
A word of caution, even the company states that the solar panel is only to be used to charge the battery bank in emergency conditions and that you should instead charge it via outlet.
For backpacking trips leave these types of solar battery banks at home! They take way to long to recharge and even the company states that the solar panel is only meant to recharge the battery bank in emergency conditions.