We tried charging our smartphone with a 22 W foldable solar power charger. It took days
Accessory maker Choetech was generous enough to send us its 22 W portable foldable solar charger for our honest impressions and, after a few days testing it out, we have mixed feelings about the practicality or efficiency of the concept of a solar charger.
First, the good news. The Choetech charger is very well made with its nylon case, two carabiner clips, and four solar panels that can unfold to face any direction and fit a wide variety of scenarios or positions. It's as plug-and-play as you can get with no buttons or real instructions to worry about.
The bad news, as one may expect, is the slow charge rate of a solar charger. Even on a bright sunny afternoon in San Francisco, our Huawei Mate 10 Pro would charge from just 11 percent to 16 percent after 120 minutes of baking under direct sunlight. In comparison, a standard USB 3.0 Gen. 1 port on our laptop would charge the same smartphone from 11 percent to 79 percent in the same 120-minute time frame. Relying solely on solar charging when traveling or camping might not be a good idea as a result.
In addition to the slow charge rate, the charger is also quite large and heavy. The latest 2021 iPad Pro, for example, is over 100 grams lighter than the Choetech charger.
The advertised 22 W of output power can be a bit misleading as well because it is split between two USB-A ports (5 V/2.1 A + 5 V/2.4 A). This means that you will only realistically charge at a rate of up to 10 W or 11 W and not 22 W per connected device.
A more practical use of the solar charger would be to pair it with a regular battery bank. That way, you can slowly charge the battery bank throughout the day and then charge your devices with the faster battery bank at night.
The Choetech portable foldable solar charger is now available for $59 USD for readers who may still be interested in its novelty.
- Output: 5 V/2.1 A (Max), 5 V/2.4 A (Max)
- Total Rated Power: 22 W
- Opened Size: 820 x 245 x 3 mm
- Closed Size: 245 x 160 x 30 mm
- Net Weight: 587 g