Travel Gear Review: Solar Powered Battery Backup

When traveling, one of the biggest challenges for those who bring along electronic devices is power. There is certainly no lack of things to do with smartphones, tablets and computers; that’s for sure.  Uncertain is where and when we will be able to plug in for a re-charge; thus the huge market of backup battery power that boasts a seemingly unlimited number of options.  In the past, we have reviewed a number of these battery backup products as our needs have changed.  Some worked better than others but all shared two common traits:

  1. They all eventually needed to be recharged
  2. To recharge they needed to be plugged in someplace

Hoping to eliminate one of those concerns, we looked at solar powered battery products and tested the Sun Power Bank 6000 ($99.99), promoted as an “ultra-high efficiency lithium battery that provides up to twice the charging power of traditional solar cells“.

It was not all that long ago that packing for a trip meant bring extra batteries for the flashlight or portable radio.  Ok, maybe that was longer ago than I care to think about but leave that cassette player stuck in the rewind position and those batteries would be dead pretty fast.  Fast forward to the last decade and batteries have come a long way.  Still, charging stations are often few and far between and/or all plugged up with other travelers’ devices.   If it worked, the Sun Power Bank 6000 would be a great accessory to have.

Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 4.59.27 AM-0002 Comparing Apples To Apples
Forget the ability to recharge from the sun for a moment, we’ll come back to that shortly.  Evaluated as a battery backup, when fully charged the Sun Power Bank 6000 is rated to charge a smartphone up to 6 times.  Testing that claim, I ran my iPhone 5 down to the point where the “you have 20% power left” warning appeared then recharged to full battery strength 4 times. That ability seemed comparatively good for ts size, just 6″ x 3.65″ x .75″.  Stop right there and we have a winner for most travelers.

Quick Recharge When Plugged In
The good news: The Sun Power Bank 6000 can be charged via the user’s choice of built-in full or micro male USB cable and plug.  A large LCD display shows the current battery charge and dual High Efficiency Solar Panels make good use of available light.  That the device weighs just 6 oz (not much for a solar powered battery) makes it a good one to have along for charging a smartphone (or two, there are two places to plug in).  Forget about the solar panels but have confidence knowing that if the power goes out or you’re caught needing a charge where power does not exist, this one has that extra capability to harness the energy of the sun and deliver connectivity.

Consider The Solar Charging Option A Bonus
If there is bad news about this solar powered battery, it would be that recharging via the sun takes a long time, between 10 and 12 hours of direct Florida sun for a full charge.  Still, find yourself camping, in a situation where there is no power for one reason or another (damaging storms come to mind) (yes, the thought of “cruise ship without power” also occurred to me) that 10-12 hour recharge time could be a lifesaver.  Still, how often does that happen?  Buying this product for that reason is probably appealing to those who invested heavily in Y2K survival products.  This would have sold like hotcakes back then.

There are other solar powered battery products on the market that harness the energy of the sun to recharge and do so faster (some sold by the same company that makes this one), but they are much larger than the Sun Power Bank 6000, eliminating all but adventure travelers with beasts of burden to carry their stuff.

Rating The Value
There are other charging options that deliver the same power output and recharge capability for a bit less, but not much.  The bonus value here would be for those who totally want to be prepared for anything when traveling, or at home if power outage concerns are a reality.  In either case, the Sun Power Bank 6000 is a clear win and must-have travel gear.


Think you need more power?  Secur products has a variety of products that tap the power of the sun for our use when traveling: