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What if I told you there was this magical technology that enables you to charge your mobile anywhere in world, as long as it’s sunny? Science, baby – yeah! The Poweradd 14W portable solar charger claims to do just that – but does it actually work, and do you need one? Read on, and at the end of the review you can enter to win your own!

Design

Made of durable and lightweight polyester, the $60 Poweradd 14W solar charger with luminous green lettering is designed to be practical. A number of tags have been sewn around the edge, allowing you to hang it from a backpack or clip to your belt with the included mini-carabiner. That’s all that’s included though: the solar charger itself, and a clip; you’ll need to bring your own charging cables.

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The charger opens like a book, the first two pages of which contain the solar panels. The last page contains a zip pocket, with two USB ports exposed inside.

poweradd 14w solar charger - 2 usb ports

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The zip pocket is large enough to accommodate a number of charging cables and devices up to the size of a Nexus 7. Plug them in, zip it up, then expose both the solar panels as you go about your business.

poweradd 14w solar charger - pocket

An internal voltage regulator keeps it at a fairly constant 5V, and this is fixed – you cannot plug in 12/15/19C volt devices such as laptops, only USB devices will charge. 14W just isn’t enough for those kind of devices. Unlike the Poweradd 23,000 mAh solar charger we reviewed before Poweradd Apollo Pro 23,000mAh Solar Battery and Charger Review and Giveaway Poweradd Apollo Pro 23,000mAh Solar Battery and Charger Review and Giveaway We tested the Poweradd Apollo Pro 23,000mAh external battery pack with automatic solar charging. Read More , this device doesn’t have an internal battery – which keeps it lightweight, but means you are entirely dependant upon the sun. Of course, you could get around this by also carrying and charging a separate portable battery pack – it’s nice to have that choice and not suffer the limitations of an all-in-one device.

Specifications

  • Size (folded): 13.7 x 7.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Size (unfolded): 17.3 x 13.7 x 0.7 inches
  • Weight: 347 grams
  • USB: 2 ports, theoretical maximum 2.1 A output (total). 5V voltage regulator ensures consistent voltage regardless of weather conditions.
  • No internal battery – it charges devices directly.

A small red LED next to the USB ports indicates when there is power available. Note that indoor lighting is not bright enough to produce any current.

How Well Does It Work?

On a bright, sunny afternoon at the height of the UK summer, I was able to get my iPhone 5s to successfully begin charging at a steady 5V at 1 amp, and even to acknowledge the presence of the charger. Until the clouds drifted over that is, and the message, “This accessory may not be supported” appeared on-screen. The current draw dropped to 0.25 amp – still trickle charging, but not “officially” charging. Unfortunately, when the clouds went away, the state of trickle charging didn’t. Kicking it back to the full 1 amp required unplugging and plugging the USB Lightning connector back in again, at which point it resumed at full blast.

I tried the iPad at the same optimal time, and had similar success, registering as a charger and drawing 1.5 amps for an almost full speed charge (almost as you would get from an actual wall adapter). I later discovered that having the iPad plugged in at the same at my iPhone actually managed to steal power from the iPhone, so I don’t suggest plugging in two high powered devices at the same time.

I didn’t have as much luck in the early morning. Despite being reasonably bright, neither my iPhone nor iPad acknowledged support for the charger. However, despite claiming that it wasn’t charging, it was in fact trickle charging.

The conclusion is simple: under optimal conditions and when the sun is at it’s zenith, this thing can really pack an electrical punch – enough to charge two small devices simultaneously, at full speed, or one larger device like a tablet. In sub-optimal conditions, it struggles – especially when you’re dealing with Apple devices which are rather picky about their charging conditions.

It’s important to note that solar charging can be a double-edged sword: heat will negatively affect the battery life of your devices, so while the solar panel itself should be kept in the sun, your device shouldn’t.

Should You Buy The Poweradd 14W Portable Solar Charger?

For camping, long car journeys, barbeques or just that bit of extra juice when you’re in the garden with your Bluetooth speakers blaring – the Poweradd 14W solar charger can be a great addition – and unlike portable battery packs, won’t need charging beforehand. The durable case with it’s handy clips mean you could hang it from your backpack and charge your devices during a trek, so it’s perfect for the outdoorsy type.

poweradd 14w solar charger - carabiner

On cloudy days – which is admittedly 90 percent of the time here in the UK – its utility will significantly diminish, but you’ll still get a slow trickle of charge despite what your devices may be reporting. Plugging in a high current draw device at the same time may have a negative effect though; in some cases drawing power from the lower powered device to supplement the solar charger. Don’t use both ports to charge unless you’re sure you’ve connected low current devices.

MakeUseOf recommends: Get one if you live somewhere sunny and enjoy long hikes or trips to the beach. Give it a pass if your location is the continual source of jokes about the rain.

How do I win the Poweradd 14W Portable Solar Charger?

Poweradd 14W Portable Solar Charger

For mobile users, click here to enter.

The winner will be selected at random and informed via email. View the list of winners here.

Send your products to be reviewed. Contact Jackson Chung for further details.

  1. Alex P
    September 6, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    it's quite sunny, so yes

  2. Morrison
    September 6, 2014 at 6:56 am

    Most certainly is. Our house runs on it!

  3. Edmund S
    September 5, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    Solar power is really only viable during the Summer months, otherwise it's wet and gloomy :(

  4. shandie valdez
    September 5, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    yeah, it getting hot in here. lol

  5. sam
    September 4, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    no it is not available.

  6. sam
    September 4, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    no it is not available.

  7. Alessio A
    September 2, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    Yes, it is. I would love to own this.

  8. Steve L
    September 2, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    It works here for the most part.

  9. jim forrester
    September 1, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    long summers and fee charger nice

  10. Juan C
    August 31, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    Yes! San Diego, CA

  11. Juan C
    August 31, 2014 at 8:47 pm

    Looks like a good deal.

  12. Gord M
    August 31, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    Yes the solar power is viable where I live, although the winter months will produce less sun.

  13. Christina Sparks
    August 31, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    Yes, it is. I would love to own this.

  14. Marilyn N
    August 31, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    Solar power is viable but I don't think I would count on it 100% for power or heat

  15. Kevin Smith
    August 31, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    Yes during those nice days when you want to work in the park!

  16. Alex
    August 31, 2014 at 9:24 am

    At least in the summer months.

  17. Charlene Wagner
    August 31, 2014 at 6:08 am

    Yes solar power is used in wisconsin and I would love to have one of these!!!!

  18. Ptrix
    August 30, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    Short summers where i live :P

  19. Leong
    August 30, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Yes. We have summer all year long.

  20. Josh
    August 30, 2014 at 11:27 am

    Always sunny here.

  21. Ahmed Kazim
    August 30, 2014 at 6:06 am

    It sure is sunny here mostly, plus the brown outs!

  22. Sarah
    August 30, 2014 at 6:06 am

    yes solar power is available in my area! Isn't technology awesome!! :)

  23. Anant S
    August 29, 2014 at 9:43 pm

    yes

  24. Sam K
    August 29, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    yes, it's viable at my place,

  25. Peter H
    August 29, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    Yes it is.

  26. Gary
    August 29, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    14 Watts!!! why that's wonderful!!!

  27. ruben
    August 29, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    Oh, yes. Portugal is very sunny.

  28. Patrick S
    August 29, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    Living in South Africa, the sun is out 99% of the time. This would be handy during the many power cuts due to load shedding.

  29. Gerald S
    August 29, 2014 at 9:30 am

    Yes

  30. John D
    August 29, 2014 at 8:43 am

    half a year

  31. Carla P
    August 29, 2014 at 5:49 am

    Is solar power viable where you live?
    Yes! you know i live in the philppines which is a tropical country and where brownout is happening almost everyday so this is a must for me!

  32. Alexander G
    August 29, 2014 at 3:07 am

    Yes, I use solar power

  33. Ian Huey
    August 29, 2014 at 12:59 am

    It depends on the term viable. I consider viable meaning a quick payback in terms of energy production to cost. Solar takes too long to payback and thus isn't that viable. However, it is abundant in the bay area of California. These smaller solar chargers and panels for non-major use are attractive!

  34. rayon
    August 28, 2014 at 12:06 am

    Sure ,when there is no thunderstorm , but it should be great in full sunny day

  35. Nikolas A
    August 27, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    yes, long beach, ca

  36. Sergey
    August 27, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    Yes. Looks great, nice solution while traveling

  37. A.L.
    August 26, 2014 at 11:25 pm

    Looks great

  38. A.L.
    August 26, 2014 at 11:25 pm

    Looks cool

  39. alejandra corbella
    August 26, 2014 at 10:13 pm

    no, where i live there is a rural area

  40. Bártfay Meszike I
    August 26, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    yes very

  41. Paul W
    August 25, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    Sure, if I'm outside more

  42. andre sinclair
    August 25, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    yes we do have it.

  43. Dragos N
    August 25, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    I'm in Romania so it will work :)

  44. Eric R
    August 25, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    yes very

  45. Edward S.
    August 24, 2014 at 11:45 pm

    We get plenty of sun here.

  46. Dorothy H
    August 24, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    No

  47. Christopher W
    August 24, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    Solar power would be kind of iffy here. Even during this summer, it's been unusually cloudy (and blessedly cool).

  48. Gülbahar D.
    August 24, 2014 at 9:16 am

    Yes, a lot of sun over the year.

  49. Orcan Tiryakioglu
    August 23, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    yes im living in antalya/Turkey. Lot of sun

  50. Adrian
    August 23, 2014 at 6:10 am

    Yes, very

  51. Thomas Stachelski
    August 23, 2014 at 3:37 am

    No, it is not.

  52. Ryan
    August 22, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    Yes, in Missouri, here.

  53. nitin hassija
    August 22, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    I live in India, this will definitely help.

  54. Jeremy T
    August 22, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    We get sun here in Wisconsin!

  55. Ryan C
    August 22, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    It's absolutely viable......EVERYWHERE! Is there some place that never gets light from the sun? Did I miss the underground country somewhere?

  56. Emmanuel F
    August 22, 2014 at 10:14 am

    Solar charger, awesome. The sun won't go waste here if I win

  57. Nikhil N
    August 22, 2014 at 9:58 am

    YES :-)

  58. Jesse
    August 22, 2014 at 8:42 am

    I may not be getting a good tan all year round, but the weather in Ireland should suffice.... maybe

  59. Tri Nguyen
    August 22, 2014 at 7:45 am

    ...in this tropical area? of course!

  60. Alan T
    August 22, 2014 at 4:13 am

    Oh yes, solar power is definitely a viable energy source in Texas. Actually, it may get too hot for the Poweradd 14W solar charger. :D

  61. Vic L
    August 22, 2014 at 12:14 am

    Solar is viable here in Philippines and this will be really really useful for me.

  62. Brian Kautz
    August 21, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    Too many trees and cloudy

  63. Francis I
    August 21, 2014 at 11:06 pm

    Yup, I'd love to have a setup on my house. I have Sun most of the day since I really have no shade around. Too bad the panels are still too costly to justify.

  64. Alexandru S
    August 21, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    I live in Italy and the weather is not that great.

  65. Ivaylo
    August 21, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    Great giveaway!!!

  66. Jim Y
    August 21, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    I think anywhere on Earth this device would be viable.

  67. Jim Y
    August 21, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    I would love to test this device out.

  68. averyvh
    August 21, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    Solar power is only useful here in Canada in the summer.

  69. Ben L
    August 21, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    Yes, very much so. So much, that I can't wait to "get my hands on" a brand new Poweradd 14W Portable Solar charger. Oh, I hope I win. I hope, I hope.

  70. Muhammad Hadi N
    August 21, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    The use of Solar Panel at Malaysia is really usefull.

  71. Keith W
    August 21, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    Well, if not, all the houses around here with panels on their roofs are wasting their money!

  72. Denis K
    August 21, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    Yes

  73. Roger C
    August 21, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    Would love this!

  74. Maribel R
    August 21, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    Yes! Its always sunny here!

  75. Prabhath K
    August 21, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    Great device! .hope to win…

  76. Gaurav B
    August 21, 2014 at 11:30 am

    Sure we do. I will also pray more sun during those wintry months as we try to survive (brrr.......) living on the east coast of United States.

  77. paulie b
    August 21, 2014 at 11:10 am

    We have heaps of spare sun in Australia

  78. Bill
    August 21, 2014 at 9:46 am

    yes it is

  79. Colin H
    August 21, 2014 at 9:44 am

    It'll work well in here in sunny Singapore!!!

  80. Gail
    August 21, 2014 at 9:34 am

    it would come in handy here in sunny Israel

  81. Beh H
    August 21, 2014 at 8:43 am

    I think yes.

  82. Francesco Fiorino
    August 21, 2014 at 7:41 am

    Of course yes! Because I live in the south of Italy where the sun shines all over the year :)

  83. Bas
    August 21, 2014 at 6:37 am

    Great device! Great for camping! hope to win...

  84. Ari T
    August 21, 2014 at 6:24 am

    Yes. I live in the middle east and it's pretty sunny even in the winter

  85. Stephan
    August 21, 2014 at 6:11 am

    I don't.

  86. John P
    August 21, 2014 at 5:02 am

    I don't but with recent travel to places like Banff and Jasper I sure could use one.

  87. Diane
    August 21, 2014 at 4:51 am

    Nope, but I wish I did.

  88. Aaron
    August 21, 2014 at 4:02 am

    I don't, but I think they are necessary for a survival kit.

  89. Tom S
    August 21, 2014 at 4:00 am

    I don’t own one but would love to give to try this one out.

  90. Mark Shane Hansen
    August 21, 2014 at 3:50 am

    Tell you more about how I don't own a solar charger? :) Because I don't. It's a neat concept though.

  91. eric wardowski
    August 21, 2014 at 3:15 am

    I don't own one but would love to give this one a test drive.

  92. Badi R
    August 21, 2014 at 3:02 am

    I don't own any solar charger

  93. MikeB
    August 21, 2014 at 2:51 am

    Don't own one.

  94. David Smith
    August 21, 2014 at 2:48 am

    I don't have any solar chargers, but I'd like to win this one.

  95. Eric R
    August 21, 2014 at 2:46 am

    only a ten year old trickle charger

  96. Phuong Lam
    August 21, 2014 at 1:51 am

    No, I don't own one.

  97. Andrew
    August 21, 2014 at 1:36 am

    No, I don't own any solar chargers.

  98. Emmanuel A
    August 21, 2014 at 1:25 am

    not yet, but planning to buy one.

  99. Zero
    August 21, 2014 at 12:59 am

    Don't have a solar charger. I have a Logitech K750. Solar works really good on a low power device such as keyboard. Not sure how they perform with phone and tablet. If you are not staying outside for hours, will the charger actually do anything?

  100. rayon
    August 21, 2014 at 12:58 am

    I hadn't owns one just ,yet . I am thinking of getting one kinds of soler charger

  101. CZ
    August 21, 2014 at 12:34 am

    I have a small solar charger/battery, I keep it on my dashboard when traveling, but it doesn't seem to hold a charge. It charged my phone for about 3 minutes today, and stopped (and I was down to 30% early afternoon which is why I pulled out the charger!).

    Wish I'd have a more powerful charger!

  102. TawndaM
    August 21, 2014 at 12:33 am

    not really... unless you count the solar calculator... ;-)

  103. Boris
    August 21, 2014 at 12:29 am

    I don't own a solar charger

  104. JeffC
    August 21, 2014 at 12:14 am

    I don't own a solar charger.

  105. Joao
    August 20, 2014 at 11:54 pm

    Idon't have any solar charger, but should be nice, one here, with the amount of sun in the region.

  106. Piroska
    August 20, 2014 at 11:49 pm

    No, I don't. This looks like a good start, though, in this ever-searching quest for balance between technology and being "green". :o)

  107. Josh
    August 20, 2014 at 11:12 pm

    Never owned a solar charger but I really want one.

  108. P.f. B
    August 20, 2014 at 10:37 pm

    I don't currently own any solar chargers, but I really should, living in Florida as I do.

  109. Joe
    August 20, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    I don't have any solar chargers yet, but feel they may be essential if I have to spend time off the grid

  110. John C
    August 20, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    Nope, don;t own one, yet.

  111. Juan R
    August 20, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    I work in the field and I spend several months a year there with no electricity, I have a solar charger, but I toke a lot of time to find it, because I wanted one like this, that charges the device's battery directly. I'm not an engineering but I think it make no sense to charge a battery to charge other battery. The one I have is not a great quality and is made of glass so is not very suitable for harsh trekking, but still I use it a lot, even at home. I would really like to try this one!!

  112. Ken Barnes
    August 20, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    I currently don't have a solar charger, but think I could make good use of one!

  113. Harmon Abrahamson
    August 20, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    Nope, don't have a solar charger.

  114. John Kirkpatrick
    August 20, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    No solar chargers in my road warrior kit.

  115. Mat
    August 20, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    Nope

  116. Ajith S
    August 20, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    No, I don't own any solar chargers. But would like to have one, since I live in Kerala which is sunny on most days.

  117. Jeff F
    August 20, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    I don't own one yet but looking for one. This looks ideal for starters. It's portable, lightweight, small and although it's not big enough to charge a laptop, it will keep a phone topped up. It would come in very useful.

  118. Todd H
    August 20, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    I've built a few but, never bought a commercial one.

  119. bob
    August 20, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    I do not own any solar chargers

  120. Christopher
    August 20, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    No, none.

  121. Krysia
    August 20, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    I don't own a solar charger, but since I live in sunny Southern California it's probably about time I did.

  122. Robert B
    August 20, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    I am a virgin to the solar charger world, so be gentle

  123. John Kes
    August 20, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    I have a Goal Zero panel. Works well for USB charging.

  124. Kelley Galyen
    August 20, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    I don't own a solar charger, would loe to give this a try!! Thanks forthe opportunity!

  125. William Strandwitz
    August 20, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    This article seems like things have improved. Bought one of these years ago and it was at best a trickle charger never fully charging the unit. Would like to try this one. Looks like the technology has really improved.
    Thanks for the opportunity.

  126. Alex J
    August 20, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    I do not currently have a solar charger, but I have been considering one to use while camping.

  127. Gord
    August 20, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    I have a solar charger that I use to keep my car battery "alive" during the cold months.

  128. Dave N
    August 20, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    I don't have a solar charger, but I'd like one!

  129. Antonio R
    August 20, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    No, I don't, but I hope to own this one soon.

  130. Don
    August 20, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    I don't own one, but have been thinking about picking one up.

  131. Johannes
    August 20, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    No, but I am all for using green energy.

  132. Miguel
    August 20, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    I dont own a solar charger, but living in FL I probably should.

  133. artis
    August 20, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    I dont own any solar chargers, but I like to ride a bike and use endomondo, so this one would really be useful.

  134. Britni R.
    August 20, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    Don't own a solar charger. Looks cool though! :)

  135. Steen
    August 20, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    I don't own a solar charger, but I have been wanting one for some time, I just haven't had the time to search the market. So If I win you will have saved me some time ;)

  136. Gareth Howe
    August 20, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    Poweradd Apollo

  137. Dan V
    August 20, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    I do not own one because I've not seen them on the market until now.

  138. Alexey A
    August 20, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    Don't have any solar charges.

  139. Lisa Brown
    August 20, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    i do not own anything solar

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