When opened out, the Esun 12W Folding Solar Panel has eight solar panels spread across its 67x44cm design, yet it packs down really small. At 360g it is a reasonable weight too when you consider the 12W output. The panels are flexible too unlike the lowest-priced options, while the folding design means the solar panels are protected. A bunch of cables allow this unit to plug into the standard 12V connectors that are available and often come with most devices, and you can even use it to charge a car battery thanks to a pair of clamps. It has the power to charge a range of batteries and devices rapidly – a real bonus when you bear in mind that you may only get a couple of hours of good sunshine in the UK! But you must ensure you have the right adapters to use the Esun 12W Folding Solar Panel to charge your GPS or mobile, while other units come with a host of adapters – though of course it is possible that none of those will match your device! A voltmeter would be required to check the output when charging batteries as there are no indicators built in. It’s too large to easily dangle from a rucksack, so this is best kept for static use.
Charging time 1-3 hours for most applications including 4 x AA batteries, digital cameras, PDAs, MP3 players
Power output 12W, 12V, 800mA max
Packed size 13x23x1.9cm
Stores in the UK available online only
Stockist details – tel. 0845 094 1250; www.solarcentre.co.uk
The Esun 12W Folding Solar Panel is ideal for expeditions, campsites and bothies, when the huge power output excels but a more user-friendly design would be helpful to general walkers.
Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine June 2010