I actually let a dude review this! He’s my next door neighbor and is kind of a superman – a cop, a lieutenant at the fire department, a hardcore snowmobiler, outdoor photographer, and generally all around good kinda guy. I’m not so gadgety so I cunningly gave him the Power Monkey to figure out so that I didn’t have to read the instructions. So here’s the result, with my traditional smartass commentary to tie it all together. By the way, I did not make him test the pink unit pictured above, mainly because that’s not the one that PowerMonkey sent. -Ed.
The Power Monkey eXplorer Solar Charger is a portable device designed to charge electronic devices while you are on the go. Within the kit contents there is a small solar panel that is designed to recharge the Power Monkey’s internal lithium battery cell. The kit also comes with an AC and USB adapter to recharge the battery when the sun is not shining. The kit retails for over $100.
OPENING THE BOX
Upon opening the kit I observed a lot of extra accessories. [When I opened the box I observed a giant tangle of stuff, which inspired me to give the unit to someone else to review. I guess a giant tangle of stuff is also known as “accessories.” -Ed.] Besides getting the battery cell and solar panel there is also a AC and USB adapter. The kit includes various attachment tips for all types of cell phones and electronic devices even a tip for an iPod. There are 3 international outlet adapters, a small storage pouch and a relatively compact zipper case that holds everything.
The solar panel is a thin rubberized unit that is hinged in the middle. The battery unit is also rubber coated and has covers for the input and output jacks to prevent damage. On the side of the battery unit there is a LCD display showing the amount of battery life along with small bars indicating charging and discharging battery life. Both the solar panel and battery unit appear to be well built and able to handle outdoor abuse.
When I first received this kit the battery life was about 25%. I quickly found the attachment for my cell phone and topped off my cell phone charge. I drained the 25% in about an hour.
When the Power Monkey is drained, a 3 bar icon inside a battery symbol on the LCD display begins flashing. This indicates the battery cell is empty and ready for recharge. I attached the solar panel to the battery unit and placed on the dash of my vehicle. [Cop car! -Ed.] The solar panel has a green LED light that indicated the panel is receiving light. The battery pack began to flash indicating the battery unit was charging. The solar panel received full sun from through the front window in my [kick-ass police cruiser] for about two hours and fifteen minutes and received a full charge; I was amazed with how quick the unit charged. [He came over and said it was “awesome!” I had just watched the movie “The Book of Eli” and started to get a little upset that I’d given the unit to someone else. I mean, what if the world ended, the ozone layer burned away, and I needed a charge for my iPod? I had to get this thing back. -Ed.]
After receiving a full charge I attached the full battery unit to my iPod using the iPod attachment tip. The solar panel was also still connected. I found that the battery unit would not discharge power while still connected the solar panel. [I probably never would have checked that. This is why I let other people do the gadgets. -Ed.] I disconnected the solar panel and my iPod was up and running. With a fully charged battery unit I played my iPod non stop for about five hours and 30 minutes.
The battery unit was now empty. I detached the iPod and reattached the solar panel. I placed both items in the front window of my home which receives full light. I found there was no sun shining. [He lives in the Northwest so this is pretty normal. -Ed.] After about 5 hours I checked the battery unit and found there was no charge. I left items in the window over night and the entire next day and found that with no sunlight shining into the solar panel no charge was received, I was extremely unhappy with this outcome. [He came back over and said “it sucks!” -Ed.]
CHARGING THE UNIT
I read through the owners manual and found that the unit should take about three hours and thirty minutes to charge a completely drained battery pack using the AC adapter and about six hours using the USB cable. I did not use the USB cable. I did however use the AC adapter and found that the unit took just under 5 hours to fully charge. When charging under full sun the unit charged in just over two hours through my vehicle window.
Using a full charge I was able to charge my Motorola Droid cell phone in a about two hours. The battery unit still had three of seven bars indicating I could probably charge my cell phone again before recharging the battery unit.
The solar panel can also be used alone to charge electronic devices. I would not recommend this due to the slow charge time and needing ample sunlight to even get a full charge with the battery unit attached. The solar panel could be used in emergency situations. I have found that solar panels have a life span from five to twenty years and lithium batteries usually only last one to two years. [I think that he has “found” this because he’s really an android, powered by lithium batteries and solar panels. How else would he know? -Ed.] The result to this would be the Power Monkey leading to less waste.
The Power Monkey eXplorer Solar Charger is a rugged, simple and compact unit. Once charged a long battery life, versatile charging and array of attachment tips make this a well rounded unit though spending over $100 dollars really makes this a high dollar item.
• Rugged Design
• Adapter tips for several types of electronic items
• Solar panel that can be used for charging or independent
• Many charging options
• Will not charge without sunlight [This seemed obvious to me, but my tester seemed disgruntled about it. It’s a solar charger, after all, not a cloud powered device. But you CAN get sunburned through cloud cover so maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about. -Ed.]
• Long charging time with AC adapter
• Short cord from solar panel to battery unit
[Due to my irrational fear of a post-apocalyptic dystopian reality coming to pass, I asked to “borrow” the unit back to take it to the sunny part of the country. So what happened to Eli in that movie would never happen to me – I don’t have to stop in some sketchy bandit town to charge my iPod now. Yesssss! -Ed.]