Product review: Xenta Solar Chargers

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Xenta Solar Back Pack Charger £39.99 xenta.co.uk

  • Portable solar panel
  • Ideal for hikers and campers
  • Charge any USB device
  • Ideal for smartphones
  • 19.6 x 29.3cm

This snazzy little solar charger (hanging on the side of the van in the picture) is compact and light. It can be attached to a back pack so that you can charge as you walk or simply hang it up somewhere sunny.  A mesh pocket allows you to store the phone in the charger whilst it is charging.

This year we have used it a few times, it was particularly useful at a festival.  It takes a fair while to get a full charge but in the absence of other ways to charge your mobile device even half a charge is rather thrilling.

However, let us be clear, this is a solar charger therefore sun is required. Overcast just doesn’t work.  Inevitably, camping in the UK does not always equate with sunny days. However, when the sun does shine or if you are off to foreign soils where the solar availability is much more reliable this is a really handy product.

Xenta Solar Briefcase Charger – £79.99 xenta.co.uk

  • 13A solar powered charger
  • Able to charge 12V, 18V and 24V batteries
  • Ideal for caravans, campervans, marine
  • Battery clamps and adaptor wires included
  • 7A charge regulator for over-charge protection

One of the problems we encounter when camping in the camper van is that, because we like to choose the wilder kind of campsite, we very rarely have electric hook up (only once I can recall).  The leisure battery can power the fridge and various other electrical elements of the van for a couple of days without being plugged in. Also, as you drive the leisure battery is charged so when we away for longer we plan a few longer drives to charge the battery.

However, it is not an always possible to plan sufficiently and we have at times lost food and – horrors – not had cold beers.  So we were interested to give the briefcase charger a go to see if we could extend the useful fridge time!

The briefcase charger is pleasingly compact. Although the van is usually packed to the rafters when we go away we easily found a spot behind a seat to slip it into. Good start.  The first weekend we used it the sun blazed hotly and we were a bit excited in that geeky ‘new kit’ kind of way.  Clearly it is not a huge panel and it is not going to quickly fully charge a leisure battery, however, it was doing something and a little something was all we needed to keep those beers chilled.

However, after this glorious start to the camping season at White Meadow Campsite the summer turned out to be a fairly dreary affair and we didn’t find many times when it seemed worth getting the panel out.  Although at the end of the summer we went to Shambala Festival and when the sun shone we were pleased to have the charger to drag a few more hours out of the fridge.

As with the backpack charger the briefcase charger is only going to be of real use in reliably sunny conditions but is a handy boon when the sun does shine!

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Thanks to Xenta for providing both products for us to review.

 

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