Tool Review: SunVolt Portable Power Station

Tool Review: SunVolt Portable Power Station



The SunVolt Portable Power Station is a portable solar panel that can be used to charge cell phones and tablets. There are actually two models, the SynVolt and the SunVolt Max. The first outputs 10 watts under optimal conditions, while the Max is rated for 15 watts, with 8-14.4 volts juicing your device. The SunVolt weighs 4.3 pounds and is the size of a 13″ laptop, while the Max weighs 5.75 pounds and is the size of a 17″ laptop.

So, you set up your SunVolt using the convenient stand built into the case. Contrary to the picture above, you really must have the thing pointed directly at the sun in order to actually charge up an iPad, for instance. I wasn’t able to get more than a trickle, myself–though in all fairness, a winter’s day in Minnesota doesn’t provide a reasonable amount of light to judge the solar panels’ stats.


I had more luck with the Solar Cache Battery Pack. This is a plug-in battery (not included with the SunVolt!) that fits into the case’s pocket. You could, therefore, just leave the solar panel in your window and charge the battery over a period of time if the light conditions aren’t optimal. Also in the case’s pocket you’ll find a mess of adapters, to fit the two power output plugs that lead from the solar panels. The various flavors of USB as well as an iPod are represented.

Overall I thought the SunVolt was a fine product. An easily transportable 10-watt solar cell that costs $99 ($129 for the Max) sounds like a pretty good deal to me. One disappointment I had was the physical quality of the vinyl case is less than stellar. It feels cheap, and the zippers don’t work very well. The big zipper one even broke after one day of use, forcing me to cut the case just to open it. Not good! But I wouldn’t call it a deal-killer either.

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My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal

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