The Poweradd 7W Foldable Solar Panel Charger is a lightweight way to turn the sun’s rays into a charged cell phone battery. In full sunlight and perfect conditions, it can deliver about 1.2amps (1272mA according to the box) to your phone. This is more juice than most phones can charge at, but there’s no issue with a charger being rated higher than the phone it’s charging.

Poweradd 7W Foldable Solar Panel ChargerI’ve played with this a few weeks on different days and have determined that it works, at least up to about 800mA. Unfortunately it’s entirely at the mercy of the weather and how well you have the panel pointed at the sun. You might say that’s the case for anything solar, but many of the ones we’ve reviewed before had an internal battery they charged and then you charged your phone off of that battery.

This is straight from the giant ball of gas in the sky to your cell phone, which has to be tethered to the solar panel in order to charge.

My first attempts at using this was at a lake. With a quarter charge left on my cell phone I went to the car and grabbed the box, opened it up, and realized there were no charge cables included. A friend of mine had her iPhone and a lightning cable, we plugged that in to see if it would work but constant messages about it not being a supported charger or cable kept popping up. According to the support page it’s still charging, but we didn’t test that theory.

An android cable was located and I managed to eek out a +200mA charge on a somewhat cloudy day.

My second big attempt I didn’t think that the tethering was going to be much of an issue, but on that charge I got a battery warning that my phone was overheating. It was sitting in the direct sun and charging. It shut itself off and refused to charge any more. Threw the phone in the freezer for a few as it was nuclear hot and resumed the next day. Lesson learned that a black phone (EVO 3D) in the sun gets super hot.

Round three I placed the phone in the shade and the solar panel directly in the sun pointed correctly. I saw 600mA charge rates and determined to use Battery Monitor Widget to give the highs and the lows of charging. I went inside my house for about 10 minutes and ran back outside as it was now raining sideways. The EVO 3D (my only remaining one) lit up one last time, I saw in BMW some good charging before the storm, and then it was lights out.

It’s been drying off in a bag of rice ever since.

RIP little EVO 3D

I’ve since used it a few times on my other non-soaked phones, determined that it works as advertised although you might start realizing that the sun doesn’t shine through the air nearly as bright as you think it does on some days.

It’s a pretty useful product if you’re out hiking and want to keep a phone or camera charged, but it’s not quite as useful for me as the ones that include a little battery that you can charge off of later (such as at night). That, however, is reflected in the significantly lower price, and you can also buy a portable rechargeable phone charging battery and stick it onto the Poweradd.

It’s also tough enough that it got stepped on by me and survived. So for what it does I’m a fan.

The Poweradd 7W Foldable Solar Panel Charger is available from Amazon for $27.99.