A Tale of Two USB Battery Packs With Integral Solar Cells – One is Worth It and One Is Not

These days it is hard for me to go long without a phone. Whether it is checking email or researching something – I need a phone. What does that also mean? I need a way to recharge the phone and the traditional approach woud have been to hoof around a spare USB battery pack. Now, add my wife and multiple devices into the mix plus no easy access to a charger for the battery pack itself and life gets interesting.

I’d seen USB battery packs on Amazon that had integral solar sells and decided to buy two different models to see which met my needs better. During a recent family trip we were able to really put the two units to a real world test and want to share the results with you.

First Up: The Soxono F16W

The F16W is a sleek looking unit with two USB charger pots, a light and integral wireless charger. There is also a pretty rugged rubber cover that seals the ports from water.

Here’s the top of the F16W
Here’s the back. There is an LED light at the top and the black circle is the wireless charging pad.

Here are the specs:

Model: F16WCapacity: 16,000mAH
Solar: 5.5v@280mAHInput USB-C: 5v@2.0A
Output USB-A1: 5v@2.1AOutput USB-A2: 5v@2.1A
Wireless output: 5WTotal Output: 5v@2.1A
Dimensions
LxWxH: 6.7″ x 3.3″ x 0.87″
Thickness: 0.92″
Weight: 0.78 pounds (12.5 oz)
Voltage and capacity data obtained from the back of the unit and not independently verified.

This was my first unit to try and it served fairly well as a battery back. My normal pack is a 10,000mAH Anker and I feel that the Anker lasts longer. We charged/topped off my Note 8 a number of times plus my wife’s S10+ once. We were taking a ton of photos and sending them so we were draining the phones quickly.

During the heaviest day of use it got down to one lit LED on its gas gauge and I can’t really say the solar panel made a huge difference for the amount I used it. If you notice, the output is really tiny at 280mAH, which is why it really didn’t help much. It does help some no doubt but it is a trickle compared to how fast you will likely use the battery. Would it be better than nothing? Yeah, but it’s going to take a looooong time to charge that battery depending on the amount of sunlight and temperature.

Now please note something, there are a lot of vendors out there putting a relative few solar cells on the top of their unit and charging a premium. With as small of output as those cells can generate, it would take any brand quite a long time to recharge the battery.

On the plus side, it was decidedly smaller than the next unit and the wireless charging was nice but I switched to cords once I realized the battery seemed to discharge pretty quick. Wireless charging on a battery doesn’t make a ton of sense if you are trying to get the most out of your battery because it is inherently less efficient than charging with a cable. Sure, there is the convenience of not needing cables and if that matters to you then fine and it does work on this unit.

Would I recommend it? No. Get an Anker charger if you don’t care about solar charging and just want a good reliable battery. The solar cells on top really don’t make a difference. If you do want solar, check out the next unit.

By the way, I highly recommend Anker batteries. I’ve literally used them for years and a number of different models. You can choose based on your preferences for size, capacity and number of ports.

Next up: The Hiluckey Outdoor HI-S025

Let me lead with: It’s bigger, it’s heavier and it absolutely did the job. It’s a Chinese product made by Dongguan Jili Intelligent Technology Co., who is a very prolific manufacturer of these types of solar chargers.

Here’s the top of the unit with the solar panels unfolded. Note, the fabric encases the edges of the solar cells. One small area had the adhesive let go during a hot day in the sun and I pushed it back down. In looking at it right now at my desk, I can’t tell where it happened.
A simple but effective snap keeps the folded panels closed.

Here are the specs:

Model: HI-S025Capacity: 25,000mAH
Solar: 5v@6.0WInput Micro USB: 5v@2.0A
Output USB-A1: 5v@2.1AOutput USB-A2: 5v@2.1A
Wireless output: NoneTotal Output: 5v@2.1A
Dimensions
LxWxH: 6.1″x3.35″x1.37″
Unfolded Solar Panel
Width Becomes: 13.9″
Thickness Folded: 1.33″Main body Thickness: 0.86″
Solar panel thickness: 0.177″Weight: 1.29 pounds (20.64oz)
Voltage and Capacity data obtained from the back of the unit and not independently verified.

When I got this out of the box I really was put off by the size just to be honest. I wanted something that would fit in my pocket and the size and weight of this really meant it was better off going in my pack. You know what? It’s worth it.

First off, you have a pretty big battery in terms of capacity – 25,000 mAH and solar cells that generate enough output (6 watts is 6,000 mA by the way and 21.4x the solar panel output of the above unit). That’s not enough to keep up with a device drawing 2.1 amps (10.5 watts) but it is going to help and it is going to recharge the battery faster.

The smaller Soxono F16W is in the front and the larger Hiluckey HI-S025 is in the rear. The visible orange button on the Soxono controls the LED light and wireless charging.

We used this battery extensively over a full day and only lowered the charge from 5 LEDs to three. We did deploy the solar panels a few times and the only cosmetic issue I noted was that the adhesive holding the fabric to the face of one cell got soft and separated. I pressed it back down and it stayed put. It was 93F outside so combine that with being in the sun, that panel was pretty hot.

So, the bottom line is that it is bigger and heavier than a traditional battery-only pack but it worked. I topped my Note 8’s battery a number of times and my wife’s S10+ once with no problems.

Another Option: Dedicated Separate Solar Panels

There is another option that I plan to test – having separate solar panels that have a USB output for charging devices. This would seem to be the best of both worlds – a larger folding solar panel that can charge faster but it is separate from the USB battery that can still go in your pocket. I did some reading of reviews and bought the following unit and forgot to bring it on the trip … yeah, I left it right on the corner of my desk.

In Conclusion

I’d recommend Anker brand batteries for folks needing compact power. I would not recommend the Soxono and I would recommend the HiLuckey HI-S025 to folks who need a big battery that can actually recharge with an attached solar panel. I’ll report back how things go with the dedicated panel when I have time.


Dongguan Jili Intelligent Technology Co

A quick parting comment – I’ve never heard of Dongguan Jili Intelligent Technology Co. before but they make a number of models and brands of batteries and solar related products on Amazon. They all seem to get very good reviews:


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The Bond Roughneck Derringer – Bigger Than I Assumed

Folks, I have a legal concealed carry permit . My normal carry pistol is a SIG P365. It is quite a bit of firepower in a compact package with magazines that can carry 10, 12 or even 15 rounds. The challenges are two fold – it is still relatively large and heavy. Sure, compared to a full size 1911 or Glock 17/1 9 it is smaller but I have been wanting an even smaller pistol that could slide in my pant pocket and not weigh as much. So, when Palmettos State Armory had the 9mm 2.5″ Bond Arms Roughneck on sale, I jumped and bought one.

Bond Arms makes some beautiful derringers and their high end models are over $1,000 and well regarded. The Roughneck is not as polished and finished as the higher end models and they will tell you they can make four Roughnecks in the time it takes to make one of their other models.

Bond Arms is known for their quality, they have a rebounding hammer to improve safety and have a ton of interchangeable barrels with different calibers and lengths supported. Please note that I am very complimentary of the design and the construction. It’s a beautifully made derringer and I could readily see why they have such a good reputation.

One safety feature of the Bond derringers is the use of a rebounding hammer. Traditional derringers had the hammer/pin right against the primer. Dropping the derringer or hitting the hammer often resulted in an accidental discharge. To guard against unnecessary wear on the cross-bar, I kept snap caps in the pistol for dry firing. Don’t dry fire a Bond is the important message.

The Problem Was Me

Okay, so in my rush to get the Roughneck I assumed some things. Ever heard that old saying “When you assume you make and ASS out of U and ME?” Well, that was me. I assumed it was going to be small and light and never checked the dimensions. Bond Arms builds these things like tanks out of steel. Seriously folks, we are talking about an incredibly beefy derringer that will last and last and last.

When I picked it up at Michigan Gun Exchange, my FFL, I immediatey noticed my oversight. Boy, it filled my hand and weighed 19oz (1.18 pounds) empty and 4.5″ overall. Not what I had in mind at all.

Okay, to be honest, I thought about it overnight and decided to sell it the next day. The reason is simple, my SIG P365 weighs 17.8 oz (1.11 pounds) empty. and is about 4.9″ long. Yeah….. sticking with the SIG made way more sense because of the increased firepower – the 10 round magazine is flush fitting. Of course the SIG will weigh more than the Roughneck when loaded but that’s life.

So here are some pictures so you can decide for yourself:

Here’s the SIG P365 on Top and the Roughneck Below. To get an idea of scale, they are sitting on a 2×4 board.
The Roughneck is decidedly shorter.
They are about the same thickness.
This photo really sums up why I am keeping the SIG and selling the Roughneck. The size is similar but the SIG has that amazing 10 round flush fitting magazine.
Here’s the Roughneck in my hand. I have stubby fingers but wear and XL-size glove.
Here’s me holding the SIG P365.
SIG makes 10-, 12- and even 15-round magazines for the P365 and I’ve found them all to be reliable.

Conclusion

Buyers should select pistols based on how they feel and their intended use. My jumping the gun and buying the Roughneck sight unseen was totally my fault and my decision to sell the Roughneck is not a negative against the design – it’s just not what I am looking for in terms of a really small last-ditch self-defense pistol. For now, I’ll keep my SIG but also keep an eye out for something smaller that still chambers 9mm.

I hope this post helps you out!


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Post #26 – Photos of AK and Related Rifles

Here’s another post of some of my AK and related rifle photo collection. I figure a lot of folks have never seen these and aren’t aware of the military and world history that the Kalashnikov design has been involved with. After the photo gallery are links to previous photo posts as well.

Here’s another post of some of my AK and related rifle photo collection. I figure a lot of folks have never seen these and aren’t aware of the military and world history that the Kalashnikov design has been involved with. After the photo gallery are links to previous photo posts as well.


If you have more detailed descriptions for any of these images, please let me know. My email is info@roninsgrips.com.

Please note that I do not own these photos – they remain the property of their respective owners. If you are the copyright owner and wish one removed or some form of attribution added, please contact me.

Related Posts


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com.

We make and sell an excellent fire control group plate. It is the correct thickness and geometry to firmly secure your semi-auto AK’s hammer and trigger pins in place. Click here to go to our store’s page.





PSA AK Webstore Links

Click on the following links for the associated webstore categories at Palmetto:

When Strength and Quality Matter Most

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