Endless Sun Solar Apollo 6 USB Solar Charger Reviewed
Marketing from Endless Sun Solar
6 Watts of Advanced CIGS Technology
Just because you’re off the grid doesn’t mean you want to be out of touch. Our military grade Apollo 6 solar charger helps you keep all of your USB based electronic devices fully-charged even when you’re away from an outlet. Whether you’re trekking, exploring the back country or sitting out a power outage, you can easily insure that your smartphone, GoPro, tablet, e-reader and other electronics are fully operating, even in cloudy or shaded conditions. Just plug your device or powerpack into its built in USB port and face the panel towards the sun, and you can charge at the same speed as a wall outlet. It also has 4 built in grommets so that you can easily hang your solar charger off your backpack, tent, a tree, and more.
Manufacturer: Endless Sun Solar, endlesssunsolar.com
Model: Apollo 6 V2 USB Solar Charger
Panel Dimensions (unfolded): 15″ x 8″ (38 x 20.5 cm)
Panel Dimensions (folded): 7.75″ x 8″ x 0.5″ (20 x 20.5 x 1.5 cm)
Panel Weight: 5.5 oz (155.9g)
Colors: Currently only available in black
Solar Cell Type: Copper Indium Gallium (di)Selenide (CIGS)
Solar Cell Efficiency: 15%
Max Voltage at STC: 6.5v
Nominal Voltage: 5v
Amperage at STC: 0.95
Total Wattage at STC: 6.15
Reverse Flow Protection: Yes
Overcharge Protection: Yes
Standard Test Conditions: 1000 W/Sq. M, Cell Temperature of 25C, 1.5 Airmass
Included: Rubber USB Port Cover, Nylon Pouch
Warranty: 1 Year Comprehensive Warranty
With all of the electronics out there, there will always be a need for an efficient and cost effective method of providing renewable power in the field to run our flashlights, communication and navigation devices, GoPros, and even small tablets for reading and entertainment. Today, I’ll be looking at the Apollo 6 USB Solar Charger from Endless Sun Solar and reviewing its capabilities. So let’s dig in…
The Apollo 6 V2 USB Solar Charger is a second generation device completely redesigned based on user input and now features a panel that is 31% lighter and 22% smaller, but with the same advanced features and functionality as the original Apollo 6. The new Apollo 6 is a rugged portable solar charging panel made from a tough, water-resistant rubberized canvas for its extreme flexibility, lightweight and ultra-durability. Additionally, it is currently only available in black.
At nearly 15″ wide and 8″ tall open, the Apollo 6 is only 5.5 ounces and provides nearly 63 square inches of surface area between the two panel sections for the advanced, 15% efficient Copper Indium Gallium (di)Selenide (CIGS) solar cells that are encapsulated in a durable Super Barrier Film from Fujifilm. No glass to break. The Apollo 6 also features an advanced titanium oxide cooling technology to prevent overheating, thus further increasing performance.
CIGS solar cells are based on an advanced technology developed by NASA and the military as a reliable alternative to conventional silicon-based solar cells that are fragile and require full direct sunlight to produce power. The spectrum of light absorbed by standard crystalline silicon cells ranges from 400-700 nm, while the light spectrum absorbed by CIGS cells ranges from 300-1300 nm.
As a result, CIGS solar cells are not only more durable and significantly thinner with a high absorption rate that allows 99% of the available light to be absorbed within the first micron layer, they are very flexible and have a high tolerance for shade allowing them to function well in cloudy and overcast conditions.
The second generation Apollo 6 now folds completely in half so it is much thinner making it easier to unfold and deploy. Collapsed, it is 7.75″ wide, 8″ tall, 0.5″ thick and tucks neatly away in the protective nylon pouch provided with it.
The Apollo 6 is designed to provide up to 6 watts of DC power at 5 volts. It features Reverse Flow and Overcharge Protection so it can safely be used with any electronic device that is compatible with common USB chargers provided you have the necessary adapter cable to do so.
It is important to note that if you typically keep the Apollo 6 stowed away for long periods of time, it must be reactivated by solar saturating the cells so they work optimally. This is easily done by placing the panel in direct sunlight for about 20-25 minutes before you begin charging any devices. This should not be necessary if you use the panel at least every week or two.
Every Apollo 6 solar panel is covered by a comprehensive one-year warranty policy. If during normal use your Apollo 6 stops functioning for any reason, they’ll replace it.
To test the Apollo 6, I thought I would run it through a few power cycles using the Spectrum 10. The Spectrum 10 is an older Endless Sun Solar product that is also part of their Apollo 6 Mobility Package. But for the sake of these tests, I am really only focussed on the capabilities of the Apollo 6 Solar Charger.
For the next charging cycle, I attempted to charge the Spectrum 10 with the Apollo 6 in direct sunlight, albeit through a double-pane residential window knowing that residential and commercial windows are designed to block a substantial amount of the light spectrum that solar panels absorb to provide energy with any efficiency. Since I had not used the Apollo 6 panel before, I had to solar saturate it to reactivate the cells. Just 20-30 minutes in direct sunlight without any load is all it takes.
Through the window, the panel produced 5.24V without a load, and only 3.80V, 0.31A @ 1.81W under load while charging the Spectrum 10. The Apollo 6 charged the Spectrum 10 through the window for a little over 4 hours, but did not complete the charge cycle so I had to plug the Spectrum 10 into a USB charger for almost 2 more hours before it was fully charged.
For the next charge of the Spectrum 10, I used the Apollo 6 outside in direct sunlight. It was a sunny 95° day in SoCal without a cloud in the sky so I figured this should be easy for it. The Apollo 6 produced 5.23V without a load, and 5.20V, 0.43A @ 2.24W under load while charging the Spectrum 10. After being in direct sunlight without any shading whatsoever, it took nearly 7.0 hours for the Apollo 6 to fully charge the Spectrum 10.
I tried charging a larger 5200mAh powerpack also in direct sunlight to see if the values would be any different from charging the Spectrum 10. It was a similar sunny 95° day in SoCal without a cloud in the sky. This time, the Apollo 6 produced 4.72V, 0.73A @ 3.45W under load while charging the alternate powerpack.
Finally, I tried plugging the iPhone 6+ directly into the Apollo 6 panel to see how it would fare in the exact same conditions, a sunny 95° SoCal day. The Apollo 6 produced 4.53V, 0.82A @ 3.73W under load while charging the iPhone 6+. The best results yet.
The Apollo 6 is a rugged solar charging panel that is both compact and extremely lightweight. Easily one of the most durable that I’ve seen to date. However, at only 6 watts I find the charging capabilities to be rather limiting. If you only have a small cell phone and rechargeable flashlight, you are set. But if you carry a lot of electronic gear, this panel will not provide nearly enough juice. Especially with modern higher-powered devices including high-lumen flashlights, smartphones and tablets. If you need to charge more than a single high-powered device or two smaller devices in a given day, you’re probably going to be out of luck.
As far as the updates to the second generation of the Apollo 6, I think they are all positive with the exception of losing the button snaps that keep it closed. Additionally, I also miss the camo pattern as well. Finally, I know it has been recommended by others to provide some kind of device retention like a hook and loop panel or a pocket on the backside. I completely concur.
Endless Sun Solar does have 36-watt and 72-watt panel solutions, but they are just too large to strap on the outside of a pack. If they had a panel with the exact same design and quality as the Apollo 6, but 12-18 watts in size, two USB ports and pair it with a large capacity powerpack integrated with fast-charging technologies, I think Endless Sun Solar would have an ideal solution for power-users. In the meantime, the Apollo 6 USB Solar Charger is a rugged lightweight USB solar panel capable of meeting the needs of most light to moderate users, but it’s even better when paired with one of those newer high-quality powerpack.
Disclosure of Material Connection: We received the product(s) mentioned above for free in consideration for a complete, honest and impartial product review for publication on LetsTalkSurvival.com with no gurantee of the outcome whatsoever. Any opinion provided herein is based entirely on our personal experience with the product(s).
About Endless Sun Solar
Getting off of the beaten track doesn’t have to mean being out of touch. Even when you’re miles away from an electrical outlet, Endless Sun Solar has the products you need to keep your smartphone, tablet, laptop and other electronic devices fully powered and fully operational. Whether you need to power a single smartphone or the entire camp, we supply shade resistant, durable solar panels of the highest quality that are capable of powering almost any device from any location on the planet, thanks to our technologically advanced CIGS solar cells.
Don’t get left in the dark just because you’re drawn to the undeveloped, less-traveled corners of the planet. With Endless Sun Solar’s line of products, if you have sun, you’ll have the power you need, all backed by our comprehensive 1 year product warranty.