Impressive charging speeds and great portability make the Anker 21W USB Solar Charger the ultimate companion for any avid hiker, camper, fisher or outdoor lover.
So when we reviewed our first solar charger – the Dizaul 5000mAh – we were quite disappointed due to its allround mediocre performance. This Anker 21W Solar Charger – although not a power bank like the Dizaul was, seems to have a lot more in store for us. Let’s take a look at it in this review.
Design and Portability
At first glance, the Anker 21W is slightly bigger than expected. It’s fitted with a whopping three solar panels that when completely unfolded measure more than 26 inches in total length, and are about 11 inches wide. Fortunately, these panels can be folded resulting in a nice package that’s about the size of a small purse, but much thinner. It’s surprisingly lightweight as well and weighs no more than two iPhones.
All in all, the neatly folded package fits perfectly in a backpack. Also, there’s loops in every corner when unfolded. So combined with simple hooks or carabiners, you can conveniently hang the solar charger onto your backpack during walks in the sun. Meaning you can charge devices with the Solar Charger on the go.
The fabric that envelops the solar panels feels very rugged and is designed to endure weathery outdoor activities, which is to be expected from an Anker product. It feels incredibly sturdy and due to its light weight, will not damage at all when dropped.
Alongside the three solar panels, there’s a small compartment with velcro opening. In this compartment you’ll find the module with two USB outputs which you can use to charge your devices. It’s also a nice place to keep your smartphone or device while the solar charger is charging it. Keep in mind however that this compartment can get fairly hot when laid out in the sun.
The main appeal of the Anker Solar Charger is its ability to function as a charger when outdoors. To be clear, the Anker 21W Solar Charger is NOT a power bank and does not store power. Instead, you could look at it as a wall charger. Except wireless, and instead of electricity you’re using the sun as the energy source. So not to be confused with actual solar power banks like the Dizaul 5000mAh, which does actually store power.
With that said, surely you can use the Anker 21W Solar Charger to charge a power bank you already have. All you do is hook up a power bank, smartphone, camera or any other USB device to the Anker 21W Solar Charger, lay the panels in the sun or hang them onto your backpack, and let the sun do the charging for you. What’s great is that the module inside the Anker 21W Solar Charger has two USB outputs, meaning you can simultaneously charge two devices.
As most Anker products, the Anker 21W is equipped with PowerIQ technology. Resulting in optimal charge times and efficient output power tailored to your devices. With enough direct sunlight, one port on the Anker 21W can output a power of 2.4A, and when used for simultaneous charging can output a total of 3A. It’s also fitted with Anker’s signature surge protection, short circuit protection and overcharge protection to keep your devices safe from damage when fully charged.
Even though the Anker Solar Charger is rated at 21W, we have to keep in mind the efficiency and energy loss. So if we’re being generous, the actual power comes down to a maximum of around 10W. Which still allows for very decent charging speeds. During tests of charging an Anker PowerCore 10000, it took about 6 hours to fully charge while the panels were laid down in direct and full sunlight, which is incredibly fast and just about as fast as if it were charged by a 2A wall adapter. Keep in mind this was in direct sunlight, so your mileage may vary. Moving around a lot with the solar panels on your backpack will be less efficient than if you were to lay them down in direct sunlight. However, even with movement the solar panels are able to fully charge an iPhone 5S within 5 hours. It’s about twice as long as with a regular wall charger. But considering you’re outside in the open, and are not shackled with a cable to an outlet, it’s nothing to complain about. It’s very impressive for a solar charger and about as fast as it gets at this size.
When charging two devices simultaneously, the maximum output of 3A is divided by the two ports, so each device will receive around 1.5A.
Earlier this week the mediocre Dizaul 5000mAh turned us off of solar powered devices. However, the Anker 21W USB Solar Charger was able to surprise us handily and impressed us with solid performance and functionality. The neatly packaged Anker 21W Solar Charger brings great convenience during hiking or camping adventures. It’s robust, reliable, portable, and most of all, quite affordable for a solar unit. In the end, Anker amazes us once again with a genuinely great device.
|Measurements (folded):||11.3 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches|
|Measurements (unfolded):||26.4 x 11.3 x 0.2 inches|
|Charging ports:||2 (2.1A per port)|
|Safety features:||Overcharge protection, surge/short circuit protection and more|
|Compatible with:||iPhone, Android, tablet, digital cameras etc. (most USB devices)|
|Transition efficiency:||21.5 – 23.5%|
|Total max output:||3A|