Review: Freeloader Classic
- — 28 October, 2012 22:00
|Name||Solar charger: Freeloader Classic|
|At a glance:||1,200mAh Li-ion battery,Solar charge in 5-10 hours,Charge from PC in 3-4 hours,500mA USB port output|
|Summary:||Functional, but low-capacity internal battery which is slow to charge from solar power. Recommended for low-power devices only.|
Solar Technology International’s ‘Freeloader Classic’ is probably the most well-known solar charger on the market, due in part to its availability through geek-tech purveyor ThinkGeek. In New Zealand, the Freeloader Classic is available through our equivalent web store, Mighty Ape.
At heart, the Freeloader is a middling-capacity 1,200mAh Lithium-ion battery pack which can be charged via a USB port in 3-4 hours. However, its drawcard is its pair of solar panels, which can be snapped on to either end facing inwards for storage, or attached facing outward like wings to charge the battery.
Solar charge time is listed as 5-10 hours, or ‘8 hours in bright sunlight’. In our Auckland-based tests, we were able to charge the battery from empty-to-full in eight hours, on one particularly sunny day, with the Freeloader located outside. Through our office windows, charge time became multiple days (at least 16 hours of sun) – we had similar results outside under cloud cover.
The Freeloader Classic will charge any device capable of charging from a standard (500mA) USB port, and several other types of gadgets such as phones and cameras via an included set of plug-adapters. It won’t charge tablets and other large devices that require high-current (usually 2,000mA) USB ports – even if it could, its battery capacity is insufficient to provide a full charge.
Worth it? The Freeloader is compact, and provides a good external battery for low-capacity devices such as feature phones, MP3 players and e-readers.
For smartphones and tablets with higher battery capacities than the Freeloader itself, there’s no way you’ll get by on solar power alone.