Sorry if I not very techy but I have just purchased a Powerpoint solar 15 and a Powerpoint Core 20100. I have had the solar panel charging all day yesterday in full sun. The charger arrived this morning so I plugged it in. Nothing is happening. I am planning to trek to Everest Base Camp in 10 days and time is running out to get this stuff right. I am not sure if the solar panel is faulty and it doesn’t help that their are no instructions in either box (why Anker?)! I an unsure if the red light is meant to stay on when you plug in to start the charge from the panel. There there is the fact that there is no mains charger with the power pack. I started looking up buying an Aker one and it appears there isn’t such a thing!!! What on earth?!! So I have to resort to buying a charger and not knowing if they are truly compatible (I keep reading mixed reports on forums as many answers are different and I really don’t understand the ampage thing other than it seems you need 2 and above for a decent charge. However I did find some wall mains chargers on sale at Anker but they tend to have 2 or 3 or 4 USB ports in the plug. Back to my initial question in the title… what is the point? If I am having to buy a charger with USB ports in it, and spend 8-11 hours charger the power pack. What is the point of this when I could do without the battery pack and just plug my devices directly into the mains plug and charge them at source. Am I missing something here? Apart from a lack of mains charge for days at a time which of course would be a good reason to have the battery pack, but as I will find teahouses along the route to mains charge maybe I didn’t really need the extra weight of all this stuff. I would aprpeciate your thoughts and advice. Many thanks
It is pity you could not have come in here and asked for advice prior to purchase because there is little folks like myself can do to help you with 10 days left before your trip. But I’ll try to help.
Anker do sell a mains charger, they are under the Powerport name.
Solar (in general, not specific to Anker’s products) delivers usually about half what is claimed for a 15Watt I’d assume 7W (its been measured at 7.2W) so usually in perfect conditions I’d expect about 1.6A 5V. In less than perfect conditions the volts and the amps drops. If it drops too far then it ceases being able to be above the threshold of whatever it is output to. Different devices have different thresholds so some are more tolerant of less than perfect conditions than others. So the larger the solar panel, the less often it drops its output below the threshold of the device, i.e. larger panels are useless less often.
So the smaller the solar panel, the more often it is useless. As shown here
The Anker 15W panel is one of the higher rates in reviews.
In the case of a Powercore 20100, I don’t know what is its threshold, the minimum voltage which would cause it to recharge, but that is my 1st thought.
You can have 3 items at fault here:
The cable. This is the single most common cause of problems. Use a meter to check your cable. In my own tests across a range of cables about 1:4 were faulty. By faulty I mean it would look like they were working but when I put a meter on what should have been about 2A is more like 0.1-0.6A. So I’d 1st check your cable. A meter is best, otherwise try different cables. Without a meter you’re mostly running blind.
The solar panel. There are plenty of places for a solar panel to fault. Without a meter you cannot easily eliminate this cause. You could connect say a mobile phone or tablet to it and then look at the rate of recharge and infer if the mobile/tablet is charging. Example calculation: a mobile with a 3000mah battery, the “15W” solar panel would give out about 1.7A i.e. 1700mah, so I’d expect 3000/17000 = 1.8 hours = 105 mins, so roughly 1% of charge increase per minute. Note: a mobile being used will show a lot less than this so put leave mobile alone and in shade and come to it in say 30 mins and you should see 30% increase. Also note that all devices trickle charge from 85% to 100% so you need a mostly empty flat mobile like 10% and see it move to 40% in 30 mins, once you get to 85% charged it will then take roughly twice as long go 85% to 100% as it did from 70% to 85%.
The Powercore. A meter would help. Show on mains power (wall socket charger) it does actually take a charge and then discharge into something you can measure, e.g. in the example of a 3000mah mobile, the 20100 should recharge the mobile (20100/3000/5*3.7) 5 times.
The main thrust of your text is showing the realization about the core problem with solar, that is mostly useless for most problems relative to a charged powerbank. Solar makes little point on size and weight reasons on shorter trips, and becomes less useful the smaller they get. The next model up from Anker is 21W.
21W is 42% more power for 32% more weight, because the solar part becomes a larger component of the rest of the system. Also the voltage drop off is less. It is the voltage drop-off which is the most critical part, if it drops below the charging threshold it is literally then useless, in fact less than useless because some devices will detect a voltage, open their charging circuits and then not get enough input to offset the charging circuit and so causes the device to discharge rather than charge.
On a size/weight basis, assuming everything worked perfectly, the Powercore 20100 would hold 12 hours of sunshine. ( 20100/1700 = 11.8) It weighs 12.6oz. The Anker 15W weighs about the same (right? Put these on scales). In perfect conditions you’d need 2-3 days of sunshine to get the same energy as the 20100. Do you need 2-3 days worth of 20100 charge more than the 20100 can carry in itself? Well mostly not, you’d need to be off-grid for a week or so before solar makes any sense. And then if you were off-grid for >1 week you’d be better off with a bigger solar panel on a Watts per weight basis. You’d be better off with a group of people and between the group having a bigger solar panel, then the sunshine is much less likely to drop below the threshold voltage of your devices, i.e. it is useless less often.
Note: Apple products and solar in general do not get along. This is because in most cases once the Apple product witnesses a drop off of input power it locks itself at that lower level even when the power input goes up, so you have to disconnect and reconnect the cable if say a cloud passes over.
Important: batteries do not like heat. The sun makes things hot. Solar panels drop off efficiency with heat. Solar in general likes UV, human skin does not like UV. So basically if you literally plugged in a Powercore 20100 into the Anker Solar Lite 15W the heat of the sun drops the 15W claimed to more like 7W as it warms up, the Powercore 20100 would also begin to get warm and that would accelerate its aging, on too a long trip the heat of the sun would fry your Powercore 20100. So then you’d need to place the solar panel in as cool a spot as possible to maximise its efficiency, so propped up say off a surface so it has air circulating, or resting on a light colored surface, and the Powercore or other device out behind something in the shade. Then, the lower the USB cable the more the losses in the cable, so then you’d need a thicker cable with less losses, which are heavy.
Why did you buy the Powercore 20100? You describe the use of tearooms and mains power whilst there, well then you’re looking for fastest recharge. The 20100 has one of the worst recharge / mah of the Anker product range. Two Powercore 10000 would recharge twice as fast in total than one 20100. Or the Powercore II 20000, or the Powercore 26800, or… (QC or USB-C, etc).
- it is a pity you didn’t seek more advice earlier, but given where you are now: test and eliminate cause (cable, solar, Powercore).
- buy the Powerport2 and two Powercore 10000. These would collectively recharge your Powercore twice as fast when you do come across mains power. Two Powercore 1000 weigh the same as one Powercore 20100, and recharge twice as fast, if one of them fails you still have the other. The Powerport2 outputs 4.8A which is enough for full speed recharge of two Powercore 10000.
- Assuming nothing is at fault, the Anker Solar Lite 15W should be close in performance to what a mobile phone is capable of ingesting anyway, consider charging your devices directly off solar, it will eliminate the power losses of an intermediate device, as per my calculation examples you should be able to recharge most mobiles fully in about 2 hours of sunshine.
Can’t really add much more to the comprehensive reply that @nigelhealy has already given and the points which you have already self answered, such as the need for power banks if mains sockets are within grasp…
That is a fantastic reply and I do appreciate you taking the time to write it. I am sure it will help not only me but many others reading it behind me.
I have to say although I did manage to get the gist of what you said I am really not very techy when it comes to some of the V & Watts language and calculations. and for someone like me as a layperson, some of it is a bit over my head.
I don’t have a power meter and wont be buying one as I doubt I’d have a reason to use it again and I think, as you rightly say, I should have asked before making my purchases. I read up for 2 days solid and everything pointed towards the 20100 being great and many 1000’s thumbs up votes in comparison to others of similar ilk. The Solar device at 15W seemed to get a better reviews than the 21W which is why I stuck with that. I have a feeling the solar panel I have is faulty. I plugged the 20100 in and having charged the panel all day (when I said full sun, a part of the day was also behind cloud too but I think given what I have read, the length of time it was out there facing the sun and angled in such a way it would pickup for most of the middle of the day it should have picked up some charge I feel. However there is no red light on (it seems to come on for a moment and then go out again and I am unsure if this is normal or whether the red light should remains on during charge).
After reading your reply, I removed the 20100 from the solar panel and plugged it into my PC USB port. Instantly the first 2 blue lights appeared on and the charge started. That hadn’t happened at any time when attached to the solar panel.
I then changed the cables and attached my iphone directly onto the solar panel. I had tried this earlier. At no time when I have tried this has the charging (little lightning bolt) shown that it was charging. Again no red light on the panel. I have now had my iphone attached to the solar panel for the past half hour. It has not budged and no lightning bolt showing it is charging . It appears that apart from the odd intermittent red light coming on in the solar panel then switching off again, when I first plug into it, the solar panel is really doing nothing at all in the way of offering any charge to any device using any cable.
I had also purchased an Anker Powerlineplus Lightning cable and it does nothing if attached to the solar panel but works when plugged into my iphone and into my PC. I will try again if the sun appears tomorrow. If it still doesn’t work then I guess it’ll have to go back. I will also purchase the charger you mentioned, I think that might be the way to go and forget the solar if it’s finicky to collect charge when trekking as it seems could be the case. I’m still trying to decide whether to just charge the 20100 as I go at the tearooms if I can get a full charge on it or swap with the two 1000’s. If I had another couple of weeks, no problem, but sadly I don’t.
Thank you again. It’s really much appreciated,
Yes the Anker 15W is highly reviewed.
Given what you say, I think probably your solar panel is at fault. The reason is you said neither the Powercore nor your iphone show a charge input, given its 2 devices with 2 cables, by elimination is probably the solar panel fault.
Just be sure, are you:
- outdoors (glass takes half the energy away in reflection and absorption)
- in full strong sunshine (it only takes a modest overcast to drop such a small 15W panel below the threshold for most devices to charge)
- pointed at the sun (i.e. tilted towards the sun)
If you are doing all of those then the Anker 15W panel should be recharging an iphone at about the same speed it the iphone would charge off mains power (e.g. off Powerport2). If it is not, then eliminate the cable as cause, then if not then its probably the solar panel’s fault.
BTW it could be one of the two ports dud on the solar panel, try both ports.
Did you use in perfect conditions, i.e. no clouds, outdoors, pointed to the sun? If your solar panel is not at fault, I’d expect your iphone to show itself charging around the 1% per minute. If it does not then probably your solar panel is at fault.til
- buy the biggest solar panel possible, the reason being in less than idea conditions, a bigger panel output will be more likely to be above the required minimum threshold of your devices.
- in a group use the biggest solar panel possible as it will have “too much power” in good conditions so you’d want to connect in sequence all your group’s devices beginning with the most discharged device til they each get to 85% and swap them. Once a device gets to 85% it halves its input demand to trickle charge to 100% so you’re wasting time and energy.
For example 1 21W solar panel could be more useful than 2 15W, because in partly cloudly conditions you could literally have no power from 15W but power from 21W, because the 15W might be say 4.2V output, the 21W might be say 4.8V and your iphone needs 4.6V. 4.2<4.6 so 15W would not charge, but 4.8>4.6 so 21W would charge. That’s the typical sort of problem you have in less than ideal conditions. In ideal conditions 15W is about the same as an iphone wall charger.
Thanks again Nigel for alI your great advice and help. I do think I need to give it another shot in full sun which I will do the next sunny day (hopefully soon!) however I don’t imagine there will be full sun at all times on our trek so I really do question the sensibility of carrying the excess for very little return. I did start out behind glass but then moved outside in direct sun and angled accordingly to make the most of the moving position of the sun.
I doubt I’ve got time to send back the 15W and replace with the 21W now tho.
However, I’m starting to get a bit frustrated now! I have my 20100 charging from my PC and at present it is charged up to 50% and flashing away continuing to charge up to full. So it’s at two blue dots. All good.
Then, using the new cable (Powerlineplus lightning) I just plugged my iphone into it excited to watch a charge start up for the first time! Nothing happened! The charge bolt on the phone doesn’t come on, it doesn’t beep, nothing. I then tested it by plugging the same cable with iphone attached directly into my PC USB port and it worked fine, charging bolt pops up and it beeped to show it is charging so both cable and iphone working fine, but seemingly not with the 20100. What the heck?!!
I’m maybe being a bit dim here but I’m just not getting this. I’m almost ready to give up. I really liked to 20100 too, it’s chunky but a nice item, if it does the job.
Press the button on the Powercore after plugging in the cable and iphone. Then your iphone should begin charging.
I hadn’t spotted there was a button, almost happy for a moment there, then switched on, nothing
Nigel, sorted!!! I was charging at the same time so I tried pulling out the charger linking the Powercore to the PC and it has worked!!! Oh, I can’t thank you enough!! At least that works ok!
Begin with everything unplugged, connect the lightning cable, then press power button on Powercore, then you should see all the lights come on (I see it has 4 lights), then quickly connect iphone. If it doesnt work, then its likely the cable’s fault, and even that cable works in a PC’s output it can still be the cable’s fault. The next most likely fault is the Powercore.
Try all the Powercore ports. I see it has 2 ports, try both.
All good, it’s working now!!! Now for the solar panel tomorrow! Thank you again, I was giving up hope You’re a star! And it’s charging fast
You’re welcome. Correct you cannot connect Powercore to be recharging it at the same time as take output from it. That is called pass-thru and doesn’t work on the Powercore 20100.
The 15W Anker panel should charge your iphone at close to full speed in strong sunshine, that is why it is so consistently highly reviewed and a good answer in sunny areas, wait for strong sunshine then try it. If it does then do this in sequence:
when you see strong sunshine, plug in your iphone til its at 85% charged. Note: iphones respond badly to variable sunshine you might have to unplug phone and replug if you have variable sun (e.g. passing cloud). So for example if you are not geeky if you did it different like be in shade, plug solar-lightning-iphone then go into sun, the iphone will lock itself to a low recharge speed from being plugged in during shade and ignore the then later sunshine, so do exactly what I say, get into strong sunshine then plug in iphone, and no standing in front of the solar panel as you plug in as you will cause shade and the iphone won’t respond well to then the output going up after you walk away.
once your iphone 85% charged, if you have strong sunshine, then charge your Powercore (*).
if you encounter mains power then use Powerport2 to recharge your iphone and Powercore.
(*) I don’t know if the Powercore 20100 and Anker Powerport Solar Lite 15W are compatible, in that the 15W panel may not output high enough voltage to be above what the Powercore needs. Also if you use bad cables then the cable can be losing a lot power so the Powercore gets insufficient to trigger it to charge. Longer cables are more likely bad than shorter cables as there is more length for a fault to appear and longer cables have higher electrical resistance. In 80% of the case I’d always say its the cable’s fault.
Brilliant! Again Thank you, I’ll print this and keep it with me as a reminder. I’ll follow and hopefully all will work out. The Lightning cable I bought is the small one, I’ll maybe get another as back up. I’ll get myself a Powerport2 also. Heck, I think I prefer the days when you went for a trek and just enjoyed the peace and quiet and there was no such thing as all this paraphernalia! … now to go and take a look at a GoPro!
I hope you had a good Easter, I’d happily buy you a choc egg for all your help!
The problem with the short lightning cable is, by definition, the solar panel will only work well in strong sunshine, and a short cable will necessarily mean the phone is kept in strong sunshine also. Consider how you keep the phone cooler in shade when the panel is in strong sunshine. Think about what you are carrying which is not dark in color which can shade the phone, something white say you can place over the iphone.
As the phone gets hot, it defends itself by not ingesting as much power, so in the same situation the solar panel is working well, the iphone will respond badly.
The longer the cable more risk of a bad cable and the more need to test the cables. Short cables are less likely to have a problem. Hence say a 2-3ft good quality cable to allow shade for the phone but the panel not shaded. Use of a meter can confirm the cable is good.
The best time of day in general is in morning til noon, as then the temperatures are lower. The worst time is evening when its warmer than morning but the sun is not as strong. Solar panels get some of their energy from ultraviolet which is less as the sun is lower in sky.
I did wonder about why it had to be direct sunshine and thought it was the UV that was more important.
The top (third) panel on the solar charger is a back pocket with velcro which also houses the plug in point. I was thinking of putting the phone in there and folding it under so the heat isn’t directly on it. If that’s not going to work I will def look at keeping the phone out of the direct sunlight and covering with something white to reflect the sun. I know black does absorb.
As for the cables, I’m just looking at buying the 1 metre length. The one I have is very short.
What do you think, for direct iphone connection and for charging the 20100?
Energy of a photon is proportional to its frequency, UV is higher frequency. UV is reflected more by clouds and absorbed by glass.
At altitude, your temperatures will tend to be lower, and UV is stronger, so solar and altitude are a good combination.
Of course, human skin and UV don’t get along
Ok, that is sounding good, I guess the ozone layer is thinner there too. Hopefully all going well for the solar and with the luck of some sun the next few days, it could well be worth taking it along then. I was never sure if UV was absorbed by glass. Thanks for confirming
Wow, great discussion! Thanks for enlightening all of us, @nigelhealy and @marisa.i5!
Why a UK plug. Thought you going to Everest?
So looks like you’d be lighter weight to buy a EU type plug for your travels.
However, apart from the plug, yes its 2 socket 2.4A each per socket so capable of charging both Powercore 20100 and iphone together at maximum speed.
I checked Anker’s UK website, they do the international variety but its not powerful enough to both at full speed, only 1 of them at full speed.