Tuesday, March 19, 2013

EnerPlex Kicker IV Solar Powered Charger Review

Today we're going mobile. Yes, we're going to review the EnerPlex Kicker IV which is a USB enabled solar charger. Have you ever gone camping and needed a charge on your phone but had no way to do that? Perhaps you're going on a week long adventure and your backup battery just won't cut it. The EnerPlex Kicker IV aims to solve your device's power hungry needs with complements to the Sun for its energy.


POWERFUL Collect 6.5 watts of power from the sun
FLEXIBLE Lightweight, flexible plastic casing to protect solar panel
ADAPTABLE Grommet rings to tether, tie down, loop onto, and more
COMPACT Folds easily to fit into a backpack, briefcase, and purse
VERSATILE USB outlet allows the ability to charge several devices

Charge Times
PHONE 4 1.4 hours
IPHONE 4S         1.4 hours
IPHONE 5 1.4 hours
GOOGLE NEXUS 7 4.3 hours
KINDLE FIRE 4.4 hours


Inside the EnerPlex Kicker IV box you will find the EnerPlex Kicker IV fold out solar panel. It has a USB plug attached to it. There is a USB adapter which conveniently comes with micro and mini USB connections as well as an iPhone connection.

EnerPlex provides a 1 year limited warranty on their products. I am always pleased when a company will stand behind their product beyond the traditional 90 days. If you end up purchasing a defective product, it will surely manifest before the 1 year warranty expires.

The Charge

I wanted to test how quickly the EnerePlex Kicker IV would charge my Samsung Galaxy Nexus. For this test I had to unfortunately let me phone die. I also didn't want to introduce any variables to the situation so once the charge started I did not power the phone back on. I let it sit completely off till the full charge was achieved. Obviously if you power your device on, it will not charge as quickly, so keep that in mind as you read through our results.

I pulled out my multimeter and measured the voltage reading and amperage. The voltage is right were you would expect for any USB adapter (5.18 volts). In full sunlight the amperage is also very respectable. What happens to the amperage as the sun goes down, or you get in a bit of shade? I waited for the sun set and checked the amperage as it got darker. The results are as you would expect, less sunlight = less amperage. You can see in the difference between the amperage of laying the panels flat vs angling them towards the sun in my images below.

With a good angle I was able to get the amperage up to 1.14A. That's a respectable amount of amperage for something that is so easily portable. Finally it was time to charge the phone. Here you can see my phone animation as it charges. Keep in mind that my phone is totally dead and all the way off. I don't want anything running so we can keep variables to a minimum.

I know what you're thinking right now...my grass looks amazing, but stay focused; we're talking about this awesome EnerPlex Kicker IV.

One point I would like to make about charging devices that is important to take into consideration: temperature. Most devices will not charge if they get too hot. This happened to my phone during one of my test runs. Thankfully smart phones are smart enough not to charge when the phone is too hot, preventing damage to the battery and or phone. Believe it or not, Arizona is already hot enough for this to be a problem. In the end I had to position it so that my phone was in the shade from my house while the solar panels were in the sun light. This kept my phone cool while providing optimum sun light for the solar panels. If you have a longer USB cable, this could come in handy.

The Results

I have to say that I am very pleased with the results. I discharged and charged my phone multiple times over multiple days and each time with proper placement for optimum sunlight my phone was fully charged in roughly 1.5 hours. Keep in mind that your mileage may vary depending on how much sunlight your Kicker IV is getting. Try to angle it towards the sun for optimum results. I rely heavily on my smartphone to stay connected to the world as I am out. It's nice to know that no matter where I go I can have a full charge. Here's where it gets interesting. The EnerPlex Kicker IV uses a standard USB plug. If you're really far away, you could use the EnerPlex to power a cell phone signal booster. That would significantly increase your odds of finding data in remote areas while camping. There are several uses for the EnerPlex Kicker IV. Oh and did we mention this thing is small? Take a look at the images with my phone resting on top of it. It folds up into a small square only 7 3/8 in x 6 7/8 in x 1/4 in. The current price is $129 on Amazon. The EnerPlex Kicker IV has earned our Highly Recommended award for its efficiency, high quality and portability. For more info, check out their website at http://enerplex.biz/.