When choosing a portable solar panel you want it to be durable and dependable. In this BigBlue 28w Solar Charger Review, I will be looking closely at these factors. As well as determining the solar chargers efficiency and value for money.
Product: BigBlue 28W Solar Charger with Digital Ammeter
Best Place to Buy: Amazon
Dimensions Folded: 11.1 x 6.3 x 1.3inch/282 x 160 x 34mm
Dimensions Unfolded: 33.1 x 11.1 x 0.2inch/840 x 282 x 5mm
Warranty: 24 months
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The BigBlue 28w Solar Charger Review
BigBlue was founded in China 2015 and employs over 200 people. They produce solar chargers, solar power stations, power banks, portable solar panels and rechargeable hand warmers. BigBlue’s products have been bought by more than 1 million customers in over 170 different countries.
With warehouses in the US, Japan, Canada and the EU, product distribution and customer service are not a problem. BigBlue has become known for high quality products at an affordable price. The workmanship, durability and dependability of their products are second to none.
The BigBlue 28w charger has been on the market for a number of years. So at least you know it has some sort of back story. Not just another foreign high-tech solar product with an unproven track record that may possibly burn a hole in your wallet.
What is the BigBlue 28 watt solar charger?
Solar chargers are quite a recent innovation first introduced at the end of the1970s to power pocket calculators. Since then, they have been used to power anything from garden lights to prototype electric vehicles. The best uses though, are for when you are out and about and there is no electricity supply available.
This is where the 28w solar charger comes into its own. You’re out hiking in the wilderness and realise that your smartphone is running out of juice. Usually you would have to switch your phone off, to preserve power in case of emergency. But if you have a BigBlue solar charger in your backpack you can just lay it out in the sun. The BigBlue 28w will instantly start charging your phone and all through sun power. Which by the way, doesn’t attract any fees.
“if I was in the wilderness my smartphone wouldn’t work anyway” I hear some of you say. This is true but you would still want to be able to listen to music or take that extra special photo. If you’re camping, maybe you might want to play your favourite game, read or listen to a book at night. The BigBlue 28w Solar Charger is the best portable solar panel kit for charging electronic devices.
How Does The BigBlue Solar Charger Work?
|What can the BigBlue 28w Charge?||Perfect for|
|Apple *original cable required||Hiking|
|Cameras and more||Fishing|
|Boating and more|
The 28w solar charger is made from four 7w foldable Sunpower solar panels. These are softer fold-up solar panels rather than a rigid briefcase type of solar panel. Which would be made from 2 solar panels and fold like a paste table. The softer construction gives the solar charger a weight, portability and practical advantage over the rigid type.
BigBlue solar charger specs
- Dimensions Folded: 11.1 x 6.3 x 1.3inch/282 x 160 x 34mm
- Dimensions Unfolded: 33.1 x 11.1 x 0.2inch/840 x 282 x 5mm
- Weight: 21.0oz/595g
- Ports: 2 x USB
- SmartIC Technology
- Digital Ammeter
The BigBlue 28w has 2 USB ports which will provide up to 5V/2.4A each. With a total output of up to 5V/4A. This means that the solar charger can charge two devices at the same time.
This is a built-in smart chip that will detect your device type. And theoretically deliver the fastest possible charging speed.
The 28w solar charger has a built-in ammeter. This measures the current in the circuit and is shown digitally on its LCD display screen. If your smartphone has a 1 amp input current the ammeter should show a reading of between 0.8 amps and 1 amp. This of course all depends on your device, the amount of available sunlight and the type of cable used
Even though the solar charger has a built-in smart charging technology. My advice is to always use the manufacturers supplied charging cable. This is really important when charging Apple products because the solar charger may not recognise them.
One of the biggest benefits of the BigBlue 28w charger is its portability. Because it is so small and light it will comfortably fit into any pack or car. Fantastic for charging devices on a day out at the beach, a lake or in the forest, All you have to do is roll it out and let the sun and solar panel do its work. You can even use it if you travel around a lot for work. No more being caught power short when the boss calls to find out how things are going.
The BigBlue brings a new dimension to hiking, cycling and camping. When hiking,backpacking and cycling you can attach the big blue 28w to your pack. All you need to do is make sure that the sun is behind you. When it’s time to pitch the tent, you can hang the solar charger with the provided carabiners. Just make sure you attach it to the side of the tent facing south.
- Over current protection
- Over charging protection
- Over voltage protection
- Short circuit protection
- FCC, RoHS and CE Certifie
In order to maintain voltage stability and safety of equipment during charging there will be some power loss. This means that the power of the charger is 28w, but the actual output power will be 20 watts.
There Is a handy pocket sewn into the lining of the charger so you can keep your device clean and safe. As a safety precaution do not charge your device while it is inside the pocket. And do not leave it exposed to the sun while charging, it will overheat. Instead cover it loosely with something light to keep it cool !!!!
Is The 28w Charger Efficient, Durable & Dependable?
The solar charger is highly efficient compared to traditional solar panels Installed on your residence’s roof. These types of mono silicon cells have an efficiency rating of between 17 to 20%. The big blue 28w charger is fitted with Sunpower solar cells which have an efficiency rating of between 22 and 23.5%. This makes the charger highly efficient at absorbing the power of the sun.
In case you didn’t know. SunPower solar cells are a thin layer of chemically treated single – crystal silicon cells.
The 28w solar panels are coated with industrial strength PET polymer (source: Wikipedia). In case you didn’t know, that is Polyethylene terephthalate. I am not an expert in polymers by the way. This makes the panels very durable and corrosion, high temperature and weather-resistant. The odd mishap will do little damage.
The solar panels are waterproof but be warned the ammeter and USB ports are not. My best advice is to never leave it out at night and do not try to charge when it is raining. If it starts raining fold the solar charger up and stow it away. It will survive light rain and spills, just don’t take it swimming with you !!!
Remember, the charger is an electrical appliance and as such should be treated with respect around liquids.
You are by now probably thinking is this solar charger dependable? The answer to that question is yes, but you have to use the charger sensibly. The BigBlue 28w solar charger does not store energy like a battery or power bank. This means if you want to store electricity for later use you will have to buy one separately.
All small solar chargers like the BigBlue 28w have a risk of charge from a device leaking back into the solar charger. This can happen under low light and very cloudy conditions or if the unit falls into shade. The way around this potential problem is to charge a power bank with the solar charger. This is because the power bank will immediately stop charging, so there is no chance it will discharge into the solar charger.
The BigBlue 28w needs to be fully opened out so all 4 panels are exposed to the sun. If this isn’t done the solar charger will not charge your device. The best way to use the solar charger is under full sun conditions. This is when optimal performance will be achieved, it will perform ok under partially cloudy conditions. But under very cloudy conditions it will not charge your device.
Overall the 28w solar charger is very dependable as long as you remember this is a small solar panel. Don’t expect it to perform miracles. It works very well charging electronic devices under full sun. And reasonably well in partially cloudy conditions.
What’s In the Box
- The 28w solar charger
- Micro USB cable
- 3 x carabiners
- Welcome guide
- 2 year warranty
Other BigBlue solar chargers in the range
- Upgraded 28w solar charger with 3 x USB ports
- 21w solar charger
- 24w solar charger
- 42w solar charger
- 63w solar charger
The Anker PowerCore 2010 Power Bank 200000mAH
Founded by Steven Yang a former Google software engineer in 2011 in Shenzhen. Anker has become one of the leading USB charging technologies in the world. With subsidiaries in the U.S, UK, Germany and Japan. Anker has a reputation for producing good quality, reliable and hardwearing products at a reasonable price
The Anker PowerCore 20100 Power Bank 20000mAH is black, long, sleek and thin and will fit into your pocket or solar panel pouch.
If you don’t know what mAH is.
It is the battery capacity expressed as a milliampere of an ampere hour. In terms of watt hours that equates to 72.37wh
- Battery chemistry: Lithium Ion.
- Weight: 12.5oz/354g.
- Dimensions: 6.6 x 2.3 x .09inch/16.76 x 5.84 x 2.29.
- 2 x USB-A 5V/2A output ports.
- 1 x Micro USB 5V/2A input port.
- Anker says that the total output is 4.8 Amps.
- And each individual port is capable of up to 2.4A
What will it charge
The iPhone 7/6s/SE, iPad and Samsung Galaxy S8/S7 and More
*It is not compatible with the iPod nano, iPod Classic, HP TouchPad, Dell Venue 11 Pro, Asus tablets and some GPS and Bluetooth devices’.
- Led power indicator.
- Overheating protection
- Short circuit and surge protection.
- The power bank comes with a protective pouch and charging cable.
The Anker 20100 power bank is well-built, reliable, with a high capacity at a reasonable price. And it will pair up perfectly with the 28w Solar Charger. I think you will find the power bank dependable and useful.
What’s Good About The BigBlue Solar Charger
The BigBlue 28w is going to last a very long time. The materials it is made from ensures it will survive most weather conditions. The odd drop or two isn’t really going to harm it and neither is a bit of heavy handling. I like that the pocket has a zipper fastener. I feel that my smartphone would feel much safer there, rather than in my pocket where it might fall out.
The four 7w Sunpower solar panels ensure that maximum efficiency is always achieved. Even though it is recommended that the charger is best used in full sunlight. In partly cloudy conditions it’s charging ability is reasonable. But as I said earlier don’t be expecting the solar charging holy grail.
BigBlue are a long standing reputable company who produce very well made products. As long as you realise that the 28w solar charger is a small unit. You will find it will reliably provide electrical charging for electronic devices and power banks. Handy to have around during a power outage and out in the wilderness. You will be unfolding it out in the sun ready to charge for many years to come.
What’s Not So Good About The BigBlue Solar Charger
Not fully waterproof
The 4 solar panels are most certainly waterproof. So is the outer casing of the fifth panel housing the electrics. But the actual electrics are not. I am unsure why BigBlue would create confusion by saying the 28w solar charger is waterproof because it isn’t. I can only assume that this is a marketing strategy because the solar panels are waterproof.
No built-in power bank
Ok for the price, you wouldn’t expect a built in power bank but it would have been nice. Even though BigBlue says that if your device is attached and the 28w solar charger stops charging. There won’t be any adverse effects suffered by your device. But I always say best to err on the cautious side and assume it might. The addition of a power bank will stop this possibility. It will just mean a couple of extra clicks and extra dollars, to feel comfortable that power drain is impossible.
A comparison of a solar charger with integrated power bank
|Specs||Ryno Tuff 21w Solar Charger||BigBlue 28w Solar Charger|
|USB Ports||2 x 5V/3 A & 1 x USB-C 5V/3A||2 x 5V/2.4A|
|Folded Dimensions||18.1 x 11.8 x 0.12 inch||11.1 x 6.3 x 1.3inch/282 x 160 x 34mm|
|Unfolded Dimensions||5.9 x 11.8 x 0.79 inch||33.1 x 11.1 x 0.2inch/840 x 282 x 5mm|
The Ryno Tuff has a built in 6000 mAH power bank. This is small compared to a separate power bank set up. If you are not very concerned by the low power bank mAH. The Ryno Tuff may be the solar charger for you.
Power output is less than the 28w billing
The actual power is 20w and BigBlue says that the other 8w are used to keep the system safe and stable. So really it should have been promoted as a 20w charger, none of this makes any difference to the units performance. So I can only assume it is a marketing strategy.
Solar Power Has Some Limitations
Solar power is fantastic, because it provides an environmentally friendly energy source. Let’s be honest. Without solar panels the world would be relying on smelly, noisy gasoline generators. You just need to be aware of a few things.
When it is overcast, the PV cells will receive less light. Reducing the rate of charge, meaning it will take longer to charge your device, power bank or solar power station. This isn’t a major problem, just wait for full sunlight to return, to achieve a full charge rate.
Shade will stop charging altogether. Keep an eye out for this now and again and move the solar charger back into the sunlight if necessary. This is important if you are near an overhang or obstruction such as in and around a forest. You will need to check for shade more often
Is The BigBlue 28w Value For Money?
I think the BigBlue solar charger is most definitely good value for money. Because the 3 main yardsticks you would look for in any solar product. Durability, efficiency and dependability have most certainly been met.
Sure there are other products out there. But BigBlue has the backing of the number of units they have shipped and many satisfied customers.
I hope you enjoyed this review and have found it helpful. If you have any questions about the BigBlue 28w Solar Panel Charger. Or want to leave your own personal review, please leave a comment below