Published on August 3rd, 2019 | by Kyle Field0
The Renogy Phoenix Portable Solar Generator Provides All-In-One Solar + Storage On The Go
August 3rd, 2019 by Kyle Field
Photovoltaic solar cells enable owners to turn the power of sunlight into electricity, which is fine for utilities installing solar farms or homeowners with unshaded roof space. For those looking to leverage photovoltaic solar panels to harness the sun to power anything larger than a phone for a week off-grid while camping or in an RV, systems basically had to be built one at a time, from the ground up.
Renogy hopes to change that with its new Phoenix Portable Solar Generator. A solar generator rolls together solar panels, energy storage, a charge management system, and some sort of power outputs that allow owners to harness the power of the sun and use it back from the energy storage as needed. Renogy sent us a Phoenix Portable Solar Generator for us to run it through the paces for the purposes of this review.
The Phoenix Generator packs all the functionality of a solar generator into a portable package that folds up nicely into a briefcase that will make you feel like a spy from a James Bond film when you whip it out. OK, maybe I’m alone in feeling that way, but the solid build quality, matte black finish, and modern angles all contribute to a very well-built, compact solar generator.
The core of the Phoenix is a built around a 20-watt solar panel that remains protected for carrying, but when unlatched, flips open to harness the power of the sun. An additional 100-watt Renogy solar panel can be added for those looking for a bit more power from the compact package, for a total of 120 watts of solar generation capacity. 120 watts of power is enough to make the Phoenix Portable Solar Generator a good fit for those looking to power a small recreational vehicle, large campsite, or even a tiny house with a bit of electricity.
Fill ‘er Up!
When sufficient sunlight is detected, the integrated 16Ah lithium-ion battery begins charging, and you’re off to the races. Renogy estimates that the 20 watt solar array will charge up the integrated battery in about 6 hours of good sunlight, but this will vary depending on where in the world you’re using it, the angle it is charging at, shading, and the like. Pro tip: don’t try to charge this (or any PV solar panels) indoors, as a significant portion of the usable light is lost on the way in through the glass.
In addition to pulling in power from the sun, the Phoenix Portable Solar Generator can also be charged up from a normal AC wall outlet or a 12 volt car adapter. As the internal battery charges up, the state of charge is displayed on the front screen as it moves from 0 to 100%. The internal NMC lithium-ion battery is also replaceable, allowing for a long life beyond the included battery’s estimated 1,500 cycle life.
Drinking The Juice
When the time comes to start using the power from the Phoenix Generator, you’ll find that it has been packed full of options for pushing out AC or DC power, depending on what you’re looking for. First, turn on the generator with the large power button under the handle. Then, select AC or DC by tapping the corresponding button on the front of the unit. The LCD will light up, indicating which is active, or both.
The Phoenix can push out 110 volt power at 60 hertz through its built-in inverter which, while convenient, is nothing to write at home about with a minimum efficiency of just 80%. It can support loads of up to 150 watts, so don’t expect to be powering construction equipment off of it. It is much better suited to keeping a host of personal electronics such as phones, tablets, DSLR cameras, and laptops topped up while on the go.
We put these to the test and found that Renogy’s impressive claims held true, providing 20-30 charges of a smartphone (1900-2600 mAh battery), 8 charges of an iPad Air or similar tablet, or 4-5 charges of a laptop battery, depending on the size of its battery. For my MacBook Pro, the Phoenix was able to consistently keep me topped up while out on the road. The ability to then top up the battery in the Phoenix from the sun is also extremely useful and was a nice reminder about how functional and refreshing solar power is.
Solar generators pull down the power of the sun to charge up a set of batteries for use in any number of off-grid use cases. The Renogy Phoenix Portable Solar Generator takes that concepts and rolls it into a package that is easy to move and use. Its inefficient inverter will sap some of the stored power, but the ability to generate more from the sun, and the sheer number of output and input options, help mitigate the loss due to inefficiency to some extent.
The 16Ah battery is more than sufficient to keep electronics, cameras, and rechargeable lights topped up, while the solar generation options make it easy to recharge the battery through the day. The ability to add an additional 100 watts of solar generation into the mix makes it a viable candidate for RVs, tiny houses, or that large family campout.
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