Solar Charger Final Thoughts
The Archeer AR-SC-21 Solar Charger is an intriguing, if niche, product. It lives up to its claims of being able to provide a goodly amount of charging power in bright sunlight– after all, most standard USB wall chargers, such as the one supplied with your phone, can output only about 1 amp at 5 volts, so in idea situations the Archeer will provide better charging performance…for a time. And that time depends on your location, the time of year, clouds, and other factors.
As part of my testing of this charger, I put my iPhone 6S Plus, which indicated about an 18% charge, on my back porch, connected to the charger. Five hours later, the phone was at 72% charge, but by that time the sun had transited and the charger was shielded from direct sunlight by my house, and was indicating only about 0.25 amps of charging current.
So on the one hand, I was able to get a useful amount of charge– from 18% to 72%– even in less than ideal circumstances. On the other hand, I couldn’t use the phone during this time. In the same amount of time, high-output 2 amp USB chargers readily available for much less money could have easily topped my phone off.
So unless you’re a prepper living in your off-the-grid yurt, the AR-SC-21 isn’t something you’re going to use day to day. However, it could be useful in case of power outages, or even on long outdoor trips– a hiker friend informs me that the fabric loops can be used to secure a strap to let the unfolded charger hang down your back as you hike to take advantage of the ambient light.
Archeer AR-SC-21 Conclusion
The Archeer AR-SC-21 Solar Charger is a useful, if niche, alternative product to standard auto or home USB chargers. As long as you’re aware that its charging performance will vary dramatically and unpredictably, it can be a useful adjunct to have around.
Performance-wise, the device came very close to meeting its rating charging amperage even in less than ideal conditions (low sun position this time of year.) The construction quality seems robust: although the charger folds in four places, the heavy fabric seems easily strong enough to last for years of use. The Velcro-secured charging pouch is large enough for two phablet-sized phones, although larger devices such as tablet computers will have to go outside– which is reasonable. Aesthetically, it’s really just a black lump, but this device is all about functionality: your backpack’s probably not that pretty either!
Archeer offers an 18-month warranty, and perhaps mindful of unrealistic consumer expectations, a 40-day money back guarantee. For the online price of $59.98 (Amazon) it’s more expensive than a high-output wall charger, but is well worth the money if it’s what you need.
+ Provides good charging current in bright sunlight
+ Robust construction
+ Pouch protects personal electronics from sunlight and the elements
+ Charges two devices at once
+ Will work after most major disasters
– Real-world performance lags far behind traditional powered chargers