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Sherpa 120 Review: From Volcanoes to the Desert these Solar Panels Are Invulnerable

May 2 2011, 6:39pm CDT | by , in Reviews | Hot Gadgets

I couldn't kill them and neither will you.

Sherpa 120 Review: From Volcanoes to the Desert these Solar Panels Are Invulnerable
 
 
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Sherpa 120 Review: From Volcanoes to the Desert these Solar Panels Are Invulnerable

The Sherpa 120 kit consists of a set of folding 27-Watt solar panels, an inverter, a 120 watt battery and all the cords needed to connect the two. It takes roughly 6 hours to charge the battery in full sunlight.

In Use

General Use:

I've spent the last two months using my Sherpa 120 Adventure Kit as a power source for speakers, my laptop, my tablets and my smartphone. On its own, left on the roof or on top of my grill during the day, it draws enough power to keep my smartphone and iPad 2 going. It is also capable of running my Supertooth Disco speakers and a PMP for an entire sunny day without depleting either of battery life.

Above: The Sherpa 120 is perfect for car-camping without wasting gas.

In a Tiny Guatemalan Village:

Good power outlets are hard to find in the third world, and I can't really afford to run out of juice. So when I started packing for my trip to Guatemala, the Sherpa 120 was one of the first things in my bag. That big battery came in useful almost immediately. I had to use my iPad 2 quite a lot on the drive over, and my battery was rather drained as a result. All I had to do was plug my iPad 2 into the 120 watt battery before I hit the security station. By the time my flight started boarding, the iPad was back at a full charge.

TSA scanned the backpack and neither the battery, nor the panels gave them pause. The story was the same when I went through another batch of scanners in the Guatemala City airport. Within twenty-four hours of landing, I found myself in the middle of a destitute rural village with no reliable power. The Sherpa 120 had my back there, too as I built a fence in the hot, hot sun.

Here's the panels, set up in the middle of our work zone.

And here's the surrounding town, San Lorenzo.

On the Volcano:

I climbed the Pacaya Volcano near the end of my time in Guatemala. I decided to bring my iPad 2 along- so I could write this review. And the Sherpa 120 came along with me to make sure there was plenty of juice. I managed to rig the panels up on the outside of the pack, so they could soak up the sun's goodness as I hiked.

The rig worked well. Using only two lengths of rope and rudimentary tying skills, I was able to attach my panels well enough that they didn't slide off during a three hour trek. The top of the mountain was actually inside a cloud bank, so it was quite moist and foggy. The panels got thoroughly drenched, but they never stopped working.

In a Hail Storm:

I am not the most responsible steward of my own property. Case in point: I left the Sherpa 120 panels & battery outside during the worst Texas thunderstorm in close to a year. Buckets of hail battered the whole apparatus...but it worked just fine the next day, despite some pretty righteous dings.

In West, Texas:

Summer is just starting to dawn here in America's heat-basket. A trip out to my friend Magenta's farm in West, Texas was the perfect opportunity to test these panels in ideal conditions. I drained the battery and then set it up in the middle of a field with total sun exposure. The panels hit full in a hair under six hours.

As a Hobo Air Conditioner:

I spend a lot of time camping in the heat of the Texas summer. Anything that can take the edge off a 110 degree afternoon is a blessing. As it happens, the Sherpa 120 provides enough power to run a box fan through the hottest part of the day. With a full battery, I managed to keep the fan running (with panels charging it) for five straight hours. By the time I turned it off, the battery was only down to 40%.

Issues:

I've found two weak points to the Sherpa 120 system. The first is the 47mm to Female Cigarette cord. My first one stopped working after about a month of heavy use. It didn't have any rust on it, nor did I leave it out in the wet. I suspect the connector simply wore down from use. But I may have gotten a bad cable.

The inverter box that connects to the battery and provides an international outlet also cut out after about a month. It was tetchy at first, functioning but only if positioned just right and left alone. Then it finally died on my drive out to West. Thankfully, it turns out any inverter you purchase will work with the 4.7mm to Female cord and the battery.

Verdict

Pros

  • +Incredibly durable+Provides reliable power wherever you are.+120 watt battery is convenient for use in a variety of situations+Travel-sized

Cons

  • -Some of the cords and the inverter are not very durable.-The price tag, makes this a premium purchase.
 

Conclusion

The Sherpa 120 kit is sufficient to keep one person's gadgets going for an extended trip in the field. It'll handle a camera/smartphone, a tablet and even a set of speakers if you're only using each a couple of hours a day. It can also run a fan-based air conditioning system or handle lighting for a medium-sized campsite at night.

9.5
10
 
 

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/5" rel="author">Robert Evans</a>
The excitement about new smartphones, tablets and anything mobile drive Robert to unearth the latest rumors and developments in this fast moving space. He adopted 4G as soon as it become available and knows where the mobile market is going.
Robert can be contacted directly at robert@i4u.com.

 

 

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