February 06, 2012

Review: Bell + Howell Solar Charger

Description: A solar-powered cell phone charger
Main Pitch: "Captures and stores solar energy" or any "indoor light soure"
Main Offer: $19.95 for one
Bonus: Upgraded unit with LED flashlight
Marketer: Emson
Website: www.GetSolarCharger.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

I thought about these long and hard after a trip to Asia a few years ago because they were everywhere at the trade shows and because solar power is a hot topic here in the US. This is the best version of the idea, a backup power source that charges itself with outdoor or indoor light, but it still fails my test.

The problem: There are just too many other ways to get power if you need it. There are compact wall chargers, universal travel chargers, cigarette lighter and USB chargers -- even battery-powered quick chargers under big brands (e.g. Energizer). If you have an electronic device upon which you rely, chances are you've already purchased a backup solution or managed to live without one.

As for those moments when you are lost in the woods and your GPS runs out of juice ... well, you've probably got bigger problems in life.

15 comments:

  1. This is not a review of the item its an opinion if it will sell....

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    1. Good observation. See above. This is "the blog about short-form DRTV."

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    2. During a recent power outage which lasted 2-11 days in the DC area, malls & bookstores were jammed with "customers" who clogged the aisles because they had nowhere to recharge their cell phones. After a week everyone had run out of batteries for backup and could not recharge at home. Many people no longer have a land line and are SOL in a 911 emergency (heat stroke, for example). So despite your marketing assessment, I just want to know: Does it work?

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    3. I'm with you Boots...sounds wonderful to me. He sure had no problem de-bunking what appears to be a great idea. I wonder why lol ?

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    4. Here's what's wrong with the product and company. Its ok to advertise on TV but with truthful claims. This ad is written in a way that people think that this particular solar charger will charge up immediately in the sun and then fully charge up their device (phone, tablet, etc). That is not the case.

      I bought and tested the product. In reality, it has a battery (410mah) that will only charge up a small percentage (about 10-15%) of a smart phone and very small (2% or so) of a tablet.

      Furthermore, if trying to recharge as solar, it will need to be in direct sunlight for about 30 hrs or more to recharge which is really not feasible.

      The problem is the ad and company behind the ad are not truthful in explaining the features correctly.

      Recommendation: Find a product and company that has true claims

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  2. I want to know information about the charger like: How long does it take direct sunlight to recharge it? How much charge does it give your cell phone? Amp/hour rating? etc.

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    1. just got mine in the mail, takes 2 days to charge fully by sunlight, takes 3-4 hours to charge by your computer. gives you a half hour of charging. with a full charge in my solar charger it could charge my ipod no problem but as soon as i plugged it into my phone the charger appeared to short and wouldn't charge at all and wouldn't even light up the LEDs for the flashlight. I plugged it into my computer and the charger is fine, but it can not charge my phone

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    2. same thing happened to me with this lousy piece of equipment.it seemed to work ONCE. wouldn't recharge at all on the dashboard of my vehicle in the sun ALL day..only recharges via my laptop, but won't charge my phone

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    3. similar experience with this lousy product. I t seemed to work ONCE. then wouldn't recharge by solar light, even after having been on my dashboard ALL day. Seems to recharge by the computer, but doesn't charge my phone. Frustrating, and a waste of money.

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  3. Super storm Sandy has shown us that something like this product can be VERY valuable and even a lifesaver. Here in the northeast, many of us were without power for not only hours, but days, and even WEEKS. Stores would have lines down the block with people waiting to charge their electronic devices.

    ANONYMOUS - what type of phone do you have?

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  4. I purchased this product months ago.It doesn't work as they advertised on TV.After placing my order online it finally arrive after 4 months (what a joke!) They don't have a tracking number to give you to check the status of your order.after placing your order,DONE! they dont care about you.I am not satisfied with the product,customer service is bad and shipping is worst.will not recommend it to anybody.

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  5. I bought two Bell & Howell Solar chargers. I've haven't had them long enough to evaluate whether it will charge sufficiently from the solar cells but I can say that everyone should beware that the unit does NOT come with their equivalent of the Apple Lightning to 30-pin Adapter. In short, there is no adapter provided to charge the IPhone 5 !!

    Their Customer service offered their apologies and asked if I wanted a refund. I had to go to Walmart to get it, paying ANOTHER $29.00 plus tax for the needed Adapter! I'm in this venture to the tune of over $65.00 and have not yet tested the solar cells.

    Vincent L. Diaz
    vldiaz44@att.net

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  6. Thanks, everyone. I think this product is a great idea but figured it wouldn't work very well. If it sounds to good to be true, it usually is.

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  7. It was a great idea and worked fairly well for a few weeks, but now after less than 2 months and only being used a few times, it will not hold a charge in the device. The light only works when being charged by the sun or plugged in. Not worth anything since it won't light in the dark where you need to use the light, duh.

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  8. I have tried this on my Iphone I get an error message but I left it plugged in for the 1 hour and a half both my phone and the charger were dead!!!!!!
    I then tried to use it on my Garmin and the same plug that fits the Garmen is the same size that fits the charger so their is no way to charge my Garmin with this useless charger I do not know what you can use it for so I am Very unhappy

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