This is a review of the Solarpod 240 portable solar generator. It has a large carry handle, isn’t too big so is still portable and has a decent amount of power to back itself up, we look in to it more.
We have done a thorough field test of this device for a recent mountain biking excursion in the Welsh mountains. It was a 2 night stop over with 2 of us camping near some local trails. We each had a smart phone, 1 tablet between us and 3 cameras between us, 2 powerful front headlight torches and other small USB powered bicycle lights. We wanted to see if we could use the electrical gear without hesitation and each evening charge the devices.
We had everything stored in a large plastic container with lid which we could keep inside the tent and make sure that it kept everything, including the Solarpod 240 solar generator dry for the 3 days in the tent, no matter the weather. We’ll get to this little test in a bit, for now, here are some specs.
Specs and Features
3 outputs: 110V AC, 12V DC and Dual USB. With this you can run a laptop, charge some camera batteries and also two USB charging devices such as a phone or tablet.
Multi charging option included: 12V DC, 110V wall charger and 12V solar panel adapter. You can charge whilst in your car with the 12V car cigarette lighter, from a mains wall socket and also via a 12V solar panel of which you get an adapter. So you can charge before you go out on an adventure, in your car if you are travelling between destinations and also whilst using a solar panel when you set up camp. Given the right weather, with enough sunlight you can recharge this solarpod 240 in as little as 5 hours from solar and a little longer from a car cigarette lighter.
It has over 2500+ charge cycles available being lithium polymer battery technology, weighs about 7kg and is the size of a large brick.
Our little mountain biking expedition went better than expected, everything we took with us was already fully charged so that definitely helped but the Solarpod did its thing and more.
We used our large DSLR cameras for one evening and one full day whilst riding for over 9 hours in total, stopping here and there taking photos and had a gopro on us to share action shots. We were sharing one smart phone when on our bikes for an emergency but never used it, we both also had a smart watch and a bike gps but we didn’t need to charge these. On an evening we used the 2 torches, lamp and other bike lights for a late night ride and whilst at our camp.
The Solarpod only got its first use on the afternoon of our 2nd day out. We charged our camera batteries one after the other using the UK mains plug, each taking about 1 hour to charge. We had a USB battery charger plugged in to one of the USB slots which charged our torch lights and a phone we took out with us in the other USB slot. Over a 2 hour span we had topped everything up, not fully but plenty of energy now in each device. We were good for our evening ride as the sun set, to take some more photos and use the torches again for our 2nd evening in the woods and local trails of the campsite.
Late on in to the 2nd evening we had nearly drained our action camera as we hadn’t recharged it, so we plugged that in, charged the smart phones one after the other and had some lights plugged in so we could see what we were cooking. With this one little battery pack we felt like we weren’t missing anything, we didn’t have to rely on solar throughout the day and we could charge at any time, it was just there waiting for us.
Through the night we charged the tablet we had and the camera batteries. It really was a practical thing to have and we would have had to have brought a lot more batteries for each device or have different charging devices or even gear just so we could charge by USB, luckily we already had a USB charger which could charge anything from AAA through to 18650 batteries and it meant our camera charger could be plugged in without having to wait.
The thing we really noticed with these solar generators is that it helps by choosing certain equipment to use and already owning it before hand, from lights, the cameras you have through to watches and more, so that they are compatible with USB or can share charging devices. For instance, many cameras now can charge straight from the body via USB. If you can get all of your lights or torches to use the same batteries, you only need one charger.
Pros & Cons
- Practical, easy to move around and safe to put anywhere
- Has a lot of charge in it, will charge many phones, tablets and the odd laptop too
- Can be charged itself by 3 different options, mains UK plug, solar with a 12v adapter and from in your car using the cigarette lighter
- This could be great for days out, weekends out, camping in a campervan, caravan or tent, anywhere you get to by car really and you have a few electronic devices on you
- Looks great
- You don’t need any of the special Goal Zero adapters, this thing will work with standard plugs, adapters, solar panels and USB
- No display so you aren't getting any readings from it, there is the LEDs on top but that doesn't show much or what is happening as you're charging it or charging other devices
- Costs quite a bit, it's a direct competitor of the Goal Zero Yeti 400, has less ports and inputs than it but we'll find our more when we test that product in the coming months
A solid portable solar generator, can be charged by many different inputs and will last a few days use from most electrical gadgets you throw at it. It’s not weather proof so make a setup for it that you are happy with taking it outdoors.
Has less ports than the Goal Zeros but its simple, does exactly what you will want of it in numerous ways and is a very practical piece of gear to have on you. Even though it’s portable, we are really surprised with how it performed for us, we even used it in our home for testing and just loved it. You might also be interested in our roundup of best camping power packs here.
Update July 2023 – this product is no longer available, instead we recommend Jackery 240.