The Helios Smart from Solpro is a compact USB battery pack that incorporates three fold out solar panels and a battery capacity of 5,000mAh. This allows you to harness the power of the sun in order to charge your smartphone, tablet, or other USB gadgets. This device really comes in handy for all kinds of outdoor adventuring or even just walking around town. With the Helios, you can forget about worrying where your smartphone is going to get its next charge.
There are many other solar battery packs on the market. Most of them, however, have major drawbacks that greatly limit their effectiveness. Some are small enough to carry in a pocket, but they usually have a single solar panel so small it would take days to recharge the internal battery from the sun alone. Other solar panel battery packs, on the other hand, have large enough panels to charge up in a day, but their larger size makes them impossible to carry in your pants or jacket pocket. This makes them only portable if you carry them in a backpack.
The Helios combines the best features of both and eliminates the drawbacks as well. It is small enough to easily carry in your pants or jacket pocket. It also has three fold out solar panels that allow it to fully recharge its internal battery with one day of sunlight.
For an accurate real world test, I placed the Helios in a location that exposed it to several hours of both shade and direct sunlight. I found that if I first fully depleted the Helios internal battery and then put it outside at sunrise, by 5PM it had fully charged. Once fully charged, I then completely depleted the battery of my iPhone 6 Plus and proceeded to recharge it from the Helios. I was able to get one full charge into my iPhone before the Helios ran out of juice. If you are recharging smartphones that have smaller batteries, such as the iPhone 6, 5S, or 4S, you should be able to get 2 full charges from the Helios. You can further stretch the charging of your gadgets by keeping the Helios in the sun at the same time.
The body of the Helios is made up of what feels like a semi-soft synthetic leather material. This gives it both a comfortable feel in-hand as well as a little bit of protection if it is dropped. Embedded into this material are magnets that keep the fold out solar panels in the closed position when not in use. There are also two convenient holes on one side that allow you to hang the Helios from a backpack so it can recharge itself while you hike.
There are five LED indicator lights on one end of the Helios. Four of them indicate the capacity of the internal lithium ion battery. The fifth LED indicates when the solar panels are producing enough power to charge the internal battery. On the other end of the Helios, you will find the USB charging ports. There are two full sized USB output charge ports as well as one micro USB input port for use when the sun isn’t available for charging. One of the two USB output ports provides 1A of power and the other provides 2A of power. The 1A is useful for charging smartphones or smaller devices. The 2A is for tablets and quick charging smartphones.
As you may have noticed in my photos of the Helios, it comes with little white rubber plugs that stick into the USB ports. These plugs help protect the Helios from moisture and dust. In my opinion, this is a great feature that you won’t see on many other solar battery devices. My one little complaint is that the little white rubber plugs are not tethered to the device. So, when you remove them to use the device, they can be easily misplaced. Luckily, the Helios does come with a spare set in case you misplace one.
One of the cool technologies that is quietly working in the background inside the Helios is called Maximum Power Point Tracking Technology or (MPPT). With varying solar conditions throughout the course of any given day, MPPT balances the input coming from the three fold out panels to the internal battery to maximize the power that the panels feed into the Helios battery. This boosts charging performance in less than ideal lighting conditions.
In summary, the Helios Smart from Solpro is a prefect balance between portability, usability, and efficiency when it comes to USB solar panel battery packs. Of the dozens upon dozens of solar devices I have used over the years, this is by far one of my favorites. I highly recommend it.
Weight: 0.63 lbs.
Dimensions (Closed): 5.1″ x 3.15″ x 0.79″
Dimensions (Open): 5.1″ x 11.0″ x 0.63″
Solar Panel Output: 4.86W
USB power output: 2.1A & 1.0A
Made in China
Price: $66.87 – $99
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