Olixar enCharge KP-8000 portable solar charger review

Olixar enCharge KP-8000 solar charger

With many smartphone- and tablet batteries unable to last even a full working day, portable chargers are becoming ever more popular. The enCharge KP-8000 from Olixar is an 8000mAh portable charger that can be topped up over USB or using solar power. Also see: 9 best portable USB chargers 2014 

Available from Mobilefun.co.uk for £69, the Olixar enCharge KP-8000 is an expensive solution for charging up your phone or tablet when you're away from the mains. Particularly given the wealth of alternatives that are not only cheaper but far more easily portable. (We especially like the Lumsing Power Bank, Olixar enCharge Power Bank and Veho Pebble Smartstick+.) But four built-in solar panels mean this Folding Solar Storage Power for smartphones and tablets is a pretty cool solution, and one that can keep you up and running as long as you like. If you're off on a week's camping or to a festival then the Olixar enCharge KP-8000 is ideal. Also see: 37 best smartphones 2014 

Supplied in a green foldable case, the Olixar enCharge KP-8000 is big and heavy. Folded-up it measures 179x105x39mm, but expanded for solar charging it's a huge 550mm long. And with 8000mAh of juice inside, the battery itself is pretty bulky, weighing in at 490g. Of course, this isn't the type of device you carry with you; the enCharge is much better left outside the tent to charge itself in the sun, or a lanyard is supplied if you'd rather hang it on something. 

With a claimed capacity of 8000mAh, the Olixar enCharge should be able to charge your phone four- or even five times before needing a recharge. It comes with a USB cable with interchangeable connectors for Micro-USB, Apple Lightning and - according to Mobilefun.co.uk - Samsung Galaxy Tab. We're convinced the Samsung charger is in fact an Apple 30-pin dock connector; indeed, it worked fine with our iPhone 4. It's 1.5A output translates to rapid charging for a smartphone, although there are better options for tablets. You may even find your tablet will refuse to charge - as is the case with our iPad mini, which is interesting given that it works fine with the lower 1A output of the Olixar enCharge Power Bank. 

For charging itself the Olixar enCharge KP-8000's maximum input is 1A, whether that's over USB or solar power. We purposely drained the enCharge's battery in order to see how long it took to charge via its solar panels. When the remaining capacity got sufficiently low that the enCharge refused to charge our Samsung Galaxy S4, we switched on the built-in torch to drain whatever capacity remained. Seventeen hours later the torch was still lit, albeit dimly. That's another plus for campers. Also see: Best holiday-planning apps. 

Olixar enCharge KP-8000 solar charger

Having drained the battery we laid the device on our sunny 7th-floor roof terrace. After six hours two of the enCharge's four LEDs were lit, suggesting the battery was half full. It took a further six hours to completely charge the enCharge from a mains-connected USB charger. 

With so much battery power on offer, it's a shame that there isn't more information about how much capacity remains - such as with the LCD display of the (admittedly far more expensive) £120 Powertraveller powermonkey extreme 12v. (Check out our video of that charger plus another that can charge your phone using fire. Actual fire.) Each of the enCharge's four LEDs represent 2000mAh, which makes it difficult to ever be sure exactly how full is the battery.  

It's worth noting that how fast the enCharge Folding Solar Storage Power charges today may differ from how fast it will charge tomorrow: it doesn't have to be sunny to charge a solar panel, but charging will be more efficient in bright sunshine. This solar charging system perhaps work best when charged via the mains whenever possible, then topped up using solar power.

Read our tips on how to improve smartphone battery life.

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Olixar enCharge KP-8000: Specs

  • 8000mAh solar-powered portable USB charger
  • 1A input
  • 1.5A output
  • four built-in solar panels
  • built-in torch
  • four LEDs to denote capacity remaining
  • Micro-USB port for charging
  • supplied with USB cable and Lightning, Micro-USB and Apple 30-pin connectors
  • 179x105x39mm (folded), 179x550x15mm (open)
  • 490g
  • 8000mAh solar-powered portable USB charger
  • 1A input
  • 1.5A output
  • four built-in solar panels
  • built-in torch
  • four LEDs to denote capacity remaining
  • Micro-USB port for charging
  • supplied with USB cable and Lightning, Micro-USB and Apple 30-pin connectors
  • 179x105x39mm (folded), 179x550x15mm (open)
  • 490g

OUR VERDICT

The Olixar enCharge KP-8000 is a very cool solar-powered portable USB charger for your phone and possibly tablet, depending on the model. It's big and heavy, and more expensive than chargers without the solar component, but this charger offers the luxury of never needing to be plugged into the mains again, which could save you on your electricity bills. In comparison to other solar chargers it's cheap, but we'd like to see more information in the way of how much capacity remains and how quickly is the Olixar charging given the weather conditions at the time.