By Greg Rodgers
I recently received an opportunity to play with and review the Voltaic Fuse 6W Solar Charger – a very cool addition to any serious adventurer’s gear, not to mention any worthwhile zombie-apocalypse kit.
Man, how I could have used this solar charger when weathering through Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines last year! With no electricity for a week following the typhoon, no one could charge batteries to let loved ones know that they were fine – but the one thing we did have was plenty of sunshine!
What is the Voltaic Fuse Solar Charger?
The Voltaic Fuse is a self-contained solar charging solution for small devices such as smartphones, tablets, MP3 players, GoPro cameras, GPS, etc. By putting the solar cell into direct sunlight, you charge the included, removable battery pack – about the size of a small cell phone – and can then later use that battery to transfer power to your devices. Your electronics are protected neatly while charging inside of the case. A system of straps allows the solar charger to be fastened to tents, rucksacks, or even bicycles and vehicles.
If getting direct sunlight is an issue, the internal battery pack can also be charged via USB or AC outlet. It will hold a charge for many days (longer if you disconnect it from the solar cells to prevent bleeding) and can then be used to charge your devices as needed. Four LEDs on the pack indicate the status and how much charge is available.
Hackers and tinkerers out there will be happy to know that you can purchase just the solar cells, batteries, pieces, and parts directly from Voltaic on their website. This means that you could completely customize your own solar-power solution for long-distance cycling, motorbiking, vanning, etc.
Note: The Voltaic Fuse 6W is designed for lightweight applications. If you need to charge a laptop while in the field, Voltaic does make a solar laptop charger that doubles as a bag.
- Weight: 600 grams (around 1.3 pounds)
- Height: 11 inches (28 centimeters)
- Width: 8.76 inches (21 centimeters)
- Depth: .75 inches (2 centimeters)
- Solar Panels: 6 watts with total peak output of 6 volts
- Battery Type: Lithium polymer
- Output: 5 volts @ 1,000 mA
What I Like
- Construction feels solid and rugged, including the buckles and zipper.
- The mesh compartments and zippered pocket on the inside are nice bonuses for storing adapters and other items from your electronics kit.
- The straps on the back of the Voltaic Fuse are highly customizable and even work with the military MOLLE system. You won’t have to be MacGyver to figure out a way to attach the charger to your rucksack, bike, or tent.
What I Love
- The versatility! The option to remove the rechargeable battery pack from the cells is a huge plus. Technically, you could detach and carry only the battery pack into the field as an emergency power source, and then recharge it when you get back to camp.
- All of the Voltaic chargers can be customized and tailored to meet specific demands in the field. There are lots of mods available on the website such as larger battery packs, additional solar cells, specific adapters, etc. The included universal adapters and coily USB cable already take care of most everyday applications.
What I Would Change
- Although the solar panel is protected by a tough coating and is touted as being extremely rugged, it comes across as precariously vulnerable on the outside of the pack. Maybe because the shiny cells just look beautiful, high-tech, and fragile. I would like an option for protecting the panel somehow – perhaps another cover or folding piece of canvas with zipper/snap enclosure?
Then again, Voltaic did boldly drop the Fuse from a building to prove just how rugged it is!
- The Voltaic Fuse solar charger is only water resistant. I understand that to make the unit more waterproof would require adding significant weight, however, the included battery pack itself shouldn’t get wet, not to mention whatever valuable electronics you are charging inside. There’s always a the likelihood of getting caught in a downpour while away from camp or on your bike.
With a weight of around 1.3 pounds (600 ounces), the Voltaic Fuse Solar Charger is an excellent addition to any zombie-survival kit. Because every ounce counts, I probably wouldn’t just pack it on a whim to go wander on a typical backpacking trip. But I would certainly include this handy device on field expeditions, when setting up base camps, and on long-range cycling/motorbiking/vanning trips.
Where to Find the Voltaic Fuse Solar Charger
Disclosure: The author received a demo unit of the Voltaic Fuse Solar Charger for free as coordinated by Deep Creek Public Relations.