I have been wanting to check out a solar powered charger for my phone for a long time and I finally had the chance to do it with the Waka Waka solar powered charger and light.
For every Waka Waka you buy, the company makes sure that someone in an area without electricity receives a free Waka Waka so they can have lights at night and/or have some source of energy for their devices. Because they are battery powered, many people without electricity can seriously benefit from this small yet very useful device.
The Waka Waka comes with some pretty cool features: It’s made so it can sit on the neck of a soda bottle or can prop itself up on a surface to a standing position and it comes with green LED lights that show how charged the device is. Here is a breakdown of the percent charge shown by the number of LED lights:
4 green LED’s = Full Battery
3 green LED’s = 75%
2 green LED’s = 50%
1 green LED = 25%
It also has a red LED light that shows the progress of charging when charging by the sun:
1 blink = Slow Charge
2 blinks = Normal Charge
3 blinks = Fast Charge
Per the instructions, a blue LED shows that the device is charging by USB. I never did see the blue light come on while charging with a USB cord.
A really cool feature that this device has is the ability to change between light brightness and ultimately, the battery life of the device. Depending on how many times you tap the power button, it turns it on, decreases or increases the battery life from 10 hrs to 150 hours, and turns the device off. It even has an SOS setting if you hold the button down for 2 seconds.
The box says that the device would charge up to 75% in a sunny day in New York. For hot sunny areas such as Africa or maybe even Arizona, this device would be fantastic for year around use as long as the sun was out. For areas such as Colorado where I am, I would suggest a backup because, although we are at higher altitude, I didn’t have much luck charging the device quickly.
I have been charging the device in the sun and have not been able to get more than about 50% of a charge in a two day period. Although the sun was intermittent when I set it out to charge, I feel that it still gives a fair representation of Colorado weather (never really know) and allows for more time charging in the sun than a normal hiker would get walking through the Colorado woods with the device on the back of their pack.
I also charged the device via a usb cable and an electric outlet. It took about an hour for the device to charge another 25%. The instructions say it will fully recharge via the power “grid” in 4 hours.
I used the Waka Waka to charge my smart phone. The phone had about 16% charge left and had the “red light” on the battery display. I figured that would be a decent representation of a situation we would need the charger for. I hooked the charger up to it and it brought the phone up to about 20% in about an hour. I also tried using the smart phone while plugged into the charger and it did fairly well. It kept my phone going for another hour or so while a video game was being played, which drains my battery quickly. I ran the light for a few minutes and it was quite bright on the “10 hour” setting. The SOS setting on the light is interesting.
If you’re going to be outside in the sun for long periods of time hiking a 14er where you are exposed to a lot of sunlight, in a desert, using the light for your tent at night, or want a low-weight source of energy for a quick emergency call, then this is a great device to have. If you were to fully charge it before leaving and only use it for tent/camp light or when in a pinch for lighting or charging, I could really see it being very useful. If you are out multiple days in a situation where it has to be charged up, it seems like a lot of effort to recharge if you are moving around where sunlight is intermittent. If you are going to be somewhere where the sun will be intermittent or you need a quick source of power and a lot of it, I would not suggest the Waka Waka. Overall, it is better for using in situations it was actually made for; giving people light where they have not electricity. However, I think you would really need to look at what you intend to use it for before you judge it too harshly for hiking. It has cool LED light indicators, it’s simple to use, and the ability to charge it by sun or USB opens it up for all kinds of uses.
I will be doing a giveaway of the WakaWaka I used for the review. Stay tuned for that in the next couple of weeks!