I love solar energy, because it frees us from high electric bills and because it allows us to use the sun to power our electronics. If you want to learn about solar power the Waterproof 12V Solar Panel from Scientifics is a smart simple way to introduce you and your family to the power of the sun. It is light weight and 3 1/2 X 3 X ¾ inches in size. It is also encapsulated in a strong clear plastic shell which makes it durable, sturdy, waterproof and corrosion proof for outdoor use. In other words it can take the heat and a beating.
The Waterproof 12V Solar Panel is designed with conservation in mind. It contains a blocking diode, "so that the stored energy [from the battery] will not reverse flow to the panel at night time". This design does two things: it protects the panel from electrical damage and it also stores the day time energy for night time use.
To test the durability of the plastic shell I kept the panel outside for several weeks in all kinds of weather. The panel withstood all the elements - extremely hot days and bad rainstorms- very well. I noticed there was no corrosion or water damage to the panel at all. Then I tested the strength of the plastic shell in another way. The box that the solar panel arrived in reads that the solar panel models 681 to 683 are strong enough to withstand heavy weights and there is an illustration of a car rolling over a few solar panels to demonstrate this. My solar panel model is a 684. Despite the fact that my model does not fit in the category above I decided to take my Honda Civic to it and roll over it anyhow, twice, with the back wheel. It did not break, not one crack, not even a scratch. I'd like to see what a heavy loaded 18-Wheeler can do to the panel.
There is no doubt in my mind that this panel is durable, but does it provide the energy it claims it should? Does it really store the energy without back flow? Honestly, I couldn't tell if it did. I don't have much experience or knowledge about solar panels. I was hoping I would learn with this one. Instead I found that after a few weeks of testing the solar panel, the cell phone battery and the rechargeable battery I used to test it with were no longer functional. The cell phone (which was old) no longer turned on at all. The 12 volt rechargeable battery (which was new) no longer provided energy to the lamp. Was this a coincidence? Did I connect it wrong?
It is supposed to be simple product to use and yet I found myself perplexed, because at first it worked so well. I was able to charge up my husband's cell phone battery so easily. In fact, the first time I tested it I remember standing next to my husband so happy because I kept thinking to myself "not one dime was paid to the electric company to charge this phone". I couldn't believe it; my husband cell phone was powered for free. Yes, it took a little longer to power by the sun, but we weren't in any hurry. Then I began to imagine my whole house powered by the sun and my low or possibly non-existent electric bills and I couldn't wait to use it over and over again.
I did test it over and over again over the next few weeks only to find that eventually the phone no longer worked and that the battery did not either. Because there was no indicator (voltmeter or multi-meter) to let me know how much power was being produced, if at all, I had no way of knowing if it was the items I was using, if the solar panel was broken, or if it was something that I was doing wrong. I contacted Scientifics and was told to contact the manufacture, but could not because there is no contact information available on the box or anywhere on the solar panel that I could see.
I also found the 6ft wire was too short for my mounting on the wall needs, though on the ground it was fine. The stand was easy to put on the panel, but somewhat flimsy. I wasn't fond of the alligator clips either. Aside from the fact that they did not stay on very well (barely touch them and they would fall off) there was the problem of finding items to test it with. This was my fault. I should have been more careful noticing that this particular solar panel came with alligator clips rather than a different means of connecting to electrical products. This of course limited what I could use from my home to test the solar panel.
Despite the problems, having a small solar panel like this and having the chance to use it really inspired me to learn more about solar panels and perhaps go solar in the future. My first sample may have not have gone as I had hoped, but I did learn a lot from it and I dream of the day when I can afford to go completely solar in my life, to power my air conditioner, my lights, my appliances and everything else electrical.
You can also find this at Amazon.