Sunday, June 19, 2011
When I first got the panel from the delivery driver, I noticed just how lightweight it was for a 6 watt module. I remembered how heavy 5 watt fixed frame panels were in the past when I got them and was shocked by the HQRP panels minuscule weight. The first thing I thought was that the panel was of low quality because of the low weight, but upon opening the box and inspecting I quickly changed my opinion. Inside of the box was the panel nicely, protected by a foam shell along with mounting materials and a single sheet of paper with helpful instructions. The panel itself was protected by an additional plastic sheathing which prevented any scratching damage to the laminated plastic face. Once I got the panel in my hand and saw that it used grade a solar cells, a fully sealed junction box and nicely sealed corners, any reservations about quality quickly went out the window. Almost immediately I took the panel outside and hooked it up to my multimeter. I got readings of 20 volts open circuit at between 300-400 milliamps (depending on sunlight and shade), which is right in line for what a new 6 watt panel should put out. I decided to leave the panel on my deck without any mounting, to see how it would hold up under various conditions. Within a week of having it out there, a series of strong thunder storms and high winds rolled through. The panel was tossed around and fell a few times with only minimal damage to the corners. I am happy to say that the damage was easily repairable and didn't affect the performance of the panel. The next three weeks consisted of some light rain and extremely hot 100 degree weather. The panel to my surprise didn't warp or deform in any way, despite the laminated plastic front cover. One thing to note is to not immediately touch the panel after it's been in the sun all day. It's surface can reach temperatures well over 100 degrees in direct sunlight and can burn skin. So to sum up it's durability, the panel passed all tests with flying colors.
Using the HQRP is quite simple, it comes with a 22 inch length of positive and negative cabling, which can output to a variety of different devices. All a user needs to do is connect the ends to either a charge controller, female cigarette lighter adapter or other appropriate connectors to get power from it. I primarily used the female 12 volt adapter and some alligator clips to connect to small draw devices and batteries. I tested the panels charging ability via a few small 12 volt power pack units. These units had batteries ranging from 4 amp hours to 10 amp hours, which is about average for camping and outdoor use. I found these power packs to charge from the panel in as little as 5 hours to a maximum of 8. I should note that these battery packs didn't require any regulation like a charge controller, because they have regulation equipment built in. As far as testing the panels ability to run 12 volt devices directly, I used a small 12 volt fan as well as a tiny 12 volt light bulb. Both the fan and the bulb required around 7 watts to run at full tilt. Even though the panel was rated for only 6 watts, it had no problem powering one device at a time in good sunlight. The panel was also used to run a 12 volt to 5 volt dc usb converter, which I used to charge cellphones and other usb powered devices. Since the converter fully regulates incoming power, I saw no difference in charging times from wall adapters and the solar panel charge.
HQRP panel passed all the durability and charging tests that I could throw at it. It went through storms and low light conditions without a single hiccup or problem. It's size and price make it an excellent value vs other more expensive solar types, meaning anyone on a budget can buy one. The panel might not be the most powerful, but it's ability to charge communication devices, run fans directly and charge batteries for larger items makes it a best buy on my list. To get an HQRP flexible 6 watt panel of your own, please follow the links below.
Link to HQRP's site