Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Oyama solar charger review

About a year ago I got an Oyama brand solar charger from Batteries Plus. It wasn't super cheap but at around $30 it's been useful and is still seeing service now.

For size it's relatively compact, only a little larger than my Android smartphone and it's very light weight. It came with a tether but no mounting device of any kind, something that would make it very useful. As it stands now it's easiest to use in a home or office setting. My main use, I'm guessing this is common, is as an on the go backup power source for my phone. So, it's useful but maybe not ideal. That said even with limited battery capacity, slight awkwardness and lengthy charge time(6-8 hours minimum) it's still a bargain compared to the solar backpacks and messenger bags on the market.

The device is designed to alternately charge from a USB port and did initially but the circuit failed for unknown reasons. It does continue to charge via the solar cell so it's function isn't really all that diminished. It will not on the other hand charge a device while it is charging. You must charge the internal battery and then charge your device.

I've had to repair it once, probably my own fault for breaking the case but it's not built to take much abuse.

Conclusion, I've likely not yet gotten my money back in energy savings and probably never will. It costs something like $2 a year to charge an average phone for 8 hours a day 365 days a year. So, realistically, that's just never going to happen on an individual level. I do think I've gotten solid ROI in convenience dollars though. About the third or fourth time I've been able to plug in my dead phone on the go and get another couple hours of use out of it I'd call it paid for since I'd have happily bought batteries to do the same job.

I'd still rather have a solar charging bag but the Oyama is useful for now.


  1. hi, i have just bought one, how do you charge it of the main house hold supply? the instructions say the 3 lightss go out when its fully charged but ivv plugged it in and the blue lights go out straight away. am i doing something wrong?

  2. Sorry I missed this question when you asked. The circuit that allowed mine to be charged from the wall or USB burned out on mine and I only charge it from solar power. It pretty much sits in the window of my boat and acts as an emergency backup. SO, I'm not sure what your lights going out right away might mean. Mine always had one blue light on when it was plugged in. They're cheap enough that it's not a big deal but they are far from reliable.

  3. I charged mine when I first got it and when it was fully charged the blue lights went off. I used it to charge my cell phone for a couple hours...after charging my cell phone the blue lights came on again...I recharged it and the lights went off.

    1. I'm trying to remember but I think on mine any time the battery was either completely dead or completely charged the lights would go out.

      It's a really basic charger.

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  5. Hello!

    You said: "It will not on the other hand charge a device while it is charging. You must charge the internal battery and then charge your device."

    Will the panel do this change automatically? From internal battery charge state to phone battery charge state without any user action?

  6. Mine seems to do this. There isn't any visible switch. I think what is going on is the solar panel isn't powerful enough to charge a device and is only adequate to charge the internal battery given enough time. As far as the user goes there isn't much to see.

    In terms of plugging it in, if you run power from a USB while something else it trying to pull power from the battery, it gets too hot. As far as I can tell it always routes power to a device from the battery.

    Since writing the post I have kind of given up on this charger. It was OK when it was new but had some obvious problems and there are many many more on the market now that work a lot better for not much more investment.

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