A couple of months ago, CTEK sent us their highly-touted CS FREE portable charger to review. In this follow-up feature, we take a look at the company’s solar panel charge kit, which can keep you and the CS FREE going when the energy grid cannot.
Some people choose to prepare for the unexpected, whilst others don’t. Having lived through a time when energy rationing or ‘rolling blackouts’ was quite common, I have it engrained in my brain to have products to hand that could keep me going should those days return. Those days were towards the end of the 1970s, and although it is unlikely that we will be experiencing anything similar in the near term, unexpected things can still happen, mainly caused by the weather.
In the mid-2000s, we lived in a sprawling country house with land as far as the eye could see, completely surrounded by thick hedges and accessed by huge electrically powered iron gates.
For three and a half days whilst living there, we lost all power courtesy of a storm. With thick, high hedges surrounding our land, many things we needed, such as ladders to scale hedges, etc., were inside electric garages we couldn’t open, and living away from others in the middle of the English countryside meant we had no one to assist us. However, we did have a wind-up radio, a box of matches, a couple of candles and a solid fuel stove to keep us warm and to heat pans of water.
As you can no doubt imagine, it wasn’t the most pleasant of times, and I wish I had more advanced technology at our disposal, particularly something to replace the loss of power.
It’s the main reason that I jumped at the chance to test the CS FREE All-in-one power solution.
The CTEK Solution
As capable as the CS FREE is, it still eventually requires one thing, and that is access to power to keep it going. Fortunately, CTEK has thought of this and has created a foldable 60w solar panel charge kit for the times when power isn’t available and as with the CS FREE, we put it to the test.
The 60w Solar Panel Charge Kit comes in a case, which doubles up as a secure base for the panel. The first thing to note is unlike many other similar products in the market, this 4kg panel feels high-quality, which is thanks to the super tough fibreglass used in its construction.
Unfolded, the solar panel measures 81.5cm x 57.7cm and is 2cm thick. The case, as mentioned previously, helps to keep the panel in place, and this is done via a series of Caribbean clips.
The Solar Panel Charge Kit has intelligent silicon cells with a specially developed safety box, which allows it to deliver precisely just the right amount of power to the battery, eliminating the risk of damage through power surges, etc. The supplied cable that comes with the kit is clearly labelled, which makes connecting it up with the CS FREE very straightforward, so much so I was able to get it working the first time.
As I write this, we are in the Autumn, which means sunshine is more of a rarity in the North of England. However, the good news is that it is not an issue, as in our test, we still found it no problem to charge the CS FREE, although it did take a little longer to charge than when we tried it on one of the rare sunny days.
The CS FREE solar panel kit combo is an ideal, portable solution that can keep you going when there’s no power in the home or when you cannot access it when out and about. Thanks to an efficient energy grid, we haven’t needed to use it in an emergency situation thus far.
Another thing I liked is with it being a foldable panel, it is by no means bulky, allowing it can be stored in a cupboard, taking up hardly any space, ready to leap into action when nature is having one of its off days.
As beneficial as I feel the CS FREE and the Solar Panel Charge Kit could be for the home, the combination of the two is also essential for those who love the outdoors.
There are countless USB rechargeable products on the market designed to make outdoor life more enjoyable; the CS FREE with a regular top-up from the solar panel kit will enable people to remain in nature (off-grid) for longer.
In addition, CTEK CS FREE’s ability to recharge a vehicle battery means that if the battery doesn’t have a catastrophic fault, those who travelled by a vehicle to the outdoors will always have even more power, should they need it, and the addition of the solar panel recharge kit will make sure that it is always available.
CTEK Solar Panel Charge Kit Technical Data
- Battery voltage: 12 V
- Ambient operating temperature: -20 ˚C to +50 ˚C (- 4 °F to +122 °F)
- Open Circuit Voltage: 21.6 V
- Rated Power: 60 W
- Short Circuit Current: 3.5 A
- Cable length: 3.5 m
- Degree of protection: IP67
- Dimensions (LxWxH): 422 x 537 x 20 mm
- Net weight: 4.0 kg
- Connector: AMC4
- Connector B: USB-C
- Unfolded Dimensions: 815 x 537 x 20 mm
- Warranty: 2 years
The Solar Panel Charge Kit is available to purchase at https://www.ctek.com/.