Small, Simple, Reliable- 3 words that make up the foundation of a great portable power solution. These 3 words would definitely be used to sum up Ecoboxx’s latest solar kit. Recently we got hold of one of Ecoboxx Australia 120 solar units and put it to the test recently on our travels .
What’s in the box?
With much excitement I eagerly ripped into the packaging of my latest gadget- first to come out was 2 compact solar panels, the first thing I noticed, and with my experience with portable solar panels is the quality of the aluminium frame that surrounding the panels. I’ve seen some cheap and nasty frames in my time and trust me, a good frame is very important. They felt sturdy and well made. I had first thought the 2 panels were attached with hinges but they are actually 2 separate panels connected with a single power cable. I was first confused by this however realised that adding hinges is an easy job if that’s what you require (to create a set of folding panels), but having the panels separate allows you to mount them in any configuration for many different applications that you may need. Eg- on top of your vehicle or caravan. A nice long power lead (6m) gives the panels plenty of room to be placed away from the power unit. Each panel is rated at 10 watts (20 watts total) which is perfect size (both physically and in capacity) to supply enough power for light-duty accessories such as LCD TV’s, Lighting, fans, mobile phones, IPods, radios and even portable CPAP machines.
Next- out comes the power unit itself. An all-in-one battery and inverter system housed neatly in a sturdy and nature-inspired green case. Ecoboxx claim the battery unit can store around 120watts of power. A sturdy and ergonomic carry handle makes transporting the unit easy and being a compact unit makes finding a place in the van or car wouldn’t be much of an issue.
So, what does it do?
The solar panels are basically used to charge the Ecoboxx 120 during the day and supply 20 watts to the unit for any appliances you may be running during the day. Any surplus wattage is used to continue charging the internal battery pack.
The Power unit has 2 USB ports to allow convenient charging of portable devices such as MP3 players and mobile phones. Located on the side of the unit is a standard 12v Cig socket for running small to medium 12v appliances such as fans, TV’s etc. The front panel also includes 2x 12v DC pin-type outlets for other types of appliances such as lighting. All connectors are and circuits are electronically protected to ensure safe powering of your appliances and to make sure your Ecoboxx 120 will give you many years of reliable service.
But wait there’s more- and this is the best part………. The Ecoboxx 120 has a nifty 75w inverter which allows you to run small 240v AC appliances straight from the box using your standard household power plugs. This gives you plenty of versatility when out camping to take with you important appliances like your CPAP machine. Take it with you when camping and run a small water pump for showers, a floodlight for setting up the tent at night or even a small hand-blender for the kid’s smoothies!
To sum up the Ecoboxx 120, for us it’s a great addition to our camping gear. Either as a back-up or emergency source of power or we can see us using this in times where we only need basic power without having to rely on larger solar setups or generators.
What I like:
- I like the compact design of the box and the ergonomic carry handle
- I also like the quality of the panel frame and long power lead
- The fact that it can power up all types of appliances from one small box is great, especially via USB as a lot of our gadgets now use USB as a main way of being recharged.
What I would like to see:
- 120 Watts is great, but a bit more power would be handy (you can never have enough) but of course more power equals a larger and heavier unit at more cost, so where do you draw the line? A bulky unit would defeat the purpose of portability, so ideally this unit is a perfect compromise between power vs physical size and price.
- An adaptor or 2 to be used with the DC pin outlets as not many appliances use these plugs directly or that are fitted as standard. Perhaps it’s just our gear that doesn’t have it. I would possibly like to see 2x 12v cig sockets instead but I guess then you may be tempted to put a little too much power demand on the battery at once.
I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending one of these little beauties to anyone who loves camping or is on the road travelling. Portable power is very valuable and having in-built 240V AC available where ever you are can be very handy. I reckon these Ecoboxx 120 units would really suit a camper trailer or tent user as a complete power system and would make a great supplementary power source for 4×4 tourers and caravanners. Pop the panels on the roof and store the power unit inside and its ready to use when you need it!!!
As a side note- during these summer holidays we setup a small kid’s pool that had a water pump/filter. We used the Ecoboxx 120 with the panels to run the pump all day. Saved money from not using the household electricity- so think outside the square, these things have lots of uses not just for camping!
What we find it handy for:
- Running a desk fan on hot days when camping without flattening the battery using a separate inverter.
- Powering a 240v soldering iron for emergency repairs around the camp, fixing wires/plugs etc
- Charging mobile phones
- Charging camera batteries, batts for kids toys, UHF radios etc
- Using a hand-held blender for kids milkshakes, making purees, baby food etc
- Powering TV & Radios
- Powering lighting around your campsite
- Use it to run small water pumps for showers, filling tanks or drawing water from a river for washing
- Powering hair-clippers for haircuts (handy for long term travellers)
- miscellaneous low wattage 240v appliances and general 12v automotive/camping items (GPS, Portable DVD players etc)
The retail on one these units are $269. Which is about in line with what you would expect for its features and with a great name like Ecoboxx behind the product you can ease your mind when it comes to reliability.
For more info check them out on their website at www.ecoboxx.com.au or call them directly on 1300 730 716