mini SunCharger FAQ

To fuel your adventure with the best solar charger for the outdoors you will want to know the answers to these questions. Get the most out of your mini SunCharger with knowledge.

Why should I read the field guide (instructions)?

Our instructions are a guide to take with you when you go off-grid. It should give you all the specialized techniques to get the most out of your system. It is made out of water-resistant paper and is meant to be carried along with your system. It is like having Shawn go camping with you but he won’t eat out of your cooler and leave the tent flap open.


What is the “designed use”  for the mini SunCharger?

The mini SunCharger was designed to charge one phone and a small device from Sun Charging in 1 day without moving it from a good south-facing location.

How big is the power cell?

The power cell is rated 10,000 mAh based on a comparison with other commercially available power banks and on the same scale reported in common devices.

How fast does it charge on an outlet?

It depends on the USB outlet charger if it is 1.0 it will take 10-12 hours and if it is 2.1 amp it will take about 5 hrs. Manufacturer documentation says it can charge on 3.1 amp but since this is not regularly available we have not confirmed the claim.

Is it fast charging?

The center port is fast charging which is a 2.1 Amp USB, this is indicated with two lightning bolts next to the port.

Why does it have a “slow charge” port?

Waste discharge protection will turn off small devices that draw low charge so the slow charger is for devices like Bluetooth speakers and headphones. The total output of the whole system is 3.1 amps spread over two ports.

What is the solar panel rated?

The solar panel is rated 6 Watts or 1000 milliamps per hour of 5V USB power.

How do I know how full the power cell is?

Push the button on the top right side and the display will light up indicating the power level. 4 bars are full, one blinking bar is fully depleted. If you fully deplete the power cell we recommend you find an outlet to grid charge back up at least 25% preferably 50%-full.

Can the power cell charge on an outlet?

Yes, it has a micro USB input for that reason.

Why does the Solar Panel fold out?   

Device batteries need above 0 .8 amps charge to overcome the resistance. A real solar charger needs a bigger solar panel to work effectively. In order to make a 6-watt solar panel fit in your pocket, it is going to have to fold up like the mini SunCharger.

Does it have USB C output?

No, it does not. If your apple device came with a type C style USB plug you can use any standard USB lightning cable to charge the phone. Check out MultiMagic cable for a one-and-done USB cable.

Can it charge USB-C devices?

Yes, all you need is a standard USB-C cable. Grab one of our MultiMagic USB cables for a one-and-done charging cable.

Why is there no solar panel on the power cell?

If there was a solar panel on the power cell then you wouldn’t be able to zip it into a backpack, which can be effective if the sun is on your back. This would be a problem because anytime you cover one solar panel in an array of solar panels it will disrupt the current and can significantly reduce the effectiveness of the solar panel.

What is a charge controller?

A special circuit that converts the wild fluctuations in current from variations in light intensity into a steady current compatible with the battery. It also prevents overcharging from current killing the power cell after it is full.

Do regular power banks have a charge controller?

No common power banks are designed to be as low-cost as possible so extra protections will not be there. This means normal power banks will eventually burn out from solar panels. All power banks, however, can be charged with the USB ports on the mini Suncharger.

Does the mini SunCharger have a charge controller?

The power cell stores charge for use anytime but solar panels need sunlight to create a significant usable charge.

Why doesn’t the mini SunCharger wirelessly charge?

Wireless charging is cool but inefficient and the added components take a lot of room. When dealing with battery power and solar energy it is best to make sure it is as efficient as possible. A unit with this feature would have to be bigger and therefore not meet the size we wanted to give backpackers. You can use the mini SunCharger to charge a wireless power bank if you have or want one.

What happens if I drive a metal rod through the power cell?

Do not do this. It will cause a fire and burn until the battery is fully discharged. Doing this will probably cause removal from the gene pool or mocking for years to come by your peers.

Build Quality

How much does the mini SunCharger weigh?

The whole unit weighs 14 oz, the power cell is 10 oz and the solar panels are 4 oz.

Is it weatherproof?

Yes, the design of the SunCharger will minimize water exposure to vital parts. The Thermal PVC material prevents the power cell from bloating and warping after long solar exposure times. The idea is that if you get stuck in a storm while it is out it will dry off and work. That being said it is not built to handle abuse, misuse, or neglect for extended periods of time.

Is it waterproof?

No. Why would you want to charge your phone underwater? We do not think waterproofing is worth the additional cost it would require.

Is it saltwater tolerant?

Our initial tests did not find that the marine environment led to any damage related to salt build-up. However only time will reveal if we can properly call it a marine grade.

Why is the mini SunCharger more expensive than the solar chargers on vendors like Amazon?

Quality has a cost but pays off because you don’t have to replace it and create waste. We want our systems to be strong enough to be dropped as will happen with any outdoor activities so this is part of the conditions for a good portable solar system. Also if it were made out of low-grade plastic it will warp and break apart on long hot days combined with slight moisture from humidity..

What is thermoplastic PVC?

A special category of plastic that does not heat up easily. Our power cells are sealed so that moisture is kept out and the plastic lowers the chances of warping significantly.

Is there anything special about solar panels compared to other solar panels?

Yes, the solar panels are high-quality PET cells. You can test this by flexing the panel and feeling that it is firm and bends only slightly compared to other flex panels which feel soft and “squish” when bent.

Sun Charging Techniques and Off-Gridding Tips

How fast does it sun charge?

Short version: 1000 milliamps per hour or 10 % power cell charge per hour. A typical phone will cost 30% of the battery and a typical small device will take about 10%. 

Long version:  it takes 10-12 hours of sun charging to charge the battery from depletion in full sun. We recommend you Sun Charge 4x longer than discharging as a general rule. If you use it as designed to charge 1 phone or just a small device you can keep the power cell full more dependably.

What does “while off-grid mean”?

This means you are away from conventional power sources and solely relying on Sun Charging for power.

Why do I have to point the solar panels south, southwest or southeast?

The sun rises in the east, arcs to the south while the path travels to the west. A solar panel is like an on-off switch that creates electricity when in the sun. If you point the panels to the north or let it sit in the share you will not observe good results because solar is cool, but it is not magic. Just remember “Never North” when picking a solar collection site.

Why should I keep my phone in airplane mode while off-grid?

If your phone is on while not getting a good signal it will waste power more because it will constantly search for a signal. If you are using On X or another GPS app it will also drain the battery faster. Since every milliampere counts while off-gridding you should exercise all energy efficiency measures available to conserve your reserves.

Will it work indoors?

It will produce a very small “trickle charge” indoors which is not significant compared to the size of the power cell and any known device. For this reason, we say it will make electricity but not a useful amount. This is an outdoor power system. Though solar is like magic, it is not magic and works by converting intense light into electricity and storing it for later.

Will it work on my dashboard?

Somewhat. Our measurements and customer feedback show it charges at about half speed on a dashboard. You can improve this by making the panel flush with the window but it will always

Can I hang the mini SunCharger off my backpack?

Yes. This will work best while you are walking in a northern direction with the sun to your back. It is also great while you are taking a break just leave your pack in a sunny spot (like a cat would).

Will it sun charge when it’s cloudy, foggy, or raining?

No. Dim light is not effective for Sun Charging. You can get 50-80% efficiency in partly sunny or less-than-ideal situations like on a dashboard. The amount of power you can generate from solar panels goes up with light intensity and time in the sunshine.

Trouble Shooting

Does it have to be in the sun to work?

It does not have to be in the sun to charge devices but it does need to be in the sun to sun charge the power cell back up.

I left it in the sun and it didn’t Sun Charge?

Check to make sure the power cell was fully secured and make sure the power cell wasn’t upside down. You can check this by making the LED flashlight is showing through the opening in the back. Check to see if there are rips between the solar cells. If that doesn’t solve the issue contact us.

Why does it SunCharger so slow when it is fully depleted?

When the battery is very low it takes more energy to get it to the first 25% than the last 25% because of complicated battery physics. The Suncharger was designed to float between 50% and full while depending on the sun to charge. If possible plug it in for at least 2 hours on a generator or at the camp common area to “reboot” the power cell. If that is not possible just leave it out in the sun more.

What if it keeps shutting off when I try to charge?

Small devices draw a small current which sometimes is not enough for the power cell to know it is in use so it shuts down due to the power conservation circuit.

What do I do if my device isn’t charging?

Most likely the device is very small and the power conservation circuit is turning it off. To solve this first try using the MultiMagic cable which does draw a little more power. Make sure the small device is on the 1 amp USB port. If that doesn’t work plug in a second small device and this most often is all you need to do to solve this issue.

What if the power cell is broken and nothing here is helping?

Contact us immediately and send pictures describing the situation. We will reach out to you and inform the engineers to look for manufacturing issues. It is helpful if you know when you purchased it because we keep records of batches when produced to track and implement quality control measures. Don’t worry we will replace it too. That comes with our unbeatable service associated with our brand. Damage from misuse and physical damage is not covered, but you might get a coupon code for your patronage.


What devices were the SunCharger designed to charge?

USB devices with batteries in the below 4000 mAh range are what this solar charger was meant to do.

Can the mini SunCharger charge a GoPro/action camera?

Yes, it can. It keeps up pretty well with typical GoPro use while off-grid.

Can it charge a tablet?

It will charge a tablet, but most tablets have larger batteries than the mini SunCharger is built to regularly charge. We recommend small tablets or a larger solar system for tablets

Can the mini SunCharger charge a drone?

Yes, it can, but drone batteries are enormous so you will probably deplete the power cell so that it will take a full 10 hours of solar charging to get back which typically means a day and a half of Sun Charging per drone battery. We do recommend a bigger solar system if this is a primary goal. Look into the Tailgater Freeloader for the perfect solar power generator for drones.

Can it charge a Photographer’s Camera?

No. Unfortunately, camera manufacturers make their chargers plug into a wall outlet. If you can locate a USB charger for your specific camera battery then yes the mini SunCharger will be able to keep up with regular camera charging. Look into the Tailgater Freeloader for the perfect solar power generator for photographers.