Here at Industry Outsider, we like gear that gets the job done, and is made to last. So if we get a chance to try out a product that can take a beating, we tend to take notice. When that product is also highly reliable, efficient, handy, and just plain cool, we get excited. Like when we got our hands on a JOOS Orange – the compact and rugged portable solar panel that claims to be 6 to 20 times more powerful than similar products.
At approximately 8.5” x 6” x .8” in size and weighing in at 24 ounces, the JOOS Orange is bigger and heavier than most of the other solar panels that we have reviewed so far, but is by no means ungainly. Connections to the device are made using a micro USB port and the assortment of cords provided with the unit, allowing you to charge your GPS, two-way radios, lanterns, iPad, iPhone, most smartphones, or pretty much anything else that charges via USB. (JOOS also provides a waterproof bag to store the cords in, which is a nice touch) The 5,400 mAh internal battery is large enough to completely charge an iPhone twice with power to spare – some people have claimed 4 full iPhone charges. There are two legs that pop out of the back that allow the panel to be positioned at different angles to make the best use of the sun. The hole that goes through the Orange (including the steel plate in the middle) makes it possible to strap the solar panel onto backpacks, boats, handlebars, or even chain your precious device somewhere that has a good view of the sun while you’re at work. JOOS have also developed an app for PC, Mac, iPhone, and iPad that – when plugged into your computer, phone, or tablet – allows you to monitor the battery and rate of charge so you’ll know if adjustments need to be made. It can also be charged without the sun by connecting to your computer, so it’s topped up before you head out on your next trip. Oh, and it even works when completely submerged. Seriously. Don’t believe us? Check it out:
As for the claim that the JOOS Orange is 6 to 20 times more powerful than their competition, we couldn’t say yes or no for sure. What we can say is the Orange is one of the more efficient panels that we have gotten our hands on. During our testing, it charged fairly well in overcast conditions and amazingly well in the sun. One major benefit of having such a powerful solar panel is that it does not become an overpriced paperweight if the angle to the sun is not exact: even bad positioning will produce power with the Orange. We were able to easily attach a number of power-hungry devices and get a quick energy boost. During one portion of our testing, we tried to see how much power we could get while paying absolutely no attention to the device. We threw it (literally) between the rear headrests and back window of a pizza delivery car and let it slide around up there for a day without making any adjustments. Not only did it survive the ordeal, but the battery was mostly full. This unit was designed to take a beating and still produce the goods. [Editor’s Note: Good thing too, since this loaner was in my name, not David’s]
Overall, this is a great solar panel for those that really like to get rough when they’re roughing it, those that prepare for the worst, and for anyone that hangs out with someone that is clumsy (including children). In addition to being durable, the battery is replaceable, which is appreciated on an investment like this. Of course, even if you’re easy on your gear, it’s worth it to take a look at the JOOS Orange on their website.