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Knog PWR Solar 10W Panel

7
£109.95

VERDICT:

7
10
Premium feeling, rugged solar panel, though missing attachment points for bike or backpacking use
Decent power output for the size
Tough build quality
Visual charge indicator
No eyelets or fixing points beyond the one D-ring
Not weatherproof when open
Weak magnets
Weight: 
493g

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The Knog PWR Solar 10W Panel is a tough, compact folding solar array that delivers plenty of USB power even at high latitudes. While the package is tidy, it lacks fixing points or the ability to stand alone to align to lower sun angles.

Knog has a reputation for designing great products that work well. The PWR Solar Panel is no exception – you unfold it, point it at the sun, plug in a USB device and, if it's sunny, power flows – up to 2 amps of current into any USB device. That might be a battery bank, a phone, GPS device or anything else you want to charge.

The four panels are monocrystalline cells, and are protected by a coating to give, according to Knog, 'unparalleled protection from heat, water, salt, oil, and dirt'. They certainly feel tough, and the flexible sections joining the panels feel like they'll last a lifetime of adventure. There's a two-year warranty to back them up.

2022 Knog PWR Solar 10W Panel - detail.jpg

A maximum of 2A output is pretty good – most 240V wall chargers max out at 2A. I live in the middle of Scotland, on the southern edge of the Highlands, and at noon on midsummer the PWR panel gives a maximum of 1.8A. As solar density wanes through the year as the sun's angle changes, this figure will drop, of course. As a rule of thumb, if you get four hours of full power in summer, you'll only get one hour in winter.

The PWR weighs 500g and folds into the size of a Moleskine diary. It has magnets that keep it folded, but they aren't particularly strong. Knog says these magnets can be used to help arrange the panel on ferrous material, but though they will hold it flat on a steel car roof or bonnet, I found them too weak to be effective on any sloping surface.

2022 Knog PWR Solar 10W Panel - folded.jpg

The charging end is thicker and heavier than the four solar panels, to accommodate the USB-A socket. At some point hopefully Knog will get on the USB-C bus, meaning a much slimmer socket and less need for adapters – increasingly, USB battery banks are USB-C to take advantage of higher charging currents.

The socket is covered by a rubber block when not in use, but this isn't waterproof – Knog says it's 'water resistant when closed'. A bit of rain isn't going to kill it, and as the voltage is USB the chance of a serious malfunction if it gets caught in a shower is low. With the port in use it's definitely not even water resistant – maybe Knog could look at a redesigned USB cover that kept rain out in use. Yes, if it's raining there's no sun obvs, but if you're cycling for multiple hours you don't want to keep stopping to plug and unplug your charging setup when a shower passes.

2022 Knog PWR Solar 10W Panel - USB port.jpg

You can fold the charging panel underneath the last solar panel, thereby keeping the connector port out of direct weather while in use. This also reduces the overall length from 535mm down to 440mm, improving placement options on a bike if needed.

On the front of the charging panel there are four tiny red LEDs that light up solid from one to four to show the quality of the sun's power – helpful when orientating the panel for maximum output. When you connect a device they switch to flashing, to show a charge is being delivered – again, one being lowest, four being highest. It's a simple indicator, but it works. The power will automatically restart charging after a cloudy break, riding under a building and so on.

> Your complete guide to bikepacking

There's a D-ring at one end that allows the panel to be hung from a wall or branch, which might suit the sun's angle. Disappointingly, there are no other attachment points or a built-in stand that can hold the panel at an angle to face and catch the sun. In a package costing £110 this is a striking omission – for a company so grounded in industrial design, making a couple of fold-out legs to hold the panel up doesn't strike me as a major ask.

2022 Knog PWR Solar 10W Panel - detail 2.jpg

For cycling needs I can see a desire to attach the PWR Panel to a set of panniers, maybe across a rack, drybag or a bar bag. But with no attachment points provided beyond the single D-ring, you're down to a selection of BYO bungee cords or the like to keep the panel from flapping about or falling off. You can add stick-on Velcro patches or adhesive D-ring mounts to give fixing points, and I'd hope Knog would include these as well as a self-supporting stand in future products. For a product whose performance dictates it must be facing the sun directly, the lack of means to do so is glaringly obvious.

Value

At £110 the PWR Panel is certainly a higher-priced solar panel option. Decathlon's USB Solar Panel 10W is only £40, and comes with not only four holes for fixing down, but two little carabiners for attaching to a backpack, and a mesh pocket for holding whatever you are charging in place – handy. The panels claim 19% efficiency, which is close to the monocrystalline panels Knog uses at around 25%.

Currently sold out (well, at the time of writing I could see one available on ebay) but highly rated in reviews is the Anker PowerPort Solar Lite 2 for around £75, with elastic loops for fixing and two USB ports.

Conclusion

Overall, I like the Knog PWR Solar 10W Panel. It kicks out decent current, folds up small and feels premium and tough. The lack of mounting points for on-bike use can be addressed with bungees, sticky Velcro or stick-on mounting points for less than a tenner, and it's well proportioned for on-bike use if you need to charge while riding. It's certainly priced higher than other options, but features the latest tech and a solid build.

Verdict

Premium feeling, rugged solar panel, though missing attachment points for bike or backpacking use

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Knog PWR Solar 10W Panel

Size tested: Folded: 175mm (L) x 105mm (W) x 35mm (D)

Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

It's for people wanting to charge stuff outdoors.

Knog says:

"Knog's compact solar charger allows users to explore the outdoors with an endless supply of clean renewable energy. Use this charger to provide direct power to your devices via the USB-A output, or store the energy in an external PWR Bank for future use.

As you'd expect from Knog, the PWR Solar 10W is packed with technology and features that make this solar charger stand head and shoulders above any other comparable charger on the market.

With its compact, lightweight, and sturdy design the PWR Solar 10W is the perfect choice for rugged outdoor exploration, whether it be on a bike or on foot."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Knog has these details:

COMPACT & LIGHTWEIGHT

The smart concertina design of the PWR Solar 10W means that when not in use it folds into a small compact unit that is not much larger than a smartphone.

Weighing in at 450g this small compact unit can fit easily into pannier bags or secure jacket pockets.

With smartly placed magnets this solar unit packs up easily when not in use, these same magnets can also be used to add positioning of the panels on a metal object.

PREMIUM SOLAR CELLS & INTELLIGENT CHIP TECHNOLOGY

Not all solar cells give an equal performance, with a huge difference in various cells efficiencies. Knog's decision to use Sunpower Maxeon Gen 5 panels featuring Monocrystalline cells allows for high module efficiency, these are the same cells that are used by Nasa.

Through Knog's use of advanced integrated chip technology, the PWR Solar 10W panels can detect improving solar conditions and automatically re-start the charging process to allow the device that is being charged to draw the optimum charging current, creating the most efficient charging in any given conditions.

DURABLE & RUGGED

Every aspect of PWR Solar 10W has been designed with adventure in mind. As such, the entire unit is coated with ETFE which is considered the leading industrial coating offering unparalleled protection from heat, water, salt, oil, and dirt.

The charger also has a handy D-ring attachment which allows for convenient and secure storage or premium placement for maximum sun absorption.

DUAL FUNCTION LEDS

4 conveniently located LEDs on the top of the unit perform dual display functions.

When the LEDs display on steady they are measuring the quality of the available sunlight which allows for placement to ensure optimum sunlight capture.

When the LED's are flashing they are indicating the rate at which your device is charging, with the unit only delivering the level of charge that a device requires.

SPECIFICATIONS

Product Dimensions - Folded: 175mm (L) x 105mm (W) x 35mm (D) Deployed: 540mm (L) x 175mm (W) x 17mm (D)

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

Built with premium materials and feels tough.

Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10

Once aligned, power output is good.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

Feels really rugged, should last quite a few tough trips.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
6/10

Half a kilo is rather heavy for its size.

Rate the product for value:
 
4/10

There are higher-powered and better-featured options for less money.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

The lack of fixings or a stand is disappointing, meaning you need to find something to prop it against.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Lots of current, even at high latitudes.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Lack of a stand or fixing points beyond the one D-ring.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

It's a high-priced device for the 10W capacity, for sure. Whether that is justified by its ruggedness is up to you.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, but with caveats.

Use this box to explain your overall score

It's very good, but the price is high for a product missing attachment points or a built-in stand.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 47  Height: 183cm  Weight: 77kg

I usually ride: Sonder Camino Gravelaxe  My best bike is: Nah bro that's it

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, general fitness riding, mtb, G-R-A-V-E-L

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