Gear Closet: Renogy Phoenix Solar Generator

RNG ELM PHOENIX3 30311.1490375981.500.750

Need to keep your electronic devices charged while at base camp? Do you often find yourself in remote places but need power for your projects? The new Phoenix Solar Generator from Renogy just might be the solution you’ve been looking for. This stand-alone power station has everything you need to stay functional in the backcountry, provided you don’t mind carrying a bit of extra weight.

Shaped like a briefcase, the Phoenix has been built to be rugged, dependable, and easy to take with you anywhere you want to go. It comes equipped with two 10-watt solar panels and a 16Ah rechargeable battery that is capable of powering just about anything you want to plug into it. The battery can obviously harness the power of the sun to stay charged, but it can be plugged directly into an AC or DC outlet as needed too.

When it comes time to charge up your smartphone, tablet, laptop, camera, or other gadgets, you’ll find a multitude of ports at your disposal. In addition to having a standard AC wall outlet, the Phoenix also comes with a DC port like the one found in your car and four USB ports too. Its ability to accept so many different items at one time is one of the real strengths of this product, making it a good solution for use in a wide variety of environments ranging from the mountain to the backyard.

The Phoenix’s large battery allows it to recharge an iPhone more than 30 times or provide a GoPro camera with 45+ charges. It can also provide power for a laptop or other large items too, although it is not equipped to run small appliances such as mini refrigerators or a microwave. The ports all provide a full level of power, meaning your gadgets will recharge at the same rate they would when plugged into a wall back home. In the case of the iPhone, it takes about 2 hours to go from empty to completely full.

Speaking of recharging, the Phoenix itself requires about 8 hours to power up its battery when plugged into an AC or DC outlet. Renogy claims that it takes about 15 hours to charge the device using the sun, but as usual when it comes to solar, take that with a grain of salt. There are a lot of environmental factors that impact that rate, and I find solar is usually slower than advertised, not just in this product, but pretty much all of the others on the market as well.

One of the biggest concerns with the Phoenix will no doubt be its weight. The briefcase power station weighs about 12.8 pounds (5.8 kg). Thats a lot of extra bulk for backpackers or adventure travelers, most of whom will probably want to look elsewhere for lighter weight options. But if you’re going to be in a base camp setting, and need plenty of power, the Phoenix is a good choice for sure. It provides a lot more juice compared to Goal Zero’s lower-end solutions, and it is a lot lighter than their higher end products too.

Priced at $699.99, the Phoenix is also a hefty investment. That makes it a luxury item for most of us, although if you’re an outdoor photographer, adventure filmmaker, or professional guide, this power station will certainly come in handy, and likely pay for itself many times over. Most of us don’t need this much portable power, but for those that do, this is an elegant, tough, and unique option that will keep you up and running, even when living far off the grid.

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Kraig Becker