WARNING: Patriot Power Cell Solar Power Bank Review + The 4 Top Alternatives
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As solar technology becomes more mainstream, we are starting to see an increasing number of portable electronics outfitted with fixed and fold-out solar panels.
One type of electronic device that has really embraced solar technology is the portable power banks and chargers. Today, solar power banks are essential for outdoor enthusiasts and a trusty tool for urban commuters who rely on their smartphones and laptops to get them through the workday.
These convenient devices store and generate electricity so you can charge your portable electronic devices daily, even when you do not have access to an AC power outlet. For others, a solar power bank is an essential emergency preparedness device that can charge electronics during natural disaster situations and power outages.
Patriot Power Cell Solar Power Bank: What You Need to Know
While all of this sounds straightforward, the truth is, solar power banks are now available in different styles from a wide variety of brands, which makes choosing the right solar power bank a fairly complicated decision.
To help you choose the right option for your needs, we are going to take an in-depth look at one of the best-selling options on the market today – the Patriot Power Cell from 4Patriots. Once we have determined whether or not it is worth the hype, we will also examine some of the best alternatives.
In-Depth Review of the 4Patriots Patriot Power Cell
4Patriots has a well-established reputation for offering survival food kits and emergency preparedness equipment. Even though it is not a specialized solar equipment manufacturer, its Patriot Power Cell is one of its best-selling products.
Part of the reason for the Patriot Power Cell’s popularity is its affordable price point. To purchase one device, you would be looking at spending roughly $30. However, 4Patriots also promotes a bundled option where consumers purchase four units for just $100, which brings the price of each unit down to $25.
While affordability is always an important factor, it is not the only thing you should consider when researching solar power banks. We need to take an in-depth look at the Patriot Power Cell’s internal components and specifications to see how they compare to some of the other power banks and solar chargers out there.
Patriot Power Cell: Key Specifications
|Battery Capacity||8,000 mAh|
|Estimated Wall Charging Time||6 hours via micro-USB charging port|
|Estimated Charge Time Through Solar||40 hours with bright, unobstructed sunlight|
|Input||DC5V / 1.6A|
|Output||DC5V / 1A, DC5V / 2.1A|
|Total Life Cycles||500 charges|
Patriot Power Cell Capacity and Shelf Life of the Internal Battery
The Patriot Power Cell’s internal battery has a capacity of 8,000 mAh, which should be enough to charge a typical smartphone roughly two to four times. While this may sound impressive for a portable and compact power bank, it is fairly poor compared to the industry standard.
In terms of shelf life, the Patriot Power Cell should hold a charge for three months. In other words, a fully charged unit can be left untouched for roughly 12 weeks before you will have to charge it again.
For perspective, some of the more rugged options, like the Lion Energy Prowler, have a shelf life closer to six months. Shelf life is particularly important if you plan on using your power bank as a source of emergency electricity. While the integrated solar panel can give you the option to charge the battery during a grid failure, this will only work if the sun is up and you have adequate time.
Ideally, your power bank would be able to retain a charge for a long period, so you could pull it out of a glove box or storage closet and immediately begin charging your electronics. Unfortunately, the Patriot power cell’s three-month shelf life falls a little short.
Patriot Power Cell: Charging Capabilities and Output Ports
Charging the Patriot Power Cell:
When it comes to charging the internal battery, you have two options: either charge it through a micro-USB input port or with solar power by using the built-in solar panel.
Charging the Patriot with AC power takes roughly six hours, which is really very slow. Some solar power generators pack massive 1,260Wh deep cycle batteries that only take 2 hours to charge. To give you an idea of how large that battery is, that is enough power to charge a typical smartphone well over 100 times!
If you think that is bad, solar charging the Patriot’s internal battery can take up to 40 hours! That also refers to 40 hours of peak, uninterrupted sunlight. In other words, the solar panel is not going to do much to charge the internal battery. While it can be useful for topping up the battery in remote, off-grid situations, do not count the solar panel to be an adequate or reliable source of electricity. The truth is, the built-in solar panel is not efficient or powerful enough to be a practical power source.
For those that have experience using solar equipment, a 5” solar panel with a low power rating seems more like a gimmick than anything else.
In terms of the Patriot Power Cell’s ability to charge electronic devices, it features only two USB Type-A ports, which is pretty limited, even when compared against the industry standard. Most portable power banks feature at least four USB ports. Most contemporary battery banks will also feature USB-C ports, which are required to charge the latest iPhones, tablets, and Android smartphones.
In this sense, the Patriot Power Cell is a bit dated. While you might be okay using an older phone or tablet, those with newer smartphones may need to purchase an adapter.
Our Overall (Honest) Impression of the Patriot Power Cell
If you examine the Patriot power cell within the context that it is an inexpensive and fairly simple device, the Patriot Power Cell can be somewhat useful. It is small enough to fit in a glove box or backpack and can carry a large enough charge to keep your smartphone topped up throughout the day, but charging the internal battery through a wall outlet or computer can be very time-consuming.
In regards to its solar capabilities, the Patriot Power Cell is extremely limited. Charging the battery with the built-in solar panel would take multiple days, and that is assuming you live in an area that receives plenty of direct sunlight. Essentially, the solar panel is barely functional, and it is more of a gimmick than a practical feature.
What we did like about the Patriot Power Cell was some of the extras, like the fact that it has a water-resistance rating of IP67 and features a built-in LED flashlight. It also has a fairly rugged, rubberized exterior, which is great if you are clumsy.
Overall, we simply cannot recommend the Patriot Power Cell. In terms of performance and practicality, it lacks just about every department. With that said, it is inexpensive, so it is not an overly risky purchase; however, we would always recommend going with a more capable solar power bank from a recognized solar company. Spending the extra on a higher quality unit will ensure you have power when you need it.
While the Patriot Power Cell does have some things going for it, namely its affordable price, it lacks the storage capacity or charge capabilities to be considered a serious solar power bank.
We feel confident that there are better options out there that you should consider before buying the Patriot power cell.
The Best Alternatives to the Patriot Power Cell
Now that we have given our overview of the Patriot Power Cell, we can take a look at some more practical alternatives that offer superior performance:
While the Lion Energy Prowler does not feature a built-in solar panel, it beats the Patriot in just about every category. It features a much more robust internal battery that has a rated storage capacity of 74Wh – 20,000 mAh.
Despite its much larger internal battery, it only weighs 1.5lbs with a fairly slim and discreet profile.
Where the Prowler stands out is its charging capabilities. Like the Patriot, it features dual USB-A charge ports; however, it also has a USB-C charging port, so you can quickly and easily charge the latest electronic devices. On top of that, it has wireless charging capabilities, which means you can effortlessly charge any Qi-enabled smartphone, speakers, watches, and more.
You can recharge the internal lithium-ion battery using a micro-USB cable or via a USB-C cable which is much faster. The rugged exterior withstands drops, spills, and scratches, so it is the perfect device for campers and other outdoor enthusiasts. A powerful 9-LED flashlight is also a nice feature.
Overall, it is a great portable power bank that outperforms the Patriot in every category. While it does not feature a built-in solar panel, the Patriot’s is so inefficient and impractical that this really should not be seen as a slight against the Prowler.
Where to Buy
Even though it features four separate solar panels, this portable solar charger from Hiluckey is still compact enough to be a practical on-the-go power solution. The internal Li-polymer battery offers 25,000 mAh of power, charging most smartphones eight to 10 times.
Where this charger stands out is its four foldable solar panels, which give you the ability to charge the battery from even the most remote locations. Unlike the Patriot, the Hiluckey’s solar panels can charge the unit’s battery within a day. It also features a built-in LED light and dual output ports.
If you are looking to go off-grid, the Hiluckey is a much better option than the Patriot Power Cell.
Where to Buy
The BLAVOR has a similar design as the Patriot Power Cell, but it offers some much-needed upgrades. Not only does the internal battery have a slightly larger capacity (10,000 mAh), the unit features a USB-C output port, dual flashlights, and a Qi wireless charging feature.
Essentially, you are getting a more modern take on the Patriot Power Cell for roughly the same price. In that sense, it is the superior option.
Where to Buy
For Those with Greater Solar Power Needs
If you find that a handheld power bank cannot store enough power to meet your needs, you might want to consider a portable solar generator.
The EcoFlow RIVER delivers a 288Wh deep cycle battery with an average shelf life of over a year. What makes the RIVER such a remarkable little solar generator is how incredibly versatile it is. With various output ports and the ability to charge up to 10 electronic devices at the same time, you will not have to worry if your device is compatible or not.
The RIVER features three standard, wall-style AC outlets, a variety of USB and USB-C outputs, and a 12V car-style charging port. The unit’s impressive 1,800W power inverter means you can even power some fairly demanding electric appliances.
The RIVER’s charge rate is also incredible. Due to EcoFlow’s unique X-Stream technology, you can fast-charge the internal battery from 0% to 80% in as little as an hour. Given that the Patriot’s tiny battery takes 6 hours to fully charge, the RIVER’s charge time puts it to shame. You also can charge the unit in as little as 3 hours using two 100W solar panels. For those on the go, you can also charge the battery in your vehicle using a 12V charge plugin.
Where to Buy
While you might assume that all of that power and versatility would mean that the RIVER is large and bulky, it only weighs 11lbs and has similar dimensions to a basic toaster. A rugged exterior and a convenient carrying handle complete the package and make this an excellent, budget-friendly option for anyone that needs portable backup power.
While the 4Patriots brand does offer some high-quality survival gear, their solar equipment is fairly dated. When it comes to both performance and value for this portable solar charger, you are much better off going with a device made by a specialized power storage company as opposed to the Patriot power cell.