Review: REDARC 112W Amorphous Solar Blanket

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REDARC’s amorphous solar blanket is their top-of-the-range blanket. They gave us a 112W version for a long-term trial, after we managed to test their 115W SunPower® cell solar blanket to destruction!

Here’s a summary of our first impressions.

REDARC 112W amorphous solar blanket opened out, flat on the ground.
Our new 112W amorphous solar blanket on its maiden voyage.


What Exactly Is This Solar Blanket?

The amorphous solar blanket uses Uni-Solar® cells. These cells are flexible, glass-free and lightweight. They have an anti-reflective, scratch-resistant ETFE coating to increase efficiency and durability.

Polycrystalline and monocrystalline solar cells use silicon in a lattice-type structure. However the silicon in amorphous cells is randomly distributed, which means it can be applied to flexible surfaces.

The biggest advantage of amorphous cell technology is its ability to absorb a wider spectrum of light. So an amorphous blanket works better in varying light conditions.

And amorphous panels are also more tolerant of high temperatures. Their output drops away more slowly as the temperature rises than with the polycrystalline and monocrystalline solar cells.

This is a big advantage for travellers like us who spend lots of time in hot conditions.

The downside? Amorphous cells aren’t as efficient as monocrystalline and polycrystalline cells, so require a larger surface area for the same output.

So our new 112W amorphous solar blanket is quite a bit larger than our previous 115W SunPower® cell solar blanket. When open, the 112W amorphous blanket is 780mm longer (1,860mm long) and 255mm wider (1,185mm wide).

And it’s 90mm longer (400mm long), 30mm shorter (280mm wide) and 35mm thicker (100mm thick) when packed down.

REDARC's solar blankets fold into a neat bundle, with a wraparound flap to secure the blanket.
A compact unit when packed down.

Weights:

  • 112W Amorphous – 4.8kg.
  • 115W SunPower® – 4.5kg.

The slightly larger dimensions aren’t an issue. It just needs a little more space when you pack it away.

Having said this, we often used to hang the smaller SunPower® blanket from the truck’s bullbar or off the back of our Wedgetail Camper. We can still do this… it’s just a bit more cumbersome due to its size.


How Does It Perform?

So far, we haven’t had a chance to test the amorphous solar blanket in varying light conditions.

However like its SunPower® stablemate, this blanket cranks out the power when lying flat on the ground in full sun. There’s really no need to angle it directly at the sun.

What really surprised us was its output.

We’ve never had a solar panel or blanket which even comes close to producing its maximum rated output. Until now, our previous REDARC SunPower® solar blanket was definitely the best performer.

It would often produce around 80W, or 70% of its maximum rated output. To give you some perspective, our portable 200W solar panel is typically under 40%.

However, the new 112W amorphous solar panel blows this out of the park. Straight out of the box, it produced between 97 and 123W on a late February day.

That’s between 87 and 110% of its maximum rated output! Pretty impressive.

REDARC battery monitor showing input voltage from a 112W amorphous solar blanket.
14.3 volts input and…
REDARC battery monitor showing input current from a 112W amorphous solar blanket.
…8.6 amps is 123W, or 110% of its maximum rated power output!


Design Features

The solar cells are bonded to a bright red canvas backing. You won’t lose this solar blanket in the grass! In fact, the backing is surprisingly thick. Hopefully it will last a long time, although I suspect it might get grubby rather quickly.

Like REDARC’s other solar blankets, our 112W amorphous blanket uses a standard 50A grey Anderson plug. So it’s dead simple to connect to other devices.

50A Anderson plug connector on REDARC 112W amorphous solar panel.
All REDARC solar blankets use standard 50A grey Anderson plugs. This makes it easy to connect them to your system.

And when folded, the canvas backing material wraps around the blanket then locks together with a Velcro strip. This protects the Anderson plug and ensures the blanket stays wrapped up in transit. Then you slide it into a carry bag for another level of protection.

REDARC's solar blankets fold into a neat bundle, with a wraparound flap to secure the blanket.
Neatly wrapped up.
REDARC's amaorphous solar panels have a sturdy carry bag, which also protects the solar blanket when stowed away.
Tucked away in its protective carry bag.


In Summary

The REDARC 112W amorphous solar blanket is a quality piece of gear. So far, its output is super-impressive and the whole unit feels solid and sturdy.

There’s no denying, it’s an expensive solar blanket. But you’re paying for premium quality solar cells and exceptional power output. REDARC only use premium quality components in their solar cells… that’s what you’re paying for.

There’s a big difference between cheap and expensive solar cells. As usual, you get what you pay for.

Is it the best amorphous solar blanket on the market? I’m really not sure to be honest. However, I’d be surprised if it wasn’t in the top three… given its high output, renowned REDARC build quality and their 2 year warranty.

Time will tell how long it lasts. But we have no reason to suspect it won’t last the distance, even under our accelerated torture-testing regime!


Stand by for more reviews on this solar blanket…

If you’re considering buying a 112W amorphous solar blanket, then go here for more details.


Looking for more reviews on 4×4 Accessories? Then go here for more.



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