Review: REDARC 115W SunPower® Cell Solar Blanket

Are solar blankets really a practical and convenient option? Let’s find out. We test the 115W version from REDARC Electronics, with some surprising results.

What Exactly Is This Solar Blanket?

Our solar blanket is a monocrystalline design. This is the standard run of the mill design… most solar panels are monocrystalline. On the other hand, amorphous cells are at the top of the solar tree. They perform better than monocrystalline cells in low light conditions.

REDARC 115W SunPower Cell solar blanket catches the morning sun.
REDARC 115W SunPower Cell solar blanket catches the morning sun.

However, the REDARC SunPower® Cell solar blankets utilise a different construction method, compared to “standard” monocrystalline cells. Without boring you with technical details, a copper backing and a high quality manufacturing process mean the SunPower® cells can be smaller for a given output.

For more details, check out these articles on the REDARC website.



How Does It Perform?

We’d had our REDARC solar blanket for a little while now. Being on the road full time means we need reliable power. Having used the blanket regularly, we’ve been pleasantly surprised at its high output for such a small blanket.

We’ve found that most of the time, the blanket will happily pump out power lying flat on the ground. Keep in mind it’s summer at present, so the sun is high in the sky.

However, this blanket works efficiently even when the sun is at a large angle… say early morning or late afternoon. With a rated maximum of 5.8A and 19.8 volts (5.8 x 19.8 = 115W), this solar blanket will still happily produce over 70W late into the afternoon.

REDARC 115W SunPower Cell solar blanket, showing angle of sun.
The conventional solar panel powering the Wedgetail Camper gives you an idea of the sun’s angle when we performed our highly technical tests.

The Thong Configuration

As I said earlier, most of the time we lay the REDARC solar blanket flat on the ground. However, we’ve hung it from the bullbar to catch late afternoon sun and propped up one edge to catch morning sun.

By propping an edge, you effectively face ⅓ of the blanket directly at the sun. And the most effective way to do this is with a thong (the ones you wear on your feet!). On edge, a thong sits neatly under the blanket and is infinitely adjustable for angle. Who’d have thought!

REDARC 115W SunPower Cell solar blanket.
Lying flat, the solar blanket was producing 61W. Notice the thong, ready for deployment…
REDARC 115W SunPower Cell solar blanket, propped up with a thong.
Propped up with a trusty thong, output increased to 69W.


Another Technical Test

So how does the REDARC solar blanket perform when partially covered?

By using a towel and partially covering different parts of the blanket, we found a few interesting results. The photos below tell the story.

REDARC 115W SunPower Cell solar blanket in full sun.
All panels uncovered, 4.6A output.
REDARC 115W SunPower Cell solar blanket ⅓ covered.
One third covered, 1.9A output.
REDARC 115W SunPower Cell solar blanket 1/9 covered.
One ninth covered, 3.0A output.
REDARC 115W SunPower Cell solar blanket ⅔ covered.
Two thirds covered, 0.0A output.

So what does this tell us? The solar blanket will tolerate some coverage and still produce (reduced) power.

Shade?

Then we tried it under full and partial shade. Bear in mind, all of these “tests” were conducted in the afternoon, with the sun at more than a 30 degree angle to the blanket. Again, the photos below tell the story.

REDARC 115W SunPower Cell solar blanket in full sun.
Full sun, 4.6A output.
REDARC 115W SunPower Cell solar blanket in full shade.
Full shade, 0.0A output.
REDARC 115W SunPower Cell solar blanket in partial shade.
About one third shaded, 0.8A output.

Again, the solar blanket still produces some power in part shade.

A Neat Package

The REDARC solar blanket has two other important features.

The first is REDARC’s use of standard 50A grey Anderson plugs. This makes connecting to existing systems simple and convenient.

REDARC 115W SunPower Cell solar blanket Anderson plug.
Standard grey Anderson plugs on the REDARC solar blanket.

The second is how easy the solar blanket is to pack away, especially when compared to a similar capacity solar panel. As you can see below, it folds into a neat package, with the electrical cabling protected by the wrap-around material.

REDARC 115W SunPower Cell solar blanket wrapped up.
Wrapped up, ready to go in its bag.
REDARC 115W SunPower Cell solar blanket packed away for storage.
Using the universal measuring standard of a size 8 pair of thongs, you can see how small the solar blanket is when ready to store.


In Conclusion

The REDARC 115W SunPower® Cell Solar Blanket is a powerful package. It punches well above its weight and performs well in less than ideal conditions.

So is a solar blanket really a practical and convenient option for travellers? The answer is an unqualified “yes”. With such consistent and reliable output bundled into such a small package, the REDARC solar blanket is an excellent addition to your setup.

How long will it last? Who knows. But given its solid construction, we have no reason to doubt it will withstand the test of time. And REDARC’s generous warranty conditions are certainly re-assuring.

We’ll let you know how long it lasts…

 

You can buy a 115W REDARC SunPower® Cell solar blanket here.


Access Traveller’s Guides… and a whole lot more

at our FREE RESOURCES Page!

Yes Please!


Questions or comments? Ask away in the Comments section below.

Any errors or omissions are mine alone.

 

NOTE: The REDARC solar blanket was supplied to us free, in return for a review. (That said, our reviews are always honest and authentic – we tell it how it is).

This article contains affiliate links.


For more Product Reviews and useful Articles, go here.


You Might Also Enjoy...

Leave a comment