Joos Orange Portable Solar Charger Review

Those of us that take the electrical grid for granted, should realize how important it is to have power at our disposable, no matter how small.

In my continual quest to become more self sufficient, one area I’ve focused on is solar.

The advertisements and reviews I’ve seen about the Joos Orange Portable Solar Charger, seem like a refreshing relief for people like me that have been severely frustrated by the many solar chargers on the market.

The last few years of research have left me feeling completely overwhelmed and under motivated.

The reason? It was nearly impossible to find a charger that stood up against the hype and hysteria by the people promoting them.

Most of the solar chargers I’ve tried didn’t have the capacity to blow a bug’s nose. And if they did, they weighed nearly as much as a cast iron stove.

My quest:

I wanted a solar charger that was not only portable, but capable of charging my cell phones, portable power banks, and maybe a rechargeable headlamp. That’s really not too much to ask is it?

So, I decided to test the Joos Orange Portable Solar Charger.

 

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Cost $149.95

 

 

 

 Included in the Joos Orange Box:

    Joos Orange Solar Charger
    White USB cable for connecting the Joos to a computer
    Black cable with interchangeable tips to connect to multiple devices.
    Durable plastic zip lock pouch to store cables and tips.

Weighing just about 1.5 lbs, and pumping out 5v/2w of power through it’s micro USB port, the Joos is reported to be 3x faster than any other solar charger in its price range.

So, how well did this equipment hold up to our test?

The test equipment:

Samsung Galaxy S3

Digital Energy 2900mAh Portable Power Bank

Black Diamond Revolt Headlamp

Solar Joos Orange Portable Solar Charger

The requirements:

To provide consistent power to the Galaxy S3 phone and charge a supplemental power bank (in case of storms or saturated cloud cover). And we also threw a rechargeable headlamp into the mix to make it interesting.

First I downloaded the software from the Joos website. The program allows the owner to monitor the charger’s power and battery health. The software also provides you with other useful information like manufacture date and serial #.  However, in real life situations I’m not sure what purpose this software serves except to monitor the battery status (and isn’t this what the lights on the unit are for)? I suppose the other information it provides would be helpful at some point.

Upon initial receipt of the Joos, I plugged it into the computer and fired up the software. It told me I had 60% battery juice.

Initial problem and solution

The very first time I plugged my Galaxy S3 into the Joos, the charger blinked 4 times but nothing happened on the phone.  I unplugged the cable from the charger, plugged it back in and the phone responded by telling me it was charging. However, after a few minutes, the phone was no longer charging.

This frustrating process went on for quite some time.

My first inclination was to box it back up and return it to the place I purchased it from, coming to the conclusion I had just bought another brick.

The greatest frustration was not being able to try a different cable since Joos decided to make the connection a proprietary micro usb to micro usb. ?? Really?

After a cup of coffee and a walk around the block, I decided to fire off an email to Joos. I quickly got a response back.

They asked me if I had tried connecting to a different device using a different tip. I had, and the same problem existed. (wouldn’t it have been nice to be able to try my usb to micro usb cable that you can buy from any electronics store? sigh….)

The next email didn’t come back so quick. I waited until the next day, no response. After noon, I decided to send my response again. After a few hours I got a return response asking me another question: Are the lights on the juice blinking when I plug in the white cord?

At this time I feared I was going to get into a lengthy question and answer session that would see me into old age.

But after my last response, that I did indeed get green lights, a reply came back informing me the black cable appears to be bad.

Then the representative asked “where can I send you a new one:?

I gave him my address and waited for my new cable. In the meantime, I set the charger in full sun and got it fully charged from 60% to 100% in about 5 1/2 hours.

Test #1 – Charging the Joos Orange in Full sun

01_joos

I ran the Joos charger down to 30% and set it in full sun to see
how long it would take to bring it back up to 100%

Total time in sun needed: 8 hrs

 

 


Test #2 – Charging my Samsung Galaxy S3

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With a fully charged Joos battery, I wanted to see how long it would take to charge my Galaxy S3 and just how much power it would take from the charger.

I ran my Phone down to 10%

Brought the Joos back up to full 100% charge and plugged in the S3 indoors out of sunlight..

Total charge time: 2 hrs 20 mins to bring my phone up to 100%

Power left in Joos charger: 31%

So I essentially used up 69% of the Joos charger’s battery. A far cry from other owners claiming to get 2 1/2 charges out of 1 full charger battery.

Now to be fair, their testing may have been done with a standard phone or an iPhone and not a smart Galaxy phone which does use more power.

However, still a little disappointing.

** note. during charge time, the phone was on but never used and the lights were off.

Initial test analysis.

I can fully charge my Galaxy S3 once from the Joos charger. If you refer to test #1, it would take 8 hours to recharge the Joos.

So, I would need at least 8 hours of full sun every single day to keep my Galaxy S3 phone fully charged. So if the power grid were to go down and I lost electricity, I can only hope it is in the middle of the summer with full afternoon sun.

 

Test #3 – Charging my Digital Energy 2900mAh Portable Power Bank

02_powerbank

Drained the juice completely from my Power Bank

Brought the Joos back up to full 100% charge and plugged in the power bank indoors out of sunlight.

Total charge time: FAIL

The Joos would NOT charge my power bank after multiple connect/disconnects.

The light on the power bank said it was charging so I left it on for 2 hrs.

I then took it off the charger and plugged the charger into the computer.
I booted up the Joos software to discover the charger was still at 100%.
So I plugged the power bank into my phone and… no charge. The Joos did not put ANY charge into the power bank at all. It was completely dead.
So thinking maybe this was a fluke, I grabbed another power bank and plugged it in.
It was a NO GO!

Analysis:

The Joos Solar Charger will not charge portable power banks in my testing. If someone else has a logical reason why my test failed, please post a comment. But until then, I will assume this is just not going to happen.

A major let down indeed since I use these power banks as a backup all the time.

Test #4 – Charging my Black Diamond Revolt Headlamp with 3 rechargeable AAA 1000 mah batteries

04_headlamp

Drained the juice completely from the rechargeable AAA batteries in my headlamp.

Brought the Joos back up to full 100% charge and plugged in the headlamp.

 

Total charge time: 3hrs 45mins

Power left in Joos charger: 56%

Analysis:

Now these are some numbers I can sink my teeth into. During power failure, my headlamp is my best friend (well that and toilet paper. but that’s another story)
Considering I only use my headlamp at night and I can get about 12 hours of running time on one charge, this is great news.

I can get two full charges out of the Joos. The batteries usually last me about 3 days when the power goes out, So this would give me 6 days of power in my headlamp.

Test #5 – Dual charging my Samsung Galaxy S3 while charging the Joos Orange in full sun.

07_dual_charge
Now I wanted to see how long it would take if I charged my phone from 50%-100% with the Joos also charging at the same time.

Brought the Joos down to 50%
Brought the Galaxy S3 phone down to 50%
Plugged the phone into the charger and set it out in full sun. (hiding the phone under a white t-shirt to prevent sun damage)

Total charge time: 1 hr 15min
Total charge in phone; 100%
Power left in Joos charger: 26%

Analysis:

From the looks of it, the Joos is not capable of keeping up recycling itself while charging a cell phone at the same time.
I actually lost power in the charger, while I was pulling from the battery. This is understandable since I can charge my phone in 2 1/2 hours while the solar charger takes 8 hours to charge.

Still, a bit disappointing.

Test #6 – Charging the Joos Solar Charger with overcast and partly cloudy skies

Lightly overcast with intermittent clouds and periods of sun

No rain or storm clouds, just overcast.

05_part_clouds

I brought the Joos back down to 30% and set it out in overcast skies.

Total charge time: 11 hrs 15 mins (over a 2 day period)

 

 

 

 

Heavy cloud cover with no periods of bright sun.

No rain or storm clouds. Just heavy cloud cover.

06_full-clouds

I again, brought the Joos back down to 30% and set it out in heavy cloud cover.

Total charge time: 17 hrs 30 mins (over a 3 day period)

My Analysis

If you are stranded without power and a dead battery on your phone, pray that you do not have lots of cloud cover or storm clouds. Although the Joos was capable of generating power, it was not fast enough to keep my phone fully charged (considering it won’t do that in FULL sun)


So, what do I think of the Joos Orange Portable Solar Charger?

Pros:

Comes in recyclable packaging

Faster charging than other solar chargers I’ve tested in it’s price range and size

Low light charging

Water resistant

Multiple connectors

Hole in the casing to secure while unattended

 

Cons:

A case should be included to protect it. They require you to buy it separately (which is a brain scratcher)

Only way to test battery strength is to plug in a cable, or put it in the sun. It needs a test button.

Will not charge portable power banks (may require more testing)

A little heavy but understandable considering it has an internal battery.

Battery storage too small for its size. Can only charge my S3 phone once.

Proprietary cabling from charger to device (micro usb to micro usb cables are virtually impossible to find)

Plastic casing without rubberized armor. Possible tendency to crack, especially on the bottom where the unit sits on ground (or rocks)

Final analysis

Although I’ve pointed out some shortcomings, my test shouldn’t be a total wash. The fact that I’m not able to rest easy knowing I’ll always have full power on my phone if the electricity goes out is a little disheartening so there is a strike against it for that. But stacked up against the competition so far, it walks away with good standing in its class and price range.

And honestly, none of the portable solar chargers I’ve yet reviewed were able to keep the Galaxy S3 sustained except the much larger and more expensive ones.
There are a few things that Joos needs to consider upgrading like the battery, proprietary cabling and the ability to charge portable power banks. But overall I give it a thumbs up.

I would recommend anyone looking for a convenient, easy to use portable solar charger for low powered cell phones or if the electricity goes out for a short period, should take a long look at the Joos Orange Portable Solar Charger.
If however, you’re needing sustained energy for long term independence from the power grid, or stronger power for larger smart phones or tablets, then the Joos is not for you.

In cases like that, you’re much wiser to consider a more beefier charger. But on the flip side, be prepared to spend a lot more dough.

** To be fair, I do not own any apple products so none of my testing was done with the iPod, iPhone or the iPad. Your results using the Joos Orange with any of these products would vary greatly from the products I tested here. And I have heard of others having good results using the Joos Orange with Apple gear.  I welcome your input and experience with the Joos Orange.

GYH Rating 3/5 stars

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