I ran a little experiment with my new Freeplay Summit Wind-up radio today that I thought I’d share. I was listening to some shortwave last evening when the battery ran low. I knew we were expecting a sunny day here in my neck of the woods, so I decided to forego hand-cranking the charge back up and test out how the solar charging works.
Before I get too far into this, I want to tell you about this one neat feature with the Summit. When the radio detects that the battery has run to a low enough level, it automatically switches off the radio, but leaves enough juice in the battery to maintain the clock and memory settings. With this low voltage cut-off, you don’t have to worry about resetting your clock and etc every time the battery runs out.
Now, we had a glorious sunny winter day here in central Ontario. The kind where the sky is an awesome shade of blue. Lots of sunny goodness to be had. I’ve got a bay window right beside me in my home office here that faces in a south/southeast direction.
The Summit went onto the window ledge at about 10 o’clock this morning, in full sunlight, and stayed there until a little after 2pm when the trees in my front yard start to cast shadows. So we should have received a good 5 hours of charge time.
There’s a Toronto Maple Leafs game on tonight, so I switched on the radio a little while ago to catch it and see how long it would run from the 5 hours of sun time. Are you ready for this? 15 minutes. 15 stinking minutes!
Needless to say, I’m not impressed. The solar charger was one of the primary reasons I bought this radio.
The batteries in the unit are Ni-MH and rated at 1300 mAh and 3.6 V. The included AC/DC adaptor is 6V and 100mA and will fully charge in 24 hours according to the manual, which will then provide a runtime of about 20 hours. With the hand-crank, 30 seconds of winding provides 30 minutes of operation. These figures have all proven to be true thus far.
According to the manual, the solar panel has a rated output of 4.2 V and 34 mA. Unfortunately, I get confused with the whole mA and V thing, so I have no idea how that would relate to my experience today of 5 hours of charge for 15 minutes of runtime.
Can anybody help me here with whether this is jiving or is something wrong? Thanks.