Being stuck at home means anything from long days in a small apartment to backyards or other private areas outside. For those lucky enough to have some room to roam outside and still stay within the stay-home guidelines a place like the backyard has become a welcome respite.
In other cases, cooped up people are just waiting to get back outside and do all those outside things like cookouts, swimming, and camping. Even people that spend most of their time indoors pre-pandemic want to get outside.
While some of us gladly leave our electronics behind or in the house others can't stay outside 15 minutes without needing their phone or tablet, which by the way, we forgot to charge last night. Now you have a stressed and distracted pandemic pilgrim that just wants to see what is going on out in the world.
All of this leads me to the review of the BioLite SolarHome 620. A compact, easy to install, easy to use, solar-powered light and charging station.
BioLite has always been a company hard to place a label on as it uses both nature and technology to achieve some outrageous camping benefits like charging your phone with the fire-driven CampStove 2, “an Electricity Generating Wood Camp Stove” that is rated 4.8 stars.
True it's a low watt (3W) generated power charger but its tech has been proven over and over while becoming a darling of certain camping factions. This could be a lifesaver in the right situation even if you had to wait to get enough charge built up to use your phone in an emergency.
In my case, I've been looking for a simple solar setup for backyard lighting. I have a moat-type koi pond that surrounds a small island with a sitting area and shade. Because of the pond, there is no electricity on the island until now.
I purchased the SolarHome 620 because it has two lights and I love to read while on the island… it's just hard to read in the dark. A motion sensor light also comes with the kit. In fact, it is a turnkey solution that just requires installation (permanent or temporary) of a small 6W solar panel, a twenty-watt charger/Controller unit, and the lights. The two main lights have a three-way switch.
The island has a cabana on it for shade, so the two lights worked well in lighting it up in late evening and night. In fact, it is a little too bright on high but works fine on the lower settings. Now the cabana is lit up for night use when needed, and we can take down the whole kit and go camping with it should we want to use it at our tent and campsite.
By the way, the 620 stands for 6 watts, 20 hours so while you won't be burning up any speed charging records the device can maintain 100 percent on a Fire tablet I have attached in the corner of the cabana running Prime Video. It will also recharge the unit should I use it elsewhere.
Oh, it also has a radio. Something I blew off initially and now use quite frequently. Why run the battery on my phone when I just turn on the AM/FM radio in the controller unit? The tiny speaker does a surprisingly decent job… better than most phones. There is also MP3 player software onboard if you wish to plug in a thumb drive of your favorite tunes. Yeah, I know, MP3 is so yesterday but then I'm a so-yesterday kind of guy.
At $149, it is an expensive purchase at present with so many hunkered down and out of work due to the pandemic but for what you get, in a normal world, it's not a bad price. Factor in the ease of use and installation you have a solid solar-powered light and charging station… with a radio.
M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord, is an international award-winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director, and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years. Now retired, M.D. is currently working part-time on writing and select character development projects. You can learn more about MD on his website.