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Creative Edge Solar-5+ Review

Price:   $100 List
Pros:  Lightweight, small, best power output of similar devices
Cons:  Not very powerful, not reliable for solar charging
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Creative Edge

Our Verdict

The Creative Edge Solar-5+ performed on par with other similar devices in this review's subcategory of solar chargers with integrated batteries. Overall, these devices proved a disappointing compromise of too-small solar panels and distracted electronics. In our hands-on testing, the Creative Edge revealed some glitches and sparked some questions about the electronics behind the silicone curtain. As the most expensive in this subcategory, does it warrant the extra dollars?

Discontinued - November 2016
The manufacturer has confirmed that this model has been discontinued. For more options, check out our full Solar Panel Review.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Portable Solar Panels of 2017 for Camping and Travel

select up to 5 products
Score Product Price Panel Size (watts) Weight (measured) Battery kit?
78
$80
Editors' Choice Award
15 12.5 panel only
76
$170
Top Pick Award
7 (plus 12 W battery) 25.1 panel + battery kit
71
$80
Best Buy Award
10 20.9 panel + battery kit
62
$65
1.2 (reported on device) 5.8 w/ carabiner; 5.8 w/o hybrid battery charger
62
$100
1.2 5.3 hybrid battery charger
60
$130
3.5 13.3 w/ case and carabiner; 9 w/o case or carabiner hybrid battery charger
59
$80
not reported 7.6 hybrid battery charger
57
$110
5 22.1 w/ carabiner; panel + battery kit
57
$28
1.2 (claimed on website, math be damned--should be 1W) 6.1 w/ carabiner; 5.8 w/o carabiner hybrid battery charger

Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Lyra Pierotti
Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Saturday
November 26, 2016

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The Creative Edge Solar-5+ was a bit of a wild card, but managed a couple strong performances in our field testing.

Performance Comparison


Testing solar panels while acclimating at about 9 000 feet on Mount Erebus  Antarctica. Here are all the pocket sized chargers with an integrated battery that we tested. From L to R: Levin  Creative Edge  SunFerno  and Poweradd Apollo.
Testing solar panels while acclimating at about 9,000 feet on Mount Erebus, Antarctica. Here are all the pocket sized chargers with an integrated battery that we tested. From L to R: Levin, Creative Edge, SunFerno, and Poweradd Apollo.

Output Power


The Creative Edge is not a powerful device, but we hardly expected it to be given that it is the size of a smartphone.

The battery charged an iPad 35% in 2.5 hours when it had only 3/4 charge, but we were unable to get it to register a full battery charge (See Ease of Use, below).

Here  with only the iPad plugged in  the current is still about 1A.
Here, with only the iPad plugged in, the current is still about 1A.

It didn't matter which port had the iPad plugged in -- either way  the iPad pulled about 1A of current while the iPhone pulled about 0.7A.
It didn't matter which port had the iPad plugged in -- either way, the iPad pulled about 1A of current while the iPhone pulled about 0.7A.
First, we were unable to completely charge the device in the sun, and only managed to get a maximum of 2 LEDs (or half the battery) after leaving the device in the sun for 12 hours. This half-charge then translated to about 20% charge for an iPad in 1.5 hours.


Creative Edge says the right port will charge up to 2.1 amps, whereas the left port will charge up to 1 amp, but that both ports, if charging simultaneously, will charge at a rate of 2.1 amps total. We tasked our testers to guess which port was the higher amperage port without telling them which one it was supposed to be (and because the ports are not labeled on the device, unlike the Poweradd Apollo 3 which indicates the 1 and 2 amp ports). Half of our testers reported right while the other half reported left as the stronger ports. Curious.

The Creative Edge gave a little more juice than the SunFerno Flintstone, which was the most similar device we tested.
Whichever port we plugged in to  the iPad would pull about 1A and the iPhone would pull about 0.7A  whether we plugged in one device at a time or both.
Whichever port we plugged in to, the iPad would pull about 1A and the iPhone would pull about 0.7A, whether we plugged in one device at a time or both.


Our conclusion? Don't rely on the advertised specs of these integrated panel/battery devices, and don't count on stellar, reliable, durable electronic components.

Ease of Use


The Creative Edge has four LED indicator lights which, in theory, tell you how full the battery is. Interestingly, we had trouble fully charging the battery such that all four LEDs were lit. With solar, we only got up to 2 LEDs, and from the wall we only got 3 LEDs. This could have been a glitch with the LEDs, but hard to say. The device would consistently turn off after reaching 3 LEDs from the wall socket, indicating it was not charging any more--but when we hit the power button, we only got 3 LEDs.

We did like the centered hole in the top of the device where you clip the carabiner. Unlike the SunFerno Flintstone which has the carabiner clip hole off to the side, this centered design makes it much easier to align the panel to the sun if you're clipping it to a backpack, tent, etc. Also, the hole is large enough to allow the carabiner to freely rotate, also improving your ability to align the panel to the sun.

Testing solar panels while acclimating at about 9 000 feet on Mount Erebus  Antarctica
Testing solar panels while acclimating at about 9,000 feet on Mount Erebus, Antarctica

Weight


This is among the lightest solar-equipped chargers in our review. The Creative Edge Solar 5+ stands out for its light weight and portability, but it loses points in other categories, especially output power and overall solar reliability (or reality).

Versatility


In one test in cold but sunny Antarctica (where the field camps run largely off solar energy), the Creative Edge actually drained our iPad 5% when we plugged it in to charge. This was the only device in our review that committed such a crime, and indicated that this is not a panel to be used in cold environments.

Otherwise, this panel did provide some battery life after sitting in the sun for a while, and seemed on-par with other similar panels in that regard.

Portability


The Creative Edge 5+ gets an A+ in portability. This is a semi-solar charging battery that is super easy to throw in a backpack or slide in your back pocket. It doesn't get lots of kudos from us, but in the portability realm, it is outstanding. This device is very similar in size (and function… or semi-function) as the Levin Dual USB Port 6000mAh Panel and the SunFerno Flintstone, as well as the Poweradd Apollo 3 though it is a couple of ounces lighter than the Apollo.

Testing the solar panels in the sunniest place on earth--for half the year. Acclimating and charging during a slow day on Mount Erebus.
Testing the solar panels in the sunniest place on earth--for half the year. Acclimating and charging during a slow day on Mount Erebus.

Best Applications


This is not a panel to keep your devices charged on a long backcountry trip. As advertised, the solar component is for emergency purposes only, whatever that means, because it's not guaranteed to work just because you're having an emergency. But we suppose it does provide a little ray of hope when the sun is shining.

Value


As the most expensive of the three almost-identical devices we tested, including the Levin and the SunFerno Flintstone, we feel this solar charger deserves a little more criticism. It did not perform head and shoulders above the others, so we don't think it justified the uptick in price.

Conclusion


This charger did perform a little more reliably, overall, than the others in the same sub-genre, but in a sub-category marred by poor performance and disappointment, this is hardly a compliment.

Other Versions and Accessories


Includes: USB to microUSB cable, micro USB to Apple Lightning adapter, carabiner
Lyra Pierotti

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Most recent review: November 26, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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Average Customer Rating:     (0.0)
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2 star: 100%  (1)
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