The new Biolite SolarHome 620 is a Solar station for small scale, emergency preparation, comfort camping, van life or small house or cabin electronics kit. It includes a radio, MP3 (do people still refer to them as MP3’s) player, USB device charger, living individual switched daisy chained lighting, all powered by a small solar panel, and on-board battery. BioLite is a company based out of Brooklyn New York and has been providing alternative products for creating power and light in the outdoors. Their products are distributed all over the world to help aid those regions that may not have direct access to electricity. The new SolarHome 620 is a huge leap for these homes that often time don’t have access to light or power.
The kit includes a base station that can be mounted to the wall permanently or hung temporarily. It contains a 6V 3,3300mAh battery that is charged by the solar panel and is enough to last through the night when fully charged. It has a long antennae for the internal radio that can be strung around for better reception. The base station also has a speaker and buttons for functions.
There are three lights with switches that can also be mounted permanently or hung temporarily. The light can be mounted by connecting one to another for further reach from the base station. Lastly, there is the 6W solar panel which provides the power input to charge the base station. It also can be mounted permanently or propped up for temporary use.
The package is affordable at just $150. The three overhead lights offer 100 lumens each.
The base unit has it’s own light on top, and a lite LED panel for display. There is a tiny shelf under the base unit. It hardly holds a phone, or is much use other than tiny storage.
The control box includes battery reading that shows the available power, as well as charging information. It displays radio stations, and can play your own mp3 via the SD card. One of the lights is motion sensor activated.
A tiny SD card slot is located on the left side of the base unit of the Solar Home 620. You can play your own music from the SD card. The speaker is not anything to even mention other than it works. Don’t expect any superior sound quality from it.
On the right side of the base unit there are two USB charging ports. They can be used as standard USB to charge phones, flashlights, etc. There is also a DIN port that lets you charge the base unit from an external source that is compatible.
There are many uses for the SolarHome 620. Using it for a camper van, in a small cabin, on a back porch, even at the camp site. The 4 total lights chained together provide a lot of light and reduce the need for headlamps and flashlights. We found it particularly handy when cooking in the dark.
The mounting option from the dome lights offer a hook that can easily be attached to a number of objects. We found it easiest to string a line where we planned to temporally mount the lights. Then just hang the lights where we needed them and could easily adjust them.
The switches can be attached to a wall with a couple screws, they are easy to push and feel for in the dark. However, we never really found a good way to work with the switches in a temporary mounting situation.
The Polycrystalline solar panel offers 6W max output power. It’s a rigid panel that can be mounted, or just propped up facing the sun to collect power. It’s not the most efficient solar panel I’ve used, it’s on the smaller side, and in partial sunlight never charged the battery fully during the day. However, in optimal conditions, and direct sunlight I think it could charge the unit in a single day. A nice feature on the base station is the charging status to see how long until the unit is charged. It’s also worth pointing out that the base station did not need to be fully charged to be used during the evening and typically the power we collected during the day was enough to use that evening.
The solar panel is weather proof for permanent installations. The overall design of the SolarHome 620 is simple and offers enough features to please most users, at a very affordable price. In the backcountry, small cabins, campsites, or vans it’s a great option that is light weight and easy to install.