The Grouphug solar window charger is practical, stylish, and affordable. But how well does is work? We put a window charging unit to the ultimate test in Seattle’s notoriously grey, gloomy winter.

Here’s the deal. It’s my dream to cover my roof, driveway, car and doghouse in solar panels. Hell, I’ll tattoo solar panels on my forehead if that ever becomes an option.

But, like many people, I just don’t have room in the budget for a full solar rig right now. It’s a real bummer, I know. However, thanks to Grouphug solar, I can regularly use solar power to charge my phone — even during a gloomy Seattle winter.

This winter, I put a window solar charger to the ultimate test in famously poor sun conditions. Let’s see how this panel works and what makes it eco-friendly.

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How Does a Grouphug Solar Charger Work?

Buying, receiving and setting up a Grouphug solar window charger couldn’t be easier. There’s really only one product on Grouphug’s website. The 13″ by 10″ panel costs $149 and ships relatively quickly (and plastic free!) — even during the busy holiday season.

The setup process takes less than five minutes.

  1. Open and unpack the box
  2. Stick the suction cup on a sunny window
  3. Hang the panel on the suction cup, panel facing out
  4. Plug a USB charger into the panel and start charging!

By all accounts (including mine) the 3,400 mAh battery in the panel comes with a full charge. A full Grouphug battery easily charges my stubborn iPhone 6 from 30% to 70%. Once drained, the solar panel battery takes about 8-10 hours of direct sun to fully recharge.

grouphug solar
Soaking up every rare minute of Seattle winter sunshine. Photo by the author.

Does it work when the sun isn’t shining?

Seattle averages three sunny days and five partly sunny days per month during the winter. It’s basically the worst sun conditions in the lower 48 states.

However, even in this sunless wasteland, I’m still charging my phone with my Grouphug solar panel several times per week. Even when it’s overcast, solar rays still work their way through thin cloud cover, although not at the same rate as a sunny day.

(If you’re pasty like me, you’ll know that it’s possible to get sunburned on a cloudy day. It’s the same concept.)

To see if my Grouphug panel is charging, I simply push a button and an indicator light tells me so. Now, it does take a while to fully charge on overcast days, but I’m happy it works at all in such poor sun conditions. I can’t wait to see how it performs in our long, sunny summer days.

A solar panel that’s easy to move

One of my favorite parts of my Grouphug solar panel is that it is so easy to move. On sunny days, it spends the morning on my East-facing office window and around 1 pm I take 45 seconds to move it to my West-facing bedroom window.

Although I haven’t done it yet, I’m excited to take this panel on camping and road trips. I’ll leave it on the dashboard to charge during the day then charge a phone with it at night.

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Is a Grouphug Solar Window Charger Eco-Friendly?

I won’t pretend that this window solar charger is drastically reducing my carbon footprint or energy bill. In fact, according to Energy Use Calculator, my iPhone really isn’t significant to either.

Cell Phones use approximately 2 to 6 watts when charging, while a charger left plugged in without a phone will consume 0.1 to 0.5 of a watt. Charging an iphone or android phone under normal use conditions will typically cost under a dollar for a full year.

A cultural and psychological win for renewable energy

I’m a big fan of solar energy already and I dream of a future run on renewable energy. That dream, however, often seems distant and reliant on things I can’t control. However, there is something about interacting solar everyday that brings that dream a little closer to reality.

I mean, what’s more real than powering my phone — something I use for several hours per day — on renewable energy? It’s a small but symbolic way for me to divest from fossil fuels and invest in solar power.

Further, and this shows up in Grouphug’s product review, this panel is a great way to introduce the next generation to solar power. You can bet your buns by future children will be powering their phones and tablets on renewable energy.

And that will be their normal. They’ll grow up understanding that the sun is constantly blasting energy down to Earth. All we have to do is catch it.

Whether it’s a full rooftop solar rig or a series of Grouphug solar panels — I don’t care. From this point on, the phones in my house are no longer reliant on fossil fuels. Period.

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Feature photo source.