I purchased this item on promo at my local Maplin store Electronics for £49.99 (reduced from £79.99). The kit contains a 13 watt solar panel, a charging regulator, a 12V sealed lead-acid battery and two LED lamps.
The charging regulator has screw terminal connections for the solar panel (there are actually two screws labelled “solar panel +”, so it appears to be able to support two panels — although this is not mentioned in the instructions), a pair of crocodile clip leads for the battery and a 12V cigarette lighter socket; two 3.5mm. jacks providing 3V and 6V DC (an appliance lead with a multi-way spider plug is included, but there is no polarity reversing connector — you’re stuck on positive tip), and a pair of 6.3mm. jacks for the supplied LED lights. There is also a 4A automotive-type fuse (which is a rare value) and a master ON/OFF switch.
The LED lights have industrial-style, screw-fit bases, plastic diffusers and contain two dozen white LEDs each. A pair of lampholders, pre-wired to 6.3mm jack plugs, are included in the kit; these can be screwed to a wall, and a knock-out section is provided to route the cable out along the surface. There are no switches except the master one. The lamps are very bright. (Note to self: build candle-power meter.)
The regulator isn’t that wonderful a device, simply disconnecting the solar panel from the battery when the output voltage rises above a set threshhold. Still, it’s better than nothing, and the fact that it does rise this high at all indicates that the panel is well up to the job of charging the battery.
To sum up, this isn’t bad at the promotional price. It could be better; a proper SMPS charging regulator would have been nice (I’ll be designing my own soon: watch this space), and it wouldn’t have hurt to have provided switched lampholders and a reversing socket in the spider plug lead. But these are minor niggles. The kit is an excellent starting point for tinkering, and it was not so expensive as to make me cringe at the thought of modifying it.
Which I fully intend to be doing, and blogging about …..