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Gear Review Review: Kalipak 401 solar generator and power pack

Discussion in 'Functional Gear & Equipment' started by hitchcock4, Jun 13, 2016.

  1. hitchcock4

    hitchcock4 Monkey

    Emergency power is essential to a large percentage of the activities in modern life. In large and small emergencies alike, access to good power is essential. Soemthign as simple as needing power to jump-start your car to an all-out off-grid experience or more complex things, at some point you will need power to make survival easier.

    The Kalipak 401 is billed as a “Portable Solar Generator kit”. In simple terms, a battery, solar panel, and the electronics involved to charge the battery and disperse the power among devices connected to it.

    It is portable !! See images

    Technical description
    • The Kalipak 401 is the 384 watt-hour version (26 amp-hours) and weighs 12.8 lbs. They also have a 38 amp-hour version (model 601) and a 13 amp-hour version (model 201). See website kalisaya.com for details on the other 2 models.
    • "The package” consists of the battery, solar panel, a stand for the solar panels (see image), a raincover to protect it, handles, should strap for easy carry, AC charge adapter (fastest way to fully charge it) and a 12 volt “cigarette” plug so that if you have 12V devices that should run in the car, you can use them here. They also included a light bulb (LED) that runs off the 12V for lighting your campground (or indoor space in an emergency).
    • Four USB plugs and two 12 volt outputs.
    • Input from solar panel OR AC adapter.
    • Various LEDs to indicate charging, etc.
    • The entire package is self-contained. That is, you don’t remove the battery or see any unsightly wires (other than the one you attach). There is room inside to store the should strap, cables, 12V light bulb, and the user guide.
    • 40 Watt solar panel
    • Bluetooth: To connect with KaliAPP (Android and IOS) for monitoring purposes.
    • Missing is the ability to directly run 120V AC devices from this. But this is by design, as Kalisaya explains that a lot of power (up to 50%) is lost in DC to AC conversion. The AC inverter would also add weight, bulk, and cost. They designed this for primarily 12V and 5V devices, although if you have an inverter I think you can use it – most likely connecting it to a cigarette adapter.
    • You can charge the Kalipak via (A) included solar panel, (B) AC adapter, (C) from your vehicle cigarette adapter as you drive to your destination.
    • As an example on their website, if you have a Microsoft Surface 3 Pro, you could charge it 11 times (!) from the Kalipak 401. The iPhone 6 would get 65 charges from the Kalipak 401 (if that was the only thing that you use).
    • Other: Now selling to U.S. and Canada customers (but not shipping to AK and HI, sorry guys)
    • “You can charge about 85% of the KaliPAK 401 battery in a sunny day” according to the web site. No elevation and latitude listed, so this must be an approximation.
    • CE, RoHS compliant, passed all tests.

    Real-world use
    • I charged it for about 11 hours overnight since when I received it, it was about 40% charged.
    • The 5 LEDs indicated that it was charged but the Android app gave more details – 3840 watts ready to go!
    • Let it sit for 2+ weeks while I waited for a use for it. When I plugged it back in – it was at 98 percent charge, which is it good. Topped it off for 45 minutes before I went out the door.
    • CPAP: My brother (and many others) use a CPAP device every night. I asked the Kalisaya company about CPAP and I am waiting on an answer.
    • CPAP part 2: I searched Amazon for “12V CPAP thinking that I would find a list of CPAP devices that can run off 12 volts – not quite. Most of the results listed are 12V adapters for CPAP machines. Anyway, if your Dr recommends a CPAP for you, and you want to use this, it is advised that you get one that could plug into a 12V cigarette adapter in the car. Make certain it doesn’t convert DC to AC to DC, as in that power conversion you would lose a lot of battery power. If you have more questions about the power conversion I don’t mind doing my best to answer questions along those lines.
    • One reason that an amateur radio is good for testing a device such as this is that (when transmitting) the FT-450D can be set to transmit from 5 watts up to 100 watts at the high end. For the non-hams, what this translates to is direct power usage at a variety of levels. [When the radio is receiving, the power used it close to constant; it only changes when transmitting.] Also, the radio would ideally use 13.8 volts, higher than the rated 12 volts of the KaliPak – but a large number of power sources that supposedly supply “12v” power actually provide 13 to 14 volts of power. As an example, a “12v battery” often will read 12.8 to 13.8 volts – if it only shows 12.0 volts then the battery is close to being “dead”, but definitely needs a charge.
    • My test plan: I’m a ham radio operator, and plan to use my HF band Yaesu FT-450D radio with this. I can also use it to simultaneously charge the Android phone (USB) and a portable hand-held radio at the same time. Might even plug a couple of 5V USB lights to it as well to simulate night-time operation.
    • My test plan, part 2: Additionally, I have a Kenwood TM-V71A (for the vehicle) that uses 13.8 volts and can transmit at 50 watts. If both radios are used at the same time, I will be eating a lot of power from the KaliPak all at once (another good test).
    • I will be able to list some results from my testing in about a week; sorry that I cannot do that immediately.

    Kickstarter experience
    • For those who have not used Kickstarter, it is a very different experience. As stressed on the Kickstarter page, Kickstarter is NOT a store. Do not “shop” there as you would Amazon or Homedepot.com as it is a completely different idea. You make a “pledge” that is paid for by credit card at the end of the campaign. Typical campaigns last 30-45 days.
    • As a “backer” on Kickstarter, you are helping small companies get off the ground. They have great ideas, but sometimes little to no capital. Manufacturing 1,000 / 5,000 / 10,000 of the same item takes great design, parts allocation, a factory order, etc, all of which takes capital.
    • Kickstarter is a neat place to find things that do not currently exist – individuals and groups come up with all sorts of great ideas.
    • Communication: 43 updates, plus who knows how many responses to the public comments (381 comments from backers and the creators – comments are only allowed from a backer of that product).
    • Money: 585 backers pledged $221,336 over about 60 days. This averages about $380 per backer. Some backers pledged $1 or $5 with no reward level, just because they believe in the company and wanted to help.
    • Money, part 2: Since the “backers” are the early believers, we got a pretty substantial discount. The model 401 that I purchased now retails for
    • My pledge was for $399 and I received the Kalipak 401 for that amount, including shipping.
    • Timing: Campaign was started in February 2015 and ended April 6, 2015. This was actually their 2nd try, as the first campaign in late 2014 did not obtain enough funding. “Estimated delivery” at the funding time was scheduled for September to October 2015. Many Kickstarter campaigns DO DELIVER LATE – and this was no exception. In my case, it was delivered in seven to eight months late, in May 2016. BUT, in the last several months there have been a lot of updates, letting people know of delays, reasons, and then a shipping update. Keep in mind that they had almost 600 backers, many in the USA but also in countries all over the world. (Logistics experience is a must!)

    More information

    I was going to use the Tags "solar" "off-grid" "battery" "power" and
    "review" but the forum did not like most of these. Please add the tags that you feel are appropriate :) Thanks!
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2016
    Motomom34 likes this.
  2. hitchcock4

    hitchcock4 Monkey

    1) Sealed KaliPak 401 -- ready to head out
    2) Inside the case
    3) KaliApp on Adroid or iOS
    4) Front panel of the Kalipak

    kalipack-closeup.JPG kalipak401-inside the case. kalipak401-kaliapp. kalipak401-front-panel.
    Motomom34 and kellory like this.
  3. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Moderator Moderator Site Supporter++

    What is the weight on this? Is it easy to carry? I see a should strap and wonder if it is easy (not bulky) and light enough to carry into the woods on a camping trip.
  4. hitchcock4

    hitchcock4 Monkey

    @Motomom34 it is 12.8 lbs with everything. You could leave out a few cables if you decide that you don't need them or the LED bulb, possibly reducing that by 1 lb.

    I would say quite easy to carry -- either on the shoulder with the shoulder strap or using the built-in handles.

    I wouldn't carry it for miles into the woods, but a mile or less would be fine with your other gear. YMMV.

    Any other questions?
    Motomom34 likes this.
  5. hitchcock4

    hitchcock4 Monkey

    Anyone wishing to get a battery pack or a "solar generator" such as the one I reviewed can get 10% off from now until 9/14.
    Go to Kalisaya - All Products | Solar Battery Packs & Accessories and choose the Kalipak 201, 401, or 601.

    Use the Promo code KPLabor10% (when checking out, the right side of the screen is gray and has space to enter a "DISCOUNT").

    Happy powering during those hurricanes and other storms. I charge mine every two or 3 months, but I think every 6 months would do as it doesn't go down that much.

    Disclaimer: I have no formal relationship with Kalisaya other than being a happy customer.
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