If you're in need of a simple power solution - not for your TV, but for keeping your phone and some light going during load shedding, then the Gizzu Solar Kit is for you. There are other Gizzu products that can perform the more heavy-duty tasks, but you won't find that here. The solar kit is one of the easiest products to set up, and the free-est to charge.
You’ve heard of load shedding, right? The thing that Eskom started nearly fifteen years ago to help it take back control of South Africa’s grid. Since then, we’ve been putting up with more, and more and… you get the idea. Load shedding isn’t cool. The worst part? It’s only going to get worse — unless Necom’s new laws actually manage to pull us out of this sinking hole. Most of us have accepted our fate and begun investing in generators, solar panels and batteries. We’re simple beings. Leave us with a phone and an internet connection and we’re happy. We’d be happier if load shedding didn’t exist and we could cook supper a few times a week, but you can’t always get what you want.
And what better time to test out Gizzu’s little solar kit? We’re not being rude – it’s pretty small. But in this case, it’s as they say – size doesn’t matter. Its primary jobs are to sit and bake in the sun to provide light, and a stable phone charging connection. It succeeded. And it did it well.
Got the greenies
If you’ve ever seen one of Gizzu’s other products – you should have if you read Stuff – you’ll know exactly what you’re getting in terms of design. There’s usually a grey/black body with the iconic green trimming surrounding the Gizzu logo. That’s no different here – though the main battery does its best to remain small and stand out from its other Gizzu brethren. They’re usually rugged, handy pieces of tech designed to be taken along for a camping trip. Unfortunately, for South Africans that can sometimes take place in your kitchen.
In the smaller-than-you’d-imagine box, you’ll find a mini solar panel, the battery itself, three LED lightbulbs and all the cables you’ll need to connect everything up. Among the included cables, Gizzu has thrown in one of those archaic multi-cables that can charge via a MicroUSB or USB-C and some cables that should fit your router. The battery itself features four LED 12.8V ports that are meant for – you guessed it – the accompanying LED lightbulbs. Flip it around and you’ll see two standard USB 5V ports to put your phone charger or multi-cable that came in the box. The solar panel socket is stuck in between.
Up top is where the battery lets you know how much more sun it needs to keep your devices charged. There’s no screen to consult, but rather a few LEDs that’ll keep you just as informed. The three LEDs sit under a battery indicator. The furthest left LED means your battery power is low, and the furthest right means the battery is fully charged up. It’s rather intuitive – and just as easy to set up.
My First: Solar panel kit
If the idea of setting up your own solar panel and battery sounds daunting, don’t fret — Gizzu makes the process easy. Simply plug the right cables into the right holes. If you can solve this, you can set up this Gizzu kit with ease. If you can’t – you might be a little too young to be reading this.
There’s only one button required to get this Gizzu kit up and running – the ‘on’ button. Tap it once, and you’re off (well, on in this case). Tap it again, and the battery shuts down. We weren’t joking when we said almost anyone could set this one up. That still won’t stop your grandparents from calling you for help every time load shedding strikes.
The solar panel is small – much smaller than the panels you wish you had on your roof. Plug in the 8m cable that’s attached to the panel, plop it on the floor where it’ll catch some direct sunlight and keep the battery inside where it’s cool(er) to get charging. The battery provides 4Ah/12.8Vdc or 51.2Wh. It’s not the best – but you’re not using this for heavy-duty work. All you’ll ever need is a light and a stable connection to keep your phone charged up.
To fully charge up the battery, you’ll need about five hours of direct sunlight. Once it’s charged up, Gizzu reckons it’ll keep all three lightbulbs on for about eight hours – though that’s if you’re not using it to charge your phone too. We don’t want to tempt fate here, but load shedding usually doesn’t hit an area for more than four hours at a time (for now). That means even a half-charged battery will get you through the nightly load sheds we’ve gotten used to.
And we can back up Gizzu’s claims. The battery took just under five hours to charge itself up, which we could then use for the two load shedding periods we got hit with over the weekend. Luckily it was a rather bright weekend in Edenvale, so we were all set.
Gizzu Solar Panel Kit 10W verdict
All-in-all, the Gizzu Solar Panel Kit is a beautiful little piece of machinery. And for only R1,500 – more powerful models are also available – you can’t really go wrong here. It does exactly as advertised, keeping enough lights on long enough to get some reading done. Its only issue is that the battery requires perfect weather conditions to keep itself going. It’s not a major problem here though, seeing as how it can run for eight hours on a single charge if you plan its usage accordingly. Still, it’s definitely worth the R1,500 price tag attached to it.