Powertraveller is a British company developing and selling power devices for road warriors and people who want to charge their devices in an eco-friendly way. The company’s Powermonkey Extreme is a winning combination of a battery and solar panel specifically aimed at charging 5V (USB or others) devices. And now there’s also the Powermonkey Extreme 12V for more demanding power charging jobs.
The Powermonkey Extreme 12V comes in five colours: black, red, blue, yellow and silver. As its sibling the Powermonkey Extreme 5V (reviewed here), it is rated for 5V devices via its USB port. The 12V model, however, can also deliver 12V/800mAh power to devices such as dSLRs, battery chargers and iPads.
The Powermonkey 12V is not just more powerful than the 5V. It also has improvements over the 5V model. The first one is the display. The 5V model will show you how much power you have left with bars. The 12V model shows the percentage of juice left in the battery, which is much more accurate than the bar display. The 12V model comes with a female in-car socket and a Gorillapad — a power converter specifically designed to safely and efficiently charge an iPad. With the Powermonkey Extreme 12V, all you need to do is connect via the 12V DC output socket and then use your white sync/charge cable to connect to the iPad requiring charge.
As with the 5V model, you can charge the Powermonkey Extreme 12V using the included solar panel or AC mains charger, or via USB. The fastest way is through the mains charger, the slowest USB. Solar charging time obviously depends on lighting conditions. Half a day exposure to bright sunlight will be enough to reload a 50% depleted Powermonkey to 90%.
The 12V model will deliver power to one 5V and one 12V device simultaneously until the voltage it can deliver falls below 3.3V. At that moment, the unit will shut itself off. As soon as voltage levels rise above 3.9V again, charging resumes. You can charge the Powermonkey Extreme while a device is charging at the same time.
All of these features turn the Powermonkey Extreme 12V into a perfect solution for video/audio recording and photographing in remote locations where access to clean electrical power isn’t evident. Some usage scenarios that I had in mind when I tested the unit, were:
- Photographing long time lapses
- Time lapses on motorised sliders
- Video recording with an Atomos monitor/recording unit or a Convergent Design Odyssey unit
- Audio recording with an audio recorder hooked up to phantom power requiring microphones
- Video recording with a Panasonic Lumix DMW-YAGH Interface Unit for the DMC-GH4 camera
- Charging batteries for most dSLRs
- Powering your mobile phone as well as an Iridium sat phone
I tested the unit’s 12V capabilities with a Hahnel Twin V Pro and two Sony NP-FM500H batteries. With two batteries inserted the unit would work for a few seconds, then switch off itself. This also happened when I switched off the Powermonkey’s “Auto-Off” feature, which made me conclude the Twin V Pro with two of these batteries inserted draws more power than the 800mAh the Powermonkey Extreme 12V can handle — after checking the Twin V Pro’s specs (which I should have done first), that proved to be the case. The good news is that charging with only one NP-FM500H inserted worked brilliant.
Charging two Hähnel HL-XL982 (Sony NP-F950 equivalent) in an Atomos dual charger, which is rated for a maximum power draw of 800mAh worked fine.
The 5V capabilities of the new Powermonkey Extreme were every bit as efficient as the original Powermonkey Extreme’s functionality. Having the same form factor, the Powermonkey Extreme 12V can also charge a device without having to worry about water splashing all over the place, using the Aquastrap which I reviewed here. The Powermonkey itself is even submersible.
If you need a battery and clean energy solution for anything from charging phones to powering 12V devices through an in-car socket, the Powermonkey Extreme is a great performing system. A Powermonkey Extreme will set you back €145.75. Considering the test results, that is dirt cheap.