Quick Summary: The Solar car seat is simple to use in all stages. The installation using the ISOFIX and Top Tether system is quick and easy and you can travel with the peace of mind that your car eat is installed correctly meaning your child is safe. Because the seat covers stages 1, 2 and 3, there is no need to buy successive seats as your child grows making the Solar super value for money at just £169.
- Covers three stages
- Great recline
- Stay open magnetic harness
- Soft and padded fabrics
- Superb value
Whats not so good?
- Lengthy to install if using seat belt
- Forward facing only
Ickle Bubba are perhaps more well known for their Stomp and Aurora travel systems, but the Solar sees them release a versatile group 1-2-3 car seat, which grows and changes with your child to make sure that they are safe and comfortable whilst travelling in the car.
The Ickle Bubba Solar is a group 1-2-3 seat that can be used from birth up to 12 years old. The Solar is installed into the car using the seats built in ISOFIX connectors, however it can also be fitted with the vehicle's own seat belt, too.
The ISOFIX installation of the Solar was quick and simple for our reviewer to complete. The ISOFIX arms can be extended using the T-shaped pull lever on the front of the seat's integrated base. By pulling this clearly labelled red lever out, the arms extend fully to allow you to line the connectors up with the ISOFIX anchor points on your vehicle's seat. The red plastic clips of the connectors will show a thin green strip when the seat is clicked in correctly.
There is also a top- tether strap which is clever tucked away in a compartment in the back of the seat. Pop the top tether strap over the back of the car seat and hook the clip onto the D-ring or anchor point, which is usually located on the rear of the seat back or floor. Pull the cord and the green indicator shows on the buckle so that you are confident you have installed it correctly. With the ISOFIX installation, we were ready to roll in just under 5 minutes.
The seat can also be installed using the vehicle's three point seatbelt if your car does not have ISOFIX anchor points. This process was a little lengthier, but the clearly marked red indicators, clips and levers on the seat make it a touch simpler.
The seat tilts forwards on its frame to allow you to thread the belt with ease. To do this you need to remove the metal fixing rod by sliding it out from the side of the car seat that is closest to the car door. When the seatbelt has been threaded through all of the appropriate red clips and secured tightly, pop the seat back and then push the metal rod back through the shell to hold everything together. We definitely needed the instruction manual a few times to complete this process. It took about 15/20 minutes in total but felt as solid as a rock when installed.
Day to Day Use
The Solar is a forward facing only seat and is for use when your baby reaches 9kg in weight.
The seat itself is covered in beautifully soft brushed fabrics which are bouncy and extremely comfortable for babies and children of all ages.
The three available colours are classy and the seat cushions have the added bonus of being reversible which is great if one side gets a little dirty or even if you just fancy a change of colour!
The extra seat pads to support baby's head and neck and raise their bottom so that the harness fits correctly are a clever safety design feature. As your baby grows the baby inserts can be gradually removed to make sure that the seat fits your child perfectly no matter what age they are.
The harness of the seat is made from thick broad webbing which is softly padded with the same luxurious materials as the seat unit. The harness was always easy to fasten and unfasten and the straps never tangled or twisted.
The harness also features magnetic stay open straps. The metal harness teeth can be held open by sticking them to the magnets on either side of the seat which are marked with a small embroidered dot.
This was a really useful feature, especially when placing a sleeping child into the seat without waking them or battling a defiant toddler into the seat quickly.
Lengthening and tightening the harness was also easy to do using the large red press button located underneath the crotch strap. We really like the way this button was hidden by a thickly padded flap of material so that little fingers couldn't get to it!
The harness also adjusts automatically when you adjust the height of the headrest. This can be done using one hand by squeezing the button at the top of the headrest.
The seat also reclines using a lever at the front of the seat base. The recline can be used to its maximum potential if the T-bar lever is pulled and the ISOFIX arms are extended.
This allowed more room for the seat to tilt backwards. Our two year old tester made good use of the recline on a daily basis when he took his naps whilst travelling in the car.
Once your child reaches 18kg or more, it is safe to use the Solar without the harness and instead with the vehicle's own three-point seatbelt.
This is classed as using the car seat in group 2 and 3 modes. Removing the harness from the seat was a tiny bit fiddly as they all need to be unhooked from the rear of the seat and pulled through the seat shell. There is also a screw to remove which enables the headrest to extend further for taller children, but once it's done, it's done. You just need to remember to pop the harness somewhere safe in case you ever need to use it again!
We used the seat as a high backed booster with a 6 year old 20kg tester. He was able to pop in and out of the seat independently with ease and commented on how comfortable and "cool!" the fabrics were. The seat belt passes over the child whilst being guided by clearly visible (red) hooks and guides. The shoulder hook makes sure that the straps sits correctly on your child's shoulder and doesn't cut too high, i.e. close to their face or on their neck.
The Solar car seat collected a few crumbs throughout its test period with us - as would any car seat! The removable covers meant it was very easy to clean and taking the covers on and off wasn't at all a tricky task.
This robust seat comes complete with leatherette covered side impact protection cushions. You don't need to install them both, you only need to use the one on the side of the car seat that is closest to the car door. They serve an amazing purpose in that they absorb the brunt of the shock in the event of a side collision, which protects your baby and child from injury. They simply slide and click onto the side of the car seat which you would like to use them on.
The Solar car seat is simple to use in all stages. The installation using the ISOFIX and Top Tether system is quick and easy and you can travel with the peace of mind that your car eat is installed correctly meaning your child is safe. Because the seat covers stages 1, 2 and 3, there is no need to buy successive seats as your child grows making the Solar super value for money at just £169.
Our baby and child testers were always very comfortable in the seat of the Solar and they happily slept using the recline of the seat and the deep headrest. The harness was simple to use for parents and changing the seat between stages, although fiddly, was not too difficult.
The automatic harness adjustment in group 1 mode means that parents don't have to worry about threading the harness through fiddly holes each time that their child grows a few centimetres. The Solar gives added peace of mind that your child is well protected in the event of a side impact collision with the addition of removable side impact protection pads. We think that at £169, the Solar offers great protection for your child whilst travelling in the car and is functional and comfortable too.