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Hands-on Gear Review
Anker PowerPort Lite 15W Review
Cons: Small accessory pouch won't hold average smartphone
Bottom line: A slightly less powerful version of the Anker 21W, the Anker 15W panel is powerful, portable, and durable.
This panel has been a shining star in past years of solar panel testing, only to be out-shined this year by its more powerful cousin, the Anker Powerport 21W. This aside, the Anker 15W is still an incredible panel that continues to perform and impress among this year's contenders. It works well in overcast conditions, is sleek in its design, and has won awards not only in our test labs, but also in the eyes of our gear testing colleagues. It held it's own this year as a consistent and durable solar charging option.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
While the Anker 15W did not receive any awards this year, the panel was still one of our favorites. It was consistently a top performer in all of the performance comparison categories and kept our gadgets charged in the field efficiently and reliably. If it weren't for its more powerful and equal in size sibling, the Anker PowerPort 21W, the Anker 15W would have definitely taken the cake for our Editors' Choice Award once again.
Charge Interruption Recovery
The Powerport Lite 15 was one of the few panels, along with the Anker 21W and the Instapark Mercury 10W, that was able to continue charging our battery packs after multiple interruptions. This also applies to its ability to charge in partly cloudy conditions, where the Powerport Lite 15 continued to supply power to our devices.
To test charging speed, we plugged all the panels into a dead battery and timed them as they charged the battery to full. The Powerport Lite 15performed equally to the Instapark Mercury 10W in terms of charge time. After 3 hours in full sun, this panel had charged our battery 49%, close behind the Instapark's 50% charge.
Multiple Device Charging Speed
The Powerport Lite 15 performed best out of the three mid-range panels in its ability to charge multiple devices at once. It managed to continue charging two external batteries when we plugged them both into the panel. Other products, like the Nekteck 14W had trouble charging both the batteries, but the Powerport Lite 15 delivered a charge slowly, but consistently. The Anker PowerPort 21W takes the cake in this metric, earning a near perfect 9 out of 10, while all other contenders scored 6 and unders.
The Powerport Lite 15 is an incredibly durable panel. Its advantage is the industrial strength PET polymer-faced solar cells that are surrounded by weather resistant canvas, which basically means that these cells can handle the elements. Though not fully waterproof, the panel can withstand a sprinkling of rain and most other challenges the elements throw at it. Another positive is its Velcro pocket, which protects the panel's two USB ports as well as any electronic accessories you might have with you. The Anker Powerport Lite 21, Instapark Mercury 10, Renogy E.Flex5, and Goal Zero Nomad 7 earned high scores for durability.
Weight & Portability
Another metric where the Powerport Lite 15 soars above the rest is weight. This panel is super light-weight for its size and capacity. It's unheard of to find a 15W panel under 14 oz, but somehow the Powerport Lite 15 is well under, weighing in at 12.5oz. This weight difference is definitely noticeable, especially if you're counting ounces for your next off the grid adventure. The other benefit to the Powerport Lite 15 is it's size when folded up. Much like the Anker 21W, the 15W is extremely compact and can slide in the back of your pack without making a scene.
This lightweight powerhouse is an ideal option for long-term travel or people who need to keep multiple devices, like iPads or tablets, charged on the road. It is lighter than the Mercury 10W, and less expensive than the even more powerful Anker 21W, making it the perfect in between among our award winners. The only downside to the Powerport Lite 15 is the size of the storage pouch, which we found could barely fit the new iPhone 6. To remedy this small flaw, we recommend storing your electronic accessories elsewhere, rather than relying on the panel for storage.
On the upper end of the cost scale for smaller panels, the Powerport Lite 15 is a small investment for a very effective and long-lasting panel. For $50, the panel is reliable and won't hang you up to dry if a cloud passes overhead. If you are looking at our Editors' Choice, the Anker 21W, but aren't sure you want to commit to the price tag, the Powerport Lite 15 is an ideal compromise.
While the Powerport Lite 15 didn't win any awards this year, it came close in nearly every metric. It is lightweight, powerful, and efficient. The panel's sleek design and revolutionary technology make them particularly appealing. Seeing a solar panel brand, like Anker, appear year after year as a best seller definitely establishes some street cred. They will take your panel back within 30 days for any reason for a full refund and also have an 18-month warranty and technical help support.
— Jane Jackson
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