< Go to Solar Chargers
Hands-on Gear Review
X-Dragon 20W Review
Cons: Heavy, expensive, difficulties recovering from charge interruptions
Bottom line: This 20W panel is one of the most powerful panels we tested; on the flip side, it is also one of the heaviest and most expensive.
This relatively unknown company, X-Dragon, has actually been storming the solar panel market for the past few years. Many other online reviews deemed the 20W panel to be one of the best solar panels around. Our tests verified that this panel is, in fact, a major contender to our award winners, like the Anker Powerport 21W and the Instapark Mercury 10W. It charges devices quickly and efficiently and can maintain a charge in less than optimal conditions, much like the Anker 21W. In nearly all the metrics, this panel came close to our Editors' Choice winner, the Anker 21W. The X-Dragon only fell short in its ability to charge multiple devices at once, where the Anker 21W could consistently deliver power to both devices.
RELATED REVIEW: Best Portable Solar Panels and Chargers of 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
In our side-by-side tests, the X-Dragon 20W proved to be one of the most effective portable panels in the review. It can charge an iPhone or small battery quickly in good conditions and has the option to charge two devices with its dual USB ports. In terms of weight, it is one of the heaviest panels we tested, but this is to be expected from a panel of its capacity.
Charge Interruption Recovery
The X-Dragon performed very similarly to the Anker 21W and the Anker 15W as the top performing panels in this rating metric. Each panel was able to reestablish a connection to its device quickly after being shaded. As a cloud passed overhead, it would interrupt the charge, but with X-Dragon's iSolar technology, the panel could quickly readjust and recover the charge quickly. This adaptability is one of the plus sides of panels that have the charge delivery adjustment capabilities built into their design.
To charge our battery to from 0 to 100% took the X-Dragon only 3 hours and 32 minutes. Hats off to this one, since this was the fastest charge time of all nine panels. In comparison, it takes 4 hours for a 5W to 7W panel to charge the same battery to 15%. That really puts things in perspective! These batteries can charge an iPhone from off to full about two times, so from that you can surmise that the X-Dragon would make quick work of charging a phone. In fact, in our tests, it took 30 minutes to charge a phone to 30%. From these tests, the X-Dragon proved to be a charging machine, scoring the highest score for the charging speed metric.
Multiple Device Charging Speed
If you are planning to buy a large capacity panel mainly to charge multiple devices at once, the X-Dragon panel might not be the best option. In all other categories, it stood up to its competitors in terms of performance, but it lacked in its ability to deliver a full charge to multiple devices. When plugged into one external battery, the X-Dragon charged it from 0 to 3% in 10 minutes. Then, once another battery was added, it was unable in increase the charge on either battery. It also struggled to maintain a connection to both batteries and they both repeatedly disconnected and reconnected to the panel. This is definitely a detraction because a large benefit to the higher watt panels is their versatility and ability to charge many different devices simultaneously. The Anker Powerport 21 earned the highest score in this metric - a 9 out of 10 - with all other contenders earning 6 and lower.
Our experience with the X-Dragon proved to be mostly positive in terms of durability. The panel's strong, water resistant canvas covering protected the panels and hardly showed any signs of wear after three months in the field. The solar cells themselves also lasted through our tests with little sign of falling apart. In a few reviews, customers complained of warping and bubbling of the plastic solar cells, so we were especially vigilant when we left the panel out in the hot desert sun, but it seemed like the X-Dragon could stand the heat. The panel also has a large, mesh storage compartment, much like that of the Goal Zero Nomad 7, which is useful in storing all the extra cords and small batteries you might have. This pocket was designed well and also showed very little signs of wearing out.
Weight & Portability
Another downside to the X-Dragon is its weight. As the second heaviest panel in our testing fleet, it weighs in at 16.6oz, almost 3oz heavier than the more powerful Anker 21W. Only the PowerGreen 20W weighs more, and only by .2oz. These panels are great because they are more efficient and are have the ability to charge energy-hungry devices quickly, but they fall short in their portability. If you leave the panel at home because it's too heavy or bulky to fit in your bag, then what's the point of having a portable solar panel, right? Not to say that the X-Dragon is going to be sitting on the bench all the time, but if you are planning on using your panel mostly for self-supported trips where weight is ultra-important, this one might not be the best option for you.
This is a great panel for car camping, group trips, or a single traveler who wants a quick and efficient charging system. The X-Dragon really shines in its ability to charge devices fast. We recommend combining this panel with a small eternal battery or two and rotating the batteries through, charging devices directly off of the battery. With this system, you are always relying on the battery for charge, rather than the sun, especially if you can set out the panel on a bluebird day and maximize the good weather by charging up all the batteries at once.
Originally sold on Amazon for $120, the X-Dragon is on the upper end of the scale in terms of price. That being said, the panels are currently sold on Amazon for under $50, which is an exceptionally good deal. It was difficult to find the panels sold directly from X-Dragon, so going through Amazon might be your only option. This is a red flag for warranty issues and returns, as it may be difficult to find a reliable source to return the product in case you aren't happy with it. With over 400 reviews on Amazon, though, this panel seems to be a consistently good option for a powerful, efficient panel.
Overall, the X-Dragon performed well in all our metric categories and proved to be a great option for a high-efficiency panel. It really impressed us in its charging speed, beating out all 8 of the other panels in our race to charge an external battery. When tasked with charging two devices, the X-Dragon did not fare as well as its competitors, so if this is your main goal when purchasing a 20W panel, we suggest looking at either the Anker Powerport 21W or the PowerGreen 21W panel. It is also one of the heaviest panels we tested, which was another downside to this panel. Combined, these factors contributed to the panel coming up short on its overall score, but keep in mind it is still a worthy option for some.
— Jane Jackson
You Might Also Like
Best Portable Solar Panels and Chargers of 2017We set out to find the best solar charger for powering gadgets on the go. We considered 55 models and bought the top 9...
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: May 22, 2017
Where's the Best Price?
*You help support OutdoorGearLab's product testing and reviews by purchasing from our retail partners.
Table of Contents