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BigBlue 3 Review

We were impressed by its ability to charge our gadgets quickly and reliably and its reasonable price is the cherry on top
BigBlue 3
Photo: Big Blue
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $80 List | $69.96 at Amazon
Pros:  Inexpensive, efficient, user-friendly, excels in partly cloudy conditions
Cons:  Bulky, lacks portability
Manufacturer:   BigBlue
By Jane Jackson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 7, 2021
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80
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 16
  • Charging Speed - 30% 8
  • Charge Interruption Recovery - 20% 9
  • Multiple Device Charging Speed - 20% 9
  • Weight & Portability - 20% 6
  • Durability - 10% 8

Our Verdict

Charging efficiency and dependability are just two important metrics we've focused on when crafting our metrics. As we began testing our new fleet, the updated BigBlue 3 stood out as one of our top contenders. This 28-watt model excelled in charging efficiency and dependability, complete with an auto-restart function, which allows the panel to continue to deliver a charge in partially cloudy conditions. After testing, we compared the BigBlue to the others in our review and were surprised to discover that it's also one of the more affordable options of its size. Simply put, we love this panel for its effective charging, its durable and straightforward design, and the fact that it is reliable — even when the sun is not!

Compare to Similar Products

 
BigBlue 3
This Product
BigBlue 3
Awards Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award 
Price $80 List
$69.96 at Amazon
$50 List$90 List
$69.99 at Amazon
$30 List
$19.98 at Amazon
$55 List
$54.99 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Inexpensive, efficient, user-friendly, excels in partly cloudy conditionsQuick to charge, portable size, panel actually works despite small wattageEfficient, powerful, great value for its size, lightweightCompact, lightweight, fast charging capabilitiesImpressive charging speeds, can charge multiple devices simultaneously, affordable
Cons Bulky, lacks portabilityHeavy, slow to replenish battery via solarPocket too small to hold extra cords and accessoriesLacks versatilityPoor interruption recovery
Bottom Line We were impressed by its ability to charge our gadgets quickly and reliably and its reasonable price is the cherry on topThis exceptionally priced battery pack quickly charges devices, and if left in the sun for hours, can replenish via solarA compact, lightweight panel with exceptional efficiency and charging capabilitiesThis little panel is by far the lightest in this review, but its charging abilities are impressiveA powerful, fast charging machine, capable of charging multiple devices, complete with a reasonable price tag
Rating Categories BigBlue 3 Goertek 25,000mAh Anker PowerPort 21W BEARTWO 10,000mAh Ryno-Tuff 21W
Charging Speed (30%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
Charge Interruption Recovery (20%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Multiple Device Charging Speed (20%)
9.0
9.0
9.0
5.0
6.0
Weight & Portability (20%)
6.0
7.0
7.0
10.0
7.0
Durability (10%)
8.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
Specs BigBlue 3 Goertek 25,000mAh Anker PowerPort 21W BEARTWO 10,000mAh Ryno-Tuff 21W
Panel Size (watts) 28W 5W 21W <5W 21W
Weight (measured) 23.5 oz 19 oz 17.6 oz 7.52 oz 17 oz
# of USB outlets 3 3 2 2 2
Max USB Output Current (amps per port) 2 amp 1 amp 2 amp 2.1 amp 2.4 amp
Battery kit? No Yes No Yes No
Size folded 11.1" x 6.3" x 1.3" 7" x 3.75" x 1.25" 11" x 6.3" x 0.75" 5.5" x 3" x 0.7" 5.9" x 11.8" x 0.8"
Battery? No Yes No Yes No
Charge tablet? Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Charge laptop? Yes No Yes No No
Panel Type PET Polymer Mono-crystalline Mono-crystalline Mono-crystalline Mono-crystalline
Size opened 33.1" x 11.1" x 0.2" 7" x 3.75" x 1.25" 26.3" x 11.1" x 0.2" 5.5" x 3" x 0.7" 18" x 11.8" x 0.1"
Battery input (Volts / Amps) N/a 5V 2A N/a 5V 2.1A N/a
Charge capacity (mAh) N/a 25,000mAh N/a 10,000mAh N/a
Charge iPhone/Smartphone Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Direct USB Plug? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Daisy Chain? No No No No Yes
12-Volt connection No No No No No

Our Analysis and Test Results

We were impressed by this panel's design, as well as the results we saw in our testing. BigBlue has created an inexpensive, highly efficient product that charged our electronic devices with ease. Though it is a bit large and bulky, the extra size didn't matter because this panel got the job done. For car camping or a backcountry base camp where weight is not a huge concern, the 28W from BigBlue is an excellent choice. The positive features outweigh the negatives, as this panel will charge your devices quickly and effectively. It comes with a nifty auto-restart feature that comes in handy when the sun is intermittent, which occurred more often than we liked. During testing, we had multiple devices that required a charge; this panel acted as a base camp charging station for our satellite phone, external battery, and two phones, keeping them charged for two weeks.

The updated BigBlue has three USB ports.
The updated BigBlue has three USB ports.
Photo: Jane Jackson

It performed consistently well in a range of conditions. Even if you are not a gadget-obsessed adventurer, this panel is an excellent option if you want a quick charge for a single device (and again, it's hard to beat the price).

Both the BigBlue 28 and the RAVPower 24 have four segments, but the...
Both the BigBlue 28 and the RAVPower 24 have four segments, but the RAVPower has less capacity by 4 watts.
Photo: Jane Jackson

Performance Comparison


The updated BigBlue is as consistent as its predecessors.
The updated BigBlue is as consistent as its predecessors.
Photo: Jane Jackson

Charge Interruption Recovery


One of the coolest features that the Big Blue has is the ability to recover from an interruption. Whether you are charging on a partly cloudy day or the sun angle changes to cast a shadow over the panel while charging, the BigBlue has an auto-restart function that makes reconnecting to your device a smooth affair. Though the charge was slow with interruptions, this design avoids the constant vibrating that occurs when a phone is disconnected and reconnected from its power source.

Charging Speed


At 28 watts, the BigBlue falls in the middle of the road when it comes to wattage. We've added larger panels over the years, as the technology has improved, and companies can get powerful panels into smaller packages. This is just to say that the BigBlue did well in this metric, epsecially considering its size.
The BigBlue in full sun, ready to charge up an iPhone with ease.
The BigBlue in full sun, ready to charge up an iPhone with ease.
Photo: Jane Jackson

It's right in the middle of charging speed scores, with some larger capacity panels slightly surpassing it. In 30 minutes, the panel charged our Pixel 3 nine percent. This is impressive, though not the highest increase we saw from any panel. That said, its consistency across the board keeps it at the top of the list.

Multiple Device Charging Speed


Though the BigBlue panel is equipped with three USB ports, we recommend only charging one device at a time, which will help achieve maximum efficiency. This multi-device function seems to be more of a marketing scheme than the most effective way to charge electronics. That said, multiple devices still have the capacity to charge, and this panel is suited for the job, thanks to its large capacity.

The built-in ammeter adds some bulk to the profile of the BigBlue.
The built-in ammeter adds some bulk to the profile of the BigBlue.
Photo: Jane Jackson

Durability


The BigBlue received high scores in our durability metric and is comparable to our other award-winning panels. We had no issues with it performing in semi-wet conditions, and there were no signs of wear after a few months of use. Because it has a few more features than other panels (the ammeter and the auto-restart function), it has a higher risk of breaking down in some fashion, though we had nothing but success when using this panel. The canvas material covering the outside is durable and resistant to abrasions and wear, and the PET Polymer panels showed little sign of wear, even after months of exposure to the sun.

We liked the zippered pocket and elastic straps.
We liked the zippered pocket and elastic straps.
Photo: Jane Jackson

We liked that the updated panel has a zippered pocket with elastic straps inside to help you stay organized. The zipper also improves durability and protects your gadgets.

Weight and Portability


Efficiency and ease of use are a trade-off for portability and weight. The larger the panel, the faster it will charge your devices, and the more difficult it might be to fit into your backpack; the BigBlue is no exception. As our largest-capacity panel in this review, it should be no surprise that this product is also one of the bulkier options out there. If you're after a larger, heavier panel, it makes sense to go with the BigBlue since it will deliver the most charge to your devices in the least amount of time.

The BigBlue is an impressive panel with a reasonable price tag.
The BigBlue is an impressive panel with a reasonable price tag.
Photo: Jane Jackson

Value


The other incredible aspect of this panel is the cost, as it's one of the lower-costing panels of its size. It delivers almost 30W of power and comes at an excellent price. Many panels we've reviewed are more expensive and have a lower capacity; you do the math! The BigBlue is one of our favorites; it humbly charged our gadgets quickly, with no extra frills or features. The simplicity makes it less expensive to produce, and in turn, keeps its price tag relatively low.

Partial cloudy conditions are perfect for testing the BigBlue&#039;s...
Partial cloudy conditions are perfect for testing the BigBlue's ability to recover after being shaded.
Photo: Jane Jackson

Conclusion


We love the BigBlue. It provides a consistent charge to our electronics in numerous situations, no matter if it's a partly cloudy day or there's a tree branch interrupting the continuous delivery of sunlight. Time and time again, it kept chugging along, effectively charging our devices. Though the panel has three USB ports, it performed at its best when a single port was in use. It wins our top choice, as it's efficient and fast-charging. Its incredible qualities trump weight and portability, as it is one of the larger panels we reviewed, and the price is just right.

Jane Jackson

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