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BigBlue 42W Review

If size and weight aren't a concern, this panel is an excellent choice, especially considering its charging abilities
BigBlue 42W
Photo: Amazon
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Price:  $100 List | $99.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Reliable, fast-charging
Cons:  Bulky, heavy, lacks portability
Manufacturer:   BigBlue
By Jane Jackson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 7, 2021
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68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 16
  • Charging Speed - 30% 9
  • Charge Interruption Recovery - 20% 8
  • Multiple Device Charging Speed - 20% 7
  • Weight & Portability - 20% 2
  • Durability - 10% 7

Our Verdict

Much like its smaller-capacity companion, the BigBlue 42 is both dependable and efficient. This panel is massive and bulky, but this sacrifice in size and portability means it can charge devices with speed. The BigBlue was ace in multiple-device-charging situations as well as in marginal or partially shaded conditions. Its large size makes it an effective method for charging all kinds of electronics. This panel is a behemoth, but if you need a little extra firepower, it may be worth the bulk. We recommend this option for car camping and other situations where portability isn't as much of a concern.

Compare to Similar Products

 
BigBlue 42W
This Product
BigBlue 42W
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award  
Price $99.99 at Amazon$69.96 at Amazon$50 List$69.99 at Amazon$29.99 at Amazon
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Pros Reliable, fast-chargingInexpensive, efficient, user-friendly, excels in partly cloudy conditionsQuick to charge, portable size, panel actually works despite small wattageEfficient, powerful, great value for its size, lightweightLightweight, durable, lots of charging options
Cons Bulky, heavy, lacks portabilityBulky, lacks portabilityHeavy, slow to replenish battery via solarPocket too small to hold extra cords and accessoriesA bit bulky, slow charging speeds considering battery capacity
Bottom Line If size and weight aren't a concern, this panel is an excellent choice, especially considering its charging abilitiesWe 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 capabilitiesA relatively lightweight battery pack with multiple charging options, this small model has a USB-C and wireless charging port
Rating Categories BigBlue 42W BigBlue 3 Goertek 25,000mAh Anker PowerPort 21W Blavor Qi 10,000mAh
Charging Speed (30%)
9
8
8
8
8
Charge Interruption Recovery (20%)
8
9
8
8
8
Multiple Device Charging Speed (20%)
7
9
9
9
4
Weight & Portability (20%)
2
6
7
7
10
Durability (10%)
7
8
7
7
9
Specs BigBlue 42W BigBlue 3 Goertek 25,000mAh Anker PowerPort 21W Blavor Qi 10,000mAh
Panel Size (watts) 42W 28W 5W 21W <5W
Weight (measured) 40.3 oz 23.5 oz 19 oz 17.6 oz 8.3 oz
# of USB outlets 3 3 3 2 2
Max USB Output Current (amps per port) 2.4 amp 2 amp 1 amp 2 amp 2 amp
Battery kit? No No Yes No Yes
Size folded 11.5" x 6.8" x 1.5" 11.1" x 6.3" x 1.3" 7" x 3.75" x 1.25" 11" x 6.3" x 0.75" 6" x 3" x 0.5"
Battery? No No Yes No Yes
Charge tablet? Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Charge laptop? Yes Yes No Yes No
Panel Type Mono-crystalline PET Polymer Mono-crystalline Mono-crystalline Mono-crystalline
Size opened 19.5" x 22.5" x 0.4" 33.1" x 11.1" x 0.2" 7" x 3.75" x 1.25" 26.3" x 11.1" x 0.2" 6" x 3" x 0.5"
Battery input (Volts / Amps) 5V 2.4A N/a 5V 2A N/a 5V 2A
Charge capacity (mAh) N/a N/a 25,000mAh N/a 10,000mAh
Charge iPhone/Smartphone N/a Yes Yes Yes Yes
Direct USB Plug? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Daisy Chain? Yes No No No Yes
12-Volt connection Yes No No No No

Our Analysis and Test Results

This panel received high scores in all of our metrics related to charging ability but fell short in weight and portability.

Performance Comparison


The BigBlue 42 is a large capacity panel that received high scores...
The BigBlue 42 is a large capacity panel that received high scores across the board.
Photo: Jane Jackson

Charge Interruption Recovery


Like other large-capacity panels, the BigBlue 42 gets high marks in this metric. The more surface area a panel has, the better it does in marginal conditions. Imagine if half this panel is shaded — there's still 20W of solar cells available and charging via the sun. That means that even when experiencing intermittent shading, the BigBlue was able to charge our phone 18% over the course of a 30-minute test period. This is on par with other panels of this capacity and much better than the smaller-capacity panels (10-20W).

With six large panels of solar cells, the BigBlue is efficient, even...
With six large panels of solar cells, the BigBlue is efficient, even when partially shaded.
Photo: Jane Jackson

Charging Speed


Here, the BigBlue 42 impressed us once again. BigBlue is a solar charger brand that we have been testing for years, and we have yet to be disappointed in the overall performance of their panels. The 42-watt panel is no exception; during our round of timed charging tests, it charged our phone 30% over a 30 minute period. This is one percent per minute — a charging rate that is on the higher end of the spectrum when compared to the other panels in this review. Fast charging is the name of the game with this massive panel — especially for small electronics, like cell phones.

This panel charges gadgets fast! Its results in our charging speed...
This panel charges gadgets fast! Its results in our charging speed tests were among the highest in this reivew.
Photo: Jane Jackson

Multiple Device Charging Speed


With two USB ports and a good amount of wattage, this panel is made for charging multiple devices. We were impressed to see that it was able to charge two phones simultaneously with relative ease. The first phone charged 12% over 30 minutes, while the second phone charged 11% during the same time frame. This is an impressive leap from panels of years past, which struggled to charge our phones a few percentage points when multiple devices were plugged in.

With two USB ports and a DC port, this panel has the ability, and...
With two USB ports and a DC port, this panel has the ability, and the capacity, to successfully charge multiple devices at once.
Photo: Jane Jackson

Durability


The BigBlue 42 has the same construction as the smaller-capacity model we tested from the same brand, and receives a similar score in this metric. Both of these panels are designed to last. We had no issues with the performance of the solar cells over the course of our testing period. Plus, the materials used in the construction of the fold-up portion of the panel consist of reinforced canvas and canvas sewn clip-in points. The PET Polymer cells, as well as the canvas itself, are water-resistant and didn't seem to be affected by the sun.

The 42 is a durable panel.
The 42 is a durable panel.
Photo: Jane Jackson

Weight and Portability


Here, the BigBlue 42 falls a bit short. This panel is seriously bulky and weighs over 40 ounces. With efficiency, the ability to charge multiple electronics, and a solid score in interruption recovery, sacrifices have to be made in other realms. The BigBlue is a perfect example of this. This panel is a charging beast but weighs over two pounds — far too big to carry into the backcountry. It's relatively bulky in design, with a large storage pocket and multiple layers of fold-out solar cells.

Value


This panel is large, powerful, and has a big charging capacity (in watts). This comes at a cost. Though not the priciest model out there, it's a bit of an investment. That said, for folks who live on the road or are planning to be without access to the grid for long periods, it is a reasonable investment to keep electronics topped off. Plus, it is reliable, well made, durably built.

A panel of this size is bound to cost a little bit more than a...
A panel of this size is bound to cost a little bit more than a smaller-capacity model. We felt like the price was fair for the BigBlue 42.
Photo: Jane Jackson

Conclusion


The BigBlue 42 is powerful in full sun, performs fairly well in marginal conditions, and can charge multiple devices with ease. That said, it's an investment in size and price, relative to some of the other options included in this review. It works great for road trips or river trips — think situations where weight doesn't matter. We recommend this panel alongside other large capacity models for folks who want efficient charging and are not concerned with weight or size.

Jane Jackson