≪ Go to our review of Solar Chargers
Hands-on Gear Review
iClever BoostCel 12W Review
Cons: Battery could be unreliable, only one USB port, heavy
Bottom line: The BoostCel 12W is the best integrated battery/panel combo we have tested.
This panel is an exciting and new hybrid combining the sleek portability of a traditional solar panel with the convenience of an incorporated battery pack. The iClever BoostCel 12W is a 12W panel that holds its own among the other models in that output capacity range, but has the added benefit of the internal battery. That being said, the internal battery is not the most powerful, so relying on it alone is not the best idea. We found that the combination of the battery and the well-made panel makes for an efficient, reliable product. We also liked the size and shape of this model, especially in comparison to other battery-included options that are bulky and less ideal for traveling.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Portable Solar Panels and Chargers of 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Regarding charging speed and reliability, the iClever BoostCel 12W panel works very well. Though it is not the speediest charger out there, it is very efficient for the capacity. We also liked the panel's sleek design and how they managed to sneak in an external battery while still keeping the panel skinny and low profile. This model is durable, though the magnetic closure mechanism could be a reason for concern over time. In general, this is a well-made panel that can charge small electronics with ease. The combination of a fold-out panel design with an integrated battery makes the BoostCel 12W unique and useful.
Charge Interruption Recovery
In the initial 10 minutes of testing, the BoostCel 12W charged a full 2%. Then, after shading and un-shading the panel for another 10 minutes, the panel didn't manage to charge past 2%. This is probably because, after shading, the panel switched to using the battery to charge and thus slowed down quite a bit. That said, having the internal battery is an advantage that this panel has over other panels this size (think the Nekteck 14W or the Anker PowerPort Lite 15W) since most smaller wattage panels have trouble reestablishing a charge after an interruption. The Anker Powerport Lite 15 since it was one of the few panels that were able to sustain a charge, even after multiple interruptions.
Regarding charging speed, the BoostCel 12W was one of the top performers of panels in its output capacity category. During our side-by-side testing, the iClever panel charged an iPhone 6 to 33% in a half hour of exposure to full sun. Other panels of this capacity, like the Instapark Mercury 10W and the PowerPort Lite 15W were able to charge our external batteries to full in four hours, whereas the iClever did not quite reach full by this time. In three hours, the panel had charged our battery to 45%, while the PowerPort Lite had reached 51%. Though it lagged behind in this race, the panel still did a good job of charging the iPhone efficiently, thus giving it a reasonably high score in this metric.
Multiple Device Charging Speed
The BoostCel 12W panel is designed with only one USB port and thus cannot charge multiple devices at once. This is a small drawback to this panel since it is relatively large and has an incorporated battery. Our top performer in this metric was the Anker PowerPort 21. Panels of this size (20W and above) in general perform better in this parameter since they are more powerful overall.
Regarding durability, the iClever panel has a few pluses and a few minuses. The overall construction of the panel seems quite durable, with reinforced seams and burly canvas covering the panel and battery. The downside we saw to the iClever's design is its magnetic closure, which we could foresee wearing out faster than a Velcro closing system, like that of the X-Dragon 20W or one of the Anker panels. Also, the internal battery could be a reason for concern, as these integrated battery panels have a track record of being less durable than a simple solar panel. These concerns aside, the iClever performed well during our testing period, and we saw no visible wear and tear. It also seemed more durable than the other panel with this design, the Bernet 24000mAh.
Weight & Portability
Of the two panels with an incorporated battery, the iClever is the heavier. The panel weighs 21.5 ounces, making it the heaviest panel in this review. The closest panel in weight is the PowerGreen Solar Charger 21W, which weighs 20.3 ounces. The combination of the integrated battery pack and the magnetic closure system makes the iClever much heavier than any other panel. This is a bit unfortunate since that added weight can make or break your load on trips into the backcountry where this panel would most likely be used.
Since it is fairly heavy and bulky, the iClever panel is best used as a car camping accessory, or in settings where weight is not as much of an issue. The integrated battery is nice for maintaining the charge in intermittently sunny conditions, but the battery itself is not as powerful as a traditional external battery. We also like the ability to take the small battery away from the panel and use it to charge, which the iClever does not allow.
For $65, the iClever falls in alongside the Instapark Mercury 10W and the Anker PowerPort 15W in terms of price. This is fairly reasonable, considering the panel has a battery component already included. In terms of value the iClever is a fairly good option, and if this is the size panel you are looking for, it makes sense to go ahead and buy one with a battery included, if you can go big in terms of weight.
Overall, the iClever BoostCel 12Wis a fairly good performer across the board. Though it is heavy, it has a battery included, which makes it more reliable overall. The panel also charged our gadgets quickly, for its capacity, and didn't have any finicky issues with connections or any glaring design flaws. We were not overly impressed with the quality of the battery, however, and felt that a lighter weight panel of the same capacity is probably a better bet.
— Jane Jackson
You Might Also Like
The 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...
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: November 17, 2017
Where's the Best Price?
*You help support OutdoorGearLab's product testing and reviews by purchasing from our retail partners.
Table of Contents