The simple design and inexpensive price tag of the Outad 7W are its attractive features, but the panel has a few shortcomings that gave it a lower overall score in our performance comparison.
The simplicity and reasonable price tag are some of the qualities that make the Outad appealing.
Charge Interruption Recovery
Like most of the smaller watt panels, the Outad 7W will take a much longer time charging a small device than a panel of a larger wattage. And, because there is just less surface area of solar cells on this panel, it has a much more difficult time recovering a charge than, say, a 20W panel with a larger capacity. Top scorers for this metric include the Anker Powerport 21, Anker Powerport Lite 15, Instapark Mercury 10, X-Dragon 20, and Goal Zero Nomad 7.
Out of all the smallest panels we tested (panels between 5W and a 7W capacity), the Outad 7W performed the best in our side by side testing. It charged our standard external battery 12% in four hours. As you can see from this statistic, these smaller wattage panels will take a long time to charge your device, just because their wattage is so small. After three hours, the Outad 7W had charged our battery 6%, while the Goal Zero Nomad 7 had charged the same battery 7%. After four hours had passed, the Outad 7W had surpassed the Goal Zero Nomad 7 by 2%.
Here, the Outad slowly charges an iPhone 5 in full sun conditions. It took a long time to charge power-hungry Apple products on such small watt panels.
Multiple Device Charging Speed
Again, like the other low-watt panels, the Outad 7W has only the capacity to charge one device at a time. This makes it a good option if you only have one device with you in the backcountry. If you are looking for a panel that will charge more than one device, check out the Powergreen 20W or the Anker 21W panel.
The overall design of the Outad 7W is very durable and well constructed, much like the Instapark Mercury 10 or the Nekteck 14, with durable canvas protecting the panels. It has a useful pouch, though the USB port is not inside the pouch, which could result in damage to the port itself or the device that is being charged. The panels with protective pouches, like the Goal Zero Nomad 7, inspired confidence as we could at least leave our electronics in the pocket while we left the panel exposed to the elements all day.
From left to right, the Goal Zero Nomad 7, the Outad 7W, and the Renogy 5W find kept our devices charged outside of Mesquite, Nevada.
Weight & Portability
Out of the three smallest panels, the Outad 7W is right in the middle regarding weight. It is one ounce lighter than the Goal Zero Nomad 7, weighing in at 15.2 oz. It's still under one pound, but it's cutting it close. On the flip side, the larger capacity panels, like the Anker 21 or the X-Dragon 20W, weigh only a few ounces more than the Outad 7W but will be much more effective in the long run. This is why the Outad 7W got an average score on weight.
Regarding portability, the Outad 7W is also a middle of the road option. Similar in size to the majority of the more substantial watt panels, but lacking the ability to carry devices and cords on the panels, it gets a lower score on portability than the similar Goal Zero Nomad 7. The Goal Zero model seemed more portable to us because of its large external, zippered pocket, which kept us organized as we used the panel on camping trips.
Here in our highly advanced outdoor test lab we measure the Outad 7W's output to the external battery during our "race to charge" test.
For simple, on-the-go charging tasks, the Outad 7W is the panel for the job. It is a bit limited, though, by its capacity and inability to charge multiple devices. It would work well as a panel that was used 99.9% of the time to charge phones. Charging an iPad or any other large, energy-hungry device will take quite a while on this small watt panel, so if you're hoping to keep your iPad fully charged, a panel like the Anker 15W or Anker 21W would be a better choice.
The Outad 7W seemed to only be delivering 3.41W of power to our mulit-meter during our phone charging tests. All portable panels are sold as their maximum output (i.e. the Outad 7W), without reporting the wattage that they are consistently delivering.
The Outad 7W is sold online for around $30, similar in price to the Renogy E.Flex5, and loads cheaper than the Goal Zero Nomad 7, which rings in at $80. For a slimmed-down panel of this capacity, the Outad 7W is a well-priced option.
As is the case with most small-watt panels, the Outad 7W takes a while to charge small devices and has difficulty recovering a charge after an interruption. It also does not have a storage pocket, which we found to be a drawback. That being said, it's a reasonably priced panel and did do well overall out of all the low wattage panels that we tested this year.