Powertraveller Falcon 40 Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Works well in partially cloudy conditions, USB-C cable, charges laptop, durable
Cons: Expensive, bulky
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Our Analysis and Test Results
By far the largest panel in this review, the Falcon 40 is designed to charge larger electronics. This is not a portable panel, and its bulk makes it better for car camping than backcountry use. The panel performed decently in our rating metrics but had underwhelming results in charging speed for single or multiple devices.
Charge Interruption Recovery
Here, the large surface area that is both the blessing and curse of the Falcon comes in handy. This panel is huge; this means that when part of it becomes shaded, there is still plenty of panel that remains exposed to the sun. This helps it recover charge after shading, and also helps it charge in marginal (partly cloudy) conditions. As compared to its full-sun charging capabilities, the Falcon charged our Pixel 4% in a half-hour. It is an undeniable decrease in effectiveness, but still impressive to see the panel charge that much in marginal conditions.
The Falcon charged our Pixel 6% in thirty minutes; this is surprisingly slow considering the size of the panel. We were a bit mystified by this initial number, so we plugged in our phone again and conducted the same test and found that the panel charged our phone 11%. We discovered this discrepancy throughout testing, which shows a lack of consistency. Though we weren't overly pleased by the panel's charging power, it worked sufficiently for a wide range of products.
Multiple Device Charging Speed
Though it claims to be able to charge three devices simultaneously, we found that the Falcon 40, like most panels that boast this ability, did best when charging one device. When three electronics were plugged into this panel, it only managed to charge one of them (the phone) two percent during a half-hour period. With two devices plugged in, it charged the phone 9%, which is similar to some of the smaller-capacity panels we've tested.
With its hefty price tag, we hoped that the Falcon proved to be a durable tool with a long lifespan. Powertraveller is a European company started in 2003, and they've had a fair amount of time to refine their products. We were pleased with the design of the Falcon and had no problems with its ability to function, or with its construction. A rugged canvas backer covers the panels, and the Velcro closure system is strong and long-lasting.
Weight and Portability
Here, the Falcon undoubtedly falls short. The panel is approximately one square foot in size, folded. Once it's fully opened, it's almost 48 inches long, or three feet. This means that you're probably not going to use this panel in the backcountry unless you're using horses to carry your gear.
We used it in the back of our VW Vanagon, and it nearly filled the back windshield with solar cells. It is not only large but also heavy, and received low scores in this metric due to its large size.
This is one of the most expensive panels we've reviewed. On the plus side, it charges a new Macbook directly, using a USB-C cable. This function is crucial in any panel if you wish to charge Macbooks or other modern electronics. That said, it is still a relatively expensive purchase. Though the Falcon comes with all sorts of converters and charging options, it doesn't come with a battery pack, which would add value to the already expensive kit.
The Falcon is a large, expensive, high-capacity panel. If you need to charge lots of electronics or large-capacity panels, then this could be a good option, but otherwise, we feel like there are better options out there that are more portable and less expensive.
— Jane Jackson