The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of gear

Powertraveller Falcon 40 Review

A large-capacity panel that charges slowly, but steadily and works for laptops and larger gadgets
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Price:  $260 List | $258.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Works well in partially cloudy conditions, USB-C cable, charges laptop, durable
Cons:  Expensive, bulky
Manufacturer:   Falcon
By Jane Jackson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 2, 2020
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58
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 12
  • Charging Speed - 30% 6
  • Charge Interruption Recovery - 20% 5
  • Multiple Device Charging Speed - 20% 6
  • Weight & Portability - 20% 5
  • Durability - 10% 8

Our Verdict

The Powertraveller Falcon 40 is an enormous panel, which has a claimed capacity of a whopping 40 watts, but during testing, we had a hard time seeing why its size was worth it. The Falcon didn't charge our phones particularly fast and had similar results to the 20 to 30-watt panels in this review when it came to multiple device charging capabilities. Its impressive size is matched by an impressive price tag, making this panel one of the most expensive we've reviewed. On the plus side, it is durable and folds down to a manageable size, and it can charge laptops.


Compare to Similar Products

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.

Performance Comparison


The gigantic Powertraveller laid out in full desert sun.
The gigantic Powertraveller laid out in full desert sun.

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.

Compared to our Editors' Choice award winner  the Falcon has a larger surface area with solar cells  improving its performance in this metric.
Compared to our Editors' Choice award winner, the Falcon has a larger surface area with solar cells, improving its performance in this metric.

Charging Speed


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.

The Falcon comes with a ton of extra cords and gadgets. We especially liked this USB-C to micro USB converter.
The Falcon comes with a ton of extra cords and gadgets. We especially liked this USB-C to micro USB converter.

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.

The one-foot-by-one-foot square Falcon 40 as compared to our lead tester's hand. Its large size would suggest more efficiency when it comes to charging multiple devices at once.
The one-foot-by-one-foot square Falcon 40 as compared to our lead tester's hand. Its large size would suggest more efficiency when it comes to charging multiple devices at once.

Durability


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.

The Falcon is definitely the largest panel we've used in a while.
The Falcon is definitely the largest panel we've used in a while.

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.

Value


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.

Conclusion


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