≪ Go to our review of Solar Chargers
Hands-on Gear Review
RAVPower 16W Review
Cons: Failed to charge multiple devices at once, lacks efficiency
Bottom line: This panel received average scores in almost all metrics; it's relatively efficient and comes at a reasonable price.
Out of the four mid-range panels we tested, the RAVPower 16W was on the lower end of the scale concerning overall performance. This model was relatively slow to charge our battery packs and iPhones during testing and struggled to charge two devices at once due to the loss of efficiency with the small size of the panel. It is lightweight and easy to use, making it a good option for those who don't want to invest too much into their solar charger purchase. This product's strength is its consistency, which lands it near the Nekteck 14W and behind the Anker 15W regarding overall performance.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Portable Solar Panels and Chargers of 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The RAVPower received average scores overall in our performance comparisons. There were no categories where the panel truly failed, yet none where the model visibly excelled. This lands the RAVPower right in the middle of the road concerning performance and efficiency.
Charge Interruption Recovery
The 16W from RAVPower struggled to provide a steady charge to our battery packs after multiple interruptions. Unlike the Anker PowerPort Lite 15, the Anker PowerPort 20, and the Instapark Mercury 10W, the RavPower 16W did not perform well in cloudy conditions and continued to disconnect when shaded. With an iPhone 6, the panel would disconnect and then have trouble reconnecting to the phone when interrupted. We found we had to manually reconnect the phone to the panel, which is an issue.
To test charging speed side by side, we plugged in dead batteries to the panels and charged them to full while timing the process. The RAVPower performed moderately well in this metric, charging our battery pack from 0% to 38% in three hours. This is less impressive than the Anker PowerPort 15W, which charged a full 10% more in the same time. Additionally, the Instapark Mercury 10W charged our battery to 50% during the same amount of time. Though the Mercury is also has a three-panel design, it is much more efficient than the RAVPower, even though it technically has a lower wattage overall.
Multiple Device Charging Speed
In the category of mid-range panels, the RAVPower performed similarly to the Nekteck 14W as it attempted to charge multiple devices at once. Since so much power is lost due to inefficiencies in the panels, the amount of wattage that makes it to each USB port is relatively minimal, reducing the charging speed significantly. The RAVPower struggled to sustain a charge to two of our batteries at once. For a product that performs better in this metric, check out a more powerful panel, such as the Anker PowerPort 21W.
The RAVPower 16W got a bit of a lower score regarding durability since the solar cells themselves seem a bit less durable than the majority of other panels of similar design. Though we did not see any damage during our testing period, the cells were not well-integrated into the panel, like the Instapark Mercury 10 or the iClever BoostCel 12W. This is a small detail, and overall the design is quite similar to all the other fold-out panels in this review. The eyelets are reinforced, making the panel easy to hang up to gain full solar rays or to suspend from a pack when hiking. This feature is nice, as some panels, like the iClever 12W doesn't have this capability and relies only on Velcro to make the panel stand up on its own.
Weight & Portability
Weighing only 15 ounces, the RAVPower 16W is very lightweight for having a three-panel design. It weighs the same as the Outad 7W, but is double the size and the strength! That said, it is still heavier than the Anker 21W, which is even more efficient and weighs under 15 ounces. There is a wide range of weights and sizes among these panels, and it's up to you to figure out which design best suits your needs.
This panel is a good option for someone looking for a lightweight, moderately efficient panel that is inexpensive. The RAVPower costs less than our Best Buy Winner but honestly doesn't work as well. For a decent panel, that is inexpensive, for someone who probably won't be relying entirely on solar for power, the RAVPower is a good option.
As mentioned above, the RAVPower is a very reasonably priced panel. Sold online for $52, it is half the price of most of the 20W panels, and comparable to the Nekteck 14W in terms of performance, cost, and design. Both panels have two USB ports, but the RAVPower has three panels, rather than two like the Nekteck does.
In general, the RAVPower is a decent panel for the price. But, it failed to perform at the level of our top-ranking panels in our performance comparisons. For an inexpensive, fairly reliable panel, this one does the job.
— 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
Table of Contents