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

Suntactics S-Charger 14 Review

For a rigid, efficient panel that is well-made and reliable, look no further than the 14W from Suntactics.
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Price:  $160 List
Pros:  Efficient for its size, durable, rigid design makes it easy to prop up, designed and built in the US
Cons:  Expensive, large, hard to transport, lacks storage pocket
Manufacturer:   Suntactics
By Jane Jackson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 11, 2018
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68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 18
  • Charge interruption recovery - 20% 8
  • Charging speed - 30% 8
  • Multiple device charging speed - 20% 6
  • Weight & Portability - 20% 4
  • Durability - 10% 8

The Skinny

Overall, we're big fans of this panel. The design is reminiscent of our much loved Renogy panels from previous test cycles. The rigid shape makes it easy to prop up and is frankly just different, which we like. It's obvious that a great deal of planning went into the design and production of this product, which is reflected in its high price tag. If this is not a concern and the Suntactics panel is appealing to you, it's a worthy consideration.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The novelty of this highly efficient panel is well loved by our testers. The Suntactics 14W is unique in its design, and impressed us with its ability to keep our devices charged. With durable solar cells, a storage bag, and dual USB ports that feature an auto-restart function, the Suntactics 14W is an excellent option for folks who are not concerned with price.

Performance Comparison



Charge Interruption Recovery


Similar to our Editors' Choice winner, the BigBlue 28W, the Suntactics panel comes with an integrated auto-reset "smart circuit". This feature helps the panels re-establish a connection to the device after an interruption has occurred. The Suntactics panel is relatively effective at charging on partially cloudy days thanks to this feature. Similar ranking panels in this metric include the X-Dragon, the Instapark Mercury 10W, and the BigBlue 28W.

This panel opens up to be fairly large  but its size pays off because of the panel's efficiency.
This panel opens up to be fairly large, but its size pays off because of the panel's efficiency.

Charging Speed


Compared to other panels of this size, the Suntactics 14 performed incredibly well when it came to charging speed. For comparison, it took this panel 30 minutes to charge an iPhone to 30%, whereas our Best Buy winner, the Mercury 10, took the same amount of time to charge the same phone to 27% full. With our large test battery, the Suntactics panel was a little less impressive, only managing a 1% increase on the battery over our 30 minute testing period. The Goal Zero Nomad 7 took the same amount of time to charge the battery 1%. For a mid-size panel, the Suntactics performs well in this metric overall, delivering a fast charge to a single device.


Multiple Device Charging Speed


Like most of the panels of this size, the Suntactics model is not outstanding when it comes to charging multiple devices. It is challenging for a 14-watt panel to deliver enough charge to make a substantial impact on two electronic devices. Over a 30-minute period, the Suntactics model did not charge our two test batteries enough to change the percentage. From this information, we surmised that this panel is best used to charge a single device. The RavPower 24W or the BigBlue 28W are far more effective at charging multiple devices at once, as they offer a larger capacity.

The Suntactics panel is one of the thinnest we have seen.
The Suntactics panel is one of the thinnest we have seen.

Durability


The overall construction and design of this panel are what sets it apart. The Suntactics 14W is designed and made in the US, whereas the majority of the panels in this review are made overseas. Unlike the typical canvas and PET Polymer foldable panels, the Suntactics panel is constructed much like an industrial panel that you may find installed on a building or vehicle. It's made of layers of encapsulants and a transparent film that protects the solar cells, creating an incredibly durable panel. The Suntactics model is most similar to the Renogy panels, and both companies make larger capacity panels for permanent installation as well as small, portable options.

Granite boulders make for great charging backdrops for the Suntactics panel.
Granite boulders make for great charging backdrops for the Suntactics panel.

Weight & Portability


Here, the Suntactics panel falls a tad short. The 14W version of this product is large, heavy, and bulky. The panel is not necessarily portable, though it does come with a bag that makes transporting and storing it easy. Weighing in at 20.5 ounces, or 1.32 pounds, this panel is on par with the PowerGreen 21W or the Voltaic Arc 20, which weigh 20.3 and 26 ounces, respectively. The downside to the Suntactics panel is that it weighs as much as these, but is a smaller capacity and is more expensive.

An up-close look at the surface of the Suntactics panel.
An up-close look at the surface of the Suntactics panel.

Best Application


If you are looking for a durable product from an interesting company, the Suntactics 14W is a good choice. Unlike the majority of the panels in this review, this one is designed and made in the USA. If money is not a concern, or you are looking to invest in a small company that is doing neat work, then we suggest this panel. For backpacking and human-powered off-the-grid travel, this panel may not be the best option due to its weight and size. For a more compact, but similar product, try the Renogy 5W or the Renogy 10W.

Value


This panel is toward the top of the list among our most expensive panels; however, it's well-made, durable, and manufactured in the USA. If you are willing to spend the money, this panel won't disappoint, though be warned, it is large and heavy. With a price tag of $160, the Suntactics panel is comparable to the YOLK Solar Paper (at $148) or the X-Dragon 40W (at $107). It seems like you often get what you pay for with solar panels, and these expensive options do have some major advantages.

Its hard surface sets this panel apart from the long line of canvas-covered panels in this review.
Its hard surface sets this panel apart from the long line of canvas-covered panels in this review.

Conclusion


We like the Suntactics 14. It performs well in nearly all of our metric comparisons and charges our devices efficiently. We never had any hiccups with charging our electronics, as long as you stick to charging one device at a time. The downsides to this panel are its generally low capacity (a 14-watt panel is just not as fast as a panel that offers 24, 28, or 40 watts of charging capabilities), large size, weight, and cost; these are factors that should be taken into consideration when narrowing in on your final decision.


Jane Jackson