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.
Suntactics S-Charger 14 Review
Cons: Expensive, large, hard to transport, lacks storage pocket
Compare to Similar Products
Suntactics S-Charger 14
|Price||$159.95 at Amazon||$59.99 at Amazon||$35 List||$229.00 at Amazon||$115 List|
|Pros||Efficient for its size, durable, rigid design makes it easy to prop up, designed and built in the US||Inexpensive, efficient, user-friendly, excels in partly cloudy conditions||Relatively lightweight for panel type, inexpensive, charges devices efficiently||Durable design, thoughtful concept, works well with Mac products, panel is effective||Powerful, works well in partial sun, cheaper than other laptop compatible options|
|Cons||Expensive, large, hard to transport, lacks storage pocket||Bulky, heaviest weight||Ineffective if relying only on solar for power, less durable than other battery packs||Expensive, time consuming||Bulky, heavy, hard to set up, complicated adapters for laptop charge|
|Bottom Line||For a rigid, efficient panel that is well-made and reliable, look no further than the 14W from Suntactics.||We were impressed by the BigBlue's ability to charge our gadgets quickly and reliably; its reasonable price is the cherry on top.||An efficient, compact battery pack with a 2W solar charger on it; out of the panels of this style, the Renogy is a top performer.||The Arc 20 is a 20-watt solar panel paired with a 24,000mAh external battery designed specifically to charge large electronics, like laptops, on the go.||The X-Dragon 40W is the largest panel we tested and works relatively well for charging a laptop, though it is cumbersome and heavy.|
|Rating Categories||Suntactics S-Charger 14||BigBlue 28W||Renogy 15,000mAh||Voltaic Systems Arc 20W||X-Dragon 40W|
|Charging Speed (30%)|
|Charge Interruption Recovery (20%)|
|Multiple Device Charging Speed (20%)|
|Weight & Portability (20%)|
|Specs||Suntactics...||BigBlue 28W||Renogy 15,000mAh||Voltaic Systems...||X-Dragon 40W|
|Panel Size (watts)||14W||28W||2W||20W||40W|
|Weight (measured)||20.5 oz||23.5 oz||9.5 oz||26 oz||37 oz|
|# of USB outlets||2||2||2||0||1|
|Max USB Output Current (amps per port)||2 amp||2 amp||2 amps||1.1 amp||2.8 amps|
|Size folded (inches)||11.6" x 7.25" x 0.25"||11.1" x 6.3" x 1.3"||6.3" x 3.1" 0.7"||7.5" x 10" x .5"||10.43" x 6.3" x 2.76"|
|Panel Type||Mono-crystalline||PET Polymer||Mono-crystalline||Mono-crystalline||PET-Polymer|
|Size opened (inches)||11.6" x 14.5" x 0.125"||33.1" x 11.1" x 0.2"||6.3" x 3.1" 0.7"||34" x 10"x . .06"||35.2" x 18.1" x 0.04"|
|Battery input (Volts / Amps)||n/a||n/a||5V 2A||5V 2A||n/a|
|Charge capacity (mAh)||2800mAh||n/a||15,000mAh||24,000mAh||n/a|
|Direct USB Plug?||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Warranty||5 years||2 years||1 year||2 years||2 year|
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 X-Dragon 40W, with a price tag of $107. It seems like you often get what you pay for with solar panels, and these expensive options do have some major advantages.
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