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

Voltaic Fuse 6W Review

A large panel kit that has plenty of storage and attachment options.
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Price:  $99 List
Pros:  Large storage compartment, compact, sleek battery pack, fairly efficient charging
Cons:  Kit is bulky and difficult to attach to backpack, expensive
Manufacturer:   Voltaic
By Jane Jackson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 9, 2019
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Our Verdict

Voltaic quit producing the Fuse 6W solar panel.

The Voltaic Fuse 6W is a charge kit that includes a solar panel, a large zippered pouch, and a 4,000mAh external battery. Much like the Voltaic Arc 20W, the system is meant to be used together, meaning the battery pack charges off of the panel. However, unlike the Arc 20, the Fuse's battery pack can also be charged using a wall charger, making it a bit more versatile. The Fuse was efficient to charge its small battery and was able to charge our small electronics with ease. The downside to the Fuse is that it only charges one device at a time and the unit itself is relatively bulky, considering the actual capacity of the panel and the small size of the battery pack.


Our Analysis and Test Results

The user-friendly design of the Voltaic Fuse won us over, but the bulkiness of the kit and its limited use made it fall short in our side-by-side comparisons.

Performance Comparison


The Fuse is easy to prop up; we were always able to get this panel oriented to the sun for optimal charging potential.
The Fuse is easy to prop up; we were always able to get this panel oriented to the sun for optimal charging potential.

Charge Interruption Recovery


Smaller capacity panels typically have a hard time recovering charge after an interruption, and the Fuse 6W is no exception. On partially cloudy days, or in instances when the panel accidentally gets shaded for some time, the Voltaic's charging speed drops significantly. Much like the Renogy E.Flex 5W, the Fuse's charging speed slowed significantly after being shaded for only a few seconds. This fact is to be expected, as panels with more surface area can continue charging in variable conditions better than these smaller sized panels.

Intermittent sun is not the Fuse's best friend - this panel is too small to recover a charge after shading successfully.
Intermittent sun is not the Fuse's best friend - this panel is too small to recover a charge after shading successfully.

Charging Speed


In terms of charging speed, the Fuse performed as well as the Renogy E.Flex 5W and charged our phone 26% over a half hour. We typically plugged our phone into the battery pack while trickle charging the battery off of the solar panel. With this set up, it took about four hours to completely charge our Pixel 3.

The Fuse charges this sleek little 4 000mAh panel quickly and efficiently. In general we've found Voltaic's solar kits to be easy to use and simple.
The Fuse charges this sleek little 4,000mAh panel quickly and efficiently. In general we've found Voltaic's solar kits to be easy to use and simple.

The solar panel charged the 4,000 mAh battery with ease as well. When plugged into the unit in full sun, the battery charged one out of three LED lights in one hour. With these charge times, the Fuse is on par with the other top-performing small capacity panels in this review.

Multiple Device Charging Speed


Here, the Fuse falls short, since the battery pack can't charge multiple devices at once, as there is only one USB port on the battery. If you use it for backpacking, road trips, or cycling trips, then perhaps charging one device at a time is sufficient. If you'd rather take a different route, check out one of the other battery pack/panels in this review, like the Renogy 15,000mAh.

Though the Fuse comes with tons of storage  the battery pack only has one USB port. If charging multiple devices at once is important to you  look to another panel.
Though the Fuse comes with tons of storage, the battery pack only has one USB port. If charging multiple devices at once is important to you, look to another panel.

Durability


The outside of the Fuse panel kit is a durable canvas material. This material protects the contents of the pouch, like the battery pack and any extra cords you may have. We liked this feature since many of the other panels in this review have smaller pockets that either do not have the same capacity or don't provide the same level of protection as the Fuse. We had no problems with the panel itself or the battery during our three month test period, making the Fuse a good choice in terms of durability.

The Fuse is durable and rugged  able to withstand the elements if strapped to the outside of a pack.
The Fuse is durable and rugged, able to withstand the elements if strapped to the outside of a pack.

Weight and Portability


Though durable, efficient, and easy-to-use, the Fuse is not necessarily the lightest or most portable panel we've tested. The battery pack is quite small, but the panel and pouch are large. This kit is similar in size and weight to many of the larger-capacity units but has less output power. The kit weighs 25.5 ounces, which is only one ounce less than our Editors' Choice winner, the BigBlue 28W. Other panels in the same weight range are the Voltaic Arc 20 and the RavPower 24W.

Though not the most portable due to its size  we were pleased with the many creative ways we were able to use the Fuse.
Though not the most portable due to its size, we were pleased with the many creative ways we were able to use the Fuse.

Best Application


This panel kit is best in situations where its clip-in points and attachment set-up are applicable. Bike-packing or backpacking are ideal situations for this panel since the straps can help attach it to a backpack or pannier (it took us a little while to get our attachment system figured out). Ideally, we would recommend double-checking to make sure yours is compatible before buying this kit. Shown below are two different packs with which we tested this panel. The pack on the right ended up working way better with the Fuse.

This panel has lots of bells and whistles  but also lots of added weight.

Value


Like the Voltaic Arc 20, the Fuse isn't as friendly on our wallets as others. The user-friendly design of the kit makes it more expensive than a basic fold-out panel, but this ease-of-use is not necessarily worth the extra dough. Sold for $99 online, the Fuse is one of the more expensive kits in this review, especially when considering the relatively low wattage of the panel.

Conclusion


We liked using the Voltaic Fuse 6W kit in specific situations. The extra straps and heavy-duty design of the pouch make it great for attaching to a backpack, but also add extra bulk when used in other scenarios. The battery charged our devices efficiently and is small and compact; the panel itself also has a small capacity but is surprisingly quick to charge. The Fuse is an investment, but if it seems suitable for your applications, it could be a good one.


Jane Jackson