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

Voltaic Systems Arc 20W Review

A 20-watt solar panel paired with a 24,000mAh external battery designed specifically to charge large electronics, like laptops, on the go.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $229 List | $229.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Durable design, thoughtful concept, works well with Mac products, panel is effective
Cons:  Expensive, time consuming
Manufacturer:   Voltaic
By Jane Jackson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 11, 2019
  • Share this article:
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
65
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 14
  • Charging Speed - 30% 7
  • Charge Interruption Recovery - 20% 7
  • Multiple Device Charging Speed - 20% 6
  • Weight & Portability - 20% 5
  • Durability - 10% 8

Our Verdict

The Arc 20 system is designed to charge a 24,000mAh battery. From this large-capacity battery, the system keeps laptops and other large electronics charged. The panel and battery are durable and sleek, and recently, Voltaic updated the battery. These new updates have made the system function more smoothly and in turn, charge laptops more effectively. These refinements have made for a more efficient system and have eliminated the plethora of adapters and cables needed to deliver a charge to an Apple computer, which is a significant update.

The larger capacity panel provides more charge to our devices, though it also means that it takes a longer period of time for the 20W panel to charge this new battery fully. While there are still some hiccups in the system, Voltaic's work to improve the Arc 20 has paid off. This setup is best for those who use a laptop off the grid frequently. It's specifically designed to charge laptops and is compatible with Apple products. If you have newer Mac products, it works with a USB-C cable; this makes it super easy to charge laptops, saving the headache of trying to find the right series of adapters and cables.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award   
Price $229.00 at Amazon$59.99 at Amazon$39.99 at Amazon$29.99 at Amazon$39.99 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
100
0
65
100
0
80
100
0
70
100
0
69
100
0
68
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Durable design, thoughtful concept, works well with Mac products, panel is effectiveInexpensive, efficient, user-friendly, excels in partly cloudy conditionsInexpensive, lightweight, portable, charges quicklyRelatively lightweight for panel type, inexpensive, charges devices efficientlyLarge storage pocket, comes in multiple colors, durable
Cons Expensive, time consumingBulky, heaviest weightLow output power, cannot charge multiple devices at onceIneffective if relying only on solar for power, less durable than other battery packsHeavy, bulky
Bottom Line A 20-watt solar panel paired with a 24,000mAh external battery designed specifically to charge large electronics, like laptops, on the go.We were impressed by its ability to charge our gadgets quickly and reliably; its reasonable price is the cherry on top.This panel impressed us with its fast charging speeds and its lightweight, portable design.An efficient, compact battery pack with a 2W solar charger on it; a top performer.Well designed, comes in multiple colors, and is durable - but also bulky.
Rating Categories Voltaic Systems Arc 20W BigBlue 28W ECEEN 13W Renogy 15,000mAh PowerGreen 21W
Charging Speed (30%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
7
Charge Interruption Recovery (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
6
10
0
5
10
0
7
Multiple Device Charging Speed (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
4
10
0
7
10
0
6
Weight & Portability (20%)
10
0
5
10
0
5
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
7
Durability (10%)
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
7
Specs Voltaic Systems... BigBlue 28W ECEEN 13W Renogy 15,000mAh PowerGreen 21W
Panel Size (watts) 20W 28W 13W 2W 21W
Weight (measured) 26 oz 23.5 oz 12 oz 9.5 oz 20.3 oz
# of USB outlets 0 2 2 2 2
Max USB Output Current (amps per port) 1.1 amp 2 amp 2 amp 2 amps 2 amp
Battery kit? Yes No No Yes No
Size folded 7.5" x 10" x .5" 11.1" x 6.3" x 1.3" 11.4" x 6.1" x 0.6" 6.3" x 3.1" x 0.7" 11.4" x 6.8" x 1.3"
Battery? Yes No No Yes No
Charge tablet? Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Charge laptop? Yes Yes No Npo No
Panel Type Mono-crystalline PET Polymer Mono-crystalline Mono-crystalline Mono-crystalline
Size opened 34" x 10"x . .06" 33.1" x 11.1" x 0.2" 11.4" x 14.3 x .15" 6.3" x 3.1" 0.7" 27.6" x 11.4" x 0.2"
Battery input (Volts / Amps) 5V 2A n/a n/a 5V 2A n/a
Charge capacity (mAh) 24,000mAh n/a n/a 15,000mAh n/a
Charge iPhone/smartphone Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Direct USB Plug? No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Daisy Chain? No No No No No
12-Volt connection Yes No No No No
Warranty 2 years 2 years 30 day return 1 year 1 year

Our Analysis and Test Results

The most recent iteration of the Voltaic Arc 20 has a few differences from the previous version, but these small changes make a massive leap in performance. The hold-ups we had with the previous version have been addressed in the new model; the panel is more or less the same, which is okay by us; it worked well in our previous review and still charges the battery effectively. The battery has been updated and is compatible with new Mac products with a USB-C outlet on the battery itself, right next to the USB outlet. Additionally, the battery has a larger capacity, making it much more effective at charging large electronics, like laptops.

Performance Comparison



Charge Interruption Recovery


When charging in partly cloudy conditions, the Voltaic 20W performed well. Since the panel has four fold-out solar cells, its added size allows for more effective charging, even when the device is not in full sun. The battery also manages to re-establish a connection to the panel after an interruption, which is significant, especially compared to smaller panels that will disconnect entirely when an interruption occurs. When it comes to boasting a complete system, the Voltaic does well.

The "Always On Mode" was a lifesaving feature for charging our laptop.
The "Always On Mode" was a lifesaving feature for charging our laptop.

Charging Speed


Charging speed is a metric where we continued to run into issues with the Voltaic system, as the 24,000mAh battery struggled to fully charge when plugged into the panel. At one point, we left the panel in direct sun for over eight hours, and when we returned, the battery still was not entirely charged. Even though the battery has been updated and works much better in terms of charging capabilities, the panel itself struggled to charge this larger-capacity battery. The only conclusion we can make is that batteries with huge capacities have a challenging time fully charging small-capacity panels.

The latest edition of the Voltaic system does slightly better in terms of charging speed with the updated 24 000mAh battery.
The latest edition of the Voltaic system does slightly better in terms of charging speed with the updated 24,000mAh battery.

Multiple Device Charging Speed


We ran into some issues here with the Voltaic system; this panel is only designed to work with the Voltaic battery. It has one port, with a plug that only fits into the Voltaic battery, which means that there is no option for charging multiple devices. Now that the battery functions better, this is less of an issue.

Durability


The Voltaic charging system is, overall, very durable and is one of the more durable panels we tested. Both of these panels scored highly in our durability rating, with the only downside to the Voltaic being that the cord that connects to the battery cannot be removed from the panel.

The  main flaw we found in the Voltaic's overall durability is the fact that the charge cable cannot be removed from the panel. This means the cable is always exposed to the elements.
The main flaw we found in the Voltaic's overall durability is the fact that the charge cable cannot be removed from the panel. This means the cable is always exposed to the elements.

This means that it is always exposed to the elements and the eventual wear and tear at the port on the panel. To protect cords in the long term, we prefer models that have a storage pocket for extra cables.

The new battery has a larger capacity and a USB-C port along with the USB output.
The new battery has a larger capacity and a USB-C port along with the USB output.

Weight & Portability


The Voltaic system is one of the most well thought out set-ups we tested. You can tell that its creators had portability in mind when designing this product. The battery is sleek, though the updated version is a bit burlier and slightly larger than the previous model. The panel folds down to be fairly compact; it is thin, even though it has four panels. Compared to the other option for charging laptops, the Voltaic is much more portable. For large-scale charging, the Voltaic is our top pick.

The sleek size and design of the Voltaic panel is one of its most appealing qualities.
The sleek size and design of the Voltaic panel is one of its most appealing qualities.

We weighed the panel alone (separate from its battery pack and extra cords) and found that the Voltaic 20W weighs 26 ounces.

Value


One of the biggest hold-ups with the Arc 20 was its price. With an updated price tag, most of that is going toward the battery that is compatible with a laptop computer, and it's a better value.

Using the Voltaic to charge our MacBook was a smooth  easy affair.
Using the Voltaic to charge our MacBook was a smooth, easy affair.

Conclusion


The few changes made to the Voltaic system has brought it to the top of the list for those who want to keep a large-capacity battery charged. This system is compatible with Mac products, charges our laptops and phones efficiently, and is the most streamlined set-up for large-capacity charging. Though the price is high, if you're intent on charging your laptop and other large electronics remotely, the Voltaic could be a good investment. Since Voltaic ironed out the kinks with the battery, we are much more excited about this solar set-up.

The complete Voltaic set up.
The complete Voltaic set up.


Jane Jackson