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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
Voltaic Systems Arc 20W
Photo: Voltaic Systems
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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  ⋅  May 6, 2021
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65
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 16
  • 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, and keeps laptops and other large electronics charged. The panel and recently updated battery are durable and sleek, and these new updates have made the system function more smoothly and charge laptops more effectively. With a USB and USB-C port, the battery is straightforward and easy to use. 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. We appreciated the streamlined design and simplicity of this panel/battery combo.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award 
Price $229.00 at Amazon$68.96 at Amazon$69.99 at Amazon$25.98 at Amazon$54.99 at Amazon
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Pros Durable design, thoughtful concept, works well with Mac products, panel is effectiveInexpensive, efficient, user-friendly, excels in partly cloudy conditionsEfficient, powerful, great value for its size, lightweightQuick to charge, portable size, panel actually works despite small wattageImpressive charging speeds, can charge multiple devices simultaneously, affordable
Cons Expensive, time consumingBulky, lacks portabilityPocket too small to hold extra cords and accessoriesHeavy, slow to replenish battery via solarPoor interruption recovery
Bottom Line A 20-watt solar panel paired with a 24,000mAh external battery designed specifically to charge large electronics, like laptops, on the goWe were impressed by its ability to charge our gadgets quickly and reliably and its reasonable price is the cherry on topA compact, lightweight panel with exceptional efficiency and charging capabilitiesThis exceptionally priced battery pack quickly charges devices, and if left in the sun for hours, can replenish via solarA powerful, fast charging machine, capable of charging multiple devices, complete with a reasonable price tag
Rating Categories Voltaic Systems Arc... BigBlue 3 Anker PowerPort 21W Goertek 25,000mAh Ryno-Tuff 21W
Charging Speed (30%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
Charge Interruption Recovery (20%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Multiple Device Charging Speed (20%)
6.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
6.0
Weight & Portability (20%)
5.0
6.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
Durability (10%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
Specs Voltaic Systems Arc... BigBlue 3 Anker PowerPort 21W Goertek 25,000mAh Ryno-Tuff 21W
Panel Size (watts) 20W 28W 21W 5W 21W
Weight (measured) 26 oz 23.5 oz 17.6 oz 19 oz 17 oz
# of USB outlets 0 3 2 3 2
Max USB Output Current (amps per port) 1.1 amp 2 amp 2 amp 1 amp 2.4 amp
Battery kit? Yes No No Yes No
Size folded 7.5" x 10" x 0.5" 11.1" x 6.3" x 1.3" 11" x 6.3" x 0.75" 7" x 3.75" x 1.25" 5.9" x 11.8" x 0.8"
Battery? Yes No No Yes No
Charge tablet? Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Charge laptop? Yes Yes Yes No No
Panel Type Mono-crystalline PET Polymer Mono-crystalline Mono-crystalline Mono-crystalline
Size opened 34" x 10"x 0.6" 33.1" x 11.1" x 0.2" 26.3" x 11.1" x 0.2" 7" x 3.75" x 1.25" 18" x 11.8" x 0.1"
Battery input (Volts / Amps) 5V 2A N/a N/a 5V 2A N/a
Charge capacity (mAh) 24,000mAh N/a N/a 25,000mAh N/a
Charge iPhone/Smartphone Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Direct USB Plug? No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Daisy Chain? No No No No Yes
12-Volt connection Yes No No No No

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Voltaic Arc 20 has seen improvements year after year. The battery 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.
Photo: Jane Jackson

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

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. Fortunately, now that the battery functions better, this is less of an issue.

Durability


The Voltaic charging system is, overall, very durable and 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...
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.
Photo: Jane Jackson

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 with a storage pocket for extra cables.

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

Weight and Portability


The Voltaic system is one of the most well-thought-out setups we tested. You can tell that its creators had portability in mind; 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. The Voltaic is ideal for large-scale charging.

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

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

Value


In the past, one of the biggest hold-ups with the Arc 20 was its price, which was focused on the battery, which is compatible with a laptop computer. With an updated price tag, we find that 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.
Photo: Jane Jackson

Conclusion


The few changes made to the Voltaic Arc 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.
Photo: Jane Jackson

Jane Jackson