Voltaic Systems Arc 20W Review
Cons: Expensive, time consuming
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|Pros||Durable design, thoughtful concept, works well with Mac products, panel is effective||Inexpensive, efficient, user-friendly, excels in partly cloudy conditions||Efficient, powerful, great value for its size, lightweight||Quick to charge, portable size, panel actually works despite small wattage||Impressive charging speeds, can charge multiple devices simultaneously, affordable|
|Cons||Expensive, time consuming||Bulky, lacks portability||Pocket too small to hold extra cords and accessories||Heavy, slow to replenish battery via solar||Poor 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 go||We were impressed by its ability to charge our gadgets quickly and reliably and its reasonable price is the cherry on top||A compact, lightweight panel with exceptional efficiency and charging capabilities||This exceptionally priced battery pack quickly charges devices, and if left in the sun for hours, can replenish via solar||A 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%)|
|Charge Interruption Recovery (20%)|
|Multiple Device Charging Speed (20%)|
|Weight & Portability (20%)|
|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|
|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"|
|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|
|Direct USB Plug?||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We weighed the panel alone (separate from its battery pack and extra cords) and found that the Voltaic 20W weighs 26 ounces.
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.
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.
— Jane Jackson
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