Hands-on Gear Review

X-Dragon 40W Review

Price:  $107 List
Pros:  Powerful, works well in partial sun, cheaper than other laptop compatible options
Cons:  Bulky, heavy, hard to set up, complicated adapters for laptop charge
Bottom line:  The X-Dragon 40W is the largest panel we tested and works relatively well for charging a laptop, though it is cumbersome and heavy.
Editors' Rating:   
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Battery kit?:  No
Weight (measured):  37oz
Panel Size (watts):  40W
Manufacturer:   X-Dragon

Our Verdict

The X-Dragon 40 is the most massive panel we tested, both in physical dimensions and in output capacity. The main reason for buying this panel is to charge a large battery that can support a laptop. We used the Aceyoon battery, a 50,000mAh battery that is reasonably priced and compatible with laptops. This set up is an excellent alternative to the Voltaic Systems Arc 20, which is the other laptop-compatible system we reviewed. Overall, this technology needs to develop and become more streamlined, but as it stands now the X-Dragon 40 does a reasonably good job of charging a large external battery.



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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Jane Jackson

Last Updated:
Thursday
May 3, 2018

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This large panel was one of the top contenders in our side-by-side testing, mostly because it has 20W more output power than the previous largest panels we tested. It came as no surprise that this panel would outperform these smaller panels in terms of power, it is up to you to decide whether the extra bulk of a 40W panel is worth it for your charging needs.


Performance Comparison


Charge Interruption Recovery


It is in this metric that the X-Dragon 40W really shines. Since it has double the surface area of every other panel in this review, the X-Dragon was able to charge our electronics faster and more efficiently than the other panels in this review. Even if one part of the panel gets shaded, the rest of the cells are still exposed to sunlight, allowing the pane to continue to deliver a charge to our battery. Even with intermittent shading, the X-Dragon 40W was still able to charge our small battery from 0% to 15% in a half hour. No other panels performed this well in this metric, due to their smaller size. Close behind are the other large-capacity panels, such as the Anker 21 and the X-Dragon 20W.

Here  the X-Dragon is precariously hanging from a tree branch  only to be knocked down by wind a few minutes after this picture was taken.
Here, the X-Dragon is precariously hanging from a tree branch, only to be knocked down by wind a few minutes after this picture was taken.

Charging Speed


In terms of charging speed, it made the most sense to us to closely compare the X-Dragon to the Voltaic panel, as both were tested as lap-top compatible panels using large external batteries. We tested the X-Dragon 40W with the Aceyoon battery pack and found that it took most of the day for the panel to charge this 50,000mAh battery. Similarly, the Voltaic 20W took all day to charge its battery of comparable size. We found it hard to get the battery packs fully charged at all off of the panels, which made it very hard to actually charge a laptop successfully in the field.

That said, for smaller tasks, like phones or small batteries, the X-Dragon 40W worked very well. We had no problems with the panel itself and its overall functionality, it just took more time than it was worth to charge the batteries completely. Though it is double the capacity of panels like the X-Dragon 20W or the Sokoo 22W, the X-Dragon 40W performed as well as, or better than, its counterparts.

We had difficulties maximizing sun exposure with the bulky panel.
We had difficulties maximizing sun exposure with the bulky panel.

Multiple Device Charging Speed


While the X-Dragon 20W panel struggled to charge two devices simultaneously, the 40W model was the most effective in this metric. The 40W had enough power to deliver a continuous charge to two small batteries at the same time, in full sun. We charged both of our little batteries from 0% to 4% in 30 minutes. Unlike the 20W models, we reviewed previously, the 40W managed to charge both batteries at once. The closest competitor to the X-Dragon was the Anker 21W. The Voltaic Arc 20 can't charge multiple devices at once, making the X-Dragon a more versatile option for a laptop-compatible charger.

Durability


With the same construction as the 20W version we tested previously, the X-Dragon 40W is an equally durable panel. Both have a durable canvas material on the outside and durable plastic solar cells inside. The downside to the 40W is its large size. The panel is a few feet wide when fully opened, over twice the size of the second-largest panels in this review. We found that it was difficult to prop the panel up when using it outside. This meant that the X-Dragon was always falling over, causing more wear and tear over time. The smaller panels, like the Voltaic Arc 20 or the Anker 21 are similar in design but saw less wear and tear during the testing period because of their size.

The X-Dragon 40W works best laying flat since it is so large.
The X-Dragon 40W works best laying flat since it is so large.

Weight & Portability


It is in this metric that the X-Dragon 40W really stands apart from the rest of the panels in this review. The panel is over double in size of the largest 20W panels we tested, namely the X-Dragon 20W and the PowerGreen 21W. Regarding weight, the X-Dragon also stands out. The panel weighs a whopping 37 ounces, or 2.31 pounds. Unless you are sure that 40W of power is what you are looking for, the X-Dragon seems like a very heavy, cumbersome option. In comparison, the Voltaic system (also a laptop-compatible system) weighs 26 ounces or 1.6 pounds. This difference is significant, especially when considering the overall portability of the Voltaic in comparison to the much bulkier X-Dragon 40.

Both the Voltaic (bottom left) and the X-Dragon (rear) had trouble charging a large battery efficiently. Even after a full day in sun  the panels did not successfully fill our batteries.
Both the Voltaic (bottom left) and the X-Dragon (rear) had trouble charging a large battery efficiently. Even after a full day in sun, the panels did not successfully fill our batteries.

Best Application


This panel is best used to charge a large battery that is compatible with a laptop. If it is important for you to have a charged laptop when living off the grid, a system like the X-Dragon 40W paired with a large battery is a reasonable choice. Unlike the Voltaic, this system is a bit more cumbersome in terms of extra cables and cords, but it is a more reasonably priced option. The X-Dragon 40 is not designed to be carried into the backcountry and works best if set up and left in one spot, since its large size makes it inconvenient to prop it up all the time.

The X-Dragon 40W has double the surface area of all the other large-capacity panels we have tested.
The X-Dragon 40W has double the surface area of all the other large-capacity panels we have tested.

Value


Sold online for $107, the X-Dragon 40W on its own is not the most expensive panel we tested. Unfortunately, the panel works best when combined with a large battery that is compatible with a laptop. We used the Aceyoon 50,000mAh battery, which costs an additional $122, making the complete set up cost $229. Compared to the Voltaic Arc 20, this is only a $36 difference. As a budget option for a laptop-compatible system, the X-Dragon 40W is a decent option, though still an investment.

Conclusion


Through testing two of the best laptop-compatible systems we could find, it became clear that there is still room for progress in this realm of solar energy. The X-Dragon 40W is large enough to charge a laptop battery, but its size is a major drawback. Additionally, the panel, combined with a battery still costs over $200. These are major drawbacks, but the panel itself performed well and has the capacity to charge multiple devices simultaneously. If weight or size is not a concern, this large capacity panel is a good option for charging larger batteries.

Jane Jackson

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Most recent review: May 3, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (3.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
 (0.0)
Rating Distribution
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5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 100%  (1)
2 star: 0%  (0)
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