Falcon 40 solar panel charges your devices fast

Falcon 40 solar panel in box, with accessories.

Powertraveller’s Falcon 40 is a 40W foldable solar panel driven by high-efficiency monocrystalline SunPower cells. It’s meant to be used while you’re backpacking or otherwise active in the great outdoors and therefore very useful for documentary makers or video shooters who don’t stay in the direct vicinity of a grid. It’s splash-proof (IPX4) and has individually sealed off (silicon plug) output connectors – two USB (5V/3A Max) and one DC output (20V/2A).

It comes in a nicely designed box with two carabiners to hang the Falcon from its metal eye-holes, a 2m DC cable, a 1m USB-C to USB cable, a female USB-C to male Micro USB adapter, a set of laptop tips and a 12V car charging socket (cigarette lighter type). The unit is fairly heavy compared with its smaller sibling, the Falcon 21. It quickly becomes obvious why it is when you unfold the panel: it’s about three times lengthier than the Falcon 21. That means it has a lot more effective sun capturing surface and is much faster at charging your devices.

When I opened the box the attention to detail and quality of build was once again obvious. I have yet to receive a Powertraveller unit that hasn’t been made as if it has received extra care from the design as well as the quality control department. Tips and cables can be stored inside the unit’s cover part that also serves as a sort of On/Off switch. The folded Falcon 40 has a squarish model and is still relatively lightweight at about 1.2kg.

For video shooters, the Falcon 40 can be a very powerful intermediary power solution. Its 5V ports are a boon for 5V devices, but larger cameras are often powered by higher-voltage batteries and systems. For those, the Falcon 40 efficiently combines with Powertraveller’s Mini G to deliver 12V, 16V or 19V of power to battery chargers where electric power isn’t available. For pro batteries like those Anton Bauers that go in pro cameras, you’d need to use an LM317 circuit to go from 16V to 14.4V, but even then it’s a viable alternative to diesel generators as it’s environment-friendly and charges faster than I could have imagined.

The SunPower cells produce 25% to 35% more power than conventional cells, but it’s the large surface that gave me a maximum reading of over 5V on the USB port when measured with my Brymen 867s industrial multimeter. The day I measured that it wasn’t sunny at all. The panel did fluctuate that output between 1.2V and 5.1V on the USB port while maintaining its full 20.6V on the DC out port. Powertraveller explained that the DC out port gets priority and so when the sun isn’t shining bright, the panel automatically tries to distribute its power as efficiently as possible.

When the sun did shine bright and temperatures started to soar, a mAh output test found the Falcon 40 to manage a nicely continuous, non-fluctuating output that effortlessly powered a GoPro and a Nitecore UGP5 GoPro HERO 5 dual charger with both battery slots filled on the USB port and a Powertraveller Mini G on the DC port.

I also tested the Falcon 40 by charging a completely depleted Mini G on its own. The Mini G is Powertraveller’s newest, smaller powerpack. It’s a multi-voltage power pack with 12000mAh/44Wh, with one DC input, one DC output that auto-switches between – as I already briefly mentioned – 12V, 16V and 19V, with one USB output rated at 5V/1A and one at 5V/2A. The unit has multi-voltage functionality and simultaneous charging via 5V USB and a so-called UPS feature on the 19V setting.

It took from 08:30 to 14:30 before the Falcon 40 had completely recharged it. This too was done on a cloudy day with short periods of the sun being completely blocked. Personally, I didn’t expect the Mini G to be recharged so fast, not even given the Falcon’s large surface.

The Falcon 40 can charge all currently available Powertraveller power packs, including the Powergorilla and older Powermonkeys (even the 12V one). It can charge anything that falls within its output specifications, including GoPro cameras, DSLR’s and even laptop computers.

It retails for €225 over at Powertraveller’s online store.