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USB vs 12v - Which Turbine is Right for Me?

USB vs 12v - Which Turbine is Right for Me?

TL;DR (Scroll to Bottom)

Since the release of WaterLily 12V last fall, one of the most frequent questions we receive is ”Which one should I get?” In this post we will explain the differences between the two models and the benefits of both.

WaterLily USB is designed to connect directly to devices that are charged via USB such as USB battery banks, cell phones, GPS, small cameras like GoPro, headlamps and torches etc. It’s the most direct route for charging small devices, and, with our Sealed Dry Bag, it is a great choice for adventurers who want to charge their devices on multi day trips, regardless of weather conditions, while carrying a minimal amount of gear.

The turbine itself for both WaterLily USB and 12V are identical - the only difference is in the power management system and output connector style.

Both turbines are capable of the same wattage, except the USB model’s output is limited by USB 2.0 specifications. Consider plugging your USB device into a wall outlet; it typically draws about 5W (some may draw 10W) even though your wall socket could provide 1500W+! When mounted in a fast flowing river, the turbine will only deliver what your device draws which could be less than the turbine is capable of providing.

Our 12V turbine uses SAE connectors that can deliver all the power that the turbine can produce, up to 30 watts of power at 14.6 volts.  

For more information on SAE connectors and adapters you can read our previous post “WaterLily 12V - Why SAE?

12V batteries typically accept much higher charge rates and will happily accept all that energy. This means that given the same amount of time in a fast flowing river, you could harvest more energy with a 12V setup. That leads to the next point: WaterLily 12V is compatible with most portable power stations that charge via 12V input such as the Goal Zero Sherpa and Yeti, Omnicharge, and Anker, just to name a few. By pairing your 12V turbine with those kinds of power stations you can power virtually any kind of device, even those that require 110V AC power.

Do you have serious off grid power needs? You can chain multiple 12V turbines together to scale up the output. For example, 4 units chained together can produce up to 100 watts of power! You can also combine the output from one or more WaterLily 12V Turbines with many kinds of solar panels.

Still not sure? Keep in mind you can get the best of both worlds by turning your WaterLily 12V into a WaterLily USB by simply plugging an inexpensive Car accessory to USB adapter (You probably already own one) into the provided SAE to Car Accessory adapter Cable .

So which WaterLily is right for you? That comes down to what devices you plan to charge. If you’re keeping it light and want to charge your USB Power bank, Phone or GoPro, then WaterLily USB will get the job done. If you want the most versatility, then WaterLily 12V is your best choice.

Main Points (TL;DR):

  • Both Turbines are the same besides the output voltage and connector.
  • WaterLily USB is the more direct way to charge your USB devices without any added accessories.
  • WaterLily USB output is limited to USB-2.0 Specifications, i.e. 15W
  • WaterLily 12V is not limited by USB-2.0 specifications and therefore can output more power.  
  • WaterLily 12V can also output Directly to USB with an inexpensive adapter that you probably already own (car plug to USB) WaterLily 12v - Why SAE?
  • WaterLily 12V can charge large batteries such as sherpa, yeti, omnicharge, lead acid, etc.
  • Multiple WaterLily 12V can be easily chained together, or combined with other power sources like Solar Panels.


Apr 12, 2019 • Posted by WaterLily Turbine


Yes you could charge it as long as it has a 12V battery. If you would like to discuss in greater detail please contact support@waterlilyturbine.com

WaterLily Support

Apr 12, 2019 • Posted by Ivan

Hi, can I recharge Eletric motorcycle with waterLily 12v?

Apr 12, 2019 • Posted by Paul Lambe

Wish I had one of these 12Vs on Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. Elbrus, and in a few older model cars, on road trips, safari in the Serengeti, etc.!! Charge my sat phone, rechargeable batteries for camera, etc. Solar charger was not up to snuff!!

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