Solar battery chargers are an amazing invention. They’re not just for eco-friendly consumers that want to reduce their carbon footprint, but also for anyone who wants a superior charging device that doesn’t break the bank.
With that said, not many people know how 12V solar battery chargers work, mainly because it’s a fairly new type of technology.
Generally, a solar charger harvests the sun’s energy and transforms it into DC electricity using a photovoltaic array. This electricity is what’s used to power your battery and it flows through a dedicated controller to recharge the battery.
Thanks to the growing popularity of solar energy, new 12V solar battery chargers are introduced into the market all the time, and this can make it extremely difficult for someone to choose a product that meets their needs. Luckily for you, we’ve prepared a handy guide with helpful advice that will help make your purchasing decision that much easier.
Advantages of Solar Car Battery Chargers
Apart from helping you save energy and money, using 12V solar battery chargers comes with several other benefits, such as:
- Simplicity – If there’s one thing that makes 12V solar battery chargers appealing is the fact that they’re super easy to use. You don’t have to spend time figuring out what the right amperage and voltage should be for your car’s battery as is the case with wall socket battery chargers. There’s also no chance of a solar charger reaching a high level of power that can be damaging to your car’s battery and that makes them very safe and perfect for beginners.
- Extends Battery Life – A solar battery charger delivers the optimal amount of energy that your car battery needs. Sure, it may not deliver exactly the same amount of energy as a power cord charger but it will give your car battery a steady stream of power. It will also prolong your car battery’s lifespan because it won’t overpower it.
- Saves Money in the Long Term – Although 12V solar battery chargers are more expensive than power cord models, they save you way more money in the long run. Since you don’t have to plug them into the electrical sockets in your house, having a solar charger won’t affect your overall electrical bill which means that you’ll be practically using free energy the whole time.
What to Look for in a Good Solar Car Battery Charger?
- Efficiency – It’s important to opt for an efficient solar charger so that you know you’re getting the most out of the clean solar energy that it’s harvesting. With an efficient charger, you don’t have to worry about keeping it in the sun all the time because it’s quick to harness energy. High-efficiency also means that you can rely on the charger to power your battery even in winter when the weather conditions are mostly cloudy and cold. For the best results, choose a solar battery charger that has an efficiency rating of 20% and above.
- Reverse Charge Blocking Diode – When shopping for a solar battery charger, be sure to look out for a model that has a reverse charge blocking diode feature. This allows the charger to retain all of the energy that it collects through the day so that it doesn’t leak out at night when you’re not using it. Luckily, this feature is present in even the most basic models of 12V solar battery chargers so it shouldn’t be hard to find.
- Power – Solar battery chargers usually range in power from 2 to 18 volts. Although the lower power models offer the least amount of power, they’re also less risky in that they won’t overpower your battery. On the other hand, higher power models will finish charging your battery faster in comparison but they generally don’t come with overcharge protection though.
- Size – 12V solar battery chargers are typically lightweight and easy to store and transport, but they do have a tall and wide shape that can make it difficult to keep inside the car, especially with certain models. For the most part, you can keep your solar battery charger in the car and mount it safely when in use. When making your purchase, be sure to choose a model that suits your needs. For example, if you’ll be using it on the go then you need to get a solar battery charger that’s small enough to fit inside your car, while larger models are more suitable for regular use.
- Connectors and Cables – It’s best to purchase a charger with more than one 12-volt connector so that you have different connection options to choose from. It’s also important to consider the size of the power cord that the charger comes with, as a small cord will limit the distance at which you can place the charger in order to reach the battery.
Top 8 Solar Battery Charger Reviews
Investing in a solar battery charger means that you’ll be running your battery on clean power while saving a ton of money in power bills. Now that you know what to look for, let’s see which options are available on the market and what their pros and cons are.
Keep in mind that all of the 12V solar battery chargers featured on this list are the best of their category, and promise reliable power for many years after your purchase.
#1 – Battery Tender 021-1163 5W Solar Maintainer Review
The Battery Tender Solar Maintainer charger is available in 5W, 10W and 15W options, with a built-in smart charging controller that makes it doubly convenient because it means your battery will never overcharge. It’s perfect for on-the-road use as it’s lightweight and easy to carry and store in your car.
You can take this charger with you on your next outdoor excursion either fishing or camping. It also comes with waterproof and spark proof features, in addition to a temperature compensation sensor that enables the charger to provide just the right amount of power that your battery needs.
- Waterproof and spark proof
- Comes with an epoxy filled controller that enables it to withstand any weather condition
- Works even in moderate cover conditions when the sun isn’t fully out
- Lasts for a long time
- It doesn’t work immediately out of the box
#2 – ECO-WORTHY 20W 12V IP65 Solar Panel Kit Review
What makes this solar panel kit from Eco Worthy so unique is the fact that you can use it to power more than one device at a time. You can also attach it onto an off-grid inverter if you like so that it delivers AC energy that you can use for more than just your 12V battery.
This unit also comes with overcharge protection to make sure that it doesn’t end up frying your battery. Thanks to the aluminum frame and waterproof design, this unit is very durable and long-lasting. In fact, it even comes with a 20-year lifespan estimate so it will save you money for some time to come.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with any mounting brackets but it does have holes on the bottom to give you a good indication of what size mounting bracket you should get.
- Comes with over-charge protection to prevent overcharging
- Great service from the seller
- Delivers a good amount of power
- Durable and long lasting
#3 – Sunway Solar Car Battery Charger Review
While this solar battery charger from Sunway Solar is on the pricey side, for the most part, you do get what you pay for.
For instance, it comes with 15 volts of power and an ergonomic and easy-to-use power cable that also makes it easy for it to shift from a 12-volt adaptor to direct connection clips.
This model also comes with a built-in LED light that tells you what the battery level is so that it doesn’t overcharge the battery at any point. This is a very helpful feature considering the fact that this doesn’t come with overcharge protection like some other models.
The solar panel cells are protected by a dedicated glass protector to keep them from getting damaged by the elements, which means you can leave this out without worrying about it getting broken. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should leave it out in the pouring rain because it’s not exactly waterproof but just water resistant. This means it can handle a few drops but just don’t let it get soaking wet.
Nevertheless, this is one of the best 12V solar battery chargers on the market, and it’s a great way to keep your car battery charged if you don’t drive your vehicle often.
- Provides a nice trickle charge to avoid overcharging
- Comes with a conveniently long cord
- Easy to use
- Weather and water resistant
- It charges even when the weather is overcast
- We have nothing bad to say about this solar charger
#4 – ECO-WORTHY Solar Panel Backup Charger Review
This Eco-Worthy 12V solar panel charger is perfect for use on the go and it’s one of the easiest models to use so far. The setup is super simple as well because after you fold it out all you have to do is connect the battery clips onto the battery that you want to charge and Bob’s your uncle! You can fold it back up again when you’re done so that it doesn’t take up much space in your car or garage.
It also comes with PWM solar charge controller to prevent overcharging, reverse connections and over-discharge as well.
The rugged aluminum frame is resistant to corrosion which makes it perfect for use when you’re out in your boat or any other marine applications. In fact, you won’t have to worry about this unit during times of humidity or high winds because it can withstand pretty much all types of weather conditions.
It provides a nice trickle charge to make sure that your battery doesn’t run out of power when you need it most.
- Weather and waterproof
- Can charge your battery through a power plug outlet or direct post clips
- Easy to install and use
- It doesn’t last very long
#5 – 12 Volt Waterproof Solar Sealed Lead Acid Battery Charger UV87511 Review
Weighing just 10 ounces, this ultra-lightweight solar battery charger is the perfect on-the-go solution for all your car charger needs. It’s a good quality model that provides a fair amount of power output and a waterproof exterior to protect it from the elements.
It’s easy to install using screw bolts and you can literally mount it anywhere because it’s very lightweight. This charger’s rugged built makes it perfect for various outdoor applications, including keeping your boat or campervan battery powered throughout the journey.
- Lightweight and portable
- Easy to set up and use
- Durable and long lasting
- We have no complaints about this model
#6 – Suaoki Solar Car Battery Charger Review
With a high-efficiency rating of 22.5%, this solar charger from Suaoki is a superb source of power for your battery of choice. It has a generous surface area with a nice thin body that makes it lightweight enough to place on the dashboard while charging without taking up too much space.
It’s also waterproof and durable, with a reverse charge blocking diode that helps prevent overcharging.
It’s a bit expensive but it works great and provides superior charging performance for your battery.
- Lightweight and highly portable
- Comes with a high-efficiency rating
- Overcharge protection provided
- Waterproof and weatherproof
- Great customer service from the seller
- It needs to be connected to a controller in order to work properly, otherwise it might overcharge your battery
- The cord that it comes with is rather short
#7 – ACOPOWER HY010-12M 10W Mono Solar Panel Review
If you’re looking for one of those powerful and rugged 12V solar battery chargers that you see RV and Jeep owners using on those solar battery charger ads, then look no further than this model from ACOPOWER.
It comes with a pliable plastic sheet panel that’s easy to set up and use whether you’re mounting it on your car, RV, boat or cabin. It’s equipped with a 12 lithium battery in addition to other relevant equipment that enables it to deliver power with an efficiency rating of 23%.
It weighs just 2.15 kilograms and is water and weather resistant.
- Delivers a good amount of power to keep any battery running
- Comes with an impressive efficiency rating of 23%
- Very well made with a durable aluminum frame
- Weather and water resistant
- Solid leads and connectors
- It doesn’t come with a blocking diode so you’ll have to monitor it to make sure that it doesn’t overcharge your battery
- The cable is very short
#8 – Mighty Max Solar Battery Charger Review
This solar battery charger comes with a polycrystalline solar panel and has a unique and modern design that includes a very compact frame and pre-drilled holes for mounting and setup. It’s easy to carry around and it’s perfect for outdoor excursions that require your vehicle to maintain battery power for prolonged periods of time.
It’s made with a solid aluminum body and features solar cells that have a high-efficiency rating. You can count on this charger to bail you out when you need your battery to keep running as it’s made using photovoltaic technology.
This model is easy to install and use right out the box, thanks to convenient pre-drilled holes that have been included so that it’s easy for you to mount it.
It’s also lightweight and easy to carry as it weighs just 3.5 pounds. This means you can pretty much place it anywhere in your vehicle when you’re traveling or while you’re using it to charge the battery.
It’s also waterproof and performance isn’t affected by extreme weather conditions. You’ll also be glad to know that this model comes with a built-in blocking diode to prevent overcharge and any potential damage that might occur at night.
- Great solar battery charger for the price
- Provides a steady trickle charge
- Durable and well made
- Beautifully designed
- Not very easy to mount even with the provided equipment
As you can see, most of the best 12V solar battery chargers on the market share similar features, from having a high-efficiency rating to overcharge protection, lightweight construction and of course a durable weatherproof frame to help it withstand extreme weather conditions when it’s mounted outside.
One unit that meets all of the above-mentioned criteria is the durable and long lasting Battery Tender 021-1163. What we like about this unit is the fact that it comes with a smart charging controller to prevent overcharging, it’s nice and lightweight for ease of use on the road, and it’s waterproof. There’s also a temperature compensation sensor that enables it to sense how much power your battery needs at all times. What more can you ask for?