If you are planning a camping trip, trekking or simply want to reduce power consumption in your house, a solar power bank is your go-to gadget. As the name suggests, a solar power bank is a solar-powered gadget meant for charging electrical devices such as laptops, tablets, and phones. Solar power banks get their power from direct sunlight through solar panels that are built into the face of the device.
We have compiled a review of some of the best solar power banks on the market today based on features such as capacity, output, ports, etc. These and a few other factors can and should influence the power bank you buy. We will discuss these features in more detail in the buying guide at the end of this article.
Among the many power banks available today, let’s look at which ones stand apart.
With its extremely rugged build that can easily withstand rain, dust and shocks, the Blavor power bank even with its mid-range battery capacity of 10000mAh steals the show when it comes to durability, versatility and efficiency all at an exceedingly affordable price. It has an IP67 rating which means it can stay underwater up to 3 feet for 30 minutes. Moreover, it features wireless charging which means you can do away with the charging cables if needed.
An ultra-low budget product, the Durecopow Solar Charger wins in the best value category by far. Despite its affordability, it has an impressive battery capacity of 20000 mAh and can charge 2 devices at the same time. Moreover, it is highly water resistant, dust-resistant and shockproof making it ideal for all manner of outings.
How Do Solar Power Banks Work?
For those of us who are near-constantly on the move – for the travellers, the modern-day nomads, the business commuters and the wanderers – we know just how important it is to have a reliable, durable, dependable access to power at all times. Not that we need to be online at all times (you may well be planning a camping trip precisely in order to get away from the constant connectivity of social media), regardless, it is essential that you have a means of charging your devices should emergency arise. Then again, maybe you do just want to know you’re connected, to know that no matter how far you travel, or how long it is until you next have access to a wall-plug, you will always be able to power your devices.
The most affordable and straight-forward means of doing so is to carry a power bank with you. Problem is that with conventional power banks you need to charge them from time-to-time, too! No use when you’re out in the wilderness for days on end, or midway through a trans-Atlantic flight. Thankfully, solar power banks are never more than a beam of sunshine away from a source of power, and as such, can keep you charged always. But you’re probably still left asking: are they reliable? Do they really work? And if so, how do they work? Well, let us tell you.
As you’ll know if you’ve ever used a portable power bank before, they are essentially handheld batteries with a store of charged energy. Each unit typically comes with at least one, if not multiple USB ports for you to plug your device into. When the power bank is turned on and a device plugged in, your device will begin charging by draining the power bank’s resource of electrical charge. Depending on the size and capabilities of your power bank, you may be able to charge your device several times over, charge several devices at once, or even power larger devices than smartphones, such as laptops.
The difference with solar power banks is that you never need to plug them in to charge them. Instead, solar power banks come with one of several types of solar panels built in: either into their frame, or as additional, fold-out components of the overall design. Either way, they work the same. Solar panels on power banks are built up of many individual solar cells, comprised of layers of thin films of polycrystalline or monocrystalline silicon. The silicon has one especially unique property: when exposed to direct sunlight, it undergoes a chemical and physical reaction, during which a movement of electrons between silicon layers generates volts of electricity. This is called the ‘photovoltaic effect.’ in Simpler terms, the solar panels on solar power banks convert sunlight into electricity. This electricity is then fed directly into the power bank, where it is stored until needed.
And that’s about it. Much simpler than it looks. Many portable solar power banks come with additional features such as in-built torches (perfect for camping at night), wireless charging, compasses, karabiners and more. All are built of waterproof and weatherproof, durable materials.
Pros and Cons of Solar Power Banks
As with all complex technology, or in fact anything you’re looking to spend your hard-earned cash on, it’s worth taking a moment to examine the positives and negatives. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of solar power banks.
- Free electricity! With solar power comes one particularly lucrative perk: zero additional costs to your energy bill. If you’re looking to save a bit of cash on your monthly bills, and yet still want to keep your devices fully-charged on the go, then a solar power bank is most definitely your best bet.
- Green energy. If you’re not only budget-conscious but environmentally-conscious, you’ll know just how important it is to do every little thing we can to help protect and preserve (if not heal) our world. Switching to green, renewable energy sources like solar power is the best, most affordable means of giving the earth a helping hand.
- Emergency ready. Unlike conventional grid-charged power banks, which could run out of juice and thus leave you stranded right when you need them most, solar power banks will never put you in that situation. Provided you expose them to sunlight on a regular basis, and for the requisite amount of time, you’ll always have a free source of power when you need it most.
- Durable. Built to withstand all but the worst and most extreme of weather conditions, your solar power bank’s solar panel will continue generating electricity no matter what (provided there’s some sunlight). Moreover, the unit itself will survive any amount of falls, knocks, dust and debris, since they’re designed for the outdoorsy type.
- Versatile. Gone are the days of single-port power banks. With the products on our list, you can charge sometimes up to 5 devices at once, or even charge large devices such as laptops, all using only the power of the sun. Find yourself in an overcast area, though, or happen to be stopping by a conventional power source and you’ll find that many of these banks can also be charged via a wall-plug. Better still, many of the solar power banks on the market have super handy additional features, such as in-built torches and wireless charging, making them the ideal camping, hiking, and vacation accessory.
- Variable charging rates. One of the few downsides about solar power banks you’re bound to notice is the variable rate of charge given to your devices. Depending on the amount of sunlight the unit is receiving (or has received), as well as the number of devices you have plugged in to charge at once, the rate of charge may be considerably slower than that which you would experience at home.
- Sunlight dependent. As with anything solar-powered, it’s worth remembering that unless your solar power bank receives consistent and strong sunlight during the daylight hours, it will not have a chance to fully charge, and thus will not meet your highest expectations when you attempt to power your devices later on.
- Expensive. Not that they all are (some solar power banks are super affordable), but those on the upper-end of the scale can start to become really quite expensive. (At least they’ll save you some money on energy bills in the future!)
- Bulky. Handy though they may be, solar power banks (like all power banks, to be honest) can be a bit bulky and clumsy looking, and as such can be cumbersome when packing. Still, needs must!
Best Solar Power Banks reviewed
Below you will find detailed and comprehensive reviews of what we think are the best solar power banks out there.
Blavor Solar Power Bank
- Brand: Blavor
- Color: Black and Orange
- Qi Wireless & Solar Power
- Friendly Reminder on Solar
- Extensive Tested Charging Times
- Dual Flashlight & Compass Kit
Our top overall pick from Blavor combines all the best features a solar power bank should together with an exceedingly affordable price tag. Highly compatible with all the latest models of smartphone, this solar power bank has a very elevated charging capacity despite its small panel, reduced battery capacity and compact size.
Made of extremely durable and waterproof ABS materials with a powerful and eco-friendly and rechargeable lithium ion battery. This power bank is also equipped with dual USB ports to charge two devices simultaneously and a high-end flashlight and compass making it perfect for any kind of excursion.
The charging times of the solar phone charger are exceptional, especially through solar energy if needed as a backup. The power bank itself can be completely charged in 6 hours with a 5V/2A adapter. It’s rugged exterior, high charging capacity and competitive price cement this solar power bank’s position at the top of our list.
- Very high charging speeds (even through the solar panel)
- Extremely durable build
- Wireless charge
- Integrated hi-tech compass and flashlight
- Comes with a 1-year warranty
- Dual USB ports
- Supports Type C USB input
- Slightly lower battery capacity than other models on this list (compensated though by the elevated charging times)
Durecopow Solar Charger
- Brand: Durecopow
- Color: Red
- High-Quality Portable Solar Charger
- Two Charging Way
- Dual USB and Powerful LED Light
Our top budget pick is still a high-quality and efficient solar charger despite its lower price tag. It also features useful extras such as an integrated carabiner, 2LED flashlight (Steady-SOS-Strobe mode included) and compass making it a worthy companion for treks and hikes.
Highly compatible with all the latest smartphone models from Nexus, HTC, Samsung, iPhone, Gopros and even some models of tablets. It is highly dust-proof and waterproof made of eco-friendly silicone rubber. It also features a set of LED lights that show charging in real time. The panel is heavily effected by weather conditions but its durability and extended warranty mean that customers unsatisfied by its solar charging capacity can either replace the model or continue using it as an effective traditional charger.
- High capacity battery
- Decent quality extra features (carabiner, dual flashlight, compass)
- Durable build
- Great compatibility
- Lowest price on our list
- Solar panel charge is not the best
- Performance is heavily influenced by adverse weather
Soaraise 268000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank
- Brand: SOARAISE
- Color: Orange
- Huge Capacity
- Multiple Outputs & 3A Fast Charging
- Two Recharging Options
- 60 Bright LEDs
A very high-quality power bank with a huge capacity 26800mAh battery that is is capable of delivering 8 charges for an iPhone 11 Pro, 5 charges to an Galaxy S20 and at least 2 charges to a tablet.
What sets apart this power bank from our previous entries is its multiple outputs & 3A fast charging. This solar power bank can charge up to three devices simultaneously making it great for larger groups of adventurers. For example it can charge an iPhone 11 Pro to 50% in 30 minutes (if the power bank is itself completely charged.
Another defining features are its 60 LED lights that cover its entire back surface. It can be turned on by simply holding down the power button for 3 seconds and can switch between standard, strong, SOS and strobe light modes, perfect for night-time activity or any kind of emergency.
Like other models on this list it is made of durable debris and shockproof material making it perfect for any outdoor setting.
- Very high battery capacity
- Great compatibility
- Can charge three devices at once
- Very effective charging times
- Powerful 60LED flashlight
- Durable, rugged build
- No other extra features
- More expensive than other featured models
Riapow 26800mAh Wireless Solar Charger
- Brand: Riapow
- Color: Orange
- Advanced Wireless Portable Charger
- 26800mAh Ultra High Capacity
- Fast Charging
From Riapow comes an efficient power bank in the high battery capacity range. One of its biggest positives due to its ultra high capacity, is its longevity. This solar power bank can last up to 8 days on a single full charge making it an exceptional companion for long periods of outdoor activity.
The solar panel is one of the most effective on the market boasting a very high solar conversion rate while its wireless charging feature although not the best has a highly efficient auto-detect system for a wide range of devices including smartphones, tables, cameras and GoPros.
At 26800mAh, you can charge your devices multiple times with this charger. What’s more, the Riapow has a high USB output of 15.5 watts, can charge up to 4 devices at the same time, and comes with a longer than most warranty period of 2 years.
- 4 output ports meaning you can charge multiple devices at the same time
- Very good charging times
- Efficient solar panel
- Great compatibility
- Extended 2-year warranty
- Slow wireless charging
- More expensive than other featured models
Feeke 32800mAh Solar Power Bank
- Brand: Feeke
- Color: Black
- 32800mAh Huge Capacity
- QI Wireless Charging
- Type-c port & Dual Quick Charger 3.1
- IP66 Rainproof, Dustproof, Shockproof
Not the most popular brand of solar power banks but the Feeke 32800mAh Solar Power Bank is still a great gadget with a high battery capacity and a sturdy and durable design. It’s relatively unknown properties are quite surprising considering its incredibly very decent conversion rates, sturdiness powerful flashlight coupled with an affordable price.
At 32800mAh, you can charge up to 4 devices many times over or charge multiple devices simultaneously. Additionally, this power bank boasts a remarkable 15-watt power output which is one of the highest on this list.
- Has an IP66 water resistance rating
- Ultra-high battery capacity
- Comes with a 1-year warranty
- Has 3 output ports and double inputs
- Efficient LED flashlight
- Bulky and a bit on the heavier side
- Less popular brand
Hiluckey 26800mAh Solar charger
- Brand: Hiluckey
- Color: Orange
- Wireless Charging
- 26800mAh Incredible Capacity
- Simultaneous Charging for 4 Devices
- 3 x Fast Charging & Recharging
- Built-in Flashlight
Yet another high-performing solar power bank is the 26800 mAh Hiluckey solar charger. Combined with its high battery capacity is a high charging output of 15 watts, 4 USB charging ports and a wireless charging option all of which give you maximum charging performance for a wide variety of appliances.
Defining features include the proven efficiency of the solar panel and extremely durable and waterproof IP66 build meaning this solar power bank can brave almost any element. This is a very popular solar power bank from an experienced brand that delivers excellently in all categories and gives a our top picks a run for their money.
- 15-watt output rating
- Large battery capacity
- Efficient wireless charge
- Supports multiple device charging
- Higher price tag
Buyer’s Guide: Tips for Choosing Solar Chargers
There are several vital factors and options to consider when choosing a solar power bank.
This is perhaps the most important quality to consider when getting a solar power bank that you can take anywhere with you. This is because the capacity indicates how many times you can charge your devices on a single charge. Always opt for a solar charger with a higher capacity rating because it will guarantee power for your devices for longer. This is especially advisable on longer outdoor trips. Though lower capacity be compensated by faster charging times and improved solar energy conversion rates.
Power bank Input
Input rating indicates how long it will take the solar power bank to fully charge. Additional solar panels mean extra panel surface area is exposed to the sun during charging, hence your power bank will charge faster. A single solar panel on the other hand takes longer to charge, which is not good if you are camping.
Choosing a charger with a lower power output is actually quite a common mistake which will, unfortunately, end up draining your cell phone or gadget battery as it has a higher capacity than the charger. Go for a solar power bank that has a higher input than your smartphone.
Note that a portable solar battery pack hardly ever has enough power to charge a device like a laptop but will do just fine for a tablet, camera, cell phone, or smartphone. For a laptop, you need a charger with a power rating between 12v to 24v.
Quality vs Pricing
Sometimes, lower pricing usually means lower quality. This is especially the case if you buy your products from an unknown brand or a brand with a questionable origin, where this often results in problems such as device overload. If this happens, your devices could get damaged.
When it comes to reputable brands such as those discussed in this article, a low price tag might not necessarily mean the products are of poor quality. However, overall, the more you pay for a solar charger, the higher performance you get from your solar power bank.
That said if you don’t need features such as multiple device charging, wireless charging, or you use a feature phone and not a smartphone, you can buy a solar charging bank that is a bit more pared down in features.
Remember to check the other buying criteria such as output.
Weight and Size
How much charge do you need? Do you need an unlimited charge or just enough power for one-off charging? Power banks tend to weigh more when they have a large storage capacity because the battery is heaver.
Solar power banks with more panels can also be made heavier by the attachments used to join them together. If you don’t need to mount your panels on your gear so that you charge on the go, consider if you can leave some of these attachments behind.
A great solar power bank should serve you for a long time. This means that the power ban should be sturdy enough to last for years. When you buy a lower quality power bank, you will end up needing a new one probably sooner than you are ready to spend on another one.
Most of the power banks discussed in this article offer a 1 year to 1.5-year warranty which is enough peace of mind when you are regularly outdoors especially in bad weather conditions.
Taking into account all these factors but with a special regard to durability, efficiency of the solar panel and price accessibility we have got to go with the Blavor Solar Power Bank. Though it may have a lower battery capacity than other featured models it is one of the most efficient and versatile power banks on the market today.
Check out our updated Pinterest board with the best solar powerbanks:
Most solar-powered chargers are designed to charge the majority of smartphones, tablets, and gadgets like cameras. The fact that most solar power banks come with USB output ports also means that they can work with most devices.
In fact, you probably don’t even need to buy a usb cable to use with your solar power bank because you already have the USB cable that came with your phone charger.
Solar gadgets, including solar power banks, need exposure to sunlight in order to fully charge. To avoid disappointments during your trip, it is recommended to charge your solar bank fully before you set out. This will ensure that your power ban has enough capacity to charge your devices.
There are two factors to consider when we talk about solar power bank efficiency.
One, the efficiency of the solar panel charger. Two, the efficiency of the storage batteries
Solar panel efficiency is a rating used to measure how well panels are capturing sunlight. For example, if a solar panel only converts 40% of the sun hitting it into stored energy, then the rating will be 40% efficiency.
Input is the energy going into the solar bank especially when you are charging it through the wall socket. Solar chargers use Type C USB or MicroUSB for power input. Output is the measure of energy going out of the solar bank into the device you are charging.
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