Nowadays we feel the need to be connected at all times, whether it’s work related or personal we spend a lot of time on our phones. But what happens if your battery goes out and your miles away from any power source? Enter the solar powered portable charger, battery chargers that only need solar light to function (for some models even artificial light does the trick). Solar powered portable chargers can recharge a variety of useful items. From tablets, to music players and GPS systems.
Portable chargers are a great way to stock up on battery energy when your on the move. During a hike, while camping, at a music festival or at a secluded beach. We will be reviewing some of the most popular models on the market, taking into account features such as effectiveness, tech, value for money and durability.
We’ve narrowed down three of the best solar powered portable chargers on the market.
Our top pick due to its well rounded features including a compact and extremely durable water resistant lightweight build and additional components such as its powerful dual flashlight and reliable compass. Compatibility with all brands of next-gen smartphones and tablets, excellent energy conversion rate and exceedingly affordable price.
A powerful solar charger with a compact, sleek and aesthetically pleasing design. This model takes the premium spot due to its ultra-resistant waterproof and shockproof build, effective 36 LED flashlight and high degree of compatibility with a vast range of smartphones (especially Apple brand products).
How Do Portable Solar Chargers Work?
At the remarkably low price points of even the highest-quality chargers on this list, it’s easy to think that there must be some sort of magic at work; that surely no renewable technology can be fitted into such a small device, for so cheap? Well, in fact that’s exactly what’s happening here. Solar panel technology doesn’t have to mean massive 12 foot solar panels arranged in long rows in fields, or affixed to the roofs of houses. Today, solar panels can fit inside your pocket or backpack.
So how exactly do portable solar chargers work? It’s really pretty straightforward. Each unit, or power bank, is essentially a hand-sized battery in which electricity (generated by a solar panel) is stored, and from which your devices take the electricity they need to charge, via USB cables plugged into the base of the solar charger and then into your device(s). On top of the unit, a solar panel is built in.
Solar panels are comprised of many small photovoltaic cells, which themselves are comprised of polycrystalline or monocrystalline (mono being the most efficient) silicon. This silicon reacts chemically and physically when exposed to sunlight (in a process known as the ‘photovoltaic effect’) to produce electricity. In essence, like a plant’s biological cells convert sunlight into carbohydrates, photovoltaic cells convert sunlight into electricity. This electricity is then stored in the battery pack for you to charge your device with whenever you like.
The cells of your charger’s solar panel are covered and protected by a thin film of waterproof, weatherproof, UV-resistant glass or plastic (the casing of the entire device is equally durable), ensuring that they can not only continue generating electricity in adverse weather conditions, but will last for a long time, before needing repair or replacement.
Many of the best portable solar chargers come with several USB ports, so that you can charge several devices at once, and some even come with additional features, such as doubling up as a high-powered LED torch: perfect for the outdoor adventurer and camper.
Pros and Cons of a Portable Solar Charger
We know all this might seem too good to be true, and whilst we think that a portable solar charger really is just that good, it’s worth taking a look at the pros and cons of these products.
- Affordable. Even the most up-market, reliable, and customer-recommended portable solar chargers on the market will likely cost no more than $30 or $40, which for renewable technology is a total steal. Remember as well that you won’t need to spend a single cent on energy bills to charge your devices when using solar power.
- Lightweight and durable. Most of you who are looking through this list of portable solar chargers are probably thinking about taking yours out with you on camping trips, hikes, holiday or a road trip, since it’s out there – in the great outdoors – that you’ll need portable electricity the most. What’s so great about these devices is that they will not only not weigh you down, they’ll also last a long time, and won’t be hampered by even extreme weather conditions.
- Additional features. With solar technology coming on leaps and bounds, it’s no surprise that many of these portable chargers come with impressive additional features, such as wireless charging capabilities, and in-built torches.
- Charge your devices over and over. On a full charge, most of the portable chargers on this list can charge your phone and/or tablet many times over – ideal when so many modern smartphones require a full charge on a daily basis!
- Charging times. Whilst on a full charge there’s no denying the usefulness and efficiency of these solar portable chargers, it’s getting to the full charge that can be problematic in the first place. Portable solar chargers require anywhere from 6-15 hours of sunlight exposure to reach a full charge. Whilst 6 hours is more than achievable when camping in a sunny area, 15 hours becomes quite difficult to achieve unless stationary for a few days (and to be honest, even then you’d rather that the device charged faster).
- Sunlight dependent. This goes for all solar technology as standard, and should come as no surprise: solar powered technology requires solar power. If you’re in an area that’s overcast, or are receiving little sunlight during the day, your charger will take much longer to charge, and thus will not charge your devices as well as it otherwise could.
- Slow charging. Solar-generated electricity, as a rule, still isn’t quite at the level of regular grid electricity. As such, you will notice that your devices generally take longer to charge via a portable solar charger than they would when plugged into a wall socket. Not much longer, but still, noticeably so.
The Best Solar Powered Portable Chargers Reviewed
Let’s take a closer look at our top picks features and some worthy alternatives.
Blavor Solar Charger Power Bank
- Brand: Blavor
- Color: Black and Orange
- Qi Wireless & Solar Power
- Extensive Tested Charging Times
- Dual Flashlight & Compass Kit
- 18W Fast charging power bank
- Qi wireless charging technology
- Dual flashlight and compass incorporated
Our top overall pick, the Blavor Solar Charger is a simply awesome gadget. This 10W integrated Qi wireless charger is compatible with numerous Qi-enabled devices including but not limited to: Samsung Galaxy Note9, S9/S9+, Note8, S8/S8+,7.5W and the following iPhone models: XR/XS MAX/XS/X/8/8plus.
The Blavor Solar Charger is an amazingly adaptable tool with a bunch of incredibly useful accessories. Thought for both carefree use such as hiking, camping or cycling it is also a handy gadget to have around in case of emergencies such as power outages, hurricanes or any other situation that might interfere with the electricity grid.
A reminder of this versatility is the incorporated dual flashlight and compass which are really valuable items to have in both crisis and carefree mode. The fact that the price tag reads 28.99$ for all these killer features makes this entry all the more enticing.
- Extra accessories for your survival kit (flashlight, compass)
- Very high compatibility rate
- Efficient Qi wireless charging technology
- Very good value for money
- Charge may be affected by subpar weather
- USB cable not included
BigBlue 5V 28W Solar Charger
- Brand: BigBlue
- Color: Black
- Updated Triple USB Ports
- Easy To Carry
- High Energy Conversion
- Wide Compatibility
- IPX4 Waterproof protection
- 28W power output
- 21.5%-23.5% conversion efficiency
A solid entry from BigBlue noted for its advanced tech and improved resistance to outside elements. Its IPX4 water resistant composition makes it ideal even for activities that may pose a risk to regular gadgets such as hiking, mountain biking, camping and fishing. Its PET polymer coating is one of the most durable materials on this list guaranteeing advanced protection against debris.
This model also integrates IC smart recognition to charge multiple devices with a charging speed of up to 4 amps. A somewhat versatile build measuring 11 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches and weighing 1.3 pounds. Its dual USB port is compatible with all next-gen Android devices.
Lastly, this portable solar charger offers a useful feature that few other models possess. An ammeter (or ampere meter) is integrated into the device. This is a measuring instrument that can accurately calculate the electrical current production of your cell phone, tablet or what have you. This is very useful to check whether the charger is actually doing its job.
- Very high power output
- Highly durable PET polymer coating
- Integrated IC smart recognition and ammeter
- May struggle to charge in overcast weather
- Bulkier than other models
- Expensive (at 70$ it is the priciest on our list)
Goertek Solar Power Bank
- Brand: Goertek
- Color: Black
- DC Power+Solar Power
- 3 in 1 Smart Charger
- Outdoor Design with 36 LED Strong Light
- 36 LED lights in its built-in flashlight
- IP65 waterproof rating
Our premium pick functions as a powerful 25000mAh ultra high-capacity solar battery charger. The solar charger features a built-in rechargeable Li-polymer battery pack that are already included at purchase. It has a highly compact build measuring a slight 7 x 3.8 x 1.1 inches and weighing only 1.18 pounds making it highly convenient for on foot travel such as trekking, camping and hiking trips.
When fully functional it can charge a huge array of devices with its dual 5V 2.1A+5V 1A USB outputs that allow swift charging of three devices simultaneously. On the side of the solar charger are multiple green LED indicators on the side show charging speed through the solar panel while blue indicators show charging speed via DC adapters
The Goertek Solar charger is also noted for its sturdy build and overall durability made of premium ABS and PC Silicone material it boasts a IP65 waterproof rating but is also highly dust and shockproof making it suitable for the harshest of environments.
Finally, one of this gadget’s most outstanding features is its super-effective flashlight made of 36 individual LED lights that cover the whole front of the charger. This ultra-bright light can be a handy tool while camping in the dark, any emergency situation or even as a reliable reading light.
- High capacity power bank
- High rate of compatibility (especially Apple products)
- Durable and waterproof build
- Ultra-bright 36 LED flashlight
- Charging solely by panel may take longer than advertised
- LED indicators sometimes prone to malfunction
- Slightly more expensive than other models
SOARAISE Solar Charger
- Brand: SOARAISE
- Color: Orange
- Huge Capacity
- Multiple Outputs & 3A Fast Charging
- 60 bright LED lights
- Two Recharging Options
- 26800mAh power bank
- 0.8 pounds
- 60 bright LED flashlight
A popular and high-quality solar charger that is noted for its power and versatility. This model’s battery is completely capable of delivering 8 charges for an iPhone 11 Pro, 5 charges to an Galaxy S20 and at least 2 charges to a tablet.
The SOARAISE Solar Charger’s multiple outputs and 3A Fast Charging allows simultaneous charging of three different devices. For example, at full charge it can charge an iPhone 11 Pro to 50% in around half an hour. Its 60 LED flashlight is also extremely powerful and presents multiple lighting modes: Standard, strong, SOS and strobe.
It features two efficient recharging options: You can either plug it into the wall to fast charge it or prop it in facing the sun to top up the battery gathering energy on the go through its the solar panel. This is a versatile and durable product that is both energetically efficient and sturdy, made of highly durable material resistant against water drops, falls debris, dust and moisture.
- Very high-capacity power bank
- Elevated charging speeds
- Powerful 60 LED flashlight with multiple lighting modes
- Durable build
- Solar panel may struggle greatly in bad weather
- May suffer in cold temperatures
Minrise Solar Power Bank
- Brand: Minrise
- Color: Black
- 30,000mAh Large Capacity Power Bank
- Dual inputs and Dual Outputs
- Solar Portable Charger
- 3.7 Voltage
- 11 hour charging time
Though the “min” in the name may suggest otherwise, this is one of if not the most heavy-duty portable solar chargers on our list. With a very powerful output of 30000mAh powered by an included and rechargeable Lithium Polymer battery that is compatible with practically all types of next-gen smartphones, tablets and more.
Like previous models the LED indicators show the power charge clearly as they progress. The Minrise Solar Charger also has four ports, 5V/2A, 5V/2.1A meaning a fast charge for up to two electronic devices to charge simultaneously. This translates to two fast output ports output charging for your phone, tablet or other electronic devices and two inputs to provide charging for the power bank.
The composition is of high quality silicone rubber and ABS+PC material making the surface of the solar extremely tough and sturdy in the harshest of conditions both at high and low temperatures. The build is highly waterproof, dust proof and shock proof, though obviously not encouraged even multiple falls from medium to high altitudes have been shown to not crack the panel or casing. The power bank’s safety system combines high-voltage protection, current regulation, temperature control, and more to keep you and your devices safe.
- Highest mAh output on our list
- High energy conversion and charging rate
- One of the most durable and resilient portable solar chargers on the market
- High-level safety features
- No extra accessories (no flashlight)
- Weighs much more than most models reviewed (16 ounces)
Durecopow Solar Charger
- Brand: Durecopow
- High-Quality Portable Solar Charger
- Two Charging Way
- Dual USB and Powerful LED Light
- Safety for Use
- 5 Voltage
- 0.44 pounds
- 2 LED flashlight
Our best budget pick from Durecopow is a surprisingly efficient and versatile solar charger despite its small size (to its advantage also the lightest model on our list) and low price. First off, it is highly water-resistant, shock-resistant and dust-proof and comes with and included Li-ion rechargeable battery, carabiner, compass and higly functional 2LED flashlight.
It is compatible with a very wide gamma of smartphones, tablets, cameras, GoPros and other USB devices including: Nexus, HTC, Apple, Samsung products and much more. Its dual USB ports make it a charging source for two concurrent devices. It also has five pilot indicators that show the status of the battery charger. Green light on when charging by a solar, blue light on when USB charging.
The sturdy and resilient outer casing is made of eco-friendly silicone rubber and ABS PC material which are CE, FCC, RoHS certified making for a reliable and durable product to bring on any kind of outing or long trip.
Finally, Durecopow implements one of the lengthiest warranties (12 months) on our list coupled with an attentive and fast-responding customer service for any query, refund or replacement.
- Very affordable
- Highly durable (water, dust and shock resistant) made of eco-friendly silicone rubber
- Useful extra features (carabiner, flashlight, compass)
- High compatibility
- 12 month warranty
- Slower charge than other models, especially via solar panel
Solar Powered Portable Charger Buyer’s Guide
What are the main features to consider when purchasing a solar powered portable charger?
Obviously a primary issue to consider is power output. Obviously a 10W panel will generate more energy than a 5W panel but continuous changes in solar panel tech mean that this value is not set in stone. A 3W model may effectively charge more than a model with higher wattage. The rule of thumb is usually to consider a model with at least a 7W output for smartphones, ramping it up to 15 watts to charge more than one device at a time or more energy consuming appliances such as laptops or tablets.
A more important parameter to consider would be to check out the amperage capabilities of your prospective charger. Next-gen smartphones and tablets are best compatible with models that can offer at least 2 amperes per hour while charging.
Another obviously very important factor is how much solar energy is effectively converted and just as important, the actual charging speed. As we’ve seen most models on our list boast a conversion rate between 20-25%. Consider that at that rate, the full charge of say, an iPhone 7 takes around 3 hours in optimal conditions, meaning direct sunlight over a sustained period.
Weight, Size and Portability
As we’ve seen there are some huge size and weight differences between the different models we’ve listed. Obviously the larger a panel the more devices you’ll be able to recharge at a faster rate, but lugging around a massive solar panel when on a trek, hike, camping trip or bike ride isn’t exactly fun so consider the actual use of the solar charger you intend to buy.
An ultralight model is basically a solar powered phone charger, more useful as a survival gear accessory for short outings or emergencies. A larger panel may be heftier to transport but it will guarantee charging of multiple devices. Camper and boat trips are the perfect setting for the latter for example. Remember that all these models come with accompanying items, such as separate power banks and cables so plan accordingly.
Closely related to power output, the number of connections and USB ports a solar charger can offer is of paramount importance. Whether you need an emergency charge for you phone to take a nice pic during an outing or long-term electrical sustenance for a week long camping trip. Figure out which devices to bring with you and how important it is that they stay adequately charged.
Like with any appliance, especially intended for prolonged outdoor use, durability and resistance to the elements is a huge factor. All models reviewed here have high endurance ratings, some being almost completely water-proof. Check for warranties as well, as a model that damages or malfunctions easily can overshadow all its other features if it can’t be refunded or replaced.
The number of additional accessories a solar portable charger can offer is very important. Relying only the sun for energy may be awesome as it is cost-effective and eco-friendly but you can’t count on solar power at all times. Rechargeable battery packs are always a great back-up feature to have in these cases. Other accessories such as eye-holes for hanging, kickstands, durable cables and power indicators are also useful features to look out for.
Portable solar chargers are a neat, high-tech, effective and environmentally friendly way to keep your electronics charged outdoors or to have supplementary energy during any sort of emergency. Their usefulness as modern solar powered tech products is evident. Considering all the factors above plus the price tag our choice remains the Blavor Solar Charger. A no-brainer choice due to its compactness, versatility and compatibility which make it one of the best well-rounded portable solar charges on the market in 2021.
Depending on the model, size of the panel and energy output, portable solar chargers can effectively charge multiple devices. Though obviously less rapid than a conventional charger, most models can fully charge in 3 hours of direct sunlight. Models with supplementary battery packs can offer even more charging capabilities.
All models reviewed in this list have very high resistance ratings making them ideal to use in adverse conditions within reason.
Durable cables, number of extra USB ports, attachment flaps and power indicators are some of the most sough-after additional features for a solar charger.
Usually solar powered chargers do more than your typical phone charger. Meaning they can charge multiple compatible devices (even at the same time depending on the model). This can include: laptops, tablets, cameras, smartwatches, GPS devices and even certain car batteries.
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