Charging your device while you are on the go can be a real challenge. We’ve all been out and about when we have that sudden realization that, oh no – our cell phone only has 2% battery left! Having a portable electric charger can come in handy. That is if you remembered to charge it before leaving or from the last time you drained it while using it.
Solar phone chargers are an excellent alternative to other standard power banks. Here we will talk about the best solar phone chargers on the market and what you need to know before buying.
1. Best Overall Solar Phone Charger: BigBlue 28W
When looking for the best overall solar phone charger, the Big Blue 28w solar chargers come out as the clear winner. Delivering a strong, stable charge in various conditions, Big blue is perfect when you are looking for a quick boost to your device battery.
Other solar phone chargers do offer faster charges, but as overall best, Big Blue offers many great features like a built-in ammeter and zippered pouch, two USB ports, and a sleek and definitive design.
The built-in ammeter and auto-restart function are two features that make this solar phone charger one that you can depend on to provide you with a stable charge, even in not so perfect conditions. Even with great dependability and multiple features, this solar charger is one of the more affordable solar chargers in its category. Whether you have full, bright sun or blocked, partial shade or even no sun at all, you can count on the BigBlue 28w solar phone charger to give your devices the charge it needs.
- Efficient and dependable
- Able to operate under extreme and undesirable conditions
- Auto-restart and built-in ammeter
- Not optimal for multiple device charges
2. Best Budget Solar Phone Charger – ECEEN 13W
The performance of this collapsible solar phone charger has impressed many while still being affordable and lightweight as well. If you’re looking for a stable charge without paying a fortune, then the ECEEN 13w solar charger is the one for you. Not looking to wow you, just to get the job done, this little charger has a canvas-covered panel, mesh pockets, and some clip-in points to give you this easy to set up, easy to use solar phone charger on a budget.
- Lightweight and compactable
- Slot to charge multiple devices
- Disconnects from device when shaded
3. Best Premium Solar Phone Charger – SunJack 25w
This powerful solar phone charger offers a fast charge and durable build that will you wanting for nothing when charging your devices. The ETFE-coated solar panels give a rugged look and feel to this solar charger and holds strong against the elements like dirt, dust, and even desert sun.
The Sunjack comes with two battery packs that store easily into the charger’s back pouch. This solar phone charger also comes with extra cords as well. Charging multiple devices at a time with ease, the SunJack offers one of the fastest charging speeds compared to similar solar chargers.
- Fast charging speed
- Able to charge multiple devices at once
- Exceptional performance
- High cost
- Large size
The high-performing Anker PowerPort solar phone charger is known not only for its lightweight design but for its reliability, durable and high-quality manufacturing. The Anker delivers exceptional charging speed, even while charging multiple devices simultaneously, taking just over three and a half hours to bring a device to full charge, and 30% after only 30 minutes. The solar cells are built with industrial-strength PET polymer and encased in a strong, polyester canvas, making this solar phone charger able to withstand even the harshest of climates.
- 18-month warranty
- HIgh-quality build
- Lightweight and portable
This lightweight solar charger is incredibly portable, weighing only 18 ounces, and has three solar panels that fold out. With an output of 21w, the high efficient Nekteck solar charger has a power conversion rate that can reach up to 24%, and the dual USB ports give you the ability to charge two devices at once.
Fitted neatly into a durable canvas wrapping, this solar charger’s panels can function with ease in the elements, including through light rainfall and damp conditions. The canvas also has five eye holes made from steel that give you the ability to secure your solar charger to virtually anything. With outputs up to 1,000Ma in direct sunlight, the Nekteck will give you a fast charge to any device on the go.
- Battery not included
This solar phone charger boasts many features, such as its 25,000mAh power bank, built-in flashlight, and durable exterior, making the ADDTOP a robust charger perfect for portable charging. With four foldable solar panels, the power bank can be charged by solar energy or can be plugged into a wall outlet as well. Made with a leather sheath, padded casing, and ABS, the exterior of the ADDTOP is durable and made to last.
The ports are covered with a seal, making the unit water-resistant and perfect for frequent outdoor use. Each USB port also has a chip that enables the charger to automatically identify and accommodate that device’s maximum charging speed. THe ADDTOP solar charger comes with an 18-month warranty and is a great pick for a solar phone charger.
- Multiple features
- Durable built
- Auto-detect max charge in USB Port
- Poorly placed USB ports
The Goal Zero Nomad 7 portable solar charger features a 12v output port, monocrystalline silicon solar panels, and a folded dimension of 9” x 6 ½“x 1.5” perfect for travel and on the go charging. Specifically designed to charge USB devices like phones, headlamps/flashlights, and GPS units, the Nomad 7 can also be used to charge small power banks.
The water-resistant cover on the solar panels gives you water-resistant capabilities, allowing you to use your solar phone charger in the elements without worrying it will get ruined by moisture. You will be able to tell when your solar panels are generating electricity while facing the sunlight when the indicator light integrated into the system turns on. With its easy design and useability, the Goal Zero solar charger is a great choice for anyone looking for a good portable option.
- Industry known reputation for quality
- Lightweight and portable
- Durable build
- User friendly
- Slow charging speed
The Foxelli is the perfect solar phone charger for those who enjoy camping and adventure. Equipped with a polycrystalline solar panel and smart charging technology, this solar phone charger delivers up to 1.85A in total power and simultaneously charges two devices.
With dual USB ports, the Foxelli is compatible with iPhone and Android devices, GoPro cameras, Kindles, and many other brands of electronic devices. Ideal for hiking, camping, and those on the move, weighing only a pound, the Foxelli solar charger also offers 11 built-in loops that can attach to a bag or backpack easily. The PET polymer cover makes this charger not only durable to the elements but waterproof as well, making this the perfect choice for the outdoor adventurer.
- Slim Design
- Fast Charging
- Does not come with power bank
Even if you aren’t new to solar energy products, it can still be difficult to know the best solar phone charger for you. Picking the perfect solar charger will depend on finding the right one for your needs. When beginning your search, there are a few things you need to consider, such as, what will your main use of the solar charger be?
When looking to charge smaller devices like a phone or GPS, a smaller solar panel with lower specs should do the trick. However, if you plan to charge electronics that use more power or multiple devices at once, you will want a solar charger with higher power output.
The majority of solar chargers have USB ports, which are compatible with a wide range of devices, but you will want to make sure that your device is compatible or requires an adapter to connect to the charger.
Portable solar chargers are made to travel with you, so finding one that is lightweight and compact is important, so it doesn’t get too cumbersome. Being able to attach your solar charger to your bike or backpack is ideal so you can charge while on the literal move.
The surface area of the panels you can spread out will determine how much solar power you can generate. If you plan on using your solar charger once you settle down somewhere, having a larger area can be beneficial. But if you’re planning on charging while on the move, the more compact, the better.
Integrated batteries can come standard with some solar chargers, which gives you the ability to charge your device directly from the battery. Having an internal battery allows you to charge your device during the hours of sunshine and use that power to charge your electronics when the sun is gone.
Solar chargers that do not come with an internal battery will have an integrated battery, which will give you more options to charge your device. Pairing your solar charger with an additional power bank will let you free things up while the sun is out while using the battery charge instead.
There are different types of portable battery packs, each with varying output, capacity, size, weight, and technology.
Nickel Metal Hydride batteries – or NiMH – are typically AA or AAA rechargeable batteries. This type of battery pack is convenient for
The most common portable battery packs are Lithium-ion and Lithium Polymer battery packs. These are the type of built-in battery packs that can be found in personal electronics
Larger and heavier lead-acid battery packs, despite their clunky size, actually provide the highest output of power.
Types of Solar Panels
Copper, Indium, Gallium, and Selenide panels, otherwise known as CIGS, are made from thin-film solar cells. Though these panels are lightweight, they are not the most durable, so these types of solar chargers are best used for charging your devices out of the elements for regular use.
Other solar panels, such as monocrystalline panels, will typically have higher efficiency, except when it comes to overcast or cloudy weather. The CISG panels have a better output when there is not a lot of light, with some reaching an efficiency of 16%.
These panels tend to be a bit heavier than CIGS panels, but with their weight comes durability. As long as the sun is out, monocrystalline panels will give you higher efficiency than CIGS panels, are made in various shapes and sizes and can be folded as well. Monocrystalline panels will give you an efficiency of 22%.
You can pick out a polycrystalline solar panel by its blue color. It does have a lower efficiency of power than the monocrystalline solar panels, coming in at 18% efficiency.
There are several panel options for solar chargers. The most popular three are rigid or semi-flexible panels, integrated storage battery panels, and panels that have separate or independent storage batteries. The semi-flexible panels can be rolled up or folded for ease of transport and can give a larger surface area compared to a lot of rigid panels.
The more surface area your solar panels have on your charger, the more sun it allows you to collect, and the faster it is converted into energy that powers the battery. Though smaller panels are easier to pack and travel with, they typically will take longer to charge in comparison.
Large panels are best for use in cloud-covered conditions or the low light of winter. Depending on the sunlight, it can take up to 16 hours of sunlight to charge, depending on the solar panels’ size.
Picking the right design of solar charger for you can be determined by the convenience of the unit itself for what you want to use it for. Special features like attachment options and ease of use should be factors you consider before purchasing your solar charger.
Budget is a large factor when it comes to your solar charger pick. Do remember that when you compromise quality for cost, a cheaper price can mean cheaper quality. Purchasing a solar charger that doesn’t come with an internal battery is a way to save on cost but still maintain quality. Using your solar charger with an external battery may prove to be a more efficient way to use your charger.
When traveling and on the go, the last thing you need is a heavy unit dragging you down. If you don’t plan to be carrying your charger as you travel, weight may not be too much of a consideration. Thinking of where you plan to use your solar charger.
Understanding solar power specifications can be a bit overwhelming but knowing the information will help you when researching what unit to purchase. The two values that you will come across when talking about solar power are wattage and amperage; these measure your solar chargers’ performance. The electric current – or flow rate – is where your amperage comes in, and the electrical power is measured with watts.
When looking to power smaller devices, panels that have 3w – 5w will do just fine. It could take anywhere from 3 to 6 hours to get a full charge with a 5w panel. If you were looking to charge more than one device, you would need a minimum 10w solar panel.
If you want to find out how efficient a specific device can be charged, you will need to look at the amperage to obtain this measurement. When looking at the values in amperage, the max you will find is 2A or 2.5A. Manufacturers will use different specifications for chargers with a dual USB port, making sure you take a close look before buying. Some devices will list the port amperage separately, and others will give you the amounts combined.
Most solar chargers use a standard USB port to connect your device to the charger, making it easy to charge devices like cell phones and cameras. However, some devices do not have a USB connection and will need an adapter. Depending on the type of device you are charging, you may find it more efficient to use a battery pack to charge, so you don’t lose power in the conversion using the solar panels.
Ease of Use
Using your solar charger should not be complicated and should be rather straightforward; set it up, open the panels to the sun, and harness that clean energy. Cleaning your solar panels can be done by simply wiping away any moisture or dust using a cloth. Most solar chargers come with smart charging technology as well.
Microchips are common with solar chargers, allowing you to automatically charge to your connected device. This feature also allows your device to restart automatically if the charge becomes uninterrupted by a cloud or obstruction of the sunlight.
Solar chargers that do not come equipped with microchips can find themselves stalling or getting stuck on a slow charge and will need to be manually reset by unplugging and replugging your device.
Getting the best angle for your solar panels will maximize your solar charger’s ability to charge your device. Facing your panel towards the sun will always give you the best charging result, so if you’re charging while on the move, making sure you get the correct angle without being stationary is key.
Making adjustments throughout your trip to how your solar panels are sitting will give you a maximum output of charge. Keep in mind that if you plan to have your panels out while your charger is attached to your backpack or bike to keep an eye on your panels, especially if it is a foldable charger.
Many solar chargers come built with a zippered pocket where you can keep your devices or cables; however, be aware of the temperature inside when zipped up. Many chargers also include a pocket for cables and devices but pay attention to how hot they can become inside. You don’t want to be roasting your device while you charge it.
The higher the wattage, the more electricity is being generated. Solar chargers with larger solar panels will be the most effective. Even if they are heavier and bulkier than chargers with smaller panels, it will be your best choice if you are looking for a unit with fast and efficient charging capabilities. This can be crucial if you are hiking or camping out in the wild, far away from modern conveniences and power. This is where we recommend you shy away from cheaper models. Remember – you get what you pay for.
Frequently Asked Questions About Solar Phone Chargers
What is a Solar Phone Charger?
Solar phone chargers can take the energy it absorbs from the sunlight to produce energy. With the ability to be more portable than other solar powered devices, you can practically take your solar charger anywhere you need to provide power. They are mostly used to charge smaller devices such as smartphones and tablets
When is the best time to use a solar charger?
As solar chargers with smaller panels often won’t be strong enough to keep your device charged for a couple of days, they are best used in emergency situations. Larger or more powerful solar chargers are geared more for use during camping or hiking trips, where you find yourself in a remote area far from wall outlets.
How long do I have to wait for a full charge?
Most standard solar chargers will typically take 2 hours to get half the battery life restored in your device. However, that does not mean you will see a full battery charge in 4 hours. A lot of batteries will take longer to charge after they hit the 50% charged mark. It can take up to 6 hours to get a full battery charge.
Do solar phone chargers actually work?
These portable solar chargers are great for not only small devices such as flashlights and GPS units but will charge your phone with ease. Though not as fast as charging your device with a wall outlet, portable solar chargers are an effective way to charge your device on the go.
Are solar phone chargers worth the money?
Solar chargers are a great alternative that can charge your devices when you aren’t near a wall outlet or in a place where you cannot access electricity. Some units can be purchased for under $50.
Do I need direct sunlight for my charger to work?
Direct sunlight will give you the best possible charge; however, it is still possible to receive a charge in overcast conditions. It just won’t be as efficient.
Can I use my solar charger when it’s cloudy?
Because the photons the sun gives off is what the solar charger uses to convert the energy into electrical power, as long as the panels can receive the photons, you will be able to produce at least some power when it’s cloudy, but not much; possibly up to 25%.
Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Solar Phone Charger
- Before you leave the house or plan to leave for your trip, ensure your solar charger is fully charged. Once it is charged, it will start to slowly start to lose the charge – so don’t charge it too early!
- Avoid using up your device’s entire battery before you need to recharge it.
- A lot of chargers are designed to handle being out in the elements but ensuring your charger can function in harsh environments will make sure you don’t get caught in extreme conditions.
- Keep in mind that conditions won’t always be ideal for solar charging, so taking advantage of those perfect moments in the weather forecast to maximize your charger.
Whether you are using your solar charger for quick and easy charging on a short outing or looking for something with a longer charging ability, solar chargers are an excellent way to bring alternative power to all your favorite devices. Prepared with the information you need; you can now pick the best charger for you.