The greatest solar chargers promise us freedom – free from wall outlets and power bills, juice up batteries and smartphones by soaking up the sun’s rays. For all the mobility of the modern age, we spend a lot of time clinging to stationary outlets, charging batteries.
To help set you free, or just give you a way to charge a device in the great outdoors, we’ve put together a list of the greatest solar chargers out there.
Whether it’s the most popular best-sellers or rugged trail gear, these portable solar panels and solar-powered power banks are great for everything from backpacking and hiking to week-long camping trips, or just keeping a charge while you’re out in the barbecue.
From solar panels that let you charge your phone in a window to power banks that stay on top of it whenever you need extra juice, we’ve found the greatest portable solar chargers on the market. It doesn’t matter if it’s a smartphone, a tablet, or even a laptop, you can get powered up outdoors. Whatever your charging needs, we’ve got a selection of the greatest portable solar chargers to get you powered up and running again, using nothing but sunshine.
As the name implies, a solar charger uses the sun’s power (a.k.a. solar energy) to supply electricity to your devices or to charge the battery. The advantage of these portable devices is that they don’t require an external power source to work, making them great for outdoor enthusiasts or people who don’t have access to a power outlet right away (like when you’re at a music festival in the middle of the desert or in the middle of a scenic hike).
Solar technology is a viable one for charging your mobile devices, but some chargers are definitely better off than others, and not all of them are designed to handle every situation. We test tech products from waterproof speakers to gas leak detectors at the Good Housekeeping Institute.
In order to test solar charges, we take them to our standard light room and the time it takes to fully charge each unit. Then we see how long it takes to charge different devices—over 400 hours of battery drainage during our most recent test.
Beyond looking at the IP ratings (which denote protection against water, dust, dirt and more), we also test the durability of each charger using our in-house rain tester and drop tester. Based on our testing and our categorical expertise, these are the solar chargers that are actually worth it.
What are the best solar chargers to buy?
There are many types and styles of solar panels and solar charger power banks, but the best solar charger is the GoalZero Nomad 7 Plus, a portable panel that is the favourite of backpackers and outdoor enthusiasts.
The folding design makes it easy to pack along, the robust construction allows the rigours of the outdoors to survive, and the built-in kickstand makes it easy to set up for optimal sunlight exposure.
The BigBlue 28w 5V 28 watt solar charger also has a convenient fold-up design that can be mounted in a pack or opened for use on the trail and even has a built-in voltage regulator. BioLite SolarPanel 5+ combines a larger panel design with an integrated battery, allowing you to soak up the rays all day and power up your devices at any time.
The clever design has a 360-degree kickstand that can prop it up or let it hang, and the built-in sunscreen helps you find the best position to catch the most sunlight. There are also several power banks that you can buy with built-in solar panels. Designed for charging from a power outlet and then staying topped with sunlight, these power banks are also packed with handy features.
The BEARTWO Portable Solar Charger has a built-in flashlight with a lightweight 10,000 mAh battery.
The BLAVOR Solar Charger Power Bank features Qi wireless charging and both USB and USB-C power output. The need to get out of the grid and stop relying on power lines has increased significantly in recent years.
More and more free spirits want to be mobile, to be independent of the infrastructure of the country, to be green and to have a clean energy source. Portable solar panels are the ultimate answer to these needs and needs.
Just think of all the potential applications as soon as you get the best portable solar panel possible. You can power your little house, your homestead or your RV. You can charge and use the solar charger with other portable appliances and devices, even if you’re camping in the middle of nowhere.
You will take advantage of the power of the sun from any location and use it to your full advantage without leaving a carbon footprint. But what exactly is the best portable panel this year? There are a number of excellent products available, and I’ve reviewed them for you, hopefully making your choice easier.
Each item is also linked to its Amazon page, where you can read more reviews and compare prices. But first, I’m going to explain a few basic things about these solar panels and how they’re being evaluated.
How to Buy a Portable Solar Panel – All Characteristics
Technology and Materials
First of all, we need to check what technology was used to make a panel. The most widely used make is the crystalline panels. They are used both in off-grid and on-grid portable solar panel systems. Monocrystalline and polycrystalline models usually exist.
The former are more recommended because they are more efficient and therefore more suitable for portable needs. I’m going to explain the efficiency factor further. Next, we’ve got thin-film panels. Thanks to their reduced size and better flexibility, this technology is favoured by some.
But again, we need to consider efficiency, and theirs is a little lower than the monocrystalline type. If you’re going to use a thin-film portable solar panel, you’ll gain more mobility and manoeuvrability, but sacrifice some efficiency. Your personal preference will decide which technology is right for you.
Solar Panel Efficiency
This is probably the most important factor, as it may have an impact on other factors. Efficiency tells you how much energy is being converted from sunlight to DC current that powers your home and appliances.
Higher numbers result in smaller panels that weigh less, are more portable and perform much better. The bottom line is that efficiency means quality, and you should always strive for the top quality product. Why drag a bulky model when a smaller, efficient panel can do the same job without burdening your mobility?
Weight has been mentioned earlier. It goes without saying that you need to choose a light (still reliable) model, otherwise the very purpose of portability is defeated. If you’re camping, if you’re on the move, a low-weight panel has a huge advantage. Some of them are folding and have USB charging ports, which is another big plus.
Deciding on the best portable solar panel for you involves knowing what you’re going to use for. Of course, a boat or an RV camper requires a much larger system with a higher power output compared to a few mobile phones and tablets on a hiking trip.
You need to know how much total wattage (W) you need and choose a panel that produces no less than that. For example, if your mobile home needs 100W of power, then get a solar panel that does not fall below this value. Generally speaking, if you really need to charge your phone and recharge a few batteries, then a 45W solar panel should be enough for this level of use.
Ease of Installation
And finally, make sure you get a panel that you can handle without effort, sweat and tears. Go to panels that do not require any special skills or tools. I can personally guarantee that any panel recommended in this post can be assembled and set up in a matter of minutes, if not less.
Some of the models simply need to be unfolded and quickly secured to one location. Several of them come with adjustable kickstands. Then you only need to connect to your system, usually with a cable or cord included. Some of the panels have ports on their sides, others have connectors that require plugs or alligator clips. Again, choose a product that feels comfortable to you and responds to all your needs.
Features To Look For in a Solar Phone Charger
When shopping for a solar phone charger, there are some things to keep in mind to make sure you’re getting one for your needs, including:
- Type of charger
- Power output
- Device compatibility
Type of Portable Solar Charger
There are two types of solar cellular chargers:
- Direct solar chargers
- Battery bank solar chargers
Direct solar chargers link the solar panels to your phone, so the energy generated by the panels goes directly to your phone’s battery. You don’t have a battery bank portable solar charger attached to your phone. Instead, the panels charge a solar power bank that you can connect your phone to later when it needs a boost.
You want to make sure that the charger you get is powerful enough to charge your devices. If you’re just looking to charge a single smartphone, a low-power solar phone charger can work for you.
If you need something that can charge multiple devices or larger electronics like tablets, you’re going to need a solar phone charger with more power. A wattage of between 10 watts and 15 watts of power is a good rule of thumb when looking for a solar phone charger.
The size of your charger is very important. Because you’re generally going to use a solar phone charger on the go, the size and weight are crucial. Some solar chargers are made up of multiple lightweight solar panels that fold up so that they can fit easily into your backpack. Others are heavier, and include a backup battery pack that adds extra weight to whatever you’re carrying.
Make sure that the charger you are buying is compatible with your devices! Most solar phone chargers are able to charge any USB device, but it’s always good to check before you purchase it. Keep an eye out, too, of how many charging ports the charger has.
You don’t want to go on a hike with three people and you just want to be able to charge two gadgets! An important point to know about solar charging is that even if you get one with a high power output and position it in direct sunlight, it doesn’t have fast charging capabilities.
With most solar phone chargers, it will take at least five hours to fully charge your device. Typically, portable panel chargers are designed to function as a source of backup power, not as the primary way to charge your phone each day due to their slow charging speed.
Solar Energy Can Power More Than Just Your Phone
The quality and efficiency of solar powered phone chargers are getting better all the time. As solar technology continues to improve, one day we could have small solar panels capable of generating a significant amount of power.
Until that day comes, solar powered phone chargers will best serve as a backup option, not a primary source of power. Your phone doesn’t have to be the only thing you’ve got to power with solar energy.
By installing solar panels on your roof, you can power your entire home with solar. Not only does this reduce your carbon footprint, it can save you thousands of dollars on your utility bills.
The 17 Best Solar Chargers You Can Buy in 2021
1. Goal Zero Nomad 7 Plus Solar Panel
Goal Zero Nomad 7 Plus is a portable panel designed to get anywhere you want to go. The Goal Zero Nomad 7 Plus is as popular for on-the-go charging phones and tablets as it is for backpackers in need of power for headlamps and GPS units, with a robust design designed to fit a backpack or hang outside a tent.
The robust design is made of sturdy plastic and features an optional kickstand that lets you prop it up for optimal sunlight exposure, whether you’re using it in a park, on a mountain, or just in your office window sill.
The Goal Zero Nomad 7 Plus features a number of convenient features, such as an automatic shut-off that stops charging when the device is fully charged, an LED indicator that displays solar power to get the best position for capturing rays, and a power output of up to 7 watts via USB. The Goal Zero Nomad 7 isn’t for everyone, but if you decide it’s for you, you’ll end up with a reliable, durable, versatile panel.
The security that the brand name provides is worth it to some, but it’s important to realise how many other brands out there are, making the equivalent in solar power products. This Goal Zero model is well designed and easy to operate, making it a great option for group trips where there are many different charging needs (though it may not be the fastest in charging speed).
2. BigBlue 28W 5V Solar Charger
One of the best-selling solar chargers on Amazon is also the smartest, with the BigBlue 28W 5V Solar Charger featuring a built-in digital ammeter to provide information on charging speed amperage and a voltage regulator that delivers stable power output for safer charging.
In a field full of simple devices, these intelligent touches make the BigBlue 28W a great choice for those who want something a little more sophisticated. It also has a 28W solar charger. The folding four-panel design offers plenty of surface area to capture the power of the sun, and the zip pocket keeps your devices secure while charging.
The functional design features of the BigBlue 28W industrial-strength PET polymer fabric with grommet-reinforced holes for attaching the loader panels to the backpack. You can also hang the BigBlue 28W from a tree with four hooks included. Thanks to IPX4 water resistance, unexpected rain showers or errant sprinklers will also survive.
3. BioLite SolarPanel 5+
Although there are several portable solar panels on the market, BioLite SolarPanel 5+ is one of the few to come with its own built-in battery, allowing you to soak up the sun during the day and save some of that power to charge at night.
The clever design includes an integrated rechargeable battery of 2200mAh and a 360-degree kickstand. The kickstand is double-duty as a hook, for hanging a panel on a tree branch or tent, and a pair of anchor points also let you attach it to the outside of a pack of carabiners for solar collection on the go.
The BioLite solar panel also has a handy front sunscreen to help you find the best position for a stand-alone panel. The charging panel is also weather resistant, with a tough protective layer on the panel and covers to keep moisture out of the dual USB solar charger of the unit and the micro dual USB solar charger.
4. BEARTWO 10000mAh Portable Solar Charger
The best-selling solar charger on Amazon is the 10000mAh BearTwo Portable Solar Charger. Thanks to a solid feature set and an affordable price, the Beartwo comes in black, but is also available with blue, green or orange accents.
Apart from that, the overall design is basic, but functional, with a chunky, easy-to-grip body and a single 2.5 x 4.5-inch panel. The built-in functions include a charge level indicator, a triangular cutout for mounting a carabiner or lanyard loop, and a flashlight.
The 10,000 mAh power bank is expected to charge up to five full charges for a smartphone and can charge two devices at once, thanks to a dual USB solar charger. Weighing just 7.4 ounces, it’s also the lightest solar charger we’ve mentioned, making it the best option for ultralight backpackers and anyone else who wants to keep their weight down in their everyday wear.
5. BLAVOR Solar ChargerPower Bank
It’s hard to beat the BLAVOR PN-W05 Solar Power Bank for a uniquely useful charging solution. Besides being a rugged solar-enabled power bank, it also has Qi wireless charging, which gives you the built-in ability to charge many smartphones without plugging in.
Just put your wireless-charging phone on the charging pad of the power bank and watch your battery fill up. The 10,000mAh external battery pack is also rich in features, from the built-in panel to the built-in flashlight.
The hard plastic shell is made even more rugged with rubber-reinforced corners and water-resistant portal covers. Below this cover, you will find both micro dual USB and USB-C ports for charging the power bank, and a standard USB solar charger for power output. And if you are using the wireless charging pad and the USB ports together, you can charge two devices at once.
6. ECEEN 13W
The ECEEN 13W attracts our attention with its simple design, consistent performance and, of course, an affordable price tag. Its small size and sleek design make it a good choice for backcountry use.
This panel is easy to use and quite compact, plus our small battery packs and phones were loaded almost as fast as panels with a much larger capacity. The combination of high-performance and a reasonable price tag makes this panel no brainer at all! We loved the simplicity of this panel in some ways.
Its design is portable and easy to use, but it struggles to charge under partially cloudy conditions, and can barely charge multiple devices simultaneously. Remember, when charging large, power-hungry devices, 13 watts is relatively small, so keep that in mind when considering this panel.
7. Goertek 25,000mAh
The Goertek 25.000mAh battery pack is a high-capacity three-port USB solar charger that delivers fast charge to small electronics. We love having a large capacity and being able to fully charge the phone multiple times when the battery is over.
In addition, the small panel on its back works well enough to recharge the battery with solar power, even if it takes a few hours. In addition to all these great features, the Goertek rings as one of the most reasonably priced options for setting up a solar charger. All this adds up to place this panel among the winners of our awards.
Our problems with this battery pack are similar to the problems we’ve had with other battery packs/solar options. This product doesn’t work great as a solar charger on its own; if you’re planning to fully charge the 25.000mAh battery out of the sun, plan to give yourself a few full days. That said, the panel will continue to recharge the battery pack even when small electronics are plugged in, which is a feature we appreciate.
8. Renogy 15,000mAh
For people who are not fully committed to relying solely on solar power but still want to be able to charge electronics on the go, solar/battery pack combinations are the way forward. These products can often be bulky and cumbersome, like carrying the world’s first cell phone in your bag.
The Renogy 15,000 is sleek and relatively light because of its capacity, making it an easy item to put in a carrying bag or a bag for daily use. The solar cells that cover the top of the battery allow you to recharge the battery pack while charging your electronics—a benefit to this type of battery.
This model can charge devices quickly, and it’s easier on your wallet. These battery packs are not ideal for those who are completely dependent on solar energy due to the charging speed. It takes hours and hours to fully charge the battery pack, and it would be a slow process to rely solely on your solar cells to top up your devices.
Other models with similar designs have more built-in durability than the Renogy, but some weight and portability have been sacrificed. It depends on your priorities, but if portable, quick charging is on the list, Renogy is a great choice.
9. SunJack 25W
Although it doesn’t have the highest wattage of any panel in this review, the SunJack 25W wowed us with its impressive performance. Our cell phones, external battery packs, and other random electronic gadgets were quickly charged with ease.
It boasts some of the fastest charging speeds that we’ve seen in testing. Plus, its impressive construction and durable construction are trust-inspiring and make it seem like this panel will last for years to come.
It also performed well when partially shaded or partially cloudy, which many of its competitors were unable to do. The significant downside is its price tag and its size. If it were a little smaller, lighter, or more affordable, SunJack would have ranked higher in our list.
10. Hiluckey solar phone charger
Hilucky’s Solar Phone Charger comes with four fold-out solar panels that charge its battery bank. The included rechargeable battery can fully charge the smartphone more than 10 times. It comes with LED light settings, making it ideal for outdoor use.
It has dual USB ports to charge multiple devices. However, having four solar panels makes it a little bulky, even if it increases the surface area of the charger in order to collect sunlight. It’s also going to add an extra 1.25 pounds to your bag. Almost all 5V devices like iPhones, iPads, Samsung, Sony, Huawei, HTC, LG, Nexus, Tablet, GPS, and more are compatible with the solar charger.
11. Nekteck 21W solar phone charger
Nekteck’s 21 Solar Phone Charger has three high-efficiency SunPower solar panels to charge your phone directly. Its dual charge ports have a combined power output of 15 watts, which means you’ll charge multiple devices and charge your phone faster than some other chargers on the market. It’s extremely lightweight at just 18 oz.
Plus, it’s weather resistant. However, this is a direct solar charger, so your phone needs to be connected directly to it in order to charge. If you want to have the power stored to charge later, you’re going to have to purchase the battery bank separately. All iPhones, tablets, GPS, cameras, and other USB supported devices are compatible with the solar charger.
12. Anker 21W solar phone charger
Anker’s solar phone charger can charge more than two devices at once using its three high-efficiency SunPower solar panels. It’s compact and lightweight, making it easy to hook this portable charger on your backpack while walking.
However, according to customer reviews, the charger is not compatible with all smartphones. Anker’s charger doesn’t come with a battery pack, so your phone needs to be plugged in to charge it directly. The solar charger is compatible with iPhone 7, 6s, Plus, iPad Pro, iPad Air 2, iPad mini, Galaxy S7, S6, Edge, Plus, Note 5 and 4, LG, Nexus, HTC, etc.
13. Renogy KIT-STARTER-100D
This model is considered to be one of the best portable solar panels in existence. The Renogy solar kit will power your RV in no time. Just think about it, this kit will allow you to add more devices and appliances to your mobile home – up to 400W in total!
The kit includes an 8-foot cable, which allows you to connect the battery and the charge controller, and you can start using the kit immediately. And even if you park in the shade, you can set the panel a few feet away, under the sun, and enjoy the best of both worlds – cool RV climate and free solar energy.
Under the right conditions, the power output of the Renogy kit is truly amazing. If the day is sunny and you connect the kit in the early hours, you’ll be able to enjoy about 500Wh in the day.
This amount of energy should be more than enough to charge any battery in just a few hours. The device is very safe, too. It comes with a negative grounding controller, which is extremely useful if your motor home is negatively grounded.
It also weighs about 20 lbs. And it can’t be folded. All in all, it’s a highly recommended panel. It is highly efficient and capable of producing wattages between 100W and 400W. If you’re serious about producing clean, free energy from the power grid, this is the right device for you.
14. Zamp Solar 120P
This portable solar kit is a smart choice for smart off-gridders. The Zamp Solar product will efficiently power any RV and charge all your batteries in record time. It’s durable and highly reliable, so you can take it anywhere you want: on a road trip or camp outdoors.
Zamp Solar 120P is capable of producing 30-40 amperes per day, which should be more than enough for any mobile home. It works with both 12V and 6V batteries, so you are not limited to your choice of battery. It can be easily connected to your power system, either via an SAE port or directly to your battery.
The 120P Zamp Solar weighs 35 lbs. And if necessary, it can be folded and carried in the included bag. No wonder many consider it to be the best folding panel on the market. With 120W of power, you will never be dependent on an electrical connection. In addition, the material used to make this panel is monocrystalline.
Coupled with an anti-reflective system, its solar cells absorb more light and generate more energy. The bottom line is that Zamp Solar 120P is very versatile and efficient, making it a great panel and one of the best on our list.
It can produce a lot of power even under cloudy or dim conditions, which is always a huge plus because you’re not limited to weather conditions.
15. HQST 100 Watt 12 Volt Polycrystalline Solar Panel
This portable panel can be universally adapted to any installation system. It’s very efficient, too. It outputs 500Wh under ideal conditions. However, thanks to the bypass diodes, shade and low light can be overcome without any noticeable drop in performance.
This HQST Solar model has been designed to last for decades. Thanks to the multilayer lamination and the encapsulation material, even after many years, the cells perform at their peak. Add a corrosion-resistant frame, and you’ve got an excellent addition to your power system.
Not yet convinced? The glass of the panel is tempered, anti-reflective and extremely transparent. It is resistant to impact, snow, water, high winds and flying particles! You can enjoy the free energy produced by this product with minimal maintenance and replacement parts. It only weighs 16.5 lbs.
And it can fit on any rooftop, RV, campervan, boat or small house. Solar cells are polycrystalline and very efficient. On the back of the panel, you can find MC4 cables with a waterproof junction box that allows you to plug your power system easily.
All in all, this is a great, affordable addition to your off-grid life. With the HQST 100-Watt 12-Volt Polycrystalline Solar Panel, you are prepared for any scenario and any weather.
16. ECO-WORTHY DC-FP40-1
ECO-WORTHY products live up to their name by efficiently generating clean energy from a clean solar source. This specific model is also very durable and well-known as one of the best folding solar panels.
The corrosion-resistant frame is made of aluminium, which ensures that the panel will serve you for many years in all weather conditions, including heavy snow, rain and heavy winds. This polycrystalline model also comes with a wide range of safety mechanisms, as it protects against:
- Reverse connection
Any of these could harm your system and devices, so it’s a good thing that the manufacturers of this portable panel kit have taken care of these potential problems. The ECO-WORTHY DC-FP40-1 can be set up and operated easily. You just unfold it and connect the clips to your battery.
It’s a great solution if you’re camping, hiking, driving, or even need to use a watering system with a solar pump. Weighs 12 lbs. It produces a wattage of 40W. The bottom line is that this is a reliable and very affordable solar kit for anyone who doesn’t need a lot of power output. It can be carried anywhere with ease, you just carry it like a briefcase.
And with the aforementioned durability and several protections, this is undoubtedly a portable panel that you should try.
17. Go Power! GP-PSK-130
Another great solution for those of us who are travelling in RVs and campers. Go to power! The GP-PSK-130 130W Portable Solar Kit has a very impressive power output. If the sun is out, you can enjoy up to 130W in an hour. The kit also comes with a built-in 10-amp solar controller.
This panel kit is made of durable materials and requires very little maintenance. It’s foldable and weighs less than 29 lbs. The setup is quick and easy, the panel will be up and running in a matter of minutes.
The kit does not require a permanent placement on the roof. It can be easily installed and removed to be used elsewhere, or even to charge a battery to your car, boat or ATV. The kit is designed to fully absorb the energy of the sun, thanks to its foldable and adjustable legs. It also comes with a sturdy nylon bag for convenient carrying and storage.
Basically, it’s another great way to live and travel while using solar power. Investment in this model is quickly paying off. You can use it as the main power source for your mobile home, or as an additional panel to those you already have on the roof of your home. It also includes a carrying case and a plug adapter for SAE & XLR.