Have you ever had that sick feeling when you get in the car to start the engine, and it just seems to be powerless?
Especially when you’re away from home and late at night?
In recent months, I’ve discovered the value of keeping the best solar car battery charger around just on those occasions when I realize my battery power is getting low.
Initially, they don’t cost a lot, and they save money – and the environment – in the long run, plus they’re safer and more convenient to use than standard chargers.
Types of Solar Car Battery Chargers
Solar Car Battery Maintainer
Solar car battery maintainers are designed to maintain the charge of the battery. They keep the electricity at an optimum level, which is essential for stored batteries.
If your car is parked throughout the season, you will need a battery maintainer to prevent the vehicle from losing its charge. A quality solar panel will keep the battery healthy and allow you to start your car without any problems for a long time to come.
Solar Car Battery Charger
These solar panels can fully charge the car batteries, even if they are completely drained. Solar chargers are larger and more powerful than maintainers, allowing you to quickly and effortlessly recharge your vehicle. That makes them ideal for off-road situations when you’re far away from the power source.
Solar Car Battery Chargers Pricing
Lightweight and compact car battery chargers can be found at this price point. Although cheap, they prove to be quite powerful and reliable. They may lack some extra features, such as overcharging protection, but they are still very useful.
$40 and up
For a few extra bucks, you can get high-efficiency solar chargers, outstanding power, and excellent weather protection. They are ideal for long-term use and most of the time ensure both battery charging and maintenance.
How Does a Solar Car Battery Charger Work?
The solar panel for charging the car battery is a simple concept, although the details are, of course, more complex.
Basically, the solar panel is designed with a car battery in mind and has the proper connectors to be used for this purpose. The solar panel itself uses photovoltaic cells – solar cells – to collect light from the sun and convert it to DC or electricity that your car battery can use to charge.
They are most effectively used in direct sunlight, although low light and cloudy conditions still give rise to some charge. Solar car chargers have solar panels on the face that allow you to simply position the solar panel near the window or inside the dashboard to pull the sunlight out during the day.
Some chargers are connected directly to the battery, while others are powered by a cigarette lighter or a power socket in the car.
The Difference Between a Solar Car Battery Charger and a Regular Charger
In addition to the obvious difference in the power source, the main difference between a solar car battery charger and a regular charger is that standard chargers are more commonly used to fully charge a dead battery.
The other main difference is that a solar charger is far less likely to overcharge your battery and cause damage, even with a solar battery charger.
Understanding Voltage for Car Batteries and Chargers
12 volts is the standard vehicle battery. Each battery has six 2.1 voltage cells. When the battery is fully charged, this is equal to 12.6 volts of charge in the battery.
If the voltage in the car battery drops, even 0.6 down to 12.0, the power difference is 75 per cent. Power drops from 100 per cent to 25 per cent.
At 12.4 volts, the car battery is charged at 75 per cent, and 12.2 means that the voltage is charged at 50 per cent. This means that you can consider your battery being charged if it is 12.4 volts or higher but discharged and you need to recharge it if it is 12.39 volts or lower.
You can test your car’s battery voltage by connecting the voltmeter to the battery. 13.5 to 14.5 volts or more should be recorded while charging with the idle car. If this is not produced, the alternator may have problems and needs to be tested in an auto parts store.
The Benefits of Solar Car Battery Chargers
There are plenty of reasons for using a solar car battery charger instead of a standard wall socket charger. They’re saving money, the environment, and even extending the life of your car battery.
The first thing I would like to note about using a solar-powered battery charger over a standard electrical model is that solar power is environmentally friendly.
They use sunlight energy harnesses and convert solar cells to electricity that can charge your car’s battery. Solar energy is a source of renewable energy that is far too often overlooked, but these chargers can help anyone do a little bit better.
Prolong Your Car Battery Health and Life
Solar battery chargers provide a steady stream of charging power even if they do not deliver the same amount as some of the standard electrically-operated chargers. They’re a little less likely to overcharge your battery, which means they’re actually going to prolong the life of your car’s battery.
Simplicity of Use
A solar car charger is extremely easy to use, making it a winner in my book. An elderly person, teenager, or dad with three kids on the heel can pick up a 12-volt solar car battery charger and make it much easier to operate than a standard electric charger. You don’t have to figure out the amperage and voltage of your wall socket chargers. Instead, you’re just going to use the charger wherever you are and get going.
Also, because the solar battery charger doesn’t have as much power behind it as the electrical socket charger does, it’s much safer for beginners to use.
Convenient and Portable
One of the most important things about a solar car battery charger, in my opinion, is that it allows you to charge your car battery wherever you are. Forget about turning off the lights at home? Whip away from the charger. Discover the battery at the campground in the woods? Again, just pull it out and charge for it. You can’t do that anywhere with a standard charger. Note, they don’t charge a dead battery again.
Eventually, a solar-powered solar car battery charger may start off as a more expensive charger than standard models, but once you’ve made that initial charge, you’ve already spent. They don’t require any paid electricity to be used, which means that you save time on electricity over the years.
How to Choose the Best Solar Car Battery Charger?
It might seem pretty straight forward, but finding the right solar car battery charger might prove to be a little tricky if you’re not sure what to look for. However, if you keep these things in mind, you should be good at going to this new territory.
Efficiency in Charging
You’ll want to find one that has an efficiency rating of at least 20% for the most efficient solar-powered solar car battery charger. This efficiency rating is two things.
One, you don’t have to keep these chargers in direct sunlight all the time to use enough energy to charge your car battery.
Two, you can know that you’re going to be able to charge your car in low sunlight months – think of winter and springtime – or on cloudy days.
Size and Weight
Make sure the solar car battery charger you get is a reasonable size and weight for your situation. They tend to be large and tall, which is awkward for storage and use in some models of cars.
Normally, you’re going to keep your solar car battery charger in the car where it’s going to be charged in sunlight during the day, so you’re going to need a model that’s small enough to fit in your car comfortably.
Or, if you’re only expecting to charge the battery at home, you can choose a larger model because the size isn’t going to be that much of a concern.
Reverse Charge Blocking Diode
I was confused when I first saw this term. I might know a lot about solar power, but I’m not as familiar with cars. But as I looked at it, this feature immediately became a valuable option that I realized was important.
Reverse charge blocking diodes allow the charger to retain all the energy it collects from sunlight throughout the day. It prevents the energy from leaking out at night when it’s not in use.
The feature is present in most solar-powered battery chargers, though, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find. Just note the mention of the feature or not, as most manufacturers will include it in the description.
Most solar battery chargers are between 2 and 18 volts in power. The lower the voltage, obviously, the lower the power. However, they’re not going to overload your battery.
Of course, the higher-voltage models will charge your battery much faster than the lower-end models. Unfortunately, a lot of them don’t come with overload protection, so it might be a risky choice to go with something higher.
Connectors and Cables
You want to make sure you get a charger with more than one 12-volt connector. This gives you a number of connection options. The length of the power cord will also determine your charging flexibility by limiting the distance you have to charge when it is too short.
If you are planning to use a solar charger under difficult conditions, consider the quality of the casing prior to purchase. Some solar panels have weather-sealed cases that are protected against moisture, dirt, dust and other environmental hazards.
Cables and Connectors
Don’t forget to check the cables and connectors for each particular charger. We recommend that you get one with at least two connectors so that you have different charging options. A long power cord also makes charging easier.
How We Chose the Chargers for Our Solar Car Battery Charger Review List
Before making this list, I studied a lot about car batteries, chargers, solar energy, and how they all work together. In particular, I wasn’t very knowledgeable about the subject of car battery, but I’ve learned that knowledge is a powerful tool to keep my family safe.
So, I applied that research and new knowledge to discover the best options on the market for solar car chargers. I started by drawing up a list of needs for a standard charger – which helps us know if the charger is worth considering in the first place.
Then I went to look for reviews from others on car battery solar chargers to see what options are most popular and most highly rated by pro reviewers and real-life users alike. The search resulted in about 80 different chargers.
Obviously, I wasn’t going to review any of these, so I hacked down the list by first eliminating any solar car battery charger that didn’t have enough high reviews for me to consider them to be “above average.” Then I cut the list further down by looking through the comments and reviews given by real-life users to see what their experiences had been with the different chargers.
Top 9 Best Solar Car Battery Chargers in 2021
1. SUNER POWER 12V Solar Car Battery Charger & Maintainer
This is a 12-volt car battery charger that uses solar power to charge and maintain batteries in cars, motorcycles, boats, RVs, and more.
As long as you place the solar panel under enough sunlight, it successfully recharges any battery and keeps it at optimum performance. The battery charger works on wet, gel, SLA, AGM, deep cycle, and many other types of batteries.
The solar battery charger comes at a reasonable price and is packed with excellent features.
First of all, it has a built-in blocking diode that prevents reverse discharge and accidental leakage.
Second, the solar panel is made with durability in mind. It features strong solar glass and a sturdy ABS frame that can withstand heavy loads.
Third, the solar battery charger is super easy to use, highly portable and comes with a one-year warranty.
However, if you need a solar battery charger that works on different electronic solar panels and not just vehicles, the Suner Power One is not the best choice. It’s a little underpowered because of the large electrical batteries.
You might also notice that the charger is not performing well in low-light or cloudy conditions. For optimum working power, direct sunlight is required.
2. Sunway Solar Car Battery Trickle Charger & Maintainer
If you’re looking for a compact car battery charger, the Sunway model may be perfect for you. It’s a small, lightweight solar panel that you can transport and store easily. Right off the top, is a solar-powered battery charger that is covered in PV glass which is efficient and also more durable. There is little to no maintenance owning one of these.
On top of that, the charger offers a reliable and impressive price performance. It recharges batteries quite quickly when placed under direct sunlight and is suitable for all 12 volt batteries. The Sunway Solar Car Battery also comes in 4 sizes, 1.5W, 4W, 5W, and 8W.
The main advantage of this type of charger is overcharge protection. The solar panel is still efficient and safe for the battery. It is easily mounted on a windshield or a dash and plugs into a 12-volt cigarette lighter. Rated as the #1 Best Seller in Solar Battery Chargers & Charging Kits, it also has a rating of 4.3 out of 5 on Amazon, over 2100 ratings.
One of the important variables of a charger is reverse charging, where your car battery might start charging the charger instead, which means that it went haywire and defeats the purpose of the charger itself. However, for this product, there is actually a reverse charging protection, where it prevents reverse charging with a built-in diode. There is an LED light that will light up when it is charging.
In addition, the item offers study and durable construction as well as a one-year warranty. Keep in mind, however, that this solar panel is best suited for occasional recharges. Although it can also be used as a battery maintainer, it does not perform well to maintain stored batteries. The solar panel may also be unsuitable for winter and rainy days.
3. ALLPOWERS Automotive Portable Solar Panel
Those who are looking for a low-cost solar charger might find this model perfect for their needs. The solar panel powers 12-volt batteries and is ideal for cars, motorcycles, tractors, boats and other types of vehicles.
It’s easy to use and highly portable, making it ideal for off-road situations. This is a mono-crystalline silicon solar panel that works in all daylight conditions. It is water-resistant and has a blocking diode to prevent reverse discharge.
Overall, the charger is very useful, efficient and safe for batteries. Because it is not overpowered, the solar panel does not cause damage to the batteries and extends their lifespan.
It comes with an 18-month warranty and suction cups for easy mounting. Keep in mind, however, that this is a budget-friendly option. The charger is not as efficient as some of the other prime options on our list.
This portable solar panel battery charger also comes in three different sizes, of which are 18V and 5W, 18V and 7.5W, or 18V and 10W. Taking the top of the list with a 4.1 stars out of 5 on Amazon, over 1200 reviews, this car battery charger comes in a package containing:
- ALLPOWERS Car Battery Charger
- Cigarette Lighter Plug
- Clip Line
- Suction Cups
- Instruction Manual
One thing to note is that this is a top of the line charger, but don’t expect this to charge a dead battery. It’s simply not designed to. There is an isolation diode contained within the solar panel to prevent back-feed drain, regardless of whether the lighter or clip-on cable is used. With that being said, you don’t worry about reverse charging.
When it comes to the design of the charger, the only thing that could bother you is the quality of the frame. The edges of the charger may be damaged by constant exposure to the sun.
4. TP-Solar Solar Panel Car Battery Charger
This 12-volt solar charger is perfect for car, RV, truck, motorcycle and other vehicle batteries. It is designed to plug in the cigarette lighter and provide a steady flow of electricity to keep the battery in optimum condition.
Installation is pretty easy, so you can set up and run your solar panel in a matter of minutes. The thing we like about this solar panel is the overall quality of the cost. In addition to being efficient, the charger proves to be safe and durable.
It comes with a built-in circuit board to prevent discharge and features a waterproof design. The solar panel is still lightweight and easy to move around. You can easily store it in your vehicle and take it on your adventures.
However, the included suction cups are not of the best quality. We don’t recommend using them to mount the charger because it might fall. Also, under direct sunlight, the solar panel could get quite hot. Make sure you handle it carefully and move it away from the sun when it warms up.
5. POWOXI Solar Car Battery Charger
This charger offers high-performance charging and a user-friendly design. It works in cloudy conditions, so you don’t have to put it under direct sunlight to charge your car’s battery.
All in all, the equipment works on cars, motorcycles, boats, trucks, and many other vehicles. You can recharge any 12-volt battery quite efficiently.
What’s great about this charger is the fact that it has a barrier diode to prevent discharge. It is intended for both indoor and outdoor use and features a weatherproof solar panel. The housing is made of heavy-duty plastic, so it should last a long time.
You’re even going to get a one-year warranty just in case you run into any issues. However, this solar panel is not recommended for heavy-duty outdoor use.
It is protected from damage and raindrops, but not completely sealed from water and daily abuse. You’re going to find it perfect for occasional use. Also, keep in mind that the suction cups may not hold the charger.
You might want to get another accessory to attach the solar panel to the windshield.
6. SUNAPEX Solar Battery Charger Trickle
The Sunapex battery charger uses amorphous film technology to charge a battery charger in all weather conditions.
It’s a 12-volt solar panel that you can use on different types of battery charger and make sure you’re never running out of power when you’re off the road.
In addition, the charger comes at an attractive price and is suitable for all budgets. The charger generates electricity quite well and comes with a built-in reverse diode to prevent discharge. It’s very easy to use and maintain.
The charger comes with a weatherproof design and a sturdy plastic ABS frame. You can use it anywhere and at any time on cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats and other vehicles. There’s even a one-year guarantee of extra peace of mind.
The thing that might bother you the most about this charger is the quality of the cable connector fasteners. It’s hard to slip into the battery clip cables.
You’re going to have to apply some extra pressure and handle the cables with caution. In fact, the entire solar panel may feel a little fragile, and we recommend careful handling at all times.
7. PALADIN Solar Car Battery Charger
Last but not least, we need to introduce a Paladin solar charger. It’s one of those useful solar panels that works in low-light conditions and proves to be of great benefit to travelers.
Thanks to its simple design, the Paladin 12-volt solar charger is easy to use and is perfect for off-road situations.
The solar panel is protected against weather and high impacts. The plastic housing proves to be quite robust and durable, and you can use it in rain, snow and other extreme weather conditions.
There are several reports where customer showed a malfunctioned car battery charger, where it doesn’t get the job done as intended to. Paladin provides immediate replacement of a new charger during the warranty, so if your product is not working as intended, do not be afraid to contact them.
Even on cloudy days, they will work like a champ, especially if your car has electrical leak and you can’t seem to find the problem. This product will help just that, by simply plugging into the cigarette lighter output.
Rated at 4.3 out of 5 in over 400 ratings on Amazon, this product speaks for itself. Many buyers also use them on a daily basis, and it’s best if you leave them on your windshield while charging with no UV filtering on your windows. However, it does look like an iPad, so be wary of your surroundings! Other than that, this product works like a charm, and there are mostly positive reviews about it.
There’s also a blocking diode for more battery protection. In addition, the package includes two solar panels, mounting suction cups, battery clamps, cigarette lighter plugs and a user manual. We just need to warn you about the design of the plugs on this solar panel.
They’re a little different from the ones found on most solar chargers, so it takes time to figure them out. Some buyers also complained that the unit was not so quick to recharge fully drained batteries.
8. Battery Tender 021-1163 Solar Maintainer with Super Smart Charging Controller
The 021-1163 battery charger is a super convenient option to use to protect your battery. It has a 3-step microcontroller to smartly charge your battery without the risk of overcharging.
It has reverse polarity protection, is spark-proof, waterproof, and has a built-in temperature compensation sensor.
It’s one of the safest car battery chargers in the area. Battery Tender 021-1163 is safe for outdoor use on almost any vehicle that uses a 12-volt battery. The product is also recommended for outdoor use, charging and maintaining, off road motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, and camping. Rated at 4.4 out of 5 on Amazing over nearly 1500 ratings, it is definitely a great product.
However, one thing to keep in mind is that the output from 1 amp can drop to about 0.7 amps when you have a shadow over it, so be careful with that as you’ll lose nearly a third of your intended output. If your output falls off to less than 1 on a normal sunny day, you will need to clean it, as there may be a dust or pollen layer created on the screen.
One thing to note though, is that you will need to connect it to a battery to ‘turn on’ the output regulator, which about 12v and it would work just fine. There are also some mounting holes in the corners in case you’d want to make it a permanent fixture.
It’s built long-lastingly to withstand bad weather, plus it’s easy to install, and only gives off a nominal charge for safety. The solar panel comes in either 5-watt, 10-watt, or 15-watt, depending on your exact needs.
9. NOCO Black Life BLSolar2 2.5-Watt Charger and Maintainer
If you’re looking for an ultra-low-profile option, the 2.5-watt solar charger from NOCO is a great choice. The NOCO 2.5-watt solar charger safely works for a variety of battery types, including wet, gel, MF, EFB, and AGM batteries.
That means you’re ready to charge and keep them in a proper state of charge for cars, bikes, farm vehicles, and other off-road vehicles. However, this is one of the product that does not look as much as it does. Many users report this product to be surprisingly good quality.
While on Amazon it may show that a red indicator light on the plug when the product comes, there is no red light indicator. NOCO has formally released a note saying that the red light indicator was removed due to customers concern of battery drainage during the night. However, the issue with not having the indicator light would be slightly problematic since you will not be able to determine if the 12-volt accessory plug has power with the ignition off.
The NOC (Non Obsolescent Optical Coating) has an almost invisible image and strong reflectivity, which is best for difficult winter lighting conditions in many countries outside of the United States.
This solar battery trickle charger can be adapted for use on 6-volt batteries as well, or in battery recovery mode, if the flex regulators are used. Rated at 4.1 out of 5 over 500 ratings, this product has its own standing.
For the right solar car battery charger, you need to think about the aspects of efficiency, wattage, voltage, and battery availability of connections. It is easy, so it’s easier to choose products based on those that have a greater likelihood of performing well in real life.
Try to bear in mind that most chargers are not intended to completely charge a battery that no longer produces power. Maintenance and simple battery chargers can be used instead of solar battery chargers.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: Do Solar Car Battery Chargers Actually Work?
As long as you use a solar battery charger for your intended use, yes, it works. Typically, solar battery chargers do not have multiple amperage settings, which means that they only provide a small amount of current to the battery.
This means that the solar battery charger is more beneficial to the maintenance of the car’s battery charge than to fully charge the battery.
Q: How Long Do They Take to Charge?
Standard solar panels will take between 4 and 12 hours to receive a full charge. The average for moderate to high-watt panels is between 6 and 8 hours of direct or mostly bright light hours of charging.
During the winter, cloudy weather or other low light conditions, the charging time will be closer to 12 or even 14 hours.
Q: Do Solar Car Battery Chargers Charge a Dead Car Battery?
A solar car battery charger will not be able to charge a dead battery. They’re not for that purpose. Solar-powered car battery charger is a trickle charger, which means they charge at a rate equal to the self-discharge rate.
This enables the battery to remain fully charged at the correct level.
However, when charging as a trickle charger, the battery must not be in use and cannot keep the battery charged while “in use.” There may be some models designed specifically for fully recharging the car battery, but they are less common and will use a different form of charging known as float charging.