The best solar chargers are ideal when you're away from home and can't find a power outlet. Even if the sun is hidden behind a cloud, you can still use its light to top up your phone, laptop and other devices. It's a power source that's free, natural and environmentally sound... what's not to like?
To find the best solar charger for your needs, you'll need to choose between two broad types. With the first type, you simply connect it to your device and place it in daylight. The second type, meanwhile, is a solar charger power bank, which has an in-built battery. That battery can be charged via mains or USB before you leave home, and topped up as you go, using the power of the sun.
We'll be honest; with the latter, the solar aspect will be quite limited. You're going to be mainly relying on the in-built battery, with the solar panels only really there for emergency top-ups. But if that extra bit of power makes the difference between your device dying and staying alive, it's well worth having.
The best solar chargers in 2023
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Below, we've listed the best solar chargers available today, covering both types. We'll start with the best solar chargers of the basic kind, but if you want a battery too, jump ahead to the best solar power banks.
The best solar charger without a battery
The Goal Zero Nomad 20 is on the heavy side, but a kilo isn't too much to carry on a camping trip, and you're basically getting three solar panels in one. It's rugged and durable, folds down nice and flat, and provides an impressive 20W of power in full sunshine.
When it comes to connectivity you have two choices: an attached 8mm cable that plugs directly into a portable power station (20W), or a USB-A port which lets you charge smartphones, camera batteries and the like at up to 10W.
For more details, see our Goal Zero Nomad 20 solar panel charger review.
Based on three fold-out solar panels, SunJack 25W delivers consistent performance, in both sunshine and cloudy conditions. And on average, it charges faster than any other battery-free solar charger on our list, even though it's not the most powerful overall.
You get two USB outputs, and two carabiners are perfect for attaching it to your backpack. It's also got a rugged and waterproof ETFE-coated design that makes it great for camping, boating, festivals and other outdoor activities. On the downside, it's also heavy and expensive, but at least you can see what you're getting for the extra weight and cost. SunJack makes 15W and 60W versions too, if you want to spend less, or if you need more power.
Consisting of four 7W solar panels, the BigBlue 5V 28W Solar Charger is small enough to take on long journeys, camping trips and festivals. Yet it folds out to quite a large size, providing enough power for stable, reliable charging, even on a cloudy day. And the in-built Smart IC Technology means you get the maximum charging speed to your devices.
Stainless steel eye-holes on each corner make it easy to attach it to your backpack, tents, trees or a fence. A digital ammeter shows you how many amps are present. And three USB ports allow you to charge multiple devices simultaneously. A special PET polymer surface provides a IPX4 level of waterproofing to protect it from light rain or wet fog. And best of all, it's available for a very reasonable price.
Tight on budget? The Ryno Tuff Portable Solar Charger is cheap, and still does a great job of charging your devices. It's light, too, at just 481g. This solar charger is designed to be water-resistant, corrosion-resistant and can withstand high temperatures. There are two USB ports, hidden in a protective pocket. Plus there are two carabiner hooks for hanging it on your backpack, tent, bike or vehicle, and offers a maximum output of 21W.
When you're out on the trail for days, weeks or even months, you want to keep your backpack as light as possible. Which makes the Goal Zero Nomad 5 Solar Panel's weight of just 360g a real benefit.
On the downside, this charger doesn't fold out, so can only provide a maximum 5W of juice for your devices. For this reason, there's only one USB output. On the plus side, there's a built-in kickstand so you can angle it for optimal solar collection. Also, there's an attachment point at each corner for strapping it to your rucksack. And it's nice and cheap, too.
The best solar charger with a battery
Going on a photoshoot and need to stay off grid? The Solar Generator 1000 easily has enough capacity to keep laptops, cameras and more topped up with free energy from the sun.
The kit combines a 1000-watt rechargeable Jackery Solar Generator 1000 power station and a pair of Solar Saga solar panels, each rated at 100 watts, to recharge it from the sun’s rays. You can also charge it via the mains or from your car’s 12-volt outlet via supplied adapters.
The panels open up to 1220x535mm, and have pull-out stands to keep them in the optimal position for catching sunlight. An LCD readout tells you how much charge is left in the battery, as well as the current power input and output in watts. It doesn’t come cheap, mind, although it can often be found discounted.
For more details, see our Jackery Solar Generator 1000 review.
With a built-in 3,200mAh battery behind a solar panel, the BioLite SolarPanel10+ is a great way of recharging a smartphone if you’re outdoors and have time to kill. At just 10W don’t expect it to recharge anything quickly, but if used properly your patience will be rewarded with some free extra juice.
On the back of the battery is a USB-A slot (5V/2.4-amp) for attaching whatever you want as well as a micro USB slot for recharging the BioLite SolarPanel10+ from the mains. It's just a shame micro USB is used since that’s now very outdated. For more details, read our full BioLite SolarPanel10+ review.
Like the DJRoll Power Bank above, the Hiluckey Wireless Solar Charger can charge Qi-enabled devices wirelessly, and charge four devices simultaneously, using its two USB-A and one USB-C ports. It also has a flashlight.
The onboard battery is a generous 26,800mAh, which is enough to charge an iPhone 11 eight times, a Samsung S10 six times and an iPad three times. And this is the lightest solar power bank on our list. The solar panel is, in truth, not going to add a huge amount of charging capacity. But it will provide some added peace of mind for when you're getting close to draining your onboard battery.