The best solar chargers in 2023 for topping up phones, cameras & more

Woman in climbing gear looking at bright sun shining over mountain range, with one of the best solar chargers on her backpack
(Image credit: BigBlue)

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. 

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.

Solar panels: the best solar charger without a battery 

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Goal Zero Nomad 20, one of the best solar chargers, catching rays on a garden patio

(Image credit: Jamie Carter/Digital Camera World)
The best solar panel charger for most people

Specifications

Output: 10W into smartphones, 20W into power stations
Ports: 8mm Solar Port, USB-A
Weight: 1kg
Size: 292 x 19 x 32mm (folded) / 292x553x19 mm” (unfolded)

Reasons to buy

+
Well made
+
Easy to use
+
Rugged

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy

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.

best solar chargers: SunJack 25W Solar Charger

(Image credit: SunJack)

2. SunJack 25W

The best solar charger for fast charging

Specifications

Output: 25W
Ports: 2 x USB
Weight: 871g
Size: 318 x 203 x 32mm (folded); 318 x 622 x 25mm (unfolded)

Reasons to buy

+
Fast charging 
+
Rugged design 

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy 
-
Expensive

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.

(Image credit: BigBlue)
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3. BigBlue 5V 28W Solar Charger

The best solar charger for festivals

Specifications

Output: 28W
Ports: 3 x USB
Weight: 609.5g
Size: 285 x 160 x 28mm (folded); 840 x 282 x 5mm (unfolded)

Reasons to buy

+
Stable and reliable charging 
+
Digital ammeter
+
IPX4 waterproofing

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the cheapest

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.

(Image credit: Ryno)
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4. Ryno Tuff Portable Solar Charger

The best solar charger for value

Specifications

Output: 21W
Ports: 2 x USB
Weight: 481g
Size: 300 x 150 x 20mm (folded); 460 x 300 x 3mm (unfolded)

Reasons to buy

+
Low price 
+
Lightweight 
+
Great performer

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the most powerful

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.

(Image credit: Goal Zero)
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5. Goal Zero Nomad 5 Solar Panel

The best solar charger for portability

Specifications

Output: 5W
Ports: 1 x USB
Weight: 360g
Size: 240 x 178 x 28mm

Reasons to buy

+
Light and compact 
+
Low price 

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited power 
-
Only one port 

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

(Image credit: Future)
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The best solar powered generator overall

Specifications

Output: 1002Wh
Ports: 1x USB-A, 1x USB-C
Weight: 22.04 lbs / 20kg
Size: 610 x 535 x 35 mm

Reasons to buy

+
Large panels
+
LCD readout
+
Wide array of AC and DC outlets

Reasons to avoid

-
Doesn't come cheap

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 (opens in new tab).

(Image credit: Anker)
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7. Anker PowerCore Solar 20000

The best solar charger power bank overall

Specifications

Battery: 20,000mAh
Output: 18W
Ports: USB-A, USB-C
Weight: 495g
Size: ‎ 81 x 180 x 22mm

Reasons to buy

+
20,000mAh battery
+
Dustproof and waterproof
+
In-built flashlight

Reasons to avoid

-
Takes several days to charge by sun

The Jackery Solar Generator 1000 (above) is very powerful, but it's large, heavy and expensive. If you just need to keep a single phone topped up, you're better off with a power bank, and we recommend the Anker PowerCore Solar 20000. 

You get both a USB-A and USB-C port, and with a 20,000mAh capacity battery, you'll have plenty of onboard juice. That's enough charge up an iPhone 12 around 4.7 times, a Galaxy S20 3.4 times, and an iPad mini 2.7 times. Plus, while the battery is running down, you can be topping it up again via the solar panels. 

Don't expect miracles: it can take several days to fully charge in this way. But it does give you that extra bit of juice that will stop you worrying about running out when you're away for long periods.

This power bank is also dustproof and water-resistant to IP65 standards, comes with four-corner drop protection, a handle, and an in-built flashlight, making it a good choice for camping and hiking. Plus you get a USB-C to USB-C cable in the box, along with a Handy-Carry wrist strap.

(Image credit: Jamie Carter/Digital Camera World)
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Compact and affordable choice for topping up your smartphone

Specifications

Battery: 3,200mAh
Output: 10W
Ports: 1x MicroUSB, 1z USB-A
Weight: 1.21 lbs / 550g
Size: 257 x 208 x 24 mm

Reasons to buy

+
Rugged design
+
Sundial for max. solar power
+
Folds up for travel

Reasons to avoid

-
MicroUSB input
-
Battery is small
-
Requires regular realignment

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 (opens in new tab).

(Image credit: Addtop)
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9. Addtop Solar Charger Power Bank

The best solar charger power bank for value

Specifications

Battery: 25,000mAh
Output: 5W
Ports: 2 x USB-C
Weight: 538g
Size: ‎157 x 90 x 35mm

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable price 
+
Generous battery 
+
In-built flashlight

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the most powerful

Want a solar charger power bank that's a bit cheaper? Addtop may be a less well-known brand, but its Solar Charger Power Bank does the job in hand effectively and effiently. It comes with four fold-out solar panels, two USB-C ports and an in-built flashlight, plus a generous 25,000mAh battery. Its solar power output is 5W, which isn't huge, but it does the job well, and at this price it represents very good value.

(Image credit: DJRoll)
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10. DJRoll 36,000mAh Power Bank

The best solar charger power bank for wireless charging

Specifications

Battery: 36,000mAh
Output: 15W
Ports: 2 x USB, 1 x USB-C, plus Qi wireless charging
Weight: 520g
Size: ‎ 188 x 119 x 42mm

Reasons to buy

+
Wireless charging
+
Generous battery
+
Three flashlight modes

Reasons to avoid

-
Solar charging only for emergencies

If you want wireless charging from your solar power bank, try this option from DJRoll. You can juice up any device that supports Qi charging simply by placing it on the power bank. Alternatively, you can make a wired connection to any of three ports (one USB-C and two USB-A). Or you can use everything at once, and charge four devices simultaneously.

There's a generous 36,000mAh battery on board, which should be enough to charge an iPhone XS (opens in new tab) for seven times, Samsung Galaxy S10 (opens in new tab) five times, an iPad Pro (opens in new tab) twice, and a Huawei P30 up to five times. And then there's the added benefit of being able to top up your charger through solar energy. 

That said, the makers warn that you should not depend on this. In their own words: "Solar charging is for emergency use, do not take solar power as a primary charging source. It is highly recommend you fully charge via wall charger on first use." So that's us told, then.

On the plus side, this is a great power bank for outdoors, as it's IP66 rain-proof, dust-proof, shock-proof and splash-proof. It also comes with an LED flashlight with three modes: lighting, flashing and SOS. And at time of writing, it was the cheapest option on this entire list.

(Image credit: Hiluckey)
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11. Hiluckey Wireless Solar Charger

Another good choice for wireless charging

Specifications

Battery: 26,800mAh
Output: 5W (wireless output)
Ports: 2 x USB, 1 x USB-C, plus Qi wireless charging
Weight: 470g
Size: ‎900 x 175 x 30 mm

Reasons to buy

+
Wireless charging
+
Charge four devices at once
+
Lightweight

Reasons to avoid

-
Solar charging limited

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.

Read more:
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Tom May

Tom May is a freelance writer and editor specializing in art, photography, design and travel. He has been editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq (opens in new tab), and deputy editor at net magazine. He has also worked for a wide range of mainstream titles including The Sun, Radio Times, NME, T3, Heat, Company and Bella.