The best solar chargers are great for keeping your phone, tablet or laptop juiced up when you're away from home for long periods of time. Given the current cost-of-living crisis, they can make a contribution to reducing your electricity bill, too. Not to mention you'll be doing your bit to help fight climate change.
So what's the best solar charger for your needs? Well, first be aware that there are two types. With the most basic, 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 means you can fill it up with power via mains or USB before you leave home, and top up its battery 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, that can still be pretty handy.
Below, you'll find both types of solar charger. We'll start with the best solar chargers of the basic type, but if you want a battery too, skip ahead to our selection of best solar power banks.
Solar panels: the best solar charger without a battery(opens in new tab)
Right now the BigBlue 5V 28W Solar Charger is the best on the market. Consisting of four 7W solar panels, it's 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, making this a no-brainer for anyone wanting a solar charger.(opens in new tab)
Looking for a solar charger at an even more affordable price than the BigBlue, number one on our list? The Ryno Tuff Portable Solar Charger is cheaper, and still does a great job of charging your devices. It's lighter, 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. So while its output of 21W isn't as powerful as the BigBlue's, it's still a worthy option.(opens in new tab)
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 Goal Zero Nomad 20 is much heavier than its sibling, 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.
Solar power banks: the best solar charger with a battery(opens in new tab)
Want to a solar charger with its own battery? The Anker PowerCore Solar 20000 is our top pick. You get both a USB-A and USB-C port, and with a 20,000mAh capacity battery, you'll have plenty of onboard juice to keep your devices topped up. (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.(opens in new tab)
Want a solar charger power bank that's a bit cheaper than the Anker PowerCore Solar 20000, above? 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.(opens in new tab)
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.(opens in new tab)
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.
The BioLite SolarPanel10+ can be used to charge your laptop, smartphone or power bank directly from sunlight: our reviewer found it took six hours to put an 80% charge into a 10,000mAh portable battery. It works more effectively when aimed directly at the Sun, so there's a small sundial on the BioLite SolarPanel10+ to help you do that.
If you don't have blue skies and all day to spare, you can also use the onboard 3,200 mAh battery to charge your devices directly. Plus that battery, as you might have guessed, can be charged up from sunlight itself.
At just 3,200 mAh, though, it's the smallest on our list. And by itself, it won't even give your smartphone a full charge. But if you're going to be off-grid for a long time, it does provide a practical way to keep your devices juiced up without going near a power socket. For more details, see our BioLite SolarPanel10+ review.
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