Best Solar Battery Charger/Energy Banks in 2023
Solar power is on the rise, and so are solar power banks. These new power banks hold a lot of juice and have the added benefit of not having to rely on the grid to power up your devices. While a regular power bank can recharge your smartphone 3-5 times, you can freely add one more charge cycle to that if your power bank has its mini solar panel. A great way to rely a little less on the grid, you will be thrilled with just how many solar power bank models there are.
There are two ways to understand solar power banks as opposed to other power banks. You can see them as solar chargers that can also store clean energy, or you can see them as power banks with an added solar charger. Whichever way you choose, make sure that going solar is no mistake, even in the micro-form.
A portable solar power bank is the best way to ensure you have backup power in your pocket. Long road trips, long-haul flights and the recent blackout in the state of Texas are all there to remind us that we are just too dependent on the grid. A solar charger power bank can change that, as you always get that little bit of extra juice to push you through the long day.
How Does a Solar Power Bank Work?
A solar power bank is a simple device. It consists of a solar panel, or more solar panels, and a power bank in which the power charger stores clean energy. In tandem, the two enable you a worry-free trip for as long as there is enough sun.
The solar panel installed in your solar power bank is not a match for your regular plugin wall charger. It is rather a complementary device that can extend your battery by a few hours. If you live in a sunny area or travel to one, then leaving your solar power charger in the sun all day should be enough to keep one device going for days with no need for the grid.
On the other side of the spectrum, or rather the device is the power pack. A power pack is a fancy name for a pack of batteries. Large capacity batteries are connected in series and used to recharge whatever device you attach to them. You would usually use a power outlet to charge your power banks, but you can also use solar energy in a solar power bank.
When you plug your iPad or iPhone into the power pack, the battery power charges your devices. Solar power banks come in various capacities and designs and choosing the right one can be a hassle. You can choose between models with 10,000 and 25,000mAh, enough to refill your device up to 6 times! Since everyone’s needs are different, there is no perfect power bank.
Another very prominent kind of solar power bank can be seen in town greens and city bus stops: public solar chargers. These amazing devices use solar power to charge batteries during the day, and you can use them whenever you want to charge your phone. Other solar power banks are more portable, but public chargers have a greater power output.
What are the Types of Solar Energy Chargers?
What kind of solar power bank you may use depends on how much battery power you need to begin with. There are small power banks that can power a single device once or twice, there is a type of portable solar power bank that can charge two devices, or even more, simultaneously, and finally, there are public solar power chargers that can power dozens of devices all at the same time.
Small, Portable Models
Small, portable models of solar chargers come in various shapes, sizes, and capacities, both to store energy and produce solar energy. They start small, with the tiniest of the having a 3,000mAh capacity. We do not recommend them. They simply do not store enough solar juice to keep you running for a long time. They are good for a single charge cycle only.
On the other hand, a 10,000mAh model of a solar phone charger would be enough to power a single phone 3-4 times over. This increased power capacity also means a bulkier model, but they are not much bigger than some cell phones. A solar phone charger of this size could also power two devices via two USB ports. Since there is more power to use, they also come in with a built-in flashlight.
The integrated flashlight also comes in bigger models. Do not worry. This LED flashlight does not suck out too much power out of your solar bank; you can even use them as a night light when camping. The LED flashlight comes in handy when going through the back of your car, looking for small items or exploring a cool cave somewhere in the mountains of Italy.
All these solar power bank models come with an integrated solar panel. The solar panel is enough to top up your device when it is not used much, but these small but efficient solar panels cannot keep your phone alive if you are a heavy phone user.
Fold-out models of solar panel battery packs also come in a variety of capacities and designs. While it may be true that they are less resilient than their monoblock, mono solar panel counterparts, they offer you way more battery power and are much faster to recharge. A five-day charge time on some devices is easily one day on these foldable solar power banks.
There are smaller capacity solar power banks, as well as bigger capacity solar charging devices. Some of these models also enable wireless charging and charging via USB ports. While the best solar chargers are difficult to find, the best solar power bank must belong to this group.
Fold-out models have up to four solar panels and much better solar charging capability than their smaller counterparts. A few hours of direct sunlight a day is enough to keep them full and ready to use. Just plug in your micro USB cable and enjoy an evening of music while far away from the grid.
These models come in capacities of up to 25,000mAh. This is enough to power your cell phone up to 10 times over, depending on your phone’s battery capacity. Your phone’s very high battery capacity reduces the charge cycles you can get out of your battery bank, but the long battery life means you do not need to charge as many times.
Some people may get sceptical and say that fold-out solar chargers are not as durable as some other chargers, but there are models today that are even dustproof. Rest assured that no producer will put out a device with solar capabilities that you will end up charging through your wall outlet exclusively.
Public chargers are a whole different level of a solar charger. While they may not be as portable as the models outlined above, their many USB ports, being able to charge multiple devices all at the same time and a high solar capability (thanks to large size solar panels on top) are more than enough to justify the expense that many cities paid to have them installed.
Public solar chargers are usually placed in very sunny locations throughout the city and offer all the benefits of solar charging and some extra shade that you can rest in while using a USB port to charge your phone. Portable solar chargers cannot compete with these solar giants in their solar charging capacity and solar power they can produce. Think of them as a city parasol with a solar charging feature.
However, most public chargers simply lack a wireless charger. The technology is new and a little bit expensive, but as long as you have a micro USB cable with you, no need to worry. You can even find them on your camping trips, as they are a great way to keep the charging device you need so much while enjoying outdoor activities.
Solar Power Banks vs Solar Chargers
There is a difference between solar power banks and solar chargers that may confuse some people. A solar power bank is a device with a charging capability, which can also STORE some of the energy produced in its solar power bank. You can then use this stored energy when you need to have your devices powered. Most people say that these are the best solar power banks.
On the other hand, solar chargers do not have any batteries to store energy in. In this regard, they are different from a battery bank, as you only use solar panels to charge your device. A solar charger may be less versatile than an actual power bank but is still useful in emergencies. A micro USB or another kind of USB output is used to charge your electronic devices, and they do not have the option of fast charging.
Their solar panels are simply not big enough to provide a lot of power, and so, this kind of portable charger is best used on a small battery capacity cell phone that you only use here and there. Relying on a solar charger to juice up a larger cell phone may be in vain. They are the best solar power charger for outdoor use, for as long as there are enough sun’s rays and for a long time.
Factors to Consider before Buying
Before deciding to buy a portable solar charger, it may be useful to consider several factors. Your smart devices need you to make a smart decision and choose one of the best solar chargers, with more than one micro USB port and maybe even a wireless charger included.
Charging Time Using Solar Power
The charging time of even the best solar chargers is long. Even the best solar power bank still has to spend a considerable time in direct sunlight just to get a little bit of juice. Powering small devices with a single solar panel charger is not difficult, but the charging speed drops significantly for larger devices. Quick charging is also not available on these devices.
On the other hand, getting a multi solar panel solar charger or a fold-out model would mean this device can produce a high solar power capacity. The charging speed is much faster, and many of these more expensive models are water-resistant. All this makes them perfect for outdoor activities, and a large charging capacity means that you will be able to keep your electronic devices alive for a longer time.
Battery capacity is of paramount importance in any solar power bank. A high capacity solar power bank would mean that you can use this device as a portable charger for a longer time. You would get a fast charging feature over a 2.1A USB output (enough to charge a tablet) and wireless charging with premium models.
Size and Weight
The size and the weight of your power bank can also determine which model is perfect for you. While some users enjoy the high capacity of a larger device, not everybody can carry a pound of battery power around for outdoor use. Some people prefer a smaller sized power bank and a single micro USB cable, and they are good to go.
Durability And Resistance To Weather
Many express concern about solar chargers ability to withstand weather conditions. They can be harsh sometimes. But many manufacturers have thought about this and have made their solar charging solutions resistant to weather and smaller water spillage. However, with fold-out models, a little bit of caution goes a long way since these devices have many moving parts that may get damaged.
Benefits of Using a Solar Powered Battery Charger
There are many benefits to using a solar charger to power your multiple devices. First of all, it is a green solution for everyday small capacity device charging. They cannot power your laptop (yet), but your cell phone, tablet and iWatch could easily benefit from these devices.
Secondly, you will be less reliant on the grid, and although a single USB output is not much if you get lost while on a camping trip, that USB output can help you find help when you need it. Even the simplest solar power bank has a fast charging option, and this may prove beneficial after your portable solar charger, and you cannot find an outlet to power your devices.
Taking Care of Your Solar Power Banks
Keeping your solar charger up and running for a long time should not be too much work. Keeping it dry most of the time and in a dark place when it is not charging will do the trick. Your solar power bank will easily last you a decade and even save you some money since there will be no surprise trips to a nearby bar for a round of beers when you need a good power bank.
Keep It Cool & Well Ventilated
Keeping your solar power bank cool may seem counterintuitive, but moving it away from the sun can prolong its life when it is not charging. It can also help prolong the life of the flashlight if there is one that is integrated. Your solar power bank will thank you for years to come.
Always Charge Until Full (Avoid Draining up to 0%)
Draining your power bank to 0% can be dangerous, as some batteries simply cannot receive any more charge after they’ve been completely drained. So, whenever possible, save some energy in it and pretend like it’s not there.
When charging your solar power bank, be it on an outlet or using solar power, try as often as you can to charge it to 100%. Not doing this can significantly reduce your solar power bank life and charging speed. In some older models, you can even say ‘Bye, bye’ to your fast charging feature.
Utilize Solar Charger
Using the solar charger is probably the best way to recharge your power bank. This way, your battery gets small but constant amounts of energy. This will prolong the life of your power bank, although you may have to deal with a reduced capacity and charging speed. Taking just basic care of your portable charger will result in many years of loyal service.
Water-Resistant vs Waterproof
As any power bank is designed for outdoor use, it is no surprise that some producers are willing to go the extra mile and offer water-resistant and waterproof models. While water-resistant chargers can take a few splashes and humid conditions, go for waterproof models to ensure your power bank can withstand being submerged in the water.
They usually come equipped with special rubber casing and lids for USB ports. They offer a high solar charging capacity and a high charging speed. Models of up to 30,000mAh are available on Amazon. Some reviews show that people have experimented with water repellent sprays, but we do not recommend this, at least not over solar panels.
Best Solar Power Banks in 2021
Rleron has put out a solar power bank with a 25,000mAh capacity with a single solar panel. This great device features a high charging speed, several USB ports, but unfortunately, the single solar panel can only top up the existing capacity. It starts from $19.99 on Amazon.
Best for Camping
The BigBlue solar charger is not a power bank, but it is rather a four-piece solar panel with 28W of solar capacity. It cannot store power but can provide a high charging speed for your existing power bank. While it demands high solar exposure, it is a great solution for out in the wild. It starts at around $ 62.00.
The Hiluckey 25,000mAh Power Bank is the best fold-out model on the market right now. This portable device can charge your phone 8-10 times, and a high charging speed USB port, with 2.1A of power, can also run a tablet for several charge cycles. It starts at $46.99 on Amazon.
Although the Licorne 30,000mAh device has a single solar panel, the high capacity and changing speed are why we decided to give it the best overall place. It also has a wireless charging function so that you can enjoy high charging speed on any device. The low price of $34.84 on Amazon is also a big plus.
Best for Laptops
The Jackery Explorer 240 is sold on Amazon for as little as $199.99. This power pack can charge your laptop up to two times and your phone dozens of times. It does not come with a solar charger, but you have to buy one separately. There is also the Explorer 500 model, which comes with its solar panel for around $499.99.
How do I choose a portable power bank?
To choose the best portable power bank, you should consider your energy needs. You should think about your budget, power bank capacity, charging speed, the number of USB ports you may need and the type of USB output you want (1A or 2.1A). The lower the number, the longer the charging time with the type of USV output and current it uses. Buying a portable charger is a great investment that will last you many years, so avoid impulse shopping.
Does solar power bank really work?
Yes, solar power banks really work. A good solar charger, especially a fold-out model, could keep your device powered up for a very long time, and solar charging is something you can take anywhere with you. The best solar power banks of today have a multitude of USB ports and could easily power multiple devices all at the same time. One USB output simply does not do it anymore.
Is there a solar powered phone?
Although there were attempts to make a solar-powered phone, the current solar panel technology simply does not produce enough power to power a phone. Also, it could take several days just to run one charging cycle. Unsurprisingly enough, Samsung was the first to introduce the idea of solar charging in a phone, with their Solar Guru, or Guru E1107.
Can you charge a laptop with solar power?
Using rooftop solar could charge your laptop, but among the portable solutions, even the best solar chargers, unfortunately, could not. Laptop batteries are high capacity batteries that need a certain charging speed just to keep the device up and running. Solar charging, for now, is not efficient enough to make a power bank that could power your laptop.
A solar charger is a device that is here to stay. The very idea of solar charging is tempting, as you could use it anywhere: on a camping trip, in your office or even in your home. Solar charging speed and small capacity currently limit the technology, but this is set to change with more efficient solar solutions. The charging speed and solar efficiency are expected to rise, and having the luxury of not seeking an outlet whenever in a building is a dream we hope comes true.