Best Portable Solar Chargers

Your favorite electronic devices, laptops, smartphones, tablets, music players, etc., all offer you entertainment and convenience. But, what good are they when they are not charged and you have no means to charge them? Sometimes, you are lost in the middle of nature and the only reliable way you have to charge your device is with a portable solar charger. These types of chargers convert energy from the sun to charge the devices that are connected to it. As you will soon find out, they offer many benefits and there are several terrific models on the market.

Voltaic Arc 20
  • Voltaic Arc 20
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Foldable design
  • Waterproof ETFE
  • Price: See Here
Wildtek Source Panel
  • Wildtek Source Panel
  • 4.9 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Carabiners included
  • Zippered pouch
  • Price: See Here
Allpowers Sunpower
  • Allpowers Sunpower
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • FCC, RoHS and CE certified
  • Unique voltage regulator
  • Price: See Here

10 Best Portable Solar Chargers

 

 

Voltaic Systems Arc 20

Voltaic Systems Arc 20
The Arc 20 from Voltaic Systems is the embodiment of what all solar chargers aspire to be. It offers you fast charging, a waterproof exterior, and compatibility for any device you can think of.
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Charging Technology

With 20 watts of power, the V72 battery that is included can charge most laptops in 6.5 hours and around one hour for smartphones (under direct sunlight). The Arc 20 is designed to charge thousands of USB devices.

Portability

Past the fact that it weighs only 3.25 pounds, you have a few carrying options. You can either choose to stash it inside of a pack or mount it on a backpack or bicycle with the sturdy metal grommets.

Durability and Protection

Utilizing ETFE coating, you are promised folding panels that are waterproof, UV, and scratch-resistant. With this type of coating, you can expect it to last around three times longer than the average weather coating.

Seller Options

There are no further seller options available; you only have the option for a 20-watt solar charger.

Additional Noteworthy Features

For convenience, included with this panel is a USB-backup battery. So, even when the sun is not shining at all, you have a source of power as this battery will store its solar energy.

Overall

It is difficult to ask for much further than Voltaic Systems provides here. Outside of a minor issue with the LED lighting, as it does not properly signify how much power your device has, everything is as close to perfection as you can get.
Pros
  • Due to its compact and foldable design, it is easily transportable
  • Coated with waterproof ETFE for extra durability
  • The included V72 battery, in full sunlight, takes around 6.5 hours to charge
Cons
  • The LED indicator lights are flawed as they signify the wrong amount of battery life for a specific device
 

Wildtek Source Panel

Wildtek Source Panel
Many of the same brilliant features from the last entry are also present with the solar charger from Wildtek. While they may exaggerate a bit on the maximum watt capacity, even though most manufacturers do, its waterproofness and compactness are superb.
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Charging Technology

With the latest high-efficiency solar cells from SunPower, these panels are two times more efficient than many competitors. Also, the SmartCharge technology that is integrated will detect the USB-powered device and provide an appropriate charge.

Portability

Whether you choose to use the carabiners to strap the panel to your backpack or not, either way, this solar charger is extremely lightweight and easily packable.

Durability and Protection

It does not matter which conditions you plan on using this solar charger for, as long as the sun is visible, as it is constructed to be both waterproof and dustproof. Even the USB-port, when it is closed with the included silicone tab, manage to be waterproof.

Seller Options

Again, there are no further options available; only the 21-watt version of the solar charger.

Additional Noteworthy Features

Wildtek backs this solar charger with a full, two-year warranty. Past this, there is also a built-in stand that allows the panels to have superior access to the energy from the sun.

Overall

Everything you could ever ask for, again, is present here. Although solar power is vitally important, arguably the best design feature here is the full waterproof construction. No need for rain and snow to affect your trip.
Pros
  • Includes carabiners to attach the charger to your backpack
  • Features a zippered pouch for storing accessories
  • Is fully waterproof, even the USB port when the silicone tab is on
Cons
  • Do not expect 21 watts of power
  • The silicone tab that covers the USB plug is flimsy
 

Allpowers Sunpower

Allpowers Sunpower
Slow and steady sometimes does win the race and this solar charger exemplifies that perfectly. While it can be a little slow acting, it does a fantastic job od not only charging your devices but also protecting them against surges.
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Charging Technology

The panel features dual-USB ports with iSolar Technology and also 18V DC output. This means you can charge 5V-powered gadgets and laptops alike. With 80-watts of power and a 22 percent efficiency rate, it will deliver the juice you need.

Portability

This exact same power output is 1/3 lighter than solar silicon. In addition to this, there are eyeholes that allow you to attach the solar charger to a backpack or other bag.

Durability and Protection

For outdoor use, the exterior is equipped with a dustproof, anti-shock, and water-resistant construction. But, these solar panels will also protect your connected devices from short circuits and surges.

Seller Options

Depending on the price, you can either select a 5, 7.5, 10, or an 80-watt version of the same charger.

Additional Noteworthy Features

Besides the solar charger itself, this also comes with carabiners, USB cables, a DC cable, an instruction manual, a clip line, and a cigarette lighter plug.

Overall

The addition of multiple wattage sizes is a nice touch, as those looking to save money can sport for less. However, truly noteworthy here is the superb protection and rugged construction. Rest assured, both the panels and your device will be safe.
Pros
  • It is certified by FCC, RoHS and CE
  • Includes eyeholes for an easy attachment to packs
  • The unique voltage regulator design manages to guarantee a stable voltage while charging
Cons
  • Takes a while to fully charge a battery
  • The cord from the panel to the clips is incredibly short
 

Voltaic Systems Amp

Voltaic Systems Amp
It did not take too long for Voltaic Systems to make another appearance on this list and their Amp Charger, while not quite as good as the last, is more than capable in its own right.
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Charging Technology

With its wide range of compatibility, this bad boy will charge thousands of devices. But, as long as you are under good sunlight, it also succeeds in charging devices with a total peak of 4.4-watts at 6 to 12 volts.

Portability

With a weight of just over one pound, this will easily fit inside any bag you stuff it into. This could include dry bags, backpacks, duffle bags or any other travel bags.

Durability and Protection

To withstand abuse from the most rugged of environments, the folding panels are coated with a self-healing urethane to provide a scratch-resistant, UV-resistant, and waterproof construction.

Seller Options

For the first time, there are actually different selections of colors. You can choose from charcoal, silver and orange.

Additional Noteworthy Features

In times when the sun is not shining, which is likely to happen at some point, there is an included V15 battery that will store solar power. This way, you still have a means to charge your devices.

Overall

The solar panels themselves do not offer an immense amount of wattage, but the backup battery can be used for additional power. Plus, its rugged craftsmanship makes it ideal for any occasion you can imagine.
Pros
  • It is compatible with DSLR camera batteries and thousands of USB devices
  • The panels are UV and scratch-resistant
  • Includes a 15-watt battery for backup purposes
Cons
  • Under moderate sunlight, it can take a long time to charge
  • Has a reverse polarity issue when the sun is not shining, as leaving your device plugged in can drain the battery

Snow Lizard Case

Snow Lizard Case
Snow Lizard manages to combine a rugged and extremely durable smartphone case with a solar charger. That is right, this specific charger works primarily for smartphones.
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Charging Technology

With its solar power technology, this case delivers ultra-efficient solar cells (over 20 percent) to power your phone when it has access to direct sunlight.

Portability

As this is a smartphone case, it is very small in size and can fit in any pack you put it in. However, most of the time, it will be attached to your smartphone which is already extremely portable.

Durability and Protection

Boy does Snow Lizard Products hit it out of the park with protection and durability. For just under one hour and under 2 meters, you can fully submerge your phone underwater with this on. Also, it features rubberized grips and a screen protector for protection against drops and bumps.

Seller Options

For design and appeal purposes, you can select from night black, safety yellow, and signal orange color designs.

Additional Noteworthy Features

Integrated into this solar panel case is a 4000Mah battery that will deliver you with even more power. Plus, the bottom entry allows for easy entry and removable of your smartphone.

Overall

If the primary device you are concerned with the most, in terms of losing power when you do not have access to charging, is your smartphone then this could be the clear answer for you. What more could you ask for than solar energy, ultimate protection and an additional battery?
Pros
  • Is waterproof, dustproof and sweatproof
  • Comes in orange, yellow and black color options
  • Built to protect your smartphone from drops and bumps
Cons
  • Due to its thickness, hearing audio from your phone can be difficult
  • Can be difficult to clean the inside of the case

X-Dragon

X-Dragon
As great as the X-Dragon Solar Charger is, and it is great, before you read one detail about it you should know that it is a little bulky when backpacking. This does not hinder what it performs best, but it is definitely a factor to take note of.
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Charging Technology

Being built with SunPower solar cells, this is able to achieve an efficiency percentage of 22 to 25. To achieve the maximum amount of power it can, which is 40-watts, it can automatically adjust the current voltage.

Portability

While it can be a little bulky, the panels can be folded down and fit snugly in any pack. But, if you wish to attach it, the eyeholes allow you to do that.

Durability and Protection

For your protection, more specifically for your devices, this solar panel is certified by the FCC, RoHS and CE. In addition, it has surge protection and short circuit technology to prevent your devices from potential electrical failures.

Seller Options

There are additional seller options, but they are all different from this version.

Additional Noteworthy Features

What comes included with this solar panel is an 18-month warranty, USB cables, 10 laptop connectors, carabiners, an instruction manual and a DC cable.

Overall

Bulkiness aside, this solar panel would make a terrific addition to your arsenal of technology. Its solar technology, safety features and foldable design truly do speak for themselves.
Pros
  • When traveling, you can hook it on your backpack
  • Can automatically adjust the voltage to achieve the maximum amount of power it can handle
  • Features surge protection and short circuit technology
Cons
  • Can be bulky
  • To keep the panels shut, you may need to add a Velcro patch

Yolk Paper Thin

Yolk Paper Thin
If nothing else, YOLK will turn some heads thanks to the way they designed their Paper-Thin Solar Panel Charger. With the panels having magnets, you can snap together as many as you wish. Each has a specific amount of wattage and snapping more together gives you more power.
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Charging Technology

Utilizing the most efficient solar panels in the world, YOLK manages to get around 23.7 percent efficiency from their panels. But, with the power of magnets, you can connect together as many as you wish for more wattage.

Portability

As the panels are held together by magnets, you can disconnect them at will. Plus, there are holes that can be used as connectors when traveling.

Durability and Protection

This solar charger has a water-resistance rating of IP54 and also is crafted to provide protection against dust. However, the USB-port can be susceptible to corrosion if any water gets inside.

Seller Options

As each panel has 2.5-watts of power, you have a few choices at your disposal. You can either select one, two or three panels (going from 5 to 7.5 to 10).

Additional Noteworthy Features

For your convenience, there is an LCD screen that displays the current power reading of your connected device and how much current is flowing through it.

Overall

The best way to describe this solar charger is it is the daisy chain of solar chargers. Because you can keep on connecting solar panels, you can achieve as much wattage as you wish.
Pros
  • The magnetic connections reduce the wear and tear of panels
  • Achieve higher wattage capacities simply by connecting more panels together
  • Features an LCD screen to display current power readings for connected devices
Cons
  • The panels themselves do not feel very durable
  • While the magnets are a great feature, they need to be stronger

Eceen Foldable

Eceen Foldable
This next solar charger excels in many areas, but unfortunately, does have a design flaw that many will be disappointed in. However, nothing is perfect, so do not think that this flaw automatically indicates this model is incompetent.
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Charging Technology

Equipped with a USB port, you can charge nearly every device that you can think of. When charging, this solar panel uses sun power solar cells to provide 13-watts of power at a 22 percent efficiency rate.

Portability

Clocking in at around one pound, you will hardly feel this solar panel in your backpack or bag. But, note, when you hang it from your pack it can cause the threads to tear.

Durability and Protection

Being crafted from a high-quality polyester, the solar charger is resistant to the inclement weather outdoors. Also, the unique design manages to stabilize the voltage to protect your devices while they are charging.

Seller Options

For the same price, there are two different color variations: black and camouflage.

Additional Noteworthy Features

So you can stand the panel up to achieve the best source of sunlight possible, this is equipped with a stand-support design.

Overall

Unfortunately, when you use carabiners to hang the solar charger from your backpack it can damage the threads that are being used to support it. But, this is only a minor blip in the radar.
Pros
  • A voltage regulator design manages to stabilize the voltage while charging devices
  • The USB-port makes it suitable to charge smartphones and other USB devices
  • The polyester canvas provides a perfect amount of protection
Cons
  • Does not charge super-fast
  • The threads are not suitable for holding the pack on your backpack

Anker Charger

Anker Charger
Compared to the rest, you may not see anything new and innovative here. But, what you will see is pure-quality and a solar charger that anyone should be proud to own and use.
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Charging Technology

With dual-USB ports, the Anker Solar Charger can charge two devices simultaneously. Sporting 21-watts of power and an efficiency rate that ranges from 21.5 to 23.5 percent, you can rest assured that it succeeds where it matters the most.

Portability

Besides the fact that it is highly-portable in its own right, with a foldable design, it features stainless-steel eye-holes that allow for easy attachment to backpacks and other objects.

Durability and Protection

Anker ensures that the solar panel itself and your devices will both be perfectly safe and secure. For the panel, it is crafted from an industrial-strength PET polymer with weather-resistant properties. Meanwhile, short circuit and surge protection technology protect your electronic devices.

Seller Options

What you see is what you get here, but there is certainly nothing wrong with that.

Additional Noteworthy Features

Included with the solar power charger is an 18-month warranty, a micro-USB cable and a welcome guide.

Overall

When you have access to direct sunlight, it is hard to beat this solar panel. However, as soon as cloud cover arises the unit will power down. But, as you have already seen, this is more than worth an investment.
Pros
  • Crafted from industrial-strength PET polymer
  • Compatible with several USB devices
  • Dual-USB ports can charge simultaneously
Cons
  • Even in full sunlight, does not reach maximum power
  • Under any cloud cover, the unit will shut down

Instapark Solar Panel

Instapark Solar Panel
When this solar panel works, it is glorious. However, cloud cover can be an issue. Yes, they can still operate under cloud cover but this particular model will not very well. Again, on sunny days, this does exactly what it was designed to perform.
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Charging Technology

Instapark integrates dual-USB ports and 100 percent green energy to provide you with its charging capabilities. But, even when opaque clouds begin to roll in, this will discharge and stop working efficiently.

Portability

As this has a foldable design and can be packed away snugly, it will easily fit inside any travel bag that you have. To paint a picture, it folds up to the size of a hardcover book.

Durability and Protection

The panels will hold up well to moderate water, but it can’t be promised that it will survive under heavy rainfall. In addition, with the USB ports exposed, water can damage and corrode them.

Seller Options

The lone seller option only has 10-watts of power and there are no additional options for either capacity or colors.

Additional Noteworthy Features

Most notable here is the fact that Instapark backs this up with their one-year warranty. In the instance where you feel this is not as great as advertised, or you receive a defected solar panel, you can contact the seller.

Overall

Sure, this does not quite hold up to the other solar chargers on this list. But, it made the list and that says something by itself. On cloudy days, this may provide serious aggravation for you, but on those luxurious sunny days, this should satisfy your needs.
Pros
  • Comes equipped with multiple USB ports
  • When carrying it in your pack, it is very lightweight
  • Includes the manufacturer’s one-year warranty
Cons
  • Even under opaque cloud cover, this solar panel will stop charging your devices

Criteria Used For The Evaluation

Its Charging Capabilities and Technology

When discussing solar panels, the conversation should always start here. The power they produce and the efficiency at which they do it is important, but compatibility also comes into play. One of the first specifications you will notice in solar panels is the wattage that they are capable of producing. Obviously, the higher the number the more power it can handle. However, for whatever reason, it seems to be a universal ploy for manufacturers to exaggerate the actual wattage capacity their panels have. If you find that the solar panel you invest in is not performing at the power it was advertised as, it is not defected and many others have the same issue.

The efficiency, which usually ranges in the 20’s (in terms of percent), refers to the amount of energy that the panels can convert from the sun. Again, the higher the rate, the more efficient the panels will operate. But, also take a special note to solar chargers that can work under moderate sunlight. Some will be inoperable when the slightest cloud covers a portion of the sun. Finally, there is the factor of computability. Check for USB ports and DC outputs for thousands of devices including smartphones, tablets, laptops, batteries, etc.

How Portable They Are

Given that this guide is for portable solar chargers, which most are anyway, portability does come to the forefront. For this section, it all comes down to the chargers’ compactness and carrying options. As solar panels can convert energy from the sun anywhere, chances are you will utilize this convenient technology on the go. As such, if you plan on storing it in your backpack or travel bag you do not want it to be too heavy or bulky. Solar panels that fold up, or even ones that can come apart, are a nice addition as you can pack them tightly.

But, perhaps even more important than this is integrating either carabiners or eyeholes to allow you to mount the solar charger on your backpack. This is so important because you may want to charge your device without feeling the need to stop. For example, with it mounted on your back and in direct access to the sunlight you can charge your smartphone while you are hiking or walking. Of course, this is also where the issue of cloudiness can come back to the forefront.

The Protection It Provides for Your Devices and the Panels

With any type of technology that is designed to flow voltage into electronic devices, safety will always be important. However, because these types of chargers will be used outdoors manufacturers also should add durability and protection to the solar panels themselves. For instance, you may see some with a waterproof and scratch-resistant coating. Even though you probably will not get much power when it is raining, this type of coating can be useful as it adds durability to the panels. This type of weather coating can also provide a sense of protection in accidental scenarios where water is poured on the panels.

But, more important than this is the protection that the manufacturers integrate for your electronic devices. In specific, protection against surges, short circuits, and stabilizing the voltage to prevent circuit damage. Without this protection, for example in the instance of a short circuit, your device is prone to many detrimental events. Such as the device overheating and causing a fire. This will not only fry your battery and render it useless but could also affect the solar charger itself.

The Seller Options that Are Provided for You

While seller options may prove more beneficial for other consumer products, they still matter in the world of solar panels. Even though some sellers will provide you with additional color options, which have no bearing on performance, the more important one to note is further wattage options. If the current solar charger you are looking into does not have the wattage that you want, taking into consideration that many exaggerate the actual amount, to begin with, you may want to spring for one with a larger wattage capacity. But, you may fall in love with a particular version and not want to steer away from it. In these types of situations, further options can prove to be very helpful.

Additional Noteworthy Features to Speak of

Truthfully, the best of the best has already been documented. But, that does not mean that there are no additional features that you can look out for. After all, hiding in the shadows may be a design implementation that puts it over the top for you. Or, it could be something as a simple as a backup feature. No matter, here are some other features to keep an eye out for.

Anytime you receive a manufacturer’s warranty on a product it is a bonus and solar chargers are certainly no exception. If you find that it is not performing up to the standards you expected, with a warranty you can simply return it. Also, when developers provide you with a backup battery it gives you a means to charge your devices when the sunlight is not shining bright enough. Of course, to get the best access to the sun, it is helpful when the panels are designed to stand-up at an angle. With a built-in stand or pegs, this is possible. Lastly, you may see some sellers provide you with additional accessories such as DC cables, USB cables or carabiners.

FAQs

Q:   Can Solar Lights Charge Through Windows?

Even though you may plan on taking your portable solar charger with you on perilous journeys and outdoor adventures, you still may want to use them at home. However, if you know anything about solar energy, then you are aware that it needs sunlight to operate correctly. This begs the question; can you utilize the energy of solar panels through a window? After all, light does travel through glass so one would believe that you can.

However, the iron content that is used in glass windows will block some of the light; in addition to the already lost light that is being reflected. While it can vary, through a glass window, you could see in excess to a 50 percent power loss. The naysayers out there, though, will reference the fact that solar panels utilize glass in the first place. But, this glass is specifically designed to be thin and not block the rays of light.

Q:   How Are Portable Solar Chargers Designed to be Used?

This may have been a question you thought of the minute you clicked on this guide. How exactly are you supposed to use these types of chargers? As opposed to solar panels that you install on your roof or outside your home, it is not a good idea to leave your portable solar charger exposed to the inclement weather outdoors. Even though some are coated to provide protection from water and scratches, leaving the panels outdoors at all times may end up degrading their performance and lifespan.

But, they are designed to be used outside in all types of weather conditions. That is, depending on how efficient the panels are under light cloud cover. As far as how frequently you use them, as long as they have the ability to gather light rays from the sun and convert it into usable energy you can utilize it as long as you wish.

Q:   Can You Run a Device Straight from the Solar Charger?

Up until now, you may have been under the belief that to charge and use your electronic devices, you must plug them into the USB or other port. However, in some cases, depending on the type of device that you are using, you may be able to navigate on your device without the battery (using the power straight from the solar charger). Though, there are a few caveats that you need to be concerned with. Frist of all, if the device is voltage sensitive or requires an initial surge to power on it is best to veer away from running it straight from the solar panels.

Secondly, some solar chargers will shut down when they do not have access to sunlight. If you do not have a battery in your device and the charger shuts down or loses its ability to deliver power for even a moment, your device will perform a hard shut-down which is not good for the hardware.

Q:   What Happens to Solar Panels on Cloudy Days and Will They Work?

When discussing solar chargers, panels or anything to do with the technology of solar energy, possibly the most frequently asked question alludes to its effectiveness on cloudy days. Although it has been alluded to a few times in this guide, it is important to fully understand their usefulness on cloudy days. To provide optimal performance, solar panels need the rays from the sun. This is not something you can get around, but they are not rendered useless on cloudy days (depending on the model). They will still produce power but at a less efficient and powerful rate.

To be honest, it does not matter if it is clouds or even a roof or massive tree cover, without direct access to sunlight solar panels do not perform to their maximum capacity.

Q:   What is the Ideal Temperature for Portable Solar Chargers?

Alright, so it is promised that you will not hear another reference to clouds in this guide! But, what about the temperature outside? Do solar chargers work better or need to be exposed to a certain climates outside? Well, the reality is temperature actually does make a difference in terms of performance. Optimally, most solar technologies will work best when the temperature is warm but not hot outside. One particular company, P3 Solar, states that an optimal degree would be around 75 degrees Fahrenheit. It is worth noting, also, that this falls under normal atmospheric conditions.

But, do not think that solar panels are inoperable in other climates. The reality is most are rated to withstand bitterly cold days and excessively hot climates. But, in these types of climates, the power output will drop for most solar technologies.

Q:   Can You Connect Solar Charges in a Parallel Fashion?

One of the best solar chargers in the world, which made its way onto this list, manages to use a magnet design to allow you to daisy chain panels together for enhanced power. However, is this possible with multiple solar chargers? The short answer is yes, but if you do so in a parallel fashion. What happens when you do so is the power output and current are doubled, but the individual solar charger ratings are kept the same.

If you do plan on partaking in this to achieve a greater power output, you may want to do so with panels that have equal wattage capacities. Doing so will provide you with the most efficient charging capability possible, as there is no worry about half of the solar panels having a higher voltage than the others.

Final Thoughts

Look, the reality is solar chargers are terrific for providing you with a means to charge your electronic devices on the go. Solar technology itself can be quite complicated to wrap your head around, but try not to worry about every little factor of it. If you pay close attention to the criteria that were outlined in this guide, you will be set to make a sophisticated selection.