Having your phone run out of battery when you’re away from a mains power course can be a major headache, which is why the best solar chargers are one of the few life hacks that are actually worth your time.
With a solar charger, you can top up your phone to access directions mid-way through a hike or keep in contact with your friends at a music festival from the comfort of your tent or camping chair, without having to rely on plug sockets to keep your tech alive.
However, not all solar chargers are made equal. With a range of devices available to buy, from power banks that store solar energy to lightweight solar panels that connect directly to your device, it’s worthwhile considering which style of solar charger will be best suited to handle your needs.
To help you find the best charger for you, The Recommended searched the internet to find a selection of the best solar power banks and portable solar panels to buy online. We’ve also included some useful tips for how many charges you should expect from a power bank and how long it should take to charge your device.
Jump to the best solar power banks:
- Best high-capacity power bank: DJROLL Solar Power Bank
- Best quick charging power bank: A ADDTOP Store Solar Charger Power Bank
- Best overall power bank: Hiluckey Store Solar Charger
- Best portable power bank: BLAVOR Solar Power Bank
Jump to the best solar panel chargers:
- Best overall solar panel: BigBlue 28W Solar Charger
- Best portable solar panel: ELECAENTA 30W ETFE Foldable Solar Charger
- Best smart solar panel charger: POWOXI Solar Battery Charger
- Best compatible solar panel charger: FlexSolar 30W Portable Solar Charger
The best solar power banks
Best high-capacity power bank: DJROLL Solar Power Bank
With a built-in flashlight
Boasting a charging capacity of 36000mAh, this solar and wall-powered power bank has two USB and two USB-C outputs and is designed to be able to charge four electronic devices at once.
The manufacturer says this charger’s solar panels are capable of fully charging the power bank with 9 to 12 hours of exposure to sunlight but recommend fully charging with a wall charger before its first use. It is also IP66 rainproof, dustproof and shockproof and comes with a built-in LED flashlight, lanyard and carabiner.
Best quick charging power bank: A ADDTOP Store Solar Charger Power Bank
Suitable for plane cabins
This 25000mAh power bank has four foldable solar panels designed to reach 88% of the charging speed of a standard 1A plug (which comes standard with iPhones) when placed under direct sunlight.
This power bank has dual USB outputs, allowing you to charge two devices at the same time, as well as a built-in LED flashlight and comes with a micro USB cable for wall charging. The power bank itself has a capacity of 92.5Wh, which is less than the 300Wh limit for plane cabins, so it can be taken onboard flights.
Best overall solar power bank: Hiluckey Store Solar Charger
Supports wireless charging
This 26800mAh solar power bank is designed to provide up to eight charges for a 2000mAh phone and is also compatible with devices that support wireless charging.
With two charging methods, this power bank can either be fully charged within 7-8 hours using a wall socket or topped up when away from a mains power source with its solar panels.
The manufacturer recommends fully charging this device via mains before using the solar panels, adding that the solar panels work best when the device has been charged up and used three times. This charger has two USB ports, one USB-C port, and comes with a built-in LED flashlight.
Best portable power bank: BLAVOR Solar Power Bank
Geared towards hikers
Weighing 283.5 grams, this 10,000mAh solar power bank is on the lighter side in comparison to similar products, making it a great option for short backpacking or hiking trips.
This power bank also has an in-built LED flashlight which is said to last for up to 100 hours when fully charged, as well as a handy compass tool. It is also IPX5 waterproof, shockproof and dustproof and is compatible with devices that support wireless charging.
The solar panels that come with this power bank are said to have a maximum charging current of 300mA – which should be sufficient for topping up the charge of the power bank when you’re away from a mains power source.
The best solar panel chargers
Best overall solar panel: BigBlue 28W Solar Charger
Great for hikers and campers
With four 7V panels, this 28W foldable solar panel is compact enough to carry in a backpack when hiking while offering enough surface area when folded out to provide reliable charging power.
This solar panel charger has three USB ports for charging a range of devices. It is also IPX4 waterproof and is made from a PET polymer fabric designed to withstand the scuffs and bumps that come with outdoor use. Its stainless-steel eye-holes are a handy feature which allows you to attach it to the outside of backpacks or tents. This device itself cannot store power, but it can be used to directly charge power banks and devices.
Best portable solar panel: ELECAENTA 30W ETFE Foldable Solar Charger
Great for hiking
Weighing 890g and made from a thermoplastic resin material, this 30W solar panel charger is waterproof, dustproof and fireproof and is said to have solar energy conversion rate of up to 24%.
This kit comes with a storage bag with zips for safely storing your device while it charges. It has three outputs compatible with USB A, USB QC3.0, and Type C connectors – each of which has a built-in auto-resume charging function, which is designed to charge devices with the appropriate current to charge effectively.
Best smart solar panel charger: POWOXI Solar Battery Charger
Phone charging kit included
This smart solar panel charger is technically designed to maintain vehicle batteries over time. However, it includes a USB adapter which is suitable for charging phones and other compatible tech.
This solar panel kit has an 8A charge controller, promising a conversion rate of up to 22.5%. It also has a built-in protective function that prevents batteries from overcharging, as well as protection from polarity reversal. It is also completely waterproof, making it ideal for outdoor use.
Best compatible solar charger: FlexSolar 30W Portable Solar Charger
Capable of charging laptops
This 30W solar charger is designed to be capable of reaching a power conversion rate of up to 24% and is fitted with an in-built smart chip providing charging speeds for different devices.
This solar panel charger has one USB port and one DC charging port. The manufacturer claims it is capable of charging mobile phones, laptops, car batteries and accumulators with 19.8V in direct sunlight.
What does mAh mean?
Milliampere (or Milliamp Hours) is a unit of measurement that quantifies the energy storage capacity of a battery. It is also used to describe how long a device will run for before the battery needs recharging.
How many times can a power bank charge a phone?
In simple terms, the number of times a power bank will be able to charge a device depends on the mAh capacity of the power bank and the size of your device’s battery.
For example, a power bank with a 10,000 mAh capacity will (disregarding energy conversion loss) be able to charge an iPhone 13, with a battery capacity of 3,277 mAh, roughly three times.
In reality, there’s some energy lost during the conversion of energy from a power bank to a device, which means that this won’t play out exactly.
There’s a formula you can use to work out the exact energy conversion efficiency of your power bank, but this is fairly complex for the average tech user.
According to tech accessory manufacturer PITAKA, a typical power bank has a conversion efficiency of between 80-90%. We’d advise factoring this logic into your expectations when charging your tech using a power bank.
How long does it take for a solar panel to charge a phone?
The amount of time a solar panel will take to charge a device is difficult to calculate as it depends on environmental factors such as cloud cover and access to direct sunlight.
As a general rule, the higher the wattage of the solar panel, the more solar power is harvested, which in turn leads to quicker charging.
Because of the unreliability of solar power and how long it can take to fully charge devices from empty, most manufacturers only advise using solar power to maintain and top up power on devices, rather than relying on them as they would a mains supply.
If you want to read more expert-recommended round-ups and product guides, check out our Camping page, where you’ll find more home recommendations, including the best camping tents, best camping stoves and the best camping chairs.