The 5 Best Portable Solar Chargers of 2021

Don't get caught in the wilderness without one

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The Rundown
"An ideal combination of portability and power that can keep you going for days."
"Capable of charging an iPhone 7 up to 10 times before running out of power."
"The ideal solution for keeping your smartphone charged."
"Easy to pack, but its size doesn’t stop it from producing a great deal of power."
"Made with rugged canvas designed specifically for outdoor use."
in this article

Owning one of the best portable solar chargers out there is crucial for any individual who forgets to charge their portables on the daily. If you are someone who consistently forgets to charge their devices but finds themselves in need of them often, a solar charger will be able to save you whenever you are in a battery pickle. Especially if it is not just your battery pack that you forget to recharge, but other gear (like your cell phone) can easily stay alive by using a device like the Dizaul 5000mAh portable solar power bank, which can be viewed on Amazon.

There's a lot of speculation surrounding reusable energy, but worry not, because a Property Brother has debunked the myths for you! Despite the myths, the downside to solar power is that these devices become obsolete when it is cloudy outside. This situation is why all come with a backup battery that will need to be recharged after use but isn't required on a daily basis. It is necessary to look for a backup battery that is larger, yet still portable, to ensure multiple devices can receive power from a single charge. Besides those two factors, a higher wattage is the key to fastly charging your gadgets off of the battery. The best portable solar chargers will have a wattage above 10W. 

Best Overall: X-DRAGON 40W SunPower Solar Panel Charger

What we like
  • Weatherproof and resistant to rust

  • Extensive battery life

  • Can top off multiple devices before needing to be recharged

What we don't like
  • can't charge and be used at the same time

  • Attachment loop feels flimsy

Thanks to a super-sized 40W solar panel charger, the X-Dragon offers a beefy 2.8A (Amps) of power capable of re-charging smartphones, tablets and even some smaller laptops. Built-in to the X-Dragon is a 5V/2A charging port for a 5V gadget and a 18V DC output (18V/2A) for charging a laptop or other 18V powered devices. Fortunately, all that extra juice doesn’t mean an unwieldy size; the X-Dragon maintains a slim and foldable profile that’s easy to carry around. It can go in or on a backpack with the included carabiner that hooks directly to a bag. The 10-in-1 connector cables enable it to charge just about any type of device, while the incorporation of SolarIQ technology helps achieve the appropriate current and voltage to deliver max power. Ultimately, the X-Dragon is an ideal combination of portability and power that can keep you going for days.

Best Battery Life: SOARAISE Solar Power Bank

Solar charger
What we like
  • Large capacity

  • Waterproof, dust and shock-resistant

What we don't like
  • Slow charging

  • A bit cumbersome while folded

Supported by a massive 25,000mAh battery pack, the SOARAISE solar power bank is a solid choice when you need a battery on the go. Capable of charging an iPhone 7 up to 10 times before running out of power, the battery pack adds dual USB 2.1A inputs for rapidly charging two devices at a time. It works with all Apple and Android smartphones as well as a slew of other devices. The three solar panels fold out to absorb more sunlight than similar models, dramatically cutting down on charging speeds and allowing for a full solar-powered charge in under 26 hours. The incorporated LED light is a noteworthy addition that can double as a flashlight or a steady SOS-strobe light in case of an emergency. Plus, the rugged form factor makes it ideal for outdoor use — the hardware can withstand rain, shock, and dust as well as intelligently preventing devices from overcharging or overheating while plugged in. The included hook attaches to a backpack or tent for charging via sunlight without having to be carried in hand. 

Best Phone Charger: Dizaul 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank

What we like
  • Handy loop built into the chassis

  • 2 USB charging ports

What we don't like
  • Slow charging and recharging

With an ultra-portable design, the Dizaul 5000mAh portable solar power bank is the ideal solution for keeping your smartphone charged. With dual USB ports, it’s easy enough to share with a friend and charge two devices simultaneously. Fortunately, its water-resistant design and shockproof casing make it easy to travel and attach to the outside of a carry-on bag (there's an included hook). An emergency flashlight helps you quickly find any lost items and the smart LED indicators alert you when the battery is charged or requires a re-charge. It takes around two hours to charge a smartphone and the AC charging time of the Dizaul is around six to seven hours (it takes around two days of sunlight to completely re-charge due to the smaller solar panel surface). It measures 2.76 x 5.59 x .55 inches.

Best Portability: BigBlue 28W Solar Charger

BigBlue 28W Solar Charger
What we like
  • Fast charging thanks to it's quad-panel design

  • Affordable

  • 3 USB ports

What we don't like
  • Heavier than most

With the BigBlue Solar Charger, you’ll never find yourself caught off-guard by low battery levels on your computer or smartphone, no matter if you’re tackling adventures or just navigating the demands of the day-to-day. Small and light (it measures just over a pound and can be folded to the size of a magazine), it’s easy to pack, but its size doesn’t stop it from producing a great deal of power, offering a 21.5 to 23.5 percent solar efficiency.

Thanks to two 2.4 A ports and one 1A port, you can charge three devices at the same time, and all the ports are covered by a cloth flap and rubber cover to protect them from dust or water damage. It is compatible with a variety of Apple and Android devices, and the polymer surface protects the entire charger from occasional rain and fog. When hiking under trees or when you encounter cloudy conditions, the device will automatically stop, restarting once it's back in the sun. Our reviewer Gannon loved the BigBlue's compact design and plethora of ports, though dinged it for its misleading specs.

"The BigBlue is a portable solar charger that can keep your devices topped up for camping and travel." —Gannon Burget, Product Tester

Best for Hiking: Nekteck 21W Solar Charger

Nekteck 21W Solar Phone Charger
  • Extremely compact

  • Rugged and very durable

  • Lightweight

  • No 12-volt or 9-volt adapter

  • Has difficulty charging through cloud cover

The portable and compact design of the Nekteck 21W solar charger is a fantastic and highly efficient solution for hikers who want to stay charged while on the trail. With dual USB ports, the Nektech keeps your iPhone, Android and tablets charged whether you’re on an adventure or sitting at the kitchen table. The built-in smart IC chip helps identify each device plugged in and helps determine the appropriate charging speed (either 3A or 2A), which maximizes overall battery life. The build quality matches its use-case with a rugged canvas designed specifically for outdoor use. Come rain or shine, the Nekteck will be ready to go. It weighs only 18 ounces and measures 6.3 x 11.1 x 1.96 inches folded or 26.3 x 11.1 inches when open.

Final Verdict

Whether you're hitting the trail or the open road, our favorite portable solar charger is the X-DRAGON 40W SunPower Solar Panel Charger. This compact charger unpacks into a staggering 9 panels for fast charging and a large battery to keep your devices topped off even in the shade. It also comes packaged with a wide variety of adapters, making it compatible with everything ranging from laptops and phones to emergency radios.

About our Trusted Experts

David Beren is a tech writer with more than 10 years of experience in the industry. He has written and managed content for tech companies like T-Mobile, Sprint, and TracFone Wireless.

How We Tested

Our reviewers spent 18 hours testing one of the most popular portable solar chargers available. To really get the full experience, we asked them to consider the most important features when using this solar charger — from durability to charging power — and we've outlined them here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

FAQs

How does a solar charger work?
Photos in sunlight push electrons out of their orbit in silicon (and other elements, though silicon is most common in chargers), generating a positive charge that flows as electricity into a terminal or connection.

Are solar battery chargers effective?
Solar batteries are great for recharging devices without a traditional source of power, but they're not as powerful as standard recharging methods. Solar chargers are generally also not fit for maintaining a current strong enough to power a live device plugged into them, as the current they generate is more a trickle meant to gradually refill a battery over time.

Do solar chargers require direct sunlight?
While direct sunlight is the most efficient way to fill a solar charger, most can be charged by indirect or reflected sunlight, though getting a full charge in those conditions (on a cloudy day, for instance) will take significantly longer.

What to Look for in a Portable Solar Charger

Charging power - Bigger solar chargers typically charge your devices faster, but the wattage is a better indicator of charging power than the size of the solar panels alone. If you want to charge a phone in a reasonable amount of time, 10 to 15W is about the lowest you want to go.

Battery backup - Portable solar chargers that have built-in power banks are a must-have if you plan on using yours in cloudy conditions or at night. Look for a bigger battery if you want to be able to charge multiple devices or have extra reserve power in an emergency.

Portability - More surface area for the solar panels usually translates into more power for your devices, so folding solar chargers tend to split the difference between great portability and high output. Single panel chargers are easier to carry around, but the smaller ones struggle to provide a decent amount of power in anything resembling a timely manner.

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