The Best Portable Solar Chargers of 2023

Don't get caught in the wilderness without one

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The best solar chargers use the sun's abundant power to keep your devices and batteries topped off. Solar chargers aren't just for nature enthusiasts. Anyone who spends time away from an electrical outlet will find them helpful.

We recommend the X-DRAGON SunPower Solar Panel Charger for its 40W power output and high-efficiency cells. This charger doesn't include a power bank to store all that juice, but if you are away from power and need to charge your phone or even your laptop, this is a great option. Opening the eight solar panels will give you plenty of power as long as there's daylight.

Best Overall

X-DRAGON 40W Portable Foldable Solar Panel Charger

4.2
X-DRAGON 40W SunPower Solar Panel Charger

Amazon

What we like
  • Lots of accessories

  • DC charging

  • Folds down small

  • 18-month warranty

What we don't like
  • Battery not included

  • No water resistance

  • Large

  • Expensive

Our best overall charger can produce up to 40W of juice from its eight efficient panels. It opens wide to collect a lot of sunlight with eight high-efficiency panels, but it folds down small enough to fit into your backpack. There's no water-resistance rating here, so be careful not to get caught in the rain, and no battery is included. But if you have bigger items that need a charge, the X-DRAGON SunPower Solar Panel Charger is a great choice. 

You can plug in your phone and your tablet, but you can also scale that up to your laptop with the five included different-sized barrel chargers and connection for your car battery. This is a great item to keep in your emergency car kit or your backpack for camping. The 18-month warranty will give you peace of mind that you can get a charge when you need it.

Number of Ports: 2 | Power Output: 2.8A max USB, 18V DC | Types of Ports: USB-A, DC | Number of Cells: 8 | Efficiency: 22 to 25% | Battery Capacity: N/A

Most Portable

BigBlue 28W Solar Charger

4.8
BigBlue 28W Solar Charger

Amazon

What we like
  • Folds small

  • Three USB-A ports

  • Water resistance

What we don't like
  • Power output falls short of promise

  • Battery not included

The Big Blue Solar Charger is a highly-portable solar charging solution that folds to a tiny 11.1 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches when closed. While it is long, it's very narrow and thin, meaning it will easily fit into most backpacks. Included carabiners allow you to open and strap it to your bag while out in nature.

There is no built-in battery, but the three USB-A ports allow you to charge any phone or tablet quickly. The panels are waterproof, which our reviewer tested by submerging the cells in a bathtub.

Our reviewer also noted that the advertised 28W output is misleading. There are four 7W panels which add up to 28 Watts. Unfortunately, the panels could output only around 17W maximum during our testing.

There's a pouch for holding cables or devices while charging, which is a nice bonus. Given its water resistance, we'd recommend this for hikers and campers, even in inclement weather. Of course, cloudy days will mean less charging, but at least you know your panels can stand up to it.

Number of Ports: 3 | Power Output: 5V / 4.8A | Types of Ports: USB-A | Number of Cells: 4 | Efficiency: Not listed | Battery Capacity: N/A

What to Look for in a Portable Solar Charger

Water Resistance

Solar power comes from the sun, and solar panels work best outside. However, looking for water resistance in case you unexpectedly get caught in the rain or snow is a good idea.

Built-in Battery

Solar panels generate power, and that power has to go somewhere. If you have a solar panel and nothing plugged in, the panels will not generate energy, which is fine, but a battery would allow you to generate power and store it until you need it.

Power Output

Keep in mind the kinds of devices you'll be using. If all you need to charge is a phone or tablet, most solar panels can do the job. If you need to power something larger, such as a laptop or even a car, you'll need to ensure you've got a powerful setup to get the job done.

About Our Expert

Adam Doud has been writing in the technology space for almost a decade. When he's not hosting the Benefit of the Doud podcast, he's playing with the latest phones, tablets, and laptops. When not working, he's a cyclist and geocacher and spends as much time outside as he can.

FAQ
  • How quickly will a solar charger charge?

    That depends mostly on the cells' efficiency and the amount of sunlight you're getting. Solar panels are getting more and more efficient these days, which means they're capable of generating a lot of power. On a bright, sunny day, it's not unreasonable to think you can generate enough power for a phone and tablet or even bigger items.

  • Can you really jump-start your car with a solar panel?

    If it's big enough, a solar panel can deliver a charge to your car's battery to allow it to start. A "jump start" technically means you're drawing from a power source to start your car right away. The solar option is more of a car battery charger, meaning you'll need to wait some time for your car's battery to charge before you can turn the key. But yes, it is possible.

  • Will you get more solar power if you leave it in a window?

    Solar panels should never be left in a window or in a car to charge. The glass from the window can focus with light on the panels and cause them to overheat. Solar panels are meant to be outside and under the sun, or put away.

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