The 7 Best Solar Powered Gadgets of 2021

Power wherever you go.

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The Rundown
The X-Dragon solar panel charger uses the sun to charge your devices.
Has a built-in 5,000 mAh battery for charging your devices and a flashlight in case you get caught in the dark.
Best Solar Panel:
Ring Solar Panel at Amazon
Ring designed a solar panel to work alongside your Ring products to keep them charged even under heavy use.
Jackery is a rising star in the portable energy space, and this offering is a powerful option for going out camping.
Best Keyboard:
Logitech K750 at Amazon
The K750b keyboard has solar panels across the top of the keyboard deck that keeps it charged indefinitely.
An important deterrent or tool to ward off intruders or catch them later.
A flashlight is one of those necessary life-saving tools that you never really think about until you need it.

The sun is a limitless source of energy and humans have been trying to develop the best solar powered gadgets to harness that. So far we've been met with limited success. Solar powered gadgets need to have enough panels to provide enough juice to keep them going. Solar panel placement is tricky, as is the expected time they'll be exposed to light. 

So far a few gadgets have emerged that work well with light. These gadgets have enough space to place panels, plus an expectation to be in the sun often. Not surprisingly, many of these devices are designed to be outside, but some of them also find their way into your office space and even your basement.

Best Charger: X-DRAGON Portable Solar Chargers

What We Like
  • Solar IQ technology

  • Compact, easy to carry

What We Don't Like
  • No battery to store the electricity

It makes sense that our first offering would be an actual solar panel. The X-Dragon solar panel charger uses the sun to charge your devices. The panels provide up to 14 Watts of power and X-Dragon's Solar-IQ technology adjusts the current and voltage output to maximize your charge. They're slim, portable, and very durable. They're designed to strap to your backpack, keeping your devices charged during the day so your devices last into the night.

The solar panel itself doesn't have a built-in battery, nor any kind of repository to retain power collected during the day. The only way to charge is by using it during the day. We'd like to see a battery so you can wear your backpack during the day and still have juice to spare at night. All the same, a little planning will help keep you topped off and ready to go.

Best Speaker: ABFOCE Solar Bluetooth Speaker

What We Like
  • Built in battery

  • 60 hours of playtime

  • Built in flashlight

What We Don't Like
  • Not very loud

Bluetooth speakers are a great way to take your party outdoors, which makes the addition of a solar panel only natural. The Abfoce Solar Bluetooth speaker does just that and it comes with a lot of extra conveniences too. The speaker will give you around 60 hours of playtime on a full charge, and the solar panels only add to that run time. Additionally, the speaker has a built-in 5,000 mAh battery for charging your devices and a flashlight in case you get caught in the dark.

The speaker isn't very loud though, or at least it's not the loudest Bluetooth speaker on the market. But it's plenty loud for a small gathering of friends. The speaker comes with a carabiner, a charging cable (for when you want to charge faster than the sun will provide), and an aux cable for plugging in your device if you don't want to use Bluetooth. Overall, this is a great addition to your outdoor party pack.

Best Solar Panel: Ring Solar Panel

What We Like
  • Recharges your Ring devices automatically

  • Attractive design

What We Don't Like
  • Only works with Ring devices

Ring has a number of products designed to work outside, but most of them rely on a battery for power. The result is a recurring need to recharge batteries every few days or weeks. So, Ring designed a solar panel to work alongside your Ring products to keep them charged even under heavy use. The Ring solar panel is an attractive way to charge up your Ring devices.

Unfortunately, the solar panel is designed for Ring products only - other outdoor doorbells or cameras need not apply. It's not particularly surprising, but it is something to consider if you have an outdoor camera from another manufacturer. But if you are a Ring customer, this is a great option for keeping your outdoor security devices charged up and ready to go all the time.

Best Generator: Jackery Explorer 240 Solar Generator with Solar Panel

What We Like
  • Lots of power

  • Lots of ways to charge

  • AC and DC power

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Heavy

  • No USB Type-C

Jackery is a rising star in the portable energy space, and this offering is a powerful option for going out camping, or even using as a small generator if you lose power at home. The Explorer 240 features one AC outlet, one DC outlet, and two USB Type-A ports. Unfortunately, there are no USB Type-C ports. It's a bit heavy to carry around at 6.6 pounds, but that's fairly light compared to some of the competition out there. 

The power station comes with the SolarSaga charging panels which will recharge the power station to 80% with 6 hours of sunlight. it's a separate unit though, so there's a bit more to carry around. But if you're going off the grid for a while and have a wide variety of devices you need to charge, this is a great option.

Best Keyboard: Logitech K750 Wireless Solar Keyboard

Logitech K750 Wireless Solar Keyboard
What We Like
  • Battery never dies

  • Good typing experience

What We Don't Like
  • Requires dongle to connect

  • Cheap feeling plastic build

Ever think you might have a solar-powered keyboard? You wouldn't think so, but Logitech disagrees. The K750b keyboard has solar panels across the top of the keyboard deck that keeps it charged indefinitely. An easy indicator lets you know the battery level and whether or not you are currently receiving enough light. The keyboard itself is a good typing experience with good pitch between keys and good travel as well. The overall build though is plastic and feels cheap.

The Logitech keyboard connects wirelessly to your laptop via 2.4GHz wireless with a unifying receiver that plugs into your computer's USB Type-A port. That type of connection gives you a faster response and lower latency than Bluetooth, but we'd like to see Bluetooth as an option as well if for no better reason than to free up a USB port. Overall though, this is a very nice keyboard and the price is right.

"I've used this keyboard for years and I've never had to charge it. IT's slim and portable and works great with my laptop." — Adam Doud, Product Tester

Best Security Camera: SOLIOM Wireless Outdoor Solar Battery Security Camera

What We Like
  • 1080p camera with night vision

  • Truly wireless installation

What We Don't Like
  • Looks a little silly

Keeping an eye on things outside can be a challenge. Often there are wires involved. But Soliom developed an outdoor wireless camera that connects to Wi-Fi, has a large, 4,000 mAh battery, and has built-in solar panels. The solar panels make the camera look a little silly. They look like wings on a plane with no cockpit. It's not pretty. But, the solar panels ensure that you can get this camera up and running with a minimum of effort.

The camera connects to your Wi-Fi and streams video to an app. It can also store video clips to a local memory card or upload them to the cloud. What makes that really cool is, this camera will work when your home is most vulnerable, when it has no power. That can be an important deterrent or tool to ward off intruders or catch them later.

Best Flashlight: Delxo Patriot Flashlight

What We Like
  • Built-in tools

  • 10 hours of battery life

What We Don't Like
  • Heavy

  • Some tools make the flashlight unwieldy

A flashlight is one of those necessary life-saving tools that you never really think about until you need it. This flashlight is solar powered, meaning it can run basically forever. It has 10 hours of battery life on a single charge and carries with it a number of handy tools including a compass, emergency hammer, cutter knife, magnet, and a power bank for your devices.  Basically this flashlight can do everything. 

Unfortunately, all those extras make this flashlight heavy and a little unwieldy. A hammer head embedded into the flashlight head looks weird and balances weird. It's what happens when you try to shove a little too much functionality into a single device. But it is a device that might save your life some time, so maybe that's worth a little discomfort.

Final Verdict

Overall, all of these devices use the sun to an advantage that is obvious and clear. It's hard to determine a "winner" here in the traditional sense, but if you're looking for a device that will keep on going day after day, the Logitech K750 Keyboard is a great choice. A good wireless keyboard can really enhance your typing experience, and the fact that it never has to be charged is a major bonus.


Otherwise, the ABFOCE Solar Bluetooth Speaker and the Delxo Flashlight both have life saving features that could make a big difference in your life fairly regularly. Both carry back up batteries for your mobile devices, and both have flashlights to help you after the sun goes down. It'd be hard to go wrong with either of those devices.

About Our Trusted Experts

Adam S. Doud has been writing in the tech space for almost a decade. When he's not working at his solar powered keyboard, you'll often find him outside, listening to music, or working in his garage.

FAQ

Does Solar power require sunlight?

You will get the best results from direct sunlight, however solar panels can work with indirect sunlight, such as on a cloudy day. Solar panels can also work with indoor lighting. Output of energy will depend greatly on the type of light used, and direct sunlight is always best.


If a solar panel doesn't have anything plugged in, what happens?

That depends. Most of the time, nothing will happen at all. The energy generated just dissipates. Some of the devices have batteries, and those will collect the energy up to their capacity, but after that, the energy will once again dissipate.


Can I plug in my phone while a battery is charging with solar?

Yes, but the energy going out will be much more than the energy coming in. The battery will discharge, but more slowly than normal due to the incoming solar energy.



What to Look for in Solar Powered Gadgets


Battery capacity - If your solar device has a battery, it's important to note how big that battery is. Larger batteries will last longer at night when not charging, but they will also take longer to top off. Battery capacity is usually measured in mAh, and larger numbers are usually better.

Solar cell placement - consider your use case. Does the placement of the solar cells make sense? If you're looking at a solar powered camera, does the area you want to monitor get direct sunlight? If you're looking at a bluetooth speaker, do you have a window where you can recharge the device?

Durability - How are the solar cells constructed? Are they glass? Are they composed of polycarbonate? Keeping in mind your use case, how long will the cells themselves hold up?

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