Solar phone chargers, also referred to as solar cell phone chargers and solar-powered phone chargers, are gaining popularity as they progressively become more efficient, durable, and less expensive. And there are virtually thousands of options available online.
But don’t worry, we did the hard work for you and scoured the internet for the best solar phone chargers in 2020.
What features to look for in a solar phone charger
When you’re shopping for a solar phone charger, there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure you get the right one for your needs, including:
- Type of charger
- Power output
- Device compatibility
Type of charger
There are two types of solar phone chargers:
- Direct solar chargers
- Battery bank solar chargers
Direct solar chargers connect the solar panels to your phone, so the energy produced by the panels goes directly into your phone’s battery.
A battery bank solar charger doesn’t get hooked up to your phone. Instead, the panels charge a solar power bank that you can then plug your phone into later when it needs a boost.
You want to make sure the charger you get is powerful enough to charge your devices. If you’re only looking to charge one smartphone, a solar phone charger with a lower power output can work for you.
If you need something that can charge multiple devices, or larger electronics like tablets, you’ll want a solar phone charger with more power. A wattage between 10 watts and 15 watts of power is a good rule of thumb when looking for a solar phone charger.
The size of your charger is important! Because you’ll generally be using a solar phone charger on the go, the size and weight are important.
Some solar chargers are made up of multiple lightweight solar panels that fold up so they can easily fit in your backpack. Others are heavier, and include a backup battery pack, that will add extra weight to whatever you’re carrying.
Make sure that the charger you buy is compatible with your devices! Most solar phone chargers are able to charge any USB device, however, it’s always good to check before you purchase.
Also keep an eye out for how many charging ports the charger has. You don’t want to go on a hike with three people and only be able to charge two gadgets!
An important thing to note about solar charging is that even if you get one with a high power output and place it in direct sunlight, they don’t have fast charging capabilities. With most solar phone chargers, it will take a minimum of five hours to fully charge your device.
Typically, portable solar panel chargers are meant to function as a source of backup power, not as the primary way to charge your phone every day because of their slow charging speed.
The best solar phone chargers of 2020
Here are our picks for the best solar phone chargers on the market.
1. BigBlue 28W USB solar charger, $75.96
Our top pick, the BigBlue 3, with its four solar panels and a compact design. Image source: BigBlue
Price: $75.96 Buy Now
Best: Overall solar charger
Pros: The BigBlue 28W USB Solar Charger is our pick for the Best Overall solar charger. With four highly efficient foldable SunPower solar panels that fit into a compact bag, they can be easily stored in your backpack. It has three charging USB output ports, so it can charge up to three devices while still delivering decent power. Reviews consistently claim that the charger provides decent output in cloudy conditions, as well.
Cons: This charger’s on the heavier side for solar panel chargers, weighing in at 1.3 pounds, even though it doesn’t come with an external battery bank. Although it will fit nicely in your backpack, it might weigh you down. If you want to store power for later, you have to purchase a battery bank separately.
Compatibility: iPhone 7s, 8, X, XR, Xs, 11, iPad, Galaxy S8, LG, and more. Is not compatible with the iPad Pro.
2. Hiluckey solar phone charger, $46.99
The Hiluckey charger with its four solar panels and a battery bank is one of the best low-cost solar phone chargers available. Image source: Amazon
Price: $46.99 Buy Now
Best: Budget charger
Pros: Hilucky’s Solar Phone Charger comes equipped with four fold-out solar panels that charge its battery bank. The included rechargeable battery can fully charge an smartphone over 10 times. It comes with LED light settings, making it perfect for outdoor use. It has dual USB ports for charging two devices.
Cons: Having four solar panels makes it a little bulky, even if it does increase the surface area of the charger in order to collect sunlight. It will also add an extra 1.25 pounds to your backpack.
Compatibility: Almost all 5V devices such as iPhones, iPads, Samsung, Sony, Huawei, HTC, LG, Nexus, Tablet, GPS, and more.
3. BEARTWO portable solar charger, $19.98
The sleek-looking BEARTWO solar phone charger. Image source: Amazon
Price: $19.98 Buy Now
Best: Travel solar charger
Pros: Because the BEARTWO Portable Solar Charger is durable, water-resistant, dust-resistant, shockproof, and weighs only 7.4 ounces – it is the best solar charger in terms of portability and is ideal for hiking and camping. This solar charger power bank adds virtually no weight to your backpack and holds enough charge to recharge an iPhone 8 completely about four times. It has dual USB ports to charge up to two devices at once and also acts as a flashlight.
Cons: The BEARTWO is so lightweight because it has only one small solar panel. This means it can take a very long time to charge using the sun. Most users will charge the battery as much as they can at home, and then let it sit in the sun to top it off.
Compatibility: iPhone, Samsung, Android, Windows, GoPro, GPS, tablets, and most USB charging devices.
4. Nekteck 21W solar phone charger, $55.99
The Nekteck solar cell phone charger is compact and boasts three efficient solar panels made by SunPower. Image source: Nekteck
Price: $55.99 Buy Now
Pros: Nekteck’s 21 Solar Phone Charger has three high-efficiency SunPower solar panels to directly charge your phone. Its dual charge ports have a combined power output of 15 watts, meaning it will charge your phone faster than some other chargers on the market. It is extremely lightweight at just 18 ounces. Plus, it is weather resistant.
Cons: This is a direct solar charger, so your phone has to be directly connected to it in order to charge. If you want to have power stored to charge later, you’ll have to purchase a battery bank separately.
Compatibility: All iPhones, tablets, GPS, cameras, and other USB-supported devices.
5. Anker 21W solar phone charger, $69.99
Anker’s lightweight and compact solar cell phone charger. Image source: Amazon
Price: $69.99 Buy Now
Pros: Anker’s solar phone charger is able to charge two devices at once using its three high efficiency SunPower solar panels. It is compact and lightweight, making this portable charger easy to hook onto your backpack while on a hike.
Cons: According to customer reviews, this charger is not compatible with all smartphones. Anker’s charger does not come with a battery pack, so your phone must be directly plugged into it to charge.
Compatibility: iPhone 7, 6s, Plus, iPad Pro, iPad Air 2, iPad mini, Galaxy S7, S6, Edge, Plus, Note 5 and 4, LG, Nexus, HTC, and more.
Solar energy can power more than just your phone
The quality and efficiency of solar powered phone chargers are getting better all the time. As solar technology continues to improve, we might one day have small solar panels capable of generating a substantial amount of power.
Until that day comes, solar powered phone chargers will best serve as a backup option and not a primary source of power.
Your phone doesn’t have to be the only thing you power with solar energy. By installing solar panels on your roof, you can power your whole home with solar. Not only does this decrease your carbon footprint, it can save you thousands of dollars on your utility bills.
You can use our one-of-a-kind solar calculator to get an estimate tailored to your specifc roof and find out how much solar could save you.