It’s 2018 – it’s time to start looking at solar for everything, and not just hooking panels up to the roof. It’s being used everywhere, including phone chargers. Yes, solar-powered phone chargers to not only cut down on your electric bill, but to go a little green along the way. We’ve narrowed down the best solar phone chargers – these are the type you can leave on the windowsill to charge your phone while you’re seeing to other tasks, or on the dash of the car for your morning commute. The possibilities are endless, but the products are not. As always, here’s the cream of the crop from Gear Hungry.
The Best Solar Phone Chargers In 2018
1. Anker 21W Dual USB Solar Charger
Built for your iPhone or Android device, this multi-panel solar charger is designed to give you the most bang for your buck, on multiple fronts. For one, it’s excellent with mobility – simply lay this mat anywhere you wish, depending on the sun’s current position, and you’ll be good to go. This compact size allows for easy fold-up and storage in a laptop bag, messenger bag or backpack, and retains up to a max 23.5% efficiency rating.
This kit is also going to include a 3ft micro USB cable, their welcome guide with instructions and maintenance care, as well as their stellar 18-month warranty that covers more than you’d imagine. You get a charging speed of up to three overall amps in direct sunlight (ideal conditions), or about 2.4 amps in non-ideal conditions. If it starts to rain, don’t worry – Anker already thought of that. This comes with a waterproof polyester canvas cover, so everything (perhaps except for your phone), is going to be safe.
Versatile mat to contour to sun’s current position
Two USB outputs
Includes 18-month warranty + excellent customer service
- Weight14.7 ounces
2. Dizual Portable Solar Power Bank
Dizual speaks to more than just green-goers, but to hikers as well. With an integrated hook, this is perfect to hang on the loop of your backpack, allowing you to keep your phone charged in the event of an emergency while out at the camping trail. You get two USB ports, protected by rubber caps to aid in waterproofing. The panel itself comes waterproofed, and includes specific football-style design to help water run off of your device, not simply protect it from leakage.
Crafted of ABS plastic and PC, this can withstand drops and falls like a champion. Due to the smaller size of the solar panel itself, charging takes a little bit longer, but you’ll also see that reflect on the excellent price. Solar panels don’t come cheap, which is why Dizual made it their mission to make the most cost-effective and shockproof portable solar panels on the market. We’re happy to say, we’re pretty confident that they achieved that.
ABS + PC design for durability, perfect for hiking
Two rubber cap-protected USB ports
Football grain design to aid in waterproofing
- Weight4 ounces
3. RAV Power 16W Solar Panel
RAV Power put campers and commuters in mind with this one. We personally enjoyed using this on the dash of the car, connecting it to two phones at once. With about a twenty-minute drive to and from the office, it tends to do a lot more than you’d expect. They made this powerful and portable, foldable and waterproof to leave out in the light rain if you’re on the camping trail, but still want to keep your line open in case of emergencies.
You get energy retention from 21.5% up to 23.5%, and not a single droplet of power goes to waste, thanks to the Smart IC technology built right into this device. It’s built to ensure that your specific device, no matter what it is, is receiving the perfect amount of power being transmitted. That keeps more power in your bank, while still properly charging your device. All in all, RAV hits home with this attractive pricing and premium function.
Easily positions depending on your current needs/sun’s position
Comes with two protected USB ports
Waterproof enough to leave out in light rain if need be
- Weight7 ounces
4. X-DRAGON Solar Charger 8-Panel Station
Alright, it’s time to bring out the big guns. Bringing enough solar power retention capabilities for the entire camping crew? You’re going to need some serious power. X-DRAGON’s model brings you 22% – 25% energy retention, while most leading portable panels (none that are on this list) only hold around 15% – 17%. You have dual USB ports for charging multiple mobile devices, or an 18V adapter (included) to charge your laptop.
Water and weather resistant Oxford fabric means you don’t have to rush around like a madman while pulling everyone’s phones off the charger. You can leave it in light rain without worrying about damage, and simply house the phones underneath the eight-panel design to shield them from the rain. In total, you have a 40W potential, and an easy time setting this up on or off of the power bank/stand combination.
Comes with a slew of cables and adapters
22% – 25% solar panel energy retention
High-wear Oxford fabric for weather resistance
- Weight3.1 pounds
5. SunJack 20W Solar Charger Power Bank
Four flat panels that fold out, and a power bank – SunJack knew what they were getting themselves into, and absolutely nailed it. This rugged, portable and weather-resistant solar panel comes with two detachable power banks. Energy is fed into these, giving standard phones up to ten full charges (which is pretty insane). If you’re using this for in-home use, such as mounting outside of your window, you’ll be able to charge the entire family’s phones, tablets, etc., on a single day’s charge.
Now, this is ideal for camping situations. If you’re camping with friends, but you’re not roughing it, you’ll be able to keep your devices charged with ease. Contour this panel to the sun’s position for maximum effectivity, and let nature take its course – this thing is tough to an intense level. Accidentally kick up stones, leave it out in the rain, or drop it off a twelve-foot ledge, and it’s still going to work as if nothing happened.
Two amps of power per USB port (comes with two individual, removable power banks)
Includes USB-C Qualcomm 3.0 cables for quicker charging
Outstanding 12-month warranty
- Weight2.5 pounds
6. Jetsun Solar Power Bank LED Torch Light
Sounds like a mouthful, right? This is the real deal, and it’s here to save your skin in an emergency situation. This one is often thought of as a hiking and survival-esque solar charger. It comes with two ultra bright LED lights to act as a torch, giving you maximum visibility, much like a lower-end tactical flashlight. This power bank is prime to store enough energy to charge a phone three times over, while remaining nature-resistant tough. At an attractive price we were surprised about (few solar panels go under thirty dollars), this really packs a punch.
Jetsun is also insane when it comes to warranties. You have a lifetime – not limited lifetime (which is a weird term anyway) – warranty against overcharging and waterproofing, which includes rainwater or splashes from the sink/pool (does not cover submersion). We were a little skeptical while waiting for this to arrive, but it does the job perfectly, and works well for commuters, too.
Built-in dual head flashlight mode (LED torch light)
Power indicator to showcase charge, also known as an energy control panel
Lifetime warranty against overcharging and rain/splashing
- Weight11 ounces
7. CXLLY Portable Solar Power Bank w/ Flashlight
Banking on the ideas of its predecessor, CXLLY’s portable solar charger works as a flashlight, with colored lights and a built-in SOS function for survival scenarios. The design alone is rather fetching, but on top of that, you get a battery life indicator to maintain a constant reading of your remaining power supply. They’ve slapped a two-year warranty on this that covers most damage and overcharging, though we doubt you’ll have to use it – they’ve waterproofed this thing to kingdom come.
You can store up to 25,000mah, making this excellent for multiple full charges on multiple devices. This dually works in survival situations, as well as simple outdoor excursions or hitting the cookout at a buddy’s house (it’s always terribly awkward to ask to go into the house just to charge your phone).
Built-in LED light with colored and SOS settings
Three USB outputs for iOS/Android devices
24-month bulletproof warranty
- Weight1.34 pounds
8. Ayyie Dual USB Survival Solar Power Bank
In case you couldn’t tell, the survival solar banks really took us by storm. This one comes at the lowest price on our list, and stores up to 10,000mah (about two or three full phone charges). You get two LED lights, designed for a power outage of a survival situation that run off of your collected power supply. Two USB 2.0 ports allow for quick charging of multiple devices.
Made of ABS and PC/silicone material, you get a durable exterior. This one does take the longest to get a full charge, but if you leave it in ideal conditions, you’ll be able to rely on this for your phone’s battery life instead of a wall plug. Believe it or not, you’ll actually see a noticeable difference in your electric bill – this thing pays for itself in no time.
Two LED lights for survival situations
Dual USB outputs
Built-in carabiner and compass
- Weight11.7 ounces
Buying Guide & FAQ
No two solar chargers are built the same - it’s a vastly different technology, especially in such small, portable form. These are the main features you should be looking out for, especially if you want to get the most for your money.
Different Types of Solar Chargers
Monocrystalline - These generally require less space, but aren’t always the best at charging. If you’re all about saving square footage, or in the case of phone chargers, square inches, you’ll be wise to go with a monocrystalline model.
Polycrystalline - The difference between this and monocrystalline resides in the material that each individual solar cells are made out of. In this case, silicon substrate. In short, a polycrystalline panel has multiple cells, while a mono has one one large cell to absorb solar energy.
CIGS Panels - These go against the grain. Crafted of copper, indium, gallium and selenide (CIGS), these thin-film photovoltaic technology centerpieces are flimsy, but not when it comes to power. They require less film, and overall, are much better for the environment, and in certain cases, provide you with more power per charge.
As we just talked about, CIGS panels are extremely portable, but other power banks with solar panels can be pretty heavy. If portability is an issue, such as if you’re carrying it to school/work in the morning to let it charge on the windowsill, you may want to consider something that’s going to give you more space. Portability is huge, because nobody likes carrying things awkwardly.
Quite simple, how many connections it has to charge devices. In most cases, you’re only going to see one or two USB to micro USB connections here, but don’t let that put you off - you have to think about how much energy it’s taking in, versus how many different conduits it has to output through. In our humble opinion, one USB connection is plenty to get the job done.
This all plays into efficiency percentage, (most solar panels in general cannot go above 29% efficiency as technology is expanding), how much power your charger can hold when it’s just soaking up the sunlight, and more. Pay close attention to the power-related features to see which one is right for you.
A Few Things to Understand About Solar Panels
This tech is still rapidly evolving every single day, marked by serious milestones. The first solar panel existed in the 1800’s, but it could only hold up to 1% power retention. Nowadays, there are some panels (nothing proven by researchers/energy authorities yet), that can reach up to 33.2% retention. We know that certified-use panels can go up to 29% at the moment, but it’s always expanding.
Solar energy is clean energy, but doesn’t operate the same way that commercials and advertisements would make them think. They are an investment, they cut down on your energy consumption, but they’re also finnickey at times, so you may have to give a half-a-dozen or more uses before fully determining your opinion on a specific model we’ve selected. Each model has something to offer.