As more and more people start using their gadgets outside of their homes, the demand for portable chargers keeps on increasing. While many companies are making exceptional advancements in mobile technology, very few of them are actually working towards developing an extended battery life for their cell phones. Therefore, we are still forced to rely on other, external power sources to keep our devices charged all day long while we are outside.
Whether you have a job that requires you to be out and about on the road all day or you are an adventure seeker who loves to go on camping and backpacking trips, having a backup power source is essential. When your gadgets are all charged, you feel safer, more confident and can make the most of your trip by collecting memories in the form of pictures and videos.
Because of the increased demand for portable power sources, solar power chargers have gained a lot of popularity. These power sources make use of the sun’s energy and convert it into electrical energy so you can have an easy charging solution.
In this blog, we will talk about the best portable solar power phone chargers that will come in handy for your next adventure trip! We will also shed light on how solar chargers work and what features you need to look for when buying one.
So without further ado, let’s hop right into our discussion!
What Are Portable Solar Phone Chargers?
As the name suggests, a portable solar charger is a battery pack that is used to charge the batteries inside different gadgets like cell phones. They are mainly used when there is no external power supply to charge the cell phone’s battery.
A portable solar charger is like a little power plant that offers power for your cell phone and other electronic devices to keep them charged when there is an ample amount of sunlight. They have a solar panel system that captures the sun’s light to generate electrical energy, which can charge the battery pack and then your cell phone.
Other than cell phones, a portable solar charger can also charge cameras, laptops, MP3 players, iPods, tablets and other small devices like handheld fans and flashlights. Many solar chargers can also charge two devices at one time. However, not all solar chargers can do so. If you have a device with a large battery pack and capacity, such as a laptop, you will need the best solar charger and that too with a larger battery bank.
How Do Solar Phone Chargers Work?
The best solar charger usually contains a nickel-cadmium, lead acid or lithium-ion battery pack. These battery banks have a high voltage and an ampere hours (mAh) capacity of up to thousands mAh.
Most solar chargers have a solar panel system that charges the battery pack before charging your cell phone. However, some solar chargers allow you to charge your cell phone directly by connecting it to the solar panel system. We do not recommend doing this because sunlight fluctuates in many areas and a fluctuating voltage can harm your cell phone’s battery pack.
When you head out for backpacking, connect a solar charger with a solar panel system to your bag, jacket or anywhere else where the sun’s rays can reach it while you continue with your adventure.
When the sun’s light hits the solar panel, an electric current is generated due to the movement of electrons. These electrons carry a negative charge and are normally positioned in the entangled orbits of an atom around the nucleus that contains the uncharged neutrons and positively-charged protons. Sunlight carries a subatomic particle called photon. These photons possess the ability to shake the negatively-charged electrons out of their orbits. This ability of photons to dismantle electrons from their orbits and enable their free movement is called the photoelectric effect.
Once the electrons get going, an imbalance is created between the positively and negatively charged subatomic particles inside the atom. Because of this imbalance, an electrical field is created inside the battery pack. This electric field pushes the negatively charged electrons to one side of the battery pack, creating a negative side. The protons that are left behind create a positive side. When these opposite sides are connected to a solar charger, the electrons flow from one side to the other, creating an electrical current that charges the battery pack.
Types of Solar Panels in the Best Portable Solar Phone Charger
There are different types of portable solar chargerswith varying characteristics. You should pick one that meets all your backpacking needs. Let’s look at some commonly used types of solar chargers:
A polycrystalline solar charger has a solar panel system where solar cells are made from fragments of silicon that have been melted together. These panels are blue in color and are less efficient than monocrystalline panels. They are also sometimes called multi-crystalline panels since they have multiple silicon fragments and crystals fused together. The main advantage of buying the best solar charger with polycrystalline panels is the low price point. The main disadvantage is that many crystals do not give enough space for the electrons to move freely, resulting in low efficiency.
A solar charger with a monocrystalline solar panel is made of a single crystal of silicon, unlike polycrystalline panels. They are much more premium and sleeker than polycrystalline panels. They have better shapes and styles and a blackish hue. Even though they might be heavy, they last longer than any other type of solar panels. They can be molded into many different sizes. Since they are composed of a single crystal, they allow electrons to pass through freely, thereby having the highest efficiency rate.
CIGS is an acronym for copper, indium, gallium and selenide. A CIGS solar charger is made up of a thin film of solar cells. They are very lightweight which can also reduce their durability, so we don’t recommend using them in the outdoors too often. CIGS solar chargers are sometimes made of fabric and plastic, both of which are not very long lasting. Even though the efficiency of CIGS chargers is lower than that of monocrystalline panels, they can work better when there is not much sunlight, such as on a cloudy day. They have a better performance rate in unsuitable weather conditions.
The Drawbacks of Using a Portable Solar Charger
So far, we have talked about how a solar charger can benefit you. It can provide an electrical source while you are outdoors using a renewable, free-of-cost energy source (the sun). However, before you purchase a solar charger, you should keep in mind that there are certain drawbacks associated with the product. Let’s take a quick look at them
1. Require Specialization
Not all solar chargers will work everywhere. You need different versions that can support the device you wish to charge. A solar charger that might work well with a cell phone might not charge your camera at all. Hence, if you need to keep all your devices charged all the time, you might need to carry multiple solar chargers for different devices.
2. Have a Low Efficiency
Even though science has made many advancements, a solar charger that can charge your cell phone, laptop, camera, tablet and handheld fan all at the same time has not yet been developed. Most portable solar chargers have a low efficiency; they work well for just 1 or 2 products. Hence, you should carefully evaluate your needs before making the best choice.
3. Have a Long Charging Process
It takes a lot of time for the solar device to charge using the sun’s rays. The sun’s rays are often fluctuating. Sometimes, the weather conditions may not be favorable, such as in the case of a cloud cover. Thus, a solar charger can take ten times more time than a normal charger to charge your device fully.
4. Are Not Much Reliable
A solar phone charger will only charge when there is enough sunlight. In case of an unstable supply of sunlight, a solar charger might not work at all. Additionally, a solar charger will not be able to store the energy inside its battery pack for a long time, so make sure you charge your devices as soon as the power bank is fully charged.
5. Are Expensive
A normal battery charger costs around 20 dollars, whereas a solar power phone charger equipped with a battery pack can cost up to 75 dollars. The pricing, however, depends upon the capacity of the charger. However, generally, solar chargers are more expensive than normal chargers and power banks that require an external power source.
Choosing the Right Portable Solar Panel Charger
Many people are not aware of the technicalities involved in purchasing the best solar charger. Terms like wattage, ampere hours and volts can create a lot of confusion. Don’t be scared; we are here to help you make your decision so you choose the right solar charger according to your needs.
Following are some things you must absolutely consider before buying a solar phone charger:
1. The Output Power
When buying a solar charger, think about where you will use it. If you live in an area that experiences frequent rain spells, then you might have difficulty charging your power bank. Utilize all the sunlight you can get to charge your battery pack before the conditions become unfavorable. The output power refers to the charge that the solar charger will release into your device. Read up on how much output power does a USB port in your battery pack support and see if you will be able to charge your device on that.
2. USB Port Connections
Most solar phone chargers come with two USB ports that can charge two devices or more at one time. However, some devices like cameras will need special adapters before you can connect them to the solar charger. For all your devices to charge effectively, make sure that your charger’s battery pack has an adequate capacity that can support all your gadgets.
Wattage is a commonly used parameter that tells you what exactly you will be able to charge using your solar power charger. It is the measurement unit for power. Typically, for a standard smart phone, a 4 to 5 watt solar charger can work well to keep it charged all day long. However, if you have battery draining products, like an iPhone or iPad, then you will need up to 15 watts of power. Devices that have a lower wattage will charge slowly than devices with a higher wattage. It can take you 3 to 4 hours to charge a cell phone using a 4 to 6 watt solar charger, but it will take only 1 to 2 hours if you use a higher wattage portable solar charger.
The best solar power chargers are lightweight and are easy to carry around. If you are going camping, trekking or backpacking, you will need to keep your luggage as light as possible. Choose a solar phone charger that is light and easy to carry around. However, if you need one for indoor use, buying a slightly heavier one can work for you.
Solar power chargers can cost all the way from 25 dollars up to hundreds of dollars. Set a budget for the device before you make your purchase. Buying a solar panel system that you can directly connect your cell phone to is cheaper than buying a solar power bank with a battery pack. Buy the best one that meets all your criteria and falls well within your budget.
There is no point in taking a solar phone charger with an entire panel system on your backpacking trip if you will not be able to use it instantly. We do not recommend purchasing solar phone chargers that will require installation before use. Choose a model that will be easy to use. You should also be able to easily attach it to your bag, jacket or other luggage using a hook or strap so it can charge while you have a good time.
What Is the Best External Battery Charger for Cell Phones?
There are different external battery chargers for different cell phones. What will work best with your phone might not work with any other phone model. For example, Apple’s iPhone usually has a capacity of 1500 mAh to 2800 mAh, whereas popular Samsung models have a battery capacity between 2500 mAh and 3000 mAh. MAh gives a clear description of the amount of time your external battery charger will last. The greater the mAh, the longer your battery will be able to last.
Reviewing the 4 Best Solar Powered Phone Chargers for Backpacking
Now, let’s change the direction of our discussion and talk about the 4 best solar phone chargers that we have narrowed down for you to make your decision easier:
1. BLAVOR Solar Power Bank Qi Portable Charger, 10,000 mAh – The Best Overall Option
First up is the solar power bank and portable charger from BLAVOR . The device comes equipped with an external battery pack and uses wireless Qi technology that can charge iPhone 8 and above and Samsung S8 and above wirelessly. However, if your phone does not support wireless charging, the power bank also has a USB port that can support a type-C charger . The power bank has two led flashlights, a compass and a hook to attach it to your luggage, making it the best overall option for backpacking trips.
- Supports wireless charging
- Comes in four colors
- Has a flashlight (can be used at night)
- Supports c-type cables
- Is waterproof
- Includes a compass kit
- Has a compact size
- Is made of sturdy material
- Cannot recharge itself
- Contains lithium-ion batteries that you cannot carry on flights
- Not long-lasting
2. Panergy Solar Charger Portable Solar Power Bank, 26800 mAh – The Upgrade Option
If you are looking for an upgrade option, you should invest in the PanergySolar Charger Portable Solar Power Bank, 26800 mAh. This amazing product supports full-speed charging. It has one USB type-C port and two type-A ports, allowing you to charge multiple devices at once. This solar bank is made of rain-proof, ABS material that protects the battery from dust, scratches and breakage. Since it has a very high battery capacity, it can even charge high power devices like cameras and laptops. It contains Li-polymer batteries and can charge an iPhone 11 fully up to 6 times when it is completely charged.
- Comes in three colors
- Offers high-efficiency recharge
- Is equipped with high power LED flashlights
- Has a waterproof external battery pack
- Can charge multiple devices at one time
- Is expensive than other options
- Does not have a long life
- Needs an outlet charge once before it is charged by the sun’s light
3. – The Value Option
Have you been searching for a high-capacity but inexpensive power bank? Look no further. The Yelomin Solar Power Bank Portable Outdoor Mobile Charger has a high-battery capacity of 20,000 mAh . It has two USB charging ports, 2 LED flashlights and 1 lithium-ion battery. The power back also comes equipped with a compass kit and can be attached easily to your bag.
- Is inexpensive
- Is made of durable ABS material
- Has powerful LED lights
- Is heavy (254 grams)
- Does not support wireless or C-type charging
- Comes in only one color
4. Soxono Solar Power Bank Solar Charger with Qi Wireless Charger and 2 USB Ports, 16000 mAh – The Alternative Option
An alternative option that is quite similar to our best over choice, BLAVOR, is Soxono Power Bank Solar Charger. It features a Qi Wireless Charger, 2 USB Ports and a 16000 mAh battery. It has a Li-polymer, large battery and can charge up to 3 cell phones at one time.
- Comes in three colors
- Supports fast and wireless charging
- Has 15 LED controllable flashlights
- Is waterproof
- Pricier due to higher battery capacity
- Not long-lasting
- Does not support C-type charging
According to our reviews, the clear winner from our list of the best solar chargers is BLAVOR Power Bank Qi Solar Portable Charger, 10,000 mAh. It supports all types of charging including wireless and C-type charging. It is made of sturdy material, which is great for outdoor use. It is also waterproof, which means you are safe in case it rains while you are on your trip. It is made of lithium-ion batteries that are long-lasting and most efficient out of all batteries. It also has a high battery capacity that can charge your cell phone more than once.
Now that you know all the best solar battery banks, consider purchasing one before you set out for your next camping trip!