Solar Powered Phone Charger

What’s The Best Solar Powered Phone Charger?

Looking For The Best Solar Phone Charger For Your Smartphone?

You've come to the right place.

Do you need a power pack that will generate power perpetually - no matter where you go or how long you need to be gone?

The Problem With Power Packs

Most people think about getting a portable battery pack when they need to keep their devices charged on the road.

Power banks are great - but only for limited amounts of time. If you are going on a day trip, they are perfect.

But if you work outdoors or expect to be away from a power source for days at a time, you can't rely on a rechargeable power bank. 

You need a solar powered phone charger.

Perfect for Emergencies

Solar phone chargers are great to have around in case of an emergency.

If there is a power outage, you can still charge your phone. Which means you won't lose your connection to your family at home and your colleagues at the office.

As long as you get several hours of direct sunshine every day, your devices will work - forever.

Types of Solar Phone Chargers

There are many different types of solar phone chargers that are designed for outdoor use, camping trips, indoor only use - and more.  

That said, the price you pay mostly depends on the amount of power the unit stores, measured in Watts (W) or Amp-hours (Ah). 

The most expensive solar chargers can charge several phones and tablets at a time

Mid-priced solar chargers can charge up to two phones at a time and are very dependable for that.

Budget models are where you can get into trouble. These include most low-cost solar phone cases. Most of these will NOT keep your phone charged if you use it a lot.

When NOT To Buy One

Solar phone chargers are not for everyone.

If you aren't going to be in a place where you can count on at least a few hours of direct sunlight each day, then don't waste your money.  Opt for a less-expensive power bank, instead.

Or, if you already have a larger portable solar charger for camping or home backup purposes - such as the popular Goal Zero Yeti 400 - then you have plenty of backup power to charge your phone as well as other devices such as laptops, tablets, and lamps.  

Note: If you want a more powerful home power backup solution, read our guide to the leading home backup solar generators.  If you want a solar power station for camping, boating and other off-grid uses, then check out our reviews of camping & RV solar generators.  


What’s In This Guide?

This guide reviews the best solar-powered phone chargers you can buy online today.

Through many hours of research, we've selected great choices in several categories including:

  • Best Solar Charger Overall
  • Best Foldable Solar Charger
  • Best Solar Power Pack for A Weekend Hike With Friends
  • Best Solar Charger for a Week-Long Camping Trip
  • Best Budget Solar Charger
  • Best Waterproof Solar Power Pack

We also cover what features and limitations to look for when buying a solar phone charger or a solar-charged power pack.


Best Solar Phone Chargers (2018 Update)

Solar Charger
 

Best For

Limitations


Best Solar Powered Phone Charger

1-2 Travelers or Students with 

up to 3 Devices

Not the most weatherproof.

Best Solar Powered Phone Charger

1-2 Hikers with

2-3 devices

Needs plenty of direct sunlight.

Best Solar Powered Phone Charger

Weekend Camping Trip (1-2 days)

Weak solar charging (1W)

Solar Powered Phone Charger

long Camping Trips With Friends;

Outdoor Professionals

Needs plenty of direct sunlight.

Solar Powered Phone Charger

Single Travelers & Students

Weak solar charging (1W)

Best Solar Powered Phone Charger

Weekend Camping Trip (1-2 Days)

Weak solar charging (1W)


The Anker USB solar charger is a compact and highly portable smartphone and tablet solar charger.

It uses fast-charging technology to charge your devices quickly, even with two phones connected at the same time.

Best Features

PowerIQ charging technology – The Anker solar charger can deliver the maximum amount of power possible to the devices that need it most. PowerIQ makes your phones charge faster and makes it possible to charge two devices simultaneously.

Compact design – At just 11 inches wide when folded, this Anker 15W solar charger can fit just about anywhere, making it perfect for traveling. And when unfolded, it only measures 18 inches long. It contains loops at the corners for easy attachment to your backpack, tent or tree when outdoors.

Best Solar Powered Phone Charger

2 USB ports – charge up to two devices at the same time. You also get an extra-long 3-foot cable for frustration-free charging.

Durable and weather-friendly – The PET polymer solar panels are sewn into a weather-resistant polyester canvas. It can withstand dust and even a little drizzle. But the weather proofing isn't IP67 (or even close) - so keep this one out of inclement weather. 

Wide compatibility – the Anker 15W solar charger is compatible with Android and Apple devices including the iPad, Samsung Galaxy, iPhone 7, Note 5 and HTC. It will charge any smartphone or tablet.

Great For Outdoor Hiking & Camping Trips

Anyone planning to spend extended time outdoors. With as few as 2 hours of direct sunlight every day, you can keep your phone charged. It’s great for hikers, campers, backpackers, cyclists and professionals engaged in field projects.

The slim lightweight design makes the Anker solar charger easy to carry around. You can even connect it to your backpack in such a way that it charges as you walk.

It’s a must-have tool for anyone going outdoors for longer than a day or two.

Limitations

One common complaint is that there is no easy way to secure the solar charger to your backpack, like Velcro. Even with the loops at the corners you still have to improvise a way to attach the solar charger.

Also, note that this is not a completely weather-proof solar charger. While it will withstand many rough outdoor conditions including scratches and occasional tumbles, you should keep it out of rain and snow. 

Best Solar Powered Phone Charger

Summary

If you are looking for a lightweight easy-to-carry phone solar charger for hiking or camping, this is one of the best.

Despite its compact size, it charges up to 2 smartphones surprisingly fast. 


Best Foldable Solar Charger: RAVPower 16W Solar Charger

The RAVPower is a dual USB charger and has the same compact-fold design as the Anker solar charger, making it suitable for backpackers, campers and hikers.

With the included hooks, you can set it up anywhere to ensure it’s getting direct sunlight. 

Best Features  

iSmart technology – Anker has PowerIQ; RAVPower has iSmart. They both do the same thing; maximize the amount of current reaching the smartphone for faster, but still safe, charging.

Best Solar Powered Phone Charger

Smart IC – in addition to iSmart, the RAVPower solar charger uses Smart IC technology when you have connected two devices. It detects the input of both devices and distributes current across them to minimize charging time. This ensures that you enjoy fast charging whether you have connected one or two phones.

2 USB ports – using the dual iSmart USB ports you can charge your phone and tablet or kindle at the same time. The two ports also come in handy when you are traveling with someone else. You can keep both your phones charged. The solar charger also comes with two USB cables.

Durable and weather-resistant – The RAVPower solar charger is designed to withstand rough outdoor conditions. The solar panels are set into a tough waterproof fabric.

Charges phones and more – As long as a device can be charged via USB, you can use it with the RAVPower solar charger. This includes Kindles, cameras, and phone battery packs.

Compact and lightweight – The solar charger measures just 9.4 inches long, 6.3 inches wide and 0.2 inches when thick. It weighs a light 15.8 ounces. You can carry it in your backpack, handbag or even by hand. There are four hooks you can use to attach it to your backpack when traveling. This allows you to charge your devices on the go.

Great For Backpackers & Campers

Backpackers, campers, hikers and anyone else planning to spend plenty of time outdoors will like this charger. It’s also great for professionals who do a lot of field work outdoors.

Limitations

This is an almost perfect product. It’s durable, it’s portable, and it’s super easy to use.

The only downsides are the slightly higher price and that it needs plenty of direct sunlight to charge your phone. On a cloudy day, your phone will charge much slower.

To take advantage of available sunlight, use the four hooks to position the charger to capture direct light properly.

Best Solar Powered Phone Charger

Summary

The RAVPower foldable solar charger is the ultimate outdoor companion. It’s small, lightweight and powerful enough to keep your phone and tablet charged all day.


Best Solar Charger for A Weekend Hike With Friends:  BernetPow 24,000 mAh Solar Power Bank

This BernetPow solar charger is ideal for those who need something powerful enough to recharge multiple phones several times over the course of a day or two. 

This unit can be recharged via solar panels or a power outlet. 

This charger is essentially a power bank and a solar trickle charger combined into a single device. So you can use it as a standard power bank backup or as a solar charger when there is no outlet nearby to recharge the integrated battery pack.

Best Features

Dual input – This charger comes with a very powerful 24,000 mAh Li-Polymer battery inside. There are two ways to charge the battery: using a standard port outlet or by using the sun. While the solar option charges the battery very slowly, it’s ideal for emergencies and when you are outdoors.

Best Solar Powered Phone Charger

Three output options – The BernetPow charger comes with three USB ports, meaning you can charge more devices at the same time. The charger is designed to provide high-speed charging even with all ports in use. It’s compatible with most Android and Apple smartphones and tablets.  

Device protection – The BernetPow solar charger protects your devices from over-charging, excess current and voltage and short-circuiting. When your phone or tablet’s charge is full, the charger will automatically stop delivering power to it to prevent overheating.

Mini USB fan – The charger comes with a bonus mini-USB fan that plugs into one of the USB ports.

Best For Emergency Power

Those who want a high-capacity emergency phone charger that can charge multiple devices will love this unit. 

Limitations

The biggest limitation of the BernetPow charger is the weak solar panel. Compared with the 15W Anker and the 16W RAVPower solar chargers, the BernetPow solar panel has a far lower solar power input - of just 1W.

Even the manufacturer makes it clear that this is mostly an outlet-charged power bank with a solar charging option. The solar panels are really there only for emergencies.

So I wouldn’t recommend it if you are planning to rely on this for days outdoors, away from a power outlet. It’s a risky bet to expect the solar panels to keep your devices fully charged. This is mostly a home and short-term travel power backup phone charger.

One other small downside is that it only comes with one USB charging cable despite having 3 USB ports. So make sure you have two extra cables around in case you need to charge multiple devices at the same time.

Solar Powered Phone Charger

Summary

The BernetPow solar charger and power bank provides more versatility than solar-only chargers. Its high-capacity battery provides convenient high-speed multi-device charging.

But when using it outdoors, use it for emergencies only.


Best Solar Charger for a Week-Long Camping Trip: RAVPower 24W Solar Charger

Do you like to camp or hike with others for days at a time? 

Then the RAVPower 24W solar charger is what you want. This is a weatherproof portable solar charger with very powerful solar panels. 

Solar Powered Phone Charger

Thanks to its high power capacity, it can charge three devices at the same time.

Best Features

Triple USB outlets – You can connect up to three devices at a time to this solar charger. If you carry a phone and an iPad / Kindle, then you can charge them all at the same time. You can also plug in your camera, GoPro, mini-fan or any other small USB-charged device.

Even better, lots of owners of this unit also carry an extra power bank. As you charge your phone, you can charge the extra power bank for when there is no sunshine.

iSmart technology – Like the RAVPower 16W, this 24W charger comes with iSmart charging technology. All 3 ports have this technology, which allows them to deliver the maximum amount of power to the devices that need it most. 

Built for the outdoors – With its foldable design, the RAVPower 24W solar charger is easy to carry around. It measures just 11.8 by 6.5 inches when folded and weighs only 26 ounces. It has four hooks you can use to attach it to your backpack. You can also use the hooks to hang the solar charger anywhere with direct sunlight be it on your tent, on a tree or the ground.   

Weather-resistant – The solar charger is made from a weather-proof nylon. It can withstand a bit of water, dust and all sorts of rough outdoor conditions.

Best For Social Hikers, Campers and Outdoor Professionals

This reliable solar charger can charge multiple phones and devices for a small group of up to 5 people. It’s also ideal for professionals on extended fieldwork assignments outdoors.

Limitations

The main limitation is one that is inherent in all solar chargers: it needs strong and direct sunlight to get the best out of it.

Cloudy conditions and indirect sunlight will reduce the total power being delivered to your phone meaning it will charge slower.

Solar Powered Phone Charger

Summary

If you want to carry enough power to keep multiple devices plus a friend or two charged for days or weeks at a time, then the RAVPower 24W is the right solar charger to buy. 

With 3 charging ports you can keep all your devices charged plus an extra battery pack in good shape for practically forever - as long as there is sunshine.


Best Budget Solar Charger:  Dizaul 5000 mAh Portable Solar Power Bank

The Dizaul Portable Power Bank is a budget alternative to the BernetPow dual solar charger.

This power pack charges primarily through a power outlet but can also be charged through the integrated solar panels in a pinch.

With a 5,000 mAh battery, the Dizaul is a power bank/solar charger combo that's suitable for recharging a single device several times over the course of a couple of days.

Best Features

Dual input options – A power outlet is the best way to charge the Dizaul power bank. But you can also use the integrated solar panels when you have no access to a power outlet such as when you are hiking or camping.

Solar Powered Phone Charger

Two USB ports – You can charge two devices at the same time thanks to the dual USB ports on the power bank. You can also charge a tablet or any other small USB-charged device such as a mini-fan. The power bank is compatible with most Android and Apple devices.

Shock-proof and water-resistant – The Dizaul’s design and construction are perfect for rough outdoor travel. It’s shock-proof, so it can withstand quite a few tumbles.  It's also water-resistant (but not waterproof). 

Highly portable – This solar charger measures 5.5 by 2.9 inches and weighs just 5.1 ounces. It’s easy to carry around whether you are going to a days-long business conference or hiking in the mountains. Using the hook at the top, you can hang it from your bag to keep it charging even as you walk.

Emergency flashlight – The solar charger includes a flashlight near the top, handy during emergencies.

Best For Students or Travelers 

Those looking for a budget power bank with integrated solar panels will find this unit ideal as a power backup for students and short-term travelers. If you are planning to spend more time outdoors, then I recommend buying one of the more powerful solar-only chargers such as Anker or RAVPower.

Limitations

Like the BernetPow power bank/solar charger, Dizaul’s biggest limitation is the solar charging capacity. The solar panel has a limited capacity of 1.2W. It will take 30 hours of sunlight, or about 4-5 days, to recharge the power bank completely.

Solar Powered Phone Charger

This is an outlet-charged power bank with a solar panel backup. The solar option is meant to be used only in emergencies.

Summary

If you don’t have much money to spend on a solar charger, then get this one.

For around $20, you'll get a decent-capacity power bank and a solar charger, all in one.


Best Waterproof Solar Power Pack for Camping or Boating: OUTXE IP67 Waterproof Outdoor Power Bank 16,000 mAh with Flashlight

While its solar charging capacity is not the best, this OUTXE has a good-sized 16,000 mAh battery pack inside and is extremely weatherproof. 

When fully charged - ideally from a 115V outlet - this power bank can recharge an iPhone 5-6 times or a Galaxy S7 3-4 times on a single charge.

The included torch/SOS strobe light also comes in handy in case you are caught in an emergency.

Best Features

Dual input options – The main input option is the AC cable. Just plug it into a standard outlet and the battery will fill up in a few hours.

If you cannot access an outlet, there are solar panels integrated into the charger. Set up the charger in direct sunlight and the battery will start recharging. However, it takes very long – up to 100 hours – to fill up the battery using just the solar panels.

Solar Powered Phone Charger

LED flashlight – If you ever find yourself caught in the dark, the OUTXE has an emergency LED flashlight. The flashlight has three light modes: normal, SOS and strobe. The SOS mode is great if you need to call for help.

Device protection – The OUTXE power bank protects your devices from short-circuiting, overheating and over-charging.

Multi-device speed charging – The charger can detect when you have connected multiple devices. It senses the input capacity of each device and delivers as much power as safely possible to speed up charging time.

Wide compatibility – In addition to your Android or Apple phone and tablet, you can also charge your Kindle, camera, and even a small Bluetooth speaker.

IP67 water and dust rating – The OUTXE charger is dust and waterproof, making it ideal for all sorts of outdoor activities.  

Best For Short Term Outdoor Excursions

Campers, hikers, backpackers, cyclists and anyone planning a 1- or 2-day outdoor adventure.

Limitations

If you rely on the solar panels to keep your devices fully charged, you will be disappointed. It’s better to charge the battery at home and then travel at full charge.

Best Solar Powered Phone Charger

If the charge finishes before you are back home, you can use the solar panels to keep your devices charged though you will probably not manage to charge them fully.

Summary

Though not the best solar charger, the OUTXE is perfect for short-duriation camping and the outdoors. It will charge your phone for a couple of days before you need to start relying on solar charging.


Buying a Solar Charger? Look For These Features

1. Capacity

The first thing you should always look for when shopping for a solar-powered phone charger is its power capacity.

For solar-only chargers, look for the wattage provided by the solar panels. The higher the number of watts, the faster it will charge your phone and the more devices it can charge at the same time. We recommend a minimum of 15 W.

For combined solar and power bank chargers, look first at the capacity of the battery pack. It’s denoted in mAh. The higher the number, the more power it can store, and the more times it can charge your phone. 

2. Solar Panel Efficiency

Solar panels are surprisingly inefficient. Most convert just 14% of the solar energy that reaches them.

Solar Powered Phone Charger

But modern solar panels are getting much better. 

For example, RAVPower's chargers use panels with an efficiency between 21% and 23%. Generally, the higher the solar panel efficiency, the better.

3. Number Of Ports

At a minimum, a solar-powered phone charger should have two charging ports. If possible, buy one with three. The extra USB ports come in handy when you have multiple devices, or you need to charge someone else’s phone. You can plug in 2 or 3 phones at the same time.  

4. Fast Charging

Look for a solar charger with fast-charging technology. It’s especially important for solar chargers that accept multiple devices. Fast-charging shortens the charging time even with 2 or 3 devices plugged in at the same time.

Anker calls their technology PowerIQ, while RAVPower calls theirs iSmart. 

5. Power Input

Regarding power input, there are two types of solar-powered phone chargers; those that rely on just solar energy and those that can be powered by either solar or a standard electrical outlet.

Dual-input (solar and outlet) chargers are handy when you need a backup for use at home and short-term travel. This is because they usually have very weak solar panels that can barely charge the battery when you are away from an outlet.

Solar-only chargers are best suited for camping and hiking. They have higher-efficiency and capacity solar panels that can provide enough power to keep your phone charged wherever you are.

6. Integrated Battery Pack

Solar chargers with an integrated battery pack are usually dual input chargers. They are meant to be charged mainly through a power outlet, not the low-capacity solar panels.

Solar Powered Phone Charger

If you spend a lot of time outdoors, then I recommend getting a solar charger without an integrated battery pack.

Instead, buy a solar-only charger and charge a couple of external battery packs with it - for additional power when there is no sunshine.

7. Portability

Look for a solar charger that is easy to carry around in your backpack or travel bag. It should have hooks, Velcro or just a way to attach it to your bag when traveling.  Anything weighing a pound or more is too much. 

8. Weatherproofing

If you will be using your solar charger outdoors, it’s important that the charger you buy can withstand the worst outdoor conditions you can expect. This includes dust, falling and water (to a degree). Check whether the charger has an IPxx rating which shows whether it’s proofed from dust and water. 

9.  Accessories

Finally, check what accessories the solar charger comes with. At the very least it should include one or two USB charging cables.


Limitations of All Solar Phone Chargers

The biggest limitation of ALL solar phone chargers is also what makes them so great: the sun.

Without direct sunshine falling on your solar charger, it’s not going to charge your phone or will do so painfully slowly.

This is especially a bad problem for combo solar chargers that have integrated battery packs. They often include such low capacity solar panels that it would take days of perfect sunshine to recharge the battery.

Normally, you won’t get perfect sunshine, even in the summer. Clouds can form, or you may be traveling through a thickly wooded area.

That’s why I recommend you get the highest wattage solar phone charger you can afford. It will charge your phone faster even with limited sun exposure time.

If you are planning to spend more than a couple of days in the wild, don’t get an integrated solar charger+power bank unit. According to most campers, this type of integrated charger will frustrate you because of the low wattage solar panels, sometimes as low as 1 watt. Instead, get a high capacity solar-only charger and buy a couple of battery packs to charge with it.

Another issue with many solar phone chargers is their lack of versatility. They can only produce enough power for small devices.

Unlike larger portable solar chargers, you cannot use them to power your laptop, lamp or medical device.

The payoff is that you'll get a charger small enough to put in your pocket.


About the Author David Roberts

I'm a Mechanical Engineer who's obsessed with solar energy and sustainable living.

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