Solar energy is an eco-friendly and economical way to power your home, and it can also charge your small gadgets on the go. Solar power banks are convenient for hiking, backpacking, camping, traveling, and handling emergencies while out on the road. Modern models are small and lightweight, but powerful enough to energize your laptop, smartphone, or portable speaker multiple times on a single charge. Read on to learn more about solar power banks and how to pick the best one for your next adventure.
- BEST OVERALL: FEELLE Solar Charger 25000mAh
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: BEARTWO Portable Solar Charger
- BEST PORTABLE: Feeke Solar Power Bank 30000mAh
- BEST WATERPROOF: ADDTOP Solar Charger
- BEST FOR BACKPACKING: Goertek 25000mAh Battery Solar Power Bank
- BEST FOR CAMPING: BLAVOR Solar Charger Power Bank
- LONGEST LASTING: Tekpluze Solar Power Bank 30000 mAh
- MOST VERSATILE: SOARAISE Solar Charger 25000mAh Power Bank
Before You Buy a Solar Power Bank
Keep in mind that solar power banks are distinct from solar chargers:
- Solar power banks are battery packs equipped with one or more solar panels. They hold a charge, allowing the user to power up devices whenever it’s convenient. They can also be charged by using an electrical outlet. Some solar power banks can power up gadgets while solar charging.
- Solar chargers consist of solar panels and don’t include battery packs, which means they cannot hold a charge. They can only provide power to devices when it’s sunny out. They are not compatible with standard electrical outlets. They do, however, tend to charge in a shorter amount of time than solar power banks. (See some popular solar chargers here.)
It’s important to note that solar power banks take a long time to charge fully when relying on solar power—sometimes up to a week, depending on the battery capacity—so it’s best to charge a solar power bank using an electrical outlet before embarking on a trip, then rely on its solar-charging capabilities to maintain the charge.
The Advantages of Owning a Solar Power Bank
Solar power banks are useful for travelers who want to keep their gadgets charged while they’re on the go and don’t have access to an electrical outlet. Solar power banks:
- Can top up the charge of a power bank by harnessing the power of the sun
- Make a great addition to an emergency-preparedness kit
- Are convenient for hiking and backpacking
- Offer the ability to charge devices on backcountry camping trips
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Solar Power Bank
Before you choose the best solar power bank for you, consider these key factors. Though you might assume that all solar power banks perform similarly, several characteristics can affect their functionality. Keep reading to learn about some of the most important qualities to keep in mind when shopping for the best solar power bank.
The best solar power bank depends on what the user needs it for. Those who plan to take longer trips off the grid would be well-served by a power bank with a large battery capacity that can power their devices many times on a single charge. Hikers, campers, and backpackers should prioritize products that have been tested for waterproofing to ensure their power bank won’t be damaged by the elements.
Most solar power banks on the market come equipped with plastic or silicone cases that are meant to be waterproof, as well as resistant to dust and other debris. Considering their intended use, most solar power banks should withstand moderate-to-heavy wear and tear.
The majority of products available are made with lithium-ion or lithium polymer batteries.
Battery Capacity & Charge Time
A solar power bank’s capacity is typically measured in mAh (milliampere hours), which is a measure of electrical current over time. As a general rule, the higher the mAh, the higher number of charges a device will be able to deliver. For example, a smartphone with a battery capacity of 2,000 mAh could be charged 10 times by a solar power bank with a battery capacity of 20,000 mAh. Typically, older smartphones have lower battery capacities.
Solar charge time depends on weather conditions, but most devices will offer an estimated charge time needed to fully charge the bank. It’s important to note, however, that a full charge is not necessary to be able to charge a standard device, like a smartphone, multiple times. Generally, the higher the battery capacity, the higher the charge time. Most devices will also list the estimated charge time when using standard electrical power.
Size and Weight
For most users, it’s important that a solar power bank be light and portable for use on the go. This is especially important for hikers and backpackers who don’t want to add unnecessary weight to their packs. Today, many high-quality products on the market are about the same size and weight as the average smartphone. More powerful power banks tend to be larger and heavier, so it’s important to prioritize the features that best suit one’s specific needs.
Considering solar power banks are often used outside, it’s important that they are weatherproof. For camping and backpacking, weather resistance is a key feature when shopping for a solar power bank. Most products on the market are touted as being waterproof and dust-resistant, but if weatherproofing is a major priority, be sure to look for product descriptions that offer an “IP code.” This represents the Ingress Protection Rating, which denotes how resistant a product is to water and dust. Look for codes IP67 or IP68 for a device that can be safely submerged in water. If the code has an “X” in it, that means it is water-resistant but has not been tested for resistance to dust and other hazardous particles.
Some solar power banks come equipped with additional features:
- Solar flashlights are included with most power banks and provide normal, SOS, and strobe lighting.
- Multiple USB ports allow for charging several devices at once.
- Wireless charging enables the user to power up a device without requiring a cord.
- Display screens show how much battery power remains.
Considering many users rely on a solar power bank for charging their devices while on the move, it’s important that the bank be small, lightweight, and portable. Some power banks are primarily meant to be charged with electrical outlets and have solar charging as a secondary feature. While they may be useful for some, they are not the most optimal choice for long backcountry camping or hiking trips. Some power banks come with carabiners so they can be easily attached to a backpack.
Our Top Picks
Now that you know more about solar power banks, it’s time to start shopping. The following top picks consider all of the features above, including size, portability, weatherproofing, and power capacity. This list offers a variety of choices for a top-notch solar power bank to suit your needs and budget.
If time is of the essence, the FEELLE Solar Charger is a strong choice. Thanks to its four solar panels, this solar charger offers a quicker charging time than its competitors—taking between 25 and 30 hours to charge, as opposed to several days. Its significant battery capacity of 25,000 mAh means it can charge a smartphone in just over one hour, and a tablet in two to three hours.
The two USB charging ports can charge two devices at once, and a built-in LED light with steady, SOS, and strobe modes make this a smart choice for hiking, camping, and other outdoor excursions. While water-resistant, the FEELLE Solar Charger should not be fully submerged. Its dimensions are 6.1 inches by 3.35 inches by 1.37 inches, and it weighs 1.18 pounds.
This small but mighty solar charger comes in at a low price point with a compact footprint. Though it features a slightly lower power capacity than some of the competition (10,000 mAh), this means it only takes four to five hours to charge when plugged in.
It has a rating of IP67 for dust and waterproofing, meaning it is completely dustproof and can handle being submerged in up to one meter of water for up to 30 minutes. It is also shockproof, has waterproof USB ports, and comes equipped with an LED flashlight with three modes: normal, strobe, and SOS.
As mentioned, the BEARTWO Portable Solar Charger is very small, with dimensions of 5.51 by 2.95 by 0.7 inches. At under half a pound (0.46 pounds exactly), this is a great option for those looking to travel light.
Even at just 0.78 pounds, this small and lightweight option from Feeke packs a serious punch. With a power capacity of 30,000 mAh, this power bank is great for use on the go. It’s shockproof and dustproof, and has a rating of IP66, meaning it’s completely water-resistant (but still should not be submerged). It can charge four devices at once with a combination of wireless charging and three output ports, including one micro USB port. It takes 12 to 13 hours to charge electronically, and because it only features one solar panel, it will take longer than comparable models to charge in the sun.
The LED flashlight included has three modes: strong light, flash, and SOS. It’s also one of the smallest among similar products on the market with an equivalent power capacity, with dimensions of 6.5 inches by 3.3 inches by 0.86 inches.
Those embarking on outdoor adventures like canoe or rafting trips will benefit from this power bank’s excellent waterproofing. An IPX7 rating means it can be submerged in up to three feet of water for up to 30 minutes without sustaining damage. With a power capacity of 25,000 mAh, it can energize most smartphones multiple times on a full charge.
It has four solar panels, making it quicker to charge in the sun than some competing models. The manufacturer estimates that it takes approximately 30 to 35 hours to fully charge in ideal conditions. Using the power adapter, it can be charged with standard electricity in 12 to 15 hours. It comes equipped with an LED flashlight that has three modes: normal, SOS, and strobe.
This ADDTOP model is compatible with devices that use both standard USB and micro USB connectors, meaning it will work with most gadgets. Two devices can power up at the same time thanks to dual output ports. The dimensions are 6.1 by 3.3 by 1.4 inches, and it weighs 1.2 pounds.
Equipped with a carabiner, this solar power bank from GoerTek is great for backpacking trips. With a battery capacity of 25,000 mAh, it’s powerful enough to hold a charge for several days and can energize most standard devices multiple times on a full charge. It can also charge up to three devices at once.
Its IPX6 rating means it can withstand rain and heavy sprays, though it should not be completely submerged in water. The included LED light has a large surface area for powerful lighting capabilities that can be adjusted to low, medium, or high levels.
Depending on the weather, this solar power bank takes three to seven days to charge in the sun. When plugged into an electrical outlet, it charges fully in 13 hours. It measures 7 by 3.8 by 1.1 inches, weighing 1.18 pounds.
This solar power bank from BLAVOR is a great all-in-one tool to bring on a camping trip, thanks to its built-in compass and flashlight function. Its 20,000 mAh power capacity means rapid device charging, with an iPhone 11 Pro charging fully in just an hour and 45 minutes. It has wireless-charging capabilities with compatible devices and has a total of four power outputs. When charging electronically, the bank can be fully powered up in 13 hours.
It’s IPX5-waterproof, meaning that it can handle being sprayed with low-pressure water, like rainfall, but cannot be fully submerged without risking damage. Weighing in at 1.3 pounds, this solar power bank measures 7 by 3.6 by 1.6 inches.
This Tekpluze model has a power capacity of 30,000 mAh, which makes it one of the longest-lasting products on the market. Because of its large capacity, however, it takes six to eight hours to charge between 5 percent and 10 percent of the battery in the sun. When charging with standard electricity, however, it can be fully charged in between 11 and 12 hours. It’s capable of wireless charging with compatible devices and also offers two USB output ports, plus a micro USB port.
It has a weatherproofing rating of IP65, meaning that it’s dust-tight and water-resistant, though it should not be submerged in water. The Tekpluze comes with a carabiner, allowing the user to easily attach it to a backpack, as well as an LED flashlight with strong, dim, and SOS modes. The dimensions are 7.28 by 5.03 by 1.33 inches, and it weighs 1.19 pounds.
With the ability to plug in devices while the bank is solar charging, this solar power bank from SOARAISE offers convenience and versatility. The product comes equipped with four solar panels, helping to take in more energy while charging in the sun. With the wall charger, the 25,000 mAh battery can be fully powered up in 12 hours. Charging indicators for both solar and electrical charging will let you know when the pack is ready.
It has a weather-sealing rating of IP65, meaning that it’s fully resistant to dust and is water-resistant, though it should not be fully submerged. The USB ports feature rubber covers for added weatherproofing. Equipped with an LED flashlight with steady, SOS, and strobe settings, this solar power bank measures 6.1 by 3.37 by 1.37 inches, weighing 1.18 pounds.
FAQs About Your New Solar Power Bank
Still unsure about how solar power banks work? The following frequently asked questions may help.
Q. What is a solar power bank?
Solar power banks are battery packs that include one or more solar panels. They can be charged either by traditional electricity or by the sun. They hold a charge, enabling the user to power up electronic devices when on the go.
Q. How does a solar power bank work?
A solar power bank is equipped with solar panels that soak up energy when exposed to sunlight. A battery pack stores the energy, which can be used to charge devices.
Q. Can a solar power bank also be charged by a regular power outlet?
Yes, solar power banks are also compatible with regular power outlets. Electrical outlets charge a power bank much faster than solar power.
Q. What are the disadvantages of solar energy?
When it comes to portable power banks, charging takes much longer with solar energy than electric energy. Many solar power banks can fully charge in just a few hours using a wall outlet, but they would take days to be charged by the sun.
Q. How long do solar power banks last?
Most high-quality products on the market can be charged hundreds, even thousands, of times, meaning they should last for a number of years if they don’t incur damage.