Last updated: 17/10/2022

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Welcome to our big solar charger test 2022. Here we present all the solar chargers we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web. We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best solar charger for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy a solar charger.




The most important facts

  • Solar chargers are the ideal companion for outdoor trips and allow you to charge your end devices using solar energy.
  • Basically, a distinction is made between solar power banks and foldable solar panels, whereby both variants are available in different sizes and price classes.
  • The area of use or the range of functions determines the technical features that a solar charger should have; the most important characteristics are size, weight and capacity.

The Best Solar Charger: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a solar charger

What is a solar charger?

A solar charger is an ingenious invention that can massively improve the lives of many travellers and outdoor enthusiasts. In a nutshell, a solar charger is a portable, independent power source for when you’re on the go. There is a solar panel on the surface that produces clean electricity when exposed to sunlight. Thanks to this technology, you are supplied with power on the go without the need for a power socket.

Solar chargers work along the lines of solar panels and convert solar energy into electricity. (Image source: unsplash.com / Steve Johnson)

Solar chargers are particularly suitable for use during outdoor activities, for example hiking, camping, cycling tours, at festivals and so on. There is now a large selection, which is why we want to give you a good overview of the topic below.

How does a solar charger work?

To use a solar charger, you need: of course, sunshine. In principle, the charger works like the well-known solar systems, with the difference of dimensioning. The sunlight that reaches the solar cell is converted into electric current. Then the voltage and current are adjusted to the device that is to be charged.

What can be charged with a solar charger?

There is now a wide range of solar chargers, which is why the number of potential devices that can be charged with them has naturally also increased. The following is a list of devices that can be charged with a solar charger, for example:

  • Smartphones and mobile phones
  • Tablets and notebooks
  • Music devices such as MP3 players, iPods and loudspeakers
  • Digital cameras
  • Navigation devices
  • Batteries

So you see, the list is long, which is why solar chargers are no longer just for outdoor enthusiasts. The consumer goods are mostly from everyday use, which means almost everyone can use solar chargers.

How much does a solar charger cost?

There is a wide price range between the different solar chargers. Depending on the quality and size of the chargers, the cost point varies. Factors that influence the price are, for example, the amperage, as well as the installation of an additional battery to be able to store the energy gained.

What alternatives are there to the solar charger?

As an alternative to the solar charger, there are conventional power banks. They are well suited for a day trip, they are a mobile battery and, depending on their size, can charge your devices such as smartphones a few times.

However, if you are on the road for several days, even the largest powerbank will eventually run out of power and you will have no way to charge your mobile devices. This is exactly why a solar charger is ideal, as you don’t have to rely on batteries or even sockets.

Decision: What types of solar chargers are there and which is the right one for you?

Basically, two types of solar chargers can be distinguished: with and without energy storage. This is an essential difference that should be given special importance, as a wrong decision can be very disappointing in an emergency. What this is and what advantages and disadvantages each offers, we will explain to you in the following.

What distinguishes a solar power bank and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

A solar power bank is basically the same as a conventional power bank, with the difference that it can also be charged by solar power. The generated electricity is therefore stored in the model and can be called up when needed. If you are willing to spend a little more money, you are better off here, as you can also be supplied with electricity on rainy days.

Advantages
  • Energy can be stored
  • relies on sun for charging
  • energy always available
Disadvantages
  • higher price
  • heavier than direct chargers

What are the characteristics of a foldable solar panel and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The foldable solar panel is a direct charger. This means that the moment the electricity is generated, it is also delivered. They therefore do not have a storage function for the energy generated. They are therefore ideal for sunny excursions, as you can connect your device directly and be supplied with power.

Advantages
  • Energy is provided directly
  • lighter weight than solar power banks
  • cheaper
Disadvantages
  • cannot be used without sun
  • no energy storage function

Buying criteria

In the following, we will show you which aspects you can use to decide between the many possible solar chargers. The criteria you can use to compare solar chargers include:

  • Weight and size
  • High power and correct voltage
  • Capacity
  • Connections
  • Price-performance ratio

In the following paragraphs, we will explain to you what is important in the individual criteria to make your purchase decision easier.

Weight and size

Size is very important, especially with direct chargers, because the energy provided must be sufficient to charge your device. Basically, the larger the surface area of the solar panel, the more energy can be generated.

This means that the larger the battery of your device, the larger the solar panel should be.

Foldable solar panels usually have a larger surface area because they can be spread out. So pay attention to the manufacturer’s specifications on how much power the respective solar charger can generate and in what time. There is a big difference between charging a smartphone or a notebook.

You can charge your mobile devices with a solar charger. (Image source: unsplash.com / Josh Nuttal)

Weight is also important for outdoor enthusiasts, of course, as the charger usually has to be carried in a backpack. As already mentioned, most of the weight comes from the battery. So if you want to keep the extra weight to a minimum, it’s best to go for a direct charger.

High power and the right voltage

Most manufacturers now use highly efficient, high-power solar energy technologies. The power you need depends on what your needs are, i.e. what devices you want to charge.

A good compromise between power, size and weight is offered by models from 14 to 16W.

The solar panels presented here have a voltage of 5 volts. This is the normal USB output voltage with which all common devices such as smartphones, tablets and power banks can be charged. For laptops, however, you usually need 12 or 18 volt connections. Read the manufacturer’s specifications for your devices to be on the safe side.

Capacity

First of all, it is important to know how much battery capacity is in your device. The capacity of the batteries is always specified by the manufacturers in mAh (milliampere hours) and can be found in the technical details. The capacity of the power bank should be at least twice as high as the capacity of the device to be charged in order to guarantee a complete mobile charge.

Because: the powerbank generates heat during the charging process and thus loses energy. Therefore, a certain reserve should always be planned. Of course, it is also important how often you want to charge your device. Below you will find typical scenarios and our recommended capacity for a power bank.

Intended use recommended capacity
for the pocket up to 5,000 mAh
for on the go 5,000-10,000mAh
for travelling 10,000-20,000 mAh

Connections

Without the right connection, you cannot connect your device to the panel and charge it. Ideally, the solar charger has a USB connection, which is compatible with most devices. If not, make sure that the manufacturer already provides adapters or that you can find one in the large and inexpensive selection on the internet.

Price-performance ratio

Quality costs money, and this is no different with solar chargers. To ensure that your product is durable, robust and of high quality, look out for customer reviews and check out the devices we have tested.

Facts worth knowing about solar chargers

Do solar chargers use Quickcharge technology?

This technology is sometimes used in powerbanks to charge your devices faster by providing them with maximum power. The advantage is that powerbanks have energy storage and do not have to generate the energy first.

Quickcharge cannot be used with direct chargers, as they are too dependent on the weather or sun. How fast devices charge depends on the light conditions, the better, the faster the end device is supplied with energy.

What mistakes should be avoided when using a powerbank?

Extreme temperatures

High temperature fluctuations should be avoided at all costs, as they have an extremely negative effect on the performance of the power bank. This applies to both cold and heat. Therefore, make sure not to use the power bank unprotected in winter and not to leave it in the sun in summer.

Locking the power bank after charging

When you have fully charged your powerbank, you should not continue to supply it with electricity in order to avoid overheating.

Do not use the power bank when it is hot

If your power bank is unusually hot, you should first let it cool down. This usually indicates an internal defect and you should send the power bank to the manufacturer.

Image source: unsplash.com / Adam Radosavljevic

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