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Stay charged up and connected, no matter how far from an outlet you find yourself.
If the thought of your phone running out of power and not having anywhere to plug it in is enough to keep you up at night (or you simply spend a lot of time off the grid), then a solar-powered phone charger could be just the thing you need. Where once solar chargers where more a novelty than a practical solution, these days many are powerful enough to get your phone back to full power in just a few hours. They’re a great option for hikers and campers to keep their phones juiced up, as well as a handy device to keep in your car in case of emergency.
In addition to price, there are a number of things you’ll want to consider when purchasing a solar phone charger.
Solar chargers can be divided into two categories: those with and those without a battery. Having a battery allows you to not only charge it using an outlet before you leave home, but you can leave the charger in the sun to power back up then charge your phone overnight. However, those with a battery will usually cost more. Not having a battery means that your phone will need to be plugged into the charger as it soaks up the sun in order to recharge, although another solution is to connect a power bank to the charger to store electricity.
Not all solar panels are of the same quality. Their efficiency rating measures how well they convert sunlight into electricity. A quality charger will have an efficiency rating of 20 percent or more.
Chances are you will be carrying your charger in your backpack (or strapped to it). As such, check the charger’s size to make sure you can accommodate it.
We read through reviews from a number of respected publications including Wirecutter, Lifewire, and Spy to suss out the best solar phone chargers on the market. We cross-checked those with user reviews, taking price and configuration into consideration to finalize our list. Below, find our picks for the best solar-powered phone chargers on the market, including models at a wide range of price points and with various configurations.
For more great tech accessories, check out our coverage of the best mag-safe portable chargers, wireless chargers, and battery packs!
The BigBlue 28W USB Solar Charger is widely hailed as one of the best solar chargers on the market. It has one of the highest power outputs, is competitively priced, and though it’s nearly 3 feet long when unfurled, it folds down to a lightweight, compact size that won’t take up much real estate in your knapsack.
It doesn’t include a battery, so you will have to connect your phone to it during the daytime (or use a power bank), but it does include three USB ports so you can connect multiple devices while the sun is out. And with four panels, you can be sure it will soak up as much sunlight as possible.
Generally available for under $30, the Blavor Solar Bank is one of the cheapest solar-powered phone chargers on the market. And for that price, you get Qi wireless charging, USB-A and USB-C ports, and a dual flashlight.
However, the Blavor’s solar cell capabilities leave a lot to be desired. As such, you’ll want to make sure its 10,000 mAh battery is fully charged before you head out into the wilderness, as it will take a few days to charge it back up via the sun.
Capable of outputting 20 watts of power to two USB ports, this X-Dragon solar charger is a great choice if you’ll have plenty of sunlight. It doesn’t have a battery, so you’ll only be able to charge your phone(s) during daylight hours—however, its three 12-inch-wide panels will catch plenty of rays.
It folds down relatively flat and it also has several strategically placed loops so you can easily strap it to your backpack and soak up the sun while you’re hiking.
Anker has earned a reputation for making quality phone chargers and power banks, and its solar-powered phone charger is an undeniably solid device.
Similar in size and power output to the BigBlue, it usually sells for the same amount or less, so if getting a name-brand device matters to you, this may be the way you want to go. It consists of three panels with grommets for hanging, and folds down to a compact size easy to slide into your backpack. Its industrial strength, water-resistant polymer fabric means that it can hold up in the elements, too.
Equipped with a kickstand that does double-duty as a hook for hanging, as well as a sundial for finding the optimum angle for positioning it, the BioLite SolarPanel 5+ works well for setting up camp and charging your batteries.
It’s equipped with its own 2,200 mAh battery, so it’s able to store power when your phone isn’t connected to it, which is good because it only outputs 5 watts, meaning it may take an overnight charge to get your phone back up to full power.
Not only does this charger have a USB port for charging your phone, but it also has a DC port for charging larger devices like your laptop, as well as a cable for connecting it to your car battery. As such, it’s a great option for keeping in your car for emergencies. It doesn’t have a battery of its own, but its eight solar panels are capable of producing 40 watts of power.
The Nekteck 21W Solar Charger’s three solar panels are rated at 24% efficiency, which is slightly higher than most on the list. They output 21 watts to two USB ports so you’ll be able to charge your phone in a few hours.
These panels are also waterproof in case you get caught in an unexpected rain shower. It folds down to a compact size to store in your backpack, but also has grommets if you’d rather hang it from the outside of your pack so it can soak up the sun.
If you’re going camping, this inflatable lantern is a great option. Not only does it provide 130 lumens of light for up to 50 hours, but you can also use it to charge your phone. It’s equipped with a built-in 2,000 mAh battery that will be fully recharged after 12 to 14 hours of sunlight (or 1 to 2 hours plugged into a wall outlet). It has five brightness settings and is completely waterproof and shatterproof.