9.18
/ 10
7.73
/ 10
7.33
/ 10
7.00
/ 10
6.25
/ 10
6.18
/ 10
5.48
/ 10
5.30
/ 10
4.70
/ 10
4.08
/ 10

Charging Performance

PreviousNext
Configuration Type
Solar panel
Solar panel
Solar panel
Solar panel
Battery pack
Battery pack
Battery pack
Battery pack
Battery pack
Battery pack
Solar Charge Time (hours)
No battery
No battery
No battery
No battery
5.25
6
9
12.5
9
10
USB Charge Time (hours)
No USB charge
No USB charge
No USB charge
No USB charge
4.8
4.8
4
2.4
4.8
1.8
Capacity (mAh)
Unlimited
Unlimited
Unlimited
Unlimited
4,000
4,000
3,200
2,000
4,000
1,500
Smartphone Charge Test (minutes)
26:23
29:41
32:33
31:17
Not tested
Not tested
Not tested
Not tested
Not tested
Not tested
Solar Phone Chargers Review: We spent 10 hours researching solar phone chargers to find the most efficient and best one for your charging needs.
Cell phones are our connection to the world, but a dead battery can render them useless. Solar cell phone chargers let you power up your devices anywhere you get sunlight.

Solar Panel Details

PreviousNext
Solar Efficiency
23.5%
24%
23.5%
22%
19%
19%
17%
7%
9%
6%
Watts
16
20
15
13
4.4
6
5
5
5
5
Max Output Voltage
5.26
5.28
5.25
5.37
7
7
5.5
5.5
5
4
Listed Output Amperage
2.4
2
2.1
2
1
1
1
1
0.25
0.5

Physical Characteristics

PreviousNext
Portability
B-
F
B
F
C+
C+
A-
A
A
A+
Weight (ounces)
15.8
17.8
13.7
17.3
18.6
22.9
10.1
5.5
4.9
3.6
Ports
2
2
2
2
1
1
1
1
1
1
Water Resistant
Dimensions (sq.in.)
25.5 x 9.5 x 0.2
26 x 11 x .7
18 x 11 x 0.2
13.75 x 12.3 x .75
6.5 x 5.5 x 1.5
11 x 8.75 x 0.5
5.8 x 2.8 x 1.4
3.5 x 3.5 x 1
4.5 x 3.3 x 0.5
4.72 x 2.56 x 0.51

Help & Support

PreviousNext
Warranty (months)
18
12
18
12
12
12
12
12
12
1
Online Manual

Solar Phone Chargers Review

Why Use a Solar Phone Charger?

If you’re a camper or a hiker and you want to keep your devices charged and ready while on the go, a solar phone charger can help. Solar panels have been around for decades and come in all shapes and sizes. But the panels in our review are portable enough to take backpacking or hiking and can top off your cell phone, action camera or portable battery pack after a few hours sitting in the sun. The best solar phone charger is the RAVPower RP-PC008 16W Dual-Port Outdoors Charger, our Top Ten Reviews Gold Award winner. The Nekteck 20W Solar Charger also scored high in our reviews and received our Top Ten Reviews Silver Award. Anker’s PowerPort Solar Lite received our Top Ten Reviews Bronze Award.

We looked at two different types of solar phone chargers and reviewed the 10 best in detail. We reviewed phone chargers that consist of solar panels with USB charging ports. These devices don’t have built-in batteries, but they are more effective at converting solar energy to power. We also reviewed battery packs with attached solar panels. This type of device is essentially a portable battery pack that can provide a little more juice if you leave it in the sun for several hours.

Chargers with batteries are useful because you can store energy during the day and charge your devices at night. However, the chargers we tested that include batteries have small capacities and don’t charge well in the sun. The solar panel chargers we tested produce much more power in the sun, and many people reported using the more efficient panels to charge external battery packs which they used to charge their devices at night. There are scenarios where both devices are useful, so it’s important to consider how you’ll be using a solar phone charger before you decide which configuration to buy.

A solar phone charger is not just another charging cable. If you're like most people, you keep a charging cable anywhere you know you're going to be for extended periods of time. There’s likely one at home and another in the car. Then there’s probably one in your desk or locker and another that you keep with your laptop. Phones, tablets, eReaders and cameras can die at inopportune times, so a solar charger that can go anywhere and only uses renewable energy is smart to keep close at hand.

Understanding a little bit about how a solar panel works is a good place to start when choosing which will be the best solar phone charger for you. On the most basic level, a panel left in a well-lit area converts light energy into electricity that either charges an internal Lithium Polymer (LiPo) battery or runs power to a USB port that can charge a plugged-in device. For chargers with batteries, the battery stores the energy from which you can charge your phone or other mobile device.

Solar Phone Chargers Review: How We Tested, What We Found

Solar panels seem simple, but using one to charge a battery or smartphone takes more than just leaving it out in the sun. These devices perform best in direct sunlight on a clear day, which sometimes left us at the mercy of the local weather. We tested the solar phone chargers with batteries outside on a clear day and in a windowed office to evaluate how each handled diffused light. The solar panels without batteries weren’t able to charge devices through our office windows and so we tested those on a clear day with full sunlight.

The panels we looked at are of the crystalline silicon variety, which is the standard for first-generation solar technology. The base material is a crystal that’s grown in a lab for its incredibly conductive properties, which is why it’s the same material used in silicon chip production. This high conductivity is also what gives it the highest efficiency rating of any photovoltaic cell type on the market. Among these we found varying efficiencies in creating electricity from sunlight, ranging from the highest at 24 percent to the lowest at 6 percent.

What Is Important in Selecting a Solar Phone Charger?

Charging Performance
It’s important to know which configuration you’re looking for in a solar phone charger. If you’ll be charging just your smartphone for three or four days and want to make sure it’s topped off, a battery pack with a built-in solar panel might do the trick. The size, type and overall output of the battery for each device is as important as the panel. A few of the devices have different functionality. Where most are charged directly from the battery, not all of them have the same relationship with the panel. Of those that have a battery, all can be charged from the panel. Integrated circuitry within the battery dictates whether you can charge your device while the battery charges.

If, however, you’ll be hiking for an extended period of time and want to keep multiple devices charged, you might want the higher power of a dedicated solar panel. These panels don’t have batteries so you need to keep them in the sun for charging to occur. All the panels we tested have loops or straps that you can use to attach the panels to a backpack so you can charge on the go. To test the solar panels we connected each panel to a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and timed how long it took to charge the phone from a 50 percent charged battery to 75 percent. To make sure our tests were equal, we tested each panel between 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. on days when there were no clouds in the sky.

Solar Panel Details
Efficiency is a good indicator of quality, and the efficiency in part depends on the type of panel the solar charger uses. Most commercially available solar chargers for cell phones are first-generation crystalline silicon, which is known for having higher efficiency ratings than second-generation panels. These panels do better at generating electricity, even in low-light conditions.

All of the panels with built-in batteries generated at least 1 volt in poor conditions, and a few exceeded the manufacturer’s reported output under optimal conditions. Only two of the solar panels without batteries were able to generate any voltage in low-light office settings, and neither could generate enough amperage to charge our test device, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. Conditions have a huge effect on how a battery is charged, but protective circuits in the battery prevent overcharging at higher voltages. Be aware that low-voltage charging does result in longer charging times.

Physical Characteristics
If you’re interested in a solar-powered battery pack, you’re going to want something that isn’t too much larger than your cell phone for your everyday use. But larger devices and the solar panels we tested are better if your needs go beyond charging a phone.

The portable solar panels we tested all feature two USB ports, but the solar-powered battery packs only feature a single USB port. A few of the devices we tested have metal frames and thick panels, and several of the solar panels we tested are weather resistant and can withstand a little water. If you plan to take the charger on adventures, be sure to buy one with a durable design.

Help & Support
A solar cellphone charger may not be a big investment, but it's important to know that the manufacturer stands by its product long after purchase. Knowing how long the warranty is good for and how to contact customer support if you have any issues goes a long way. Some manufacturers offer product manuals online in case you lose yours. Some of them also have an online knowledgebase that you can look through for more information on their products. The more information available to you, the better.

Solar Phone Chargers: Our Verdict and Recommendations

We went looking for the 10 best solar-powered cell phone chargers, and we found them. Each one is perfect for someone. Whether you need one for day-to-day use in suburbia or for rugged outdoor use in the middle of nowhere, there is virtually something for everyone.

Our top pick for solar phone chargers is the RAVPower RP-PC008 16W Dual-Port Outdoors Charger. This three-panel charger charged our test smartphone the fastest and has one of the highest solar efficiency ratings in addition to the longest warranty of the products we tested.

The Nekteck 20W Solar Charger was the heaviest solar panel configuration we tested, but it also boasts the highest solar efficiency at 24 percent. This panel was the second fastest in our smartphone charging test and is also water resistant, making it great for camping and hiking.

Anker’s PowerPort Solar Lite is the lightest of the portable solar panels we tested and features nylon straps that make it easy to attach to a backpack. Unfortunately, this charger finished last in our smartphone charging test, charging 6.5 minutes slower than the RAVPower charger.

If you’re looking for a solar charger with a built-in battery, the Voltaic Amp charged the fastest in our solar charger time test – and it’s water resistant. Unfortunately, this charger only has one USB port.

If you’re looking to stay connected while camping, backpacking or hiking, a portable solar phone charger can keep your devices charged simply by harnessing the power of the sun.