Best Solar Phone Chargers of 2018

Rebecca Armstrong ·
Phones & Networking Writer
Updated
We maintain strict editorial integrity when we evaluate products and services; however, Top Ten Reviews may earn money when you click on links.

We spent over 30 hours testing and researching solar phone chargers to find the best way to harness the power of the sun to charge your devices. After testing on both sunny and cloudy days, we found that the X-Dragon 10,000 mAh Solar Power Bank collected and stored the most rays. Its four-panel design and large capacity make it ideal for backpacking and camping trips without access to a power outlet. For a little less money, the Hiluckey solar power bank has the same battery capacity and good solar charging speeds. The Dizaul 24,000 mAh solar charger is a more compact charger with surprising solar charging capabilities using only one panel.

Best Overall
X-Dragon
The X-Dragon 10,000 mAh solar power bank is a high-capacity lithium polymer battery with four solar panels to keep your phone charged wherever there's sunlight.
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Best Value
Hiluckey
The Hiluckey solar power bank can keep your devices charged on a budget. This inexpensive device is water, dust and shock-resistant, so it’s perfect for outdoor use.
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Best Single-Panel Charger
Dizaul
The Dizaul 24,000 mAh solar bank is a large-capacity battery with a single 1.6W solar panel for emergency charging. It can fully recharge an iPhone X up to seven times.
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Product
Price
OVERALL RATING
Price
Battery
Charging Performance
Design
Phone Charge % (Sunny Day Test)
Phone Charge % (Cloudy Day Test)
Charge Progress Lights
Wall Charger
Storage Capacity (mAh)
Number of Solar Panels
USB Ports
Shockproof
Water-Resistant
Flashlight
$29.99 Amazon Marketplace
4 5 5 5
0.73
0.6
5
MicroUSB
10,000
4
2
$32.99 Amazon Marketplace
4.3 4.5 5 1.7
0.61
0.55
4
USB-C
10,000
4
2
$39.95 Amazon Marketplace
3.4 4.2 5 1.7
0.59
0.59
5
MicroUSB
10,000
4
2
$20.95 Amazon Marketplace
5 2.9 3.7 5
0.41
0.41
5
MicroUSB
10,000
2
2
$29.99 Amazon Marketplace
2.5 3 4.5 1.7
0.37
0.37
4
USB-C
24,000
1
2
$30.99 GreenHomeFair
4.3 1.8 3.5 5
0.2
0.2
5
MicroUSB
15,000
1
2
$32.33 Amazon Warehouse
4.7 1.5 2.9 5
0.17
0.17
5
MicroUSB
10,000
1
2
$39.99 Amazon Marketplace
3.4 1.2 5 0
0.11
0.11
1
MicroUSB or Lightning
24,000
1
3
Best Overall
The X-Dragon solar power bank soaked up the most sun in our sunny and cloudy day tests, thanks to its four 1.2W solar panels.
The X-Dragon is available with three, four or five panels, depending on your needs and budget. The green or orange body of the battery is coated in textured ABS to make it shock proof, and it covers its input and output ports with a rubber plug to keep it safe from dust and water. However, the rugged texture across the back of the device makes the power button difficult to press. This same button is used to turn on the battery's bright LED flashlight panel, which has three modes: stead light, strobe and SOS. One of the solar panels is on the front of the battery itself, and the other three are housed in leather leaves, so they're easy to fold for storage. When folded, none of the panels face outwards, so you have to unfold the panels each time you need to charge. For charging while hiking, the battery has a small leather loop attached to a corner of the device that you can fix to the back of your pack. This is the only way to attach it, and since it's attached on the corner, it makes the rest of the panels hang at an angle. The loop also doesn’t seem very sturdy, so take care that it doesn’t break. The X-Dragon's battery has a 10,000 mAh capacity. It has four indicator lights to keep you appraised of its current charge and one light that pops on when it's charging, green for sunlight and blue for outlet charging. Like most other products we tested, it takes a lot longer to charge your phone or tablet when the battery is low and it’s in solar charging mode. Overall, however, the X-Dragon is the best solar phone charger.
Pros
  • Four 1.2W solar panels
  • Water, shock and dust-proof
  • Bright LED flashlight
Cons
  • Hard to charge battery and use it at the same time
  • Difficult to press power button
  • Attached loop is ill-designed
$25.49Amazon
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Best Value
The Hiluckey solar power bank’s two solar panels and charging performance make it the best value solar power bank.
Many of the solar phone chargers we tested share a similar design. The Hiluckey solar power bank, for example, looks like the X-Dragon. Both products have similar rubberized ABS bodies, leather-bound 1.2W solar panels, super bright LED flashlight panels and difficult-to-press power buttons. Where the X-Dragon is available in three, four and five-panel options, however, the Hiluckey is only available with one or two. Even so, it's a great value. It may have half the panels of our top pick, but it's also half the price. This power bank is made for outdoor conditions, its two USB output ports and microUSB input are shielded with a rubber plug to make the battery water and dust-proof. Its rugged body can also withstand bumps and short drops, which is good because the attached loop seems too flimsy to support the weight of the battery for a long hike. The Hiluckey is designed to primarily charge from an outlet, using solar energy for topping up and emergencies. Because it has multiple panels, it does charge faster than many of the products we tested, but if the battery is too low, it cannot charge your device while it's charging its own battery.
Pros
  • Very similar to top pick in appearance and performance
  • Price
  • Dust, water and shock-proof
Cons
  • Difficult to press power button
  • Flimsy loop
  • Cannot simultaneously charge and be charged
$19.99Amazon
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Best Single-Panel Charger
The top-performing products we tested all had multiple solar panels, but the Dizaul solar charger was surprisingly effective with only one panel.
The compact Dizaul single solar panel power bank soaks up a lot of sun, surface-area-wise, compared to other single-panel chargers. It even surpassed the Hiluckey two-panel charger in our cloudy day test. The battery has two USB output ports, a microUSB input and a USB-C input/output port. Because the panel and ports aren't covered or protected from the elements in any way, the Dizaul battery isn't particularly rugged. The body of the device and panel are resistant to water and dust, but not fully protected. The 24,000 mAh battery is meant for primary use with an outlet charge, using solar as a backup. Because it has such a large capacity and only one, small panel, the Dizaul can take up to 40 hours to charge in direct sunlight. But because of its faster USB-C input, charging it from an outlet or computer can take just five hours, which is about the same amount of time it can take to charge smaller batteries with microUSB. Most of the batteries we tested have a built-in LED flashlight, but the Dizaul did not. It does, however, come with a USB light stick that's suitable for a reading light, though using this takes up one of your two USB ports. It’s also difficult to see the charging indicator lights, especially in the sunlight.
Pros
  • Large battery capacity
  • Performs well for single-panel
  • USB-C input and output
Cons
  • No built-in flashlight
  • Water-resistant, not waterproof
  • Harder to read indicators
$44.99Amazon
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Best User Experience
The Allpowers solar power bank is extremely easy to use thanks to its light quality indicator, which helps you find the perfect place for it to soak up some rays.
In our sunny day test, the Allpowers device soaked up the second-most rays and charged our test smartphone 61% after four hours in the sun. It performed well in our cloudy-day test as well. This performance was typical of the four-paneled solar chargers we tested, as more solar panels are always better. The power bank follows a similar form factor to other products we tested: it has a main body and attached solar panels in leather sleeves. The large battery level indicator is easier to see than others. It also features a light quality meter that lets you know when your battery receives enough sunlight to charge. Thanks to its USB-C input, it also charges faster than other products when plugged into a wall outlet. It doesn’t, however, have covered ports, making it vulnerable to dust and water ingress.
Pros
  • Light quality meter
Cons
  • Uncovered ports
$32.99Amazon
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Most Durable
Pros
  • Long-lasting flashlight
Cons
  • Only one solar panel
$31.99Amazon
Read the full review

Why Trust Us

We put in hours of work to find the most popular and highest-rated products. We then spent hours testing and comparing the results side by side. We make recommendations based on our professional experience, research and testing, so you can quickly find the best products and buy with confidence.

The value of our reviews lies in our comparative testing. While customer reviews and specs can tell you a lot, they can’t always say definitively whether one product is better than another. We tested each solar phone charger in the same environment at the same time, and even though many of the products are very similar to each other on paper, our hands-on testing revealed some distinct differences. For example, The Dizaul and Plochy batteries we tested both have a single solar panel and a 24,000 mAh battery capacity, but the Dizaul power bank absorbs sun energy more effectively.

How We Tested

To directly compare solar phone chargers side-by-side, we only chose products under $50 with a similar form factor: power banks with attached solar panels, at least 10,000 mAh capacity and at least 2.1V output. When we found our top ten highest-rated and most popular products, brought them to our lab for testing. We started by draining the batteries and putting them outside on a cloudy day for four hours. We then plugged each charger into one of 10 drained, powered-off Samsung Galaxy S5s and let them charge until the battery powered off. We recorded to what percentage the solar power bank charged the phone with its four hours of exposure, and then drained everything again and repeated the process on a sunny day.

Beyond our solar charging performance tests, we also evaluated the solar batteries based on ease-of-use features, build quality, battery specs and value. We assessed and weighed each data point to determine the best solar phone chargers for the fastest charging, biggest battery capacity and lowest price.

What You Need to Know

Shopping for a solar charger to take with you on your next trip is an easy task if you know what you need. We spoke with Angela Hawks, a self-proclaimed trekker and avid traveler about her experiences shopping for solar chargers. “I basically needed a huge battery,” she told us. “I needed something to last the 7-day trek up Kilimanjaro. The cold kills batteries very quickly, so I also wanted something with a solar panel I could just hang on my pack to recharge during the day.” The first time around, she tried a 12,000 mAh single-panel charger, which didn’t quite do the trick. “I had some troubles, but I figured it was just a quality thing. I ended up trying a higher end 24,000 mAh one, and I love it.” Her advice: get the lightest, highest capacity solar power bank you can find and keep it out whenever there’s sunlight.

Price
We reviewed solar power banks within a price range of $20 to $50. Surprisingly, we didn’t find a correlation between number of solar panels and price, as our top-performing, 4-panel products cost about the same as other single-panel chargers. Prices did increase with larger power bank capacity, however. The two most expensive products both hold 24,000 mAh.

Types of Solar Chargers
There are a few types of solar phone chargers. While we focused specifically on solar power banks for our evaluations, other products may work just as well for you. Folding portable solar panels are another popular solar charger configuration. Because these have larger solar panels, they collect more energy at a time and charge your devices faster. They tend to be bulkier and cannot store energy, so if you need to charge at night, you're out of luck. We previously tested panel chargers from Nekteck and RAVPower both of which charge well on sunny days.

We chose to feature solar power banks in this round of evaluations because they charge by sunlight or by plugging into a wall outlet, and they're a little more compact. Many have the added bonus of a built-in flashlight as well. Most of the power banks cannot simultaneously solar charge their own batteries and charge your device, or they do so very slowly. Also, because the batteries on these devices have large capacities, it can take a while to charge them to full, up to 40 hours of strong sun exposure in some cases. They're meant to charge primarily from an outlet, using solar as a backup for emergencies. Even so, the top performers in our tests indicate that you could get a full phone charge from a day in the sun.

Solar Panels
The amount of sunlight a device can convert into usable energy depends on a few factors. One of the most important is the surface area of the solar panels. The more surface area, the more energy. In our test results, every solar power bank with four panels outperformed products with fewer panels. The products we tested all have similarly-sized panels, but larger panels collect more energy.

Best Solar Charging Practices
Every product we evaluated is meant to be charged primarily from a wall outlet or computer. The solar power banks have high-capacity batteries and would take a long time to fully charge from sunlight alone. Of course, you can use them primarily as solar devices, but the batteries won’t fill up in one day. When charging via solar, the panels should be placed outside, tilted toward the sun. Though some products can gather a little energy inside from window-filtered sunlight or even fluorescent lights, they work best in direct sunlight.

Each of the panels on the devices we tested can convert 1-1.5W per hour of sunlight into storable energy. A 10,000mAh battery takes about 21W to fill, so a single solar panel would need 14 or more hours of direct sunlight to get a full charge. A typical smartphone can get at least two charges out of a power bank.

Environmental Impact
Besides being convenient when you don’t have access to an outlet, using solar power to charge your devices can be good for the environment as well. Charging one smartphone doesn’t take up much energy – according to multiple sources (Slate, Forbes, ZDnet, Tech Advisor and Popular Mechanics), charging your phone can use anywhere from two to seven kilowatt hours a year, depending on your charging habits. Depending on your energy company, each kWh from the grid creates up to 1.63 pounds of CO2 (according to BlueSkyModel), so if you’re using 7 kWh a year just for your smartphone, that’s 11.41 lbs of CO2 for a single smartphone. If all of the two billion smartphone users worldwide made this small switch to solar, we’d decrease man-made CO2 emissions by 10 million tonnes annually.