The 6 Best Solar Chargers in 2022 (Tested for Efficiency)

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Solar chargers can be useful in any instance. Whether you’re camping outdoors, going on a long hike, or simply keeping it on hand in case of emergencies, there’s always some comfort in having a reliable and portable power source. 

Solar chargers are not to be confused with solar power banks and battery packs. Solar chargers tend to be a little more reliable and perform their charging capabilities without a battery pack.

The charger’s a little bit more compatible with a wide spectrum of products, which makes it invaluable to your list of gadgets – emergency or otherwise. 

Today, we’ll show you the best solar chargers. We had the chance to get our hands on some of the most popular and best-reviewed solar chargers, here are our top 6 choices. 

Our Top Picks

  Product Details    
01 Nekteck Portable Solar Panel Best Overall: Nekteck Portable Solar Panel Nekteck’s solar charger does nothing too fancy but gets the job done. Its durable design will ensure it gets it done for a long time, making it perfect for emergency use and one of the best portable solar chargers out there. Check Price
02 Ryno Tuff Portable Solar Charger Best Efficiency: Ryno Tuff Portable Solar Charger It’s all in the name. Ryno Tuff’s solar charger is durable and the highest efficiency charger on this list. Check Price
03 X-DRAGON Solar Charger Best For Apple Products: X-DRAGON Solar Charger Tired of seeing “This accessory is not supported by this device” messages? X-DRAGON will fix that for you so you can charge all your devices, regardless of brand. Check Price
04 Big Blue Solar Charger Best For Car Campers: Big Blue Solar Charger With its built-in ammeter and high wattage, the Big Blue solar charger has the potential to draw the most power though it needs full sun to achieve maximum charging output. Check Price
05 ECEEN Solar Charger Panel Best Lightweight: ECEEN Solar Charger Panel The ECEEN version has a new take on how a solar charger should look. The book-style charger is one of the most durable with a zippered case protecting the solar panels. Check Price
06 Anker Solar Panel Best For Outdoor Use: Anker Solar Panel Another all-arounder, Anker Solar Panels can do everything a solar charger should do. We like that it’s lightweight, packable, and extremely durable. Check Price

How We Chose the Best Solar Chargers

The best solar chargers need to be reliable, long-lasting, and charge your devices when you need them. It’s a simple concept but really describes what a quality solar charger should achieve. 

We’ll get a little technical in terms of our explanation only because the specs on their product pages will mention them. Knowing what they mean will help you not only decide which of the products to buy, but it’ll help you understand the product as a whole and how they work.

Amperes (Amps)

Amps are the measurement of how quickly an electric current flows. More amps equal a faster flowing electrical current. Most devices can only receive a max number of amps. 

For example, most cell phones can only receive up to one amp. Even if the solar charger has more than one amp, the cell phone will still charge at the same speed. It makes a difference for larger devices that most likely will receive more than one amp, such as tablets or iPads.

If a solar charger has a smaller amount of amps for a larger device, it will charge the device at a slower rate. So more amps are generally more compatible and useful.

Wattage (Watts)

When referring to solar panels, wattage is the solar panel’s maximum solar power output in ideal conditions (like a sunny day with no cloud cover). More watts also mean more power. 

The amount of wattage depends on amps and also volts. Volts are the amount of force of electricity, and multiplying amps and volts will equal the wattage. A higher number means higher power output. 

Efficiency

The efficiency of a solar panel is quantified in percentage. The higher a solar panel’s percentage, the higher its ability to produce energy from sunlight. 

Since solar panels have become more efficient than older solar panels, two similarly-sized solar panels from different times would produce different amounts of energy. The one with the higher efficiency percentage would produce a higher amount of energy. 

Weight and Size

Most solar power chargers are built to be lightweight. All of those on this list happen to be around one pound or lighter. Easy portability is important in instances where you will be carrying it around for longer amounts of time. Devices usually take a few hours, so you can’t really be sitting by your phone waiting for it to charge. 

Durability

Most solar chargers will get their chance to shine (no pun intended) in the outdoors. It’s necessary to have them be as durable as possible because they perform such an important function. 

All the options on our list are made with PET polymer or PVC canvas, great materials that last long against the elements. They’re all water-resistant, so you don’t have to mind every splash. Most are not waterproof, so you still have to be careful to put them under cover in inclement weather. 

Considering all of these factors, we chose 8 of the top-rated and most promising solar chargers and put them to the test. We tested them by attempting to charge various devices in full sun and partial sun. These 6 earned a spot on our list of recommendations, and we’ll tell you why we like them.

Best Solar Chargers Reviewed

1. Best Overall: Nekteck Portable Solar Panel

Nekteck Portable Solar Panel

Product Ratings

Affordability 4/5
Durability 5/5
Compatibility3/5
Capacity4/5
Quality 4/5

Sizes: 26.2″ x 11.1″ | USB Ports: 2 | Brand: Nekteck | Wattage: 21 Watts | Efficiency: 21-24% | Amps: 3 | Weight: 18 Ounces | Material: PET Polymer

What We Liked

  • Water and dustproof design
  • Works well, even during cloud cover
  • Well-designed with well-placed pocket to hold charging gear
  • Can charge two devices 

What We Didn’t Like

  • Tough time connecting to some Apple products

Nekteck is a great all-arounder portable solar charger, and it is built to last you a long time, as well. These portable solar chargers are highly weather-resistant and have a pouch where you can keep your phone while you charge it. The innovative part is the pouch which faces opposite the solar panels, protecting your devices from damage and overheating.

One issue that came up a few times was its issue with some Apple products. We discovered, as some other reviewers have pointed out, that this portable solar charger does better connecting to Apple devices when it is equipped with Apple-compatible cables. 

Using a standard USB cable might have some mixed experiences with Apple products, but it works great with all of the other tech brands that use USB or USB C.

See Price on Amazon

2. Best Efficiency: Ryno Tuff Portable Solar Charger

Ryno Tuff Portable Solar Charger

Product Ratings

Affordability 3/5
Durability 5/5
Compatibility3/5
Capacity4/5
Quality 4/5

Sizes: 18.1″ x 11.8″ | USB Ports: 2 | Brand: Ryno Tuff | Wattage: 21 Watts | Efficiency: 22-25% | Amps: 3 | Weight: 16.6 Ounces | Material: PVC Canvas 

What We Liked

  • Highest efficiency solar cells on this list
  • Waterproof design
  • Every purchase guarantees a planted tree
  • Has dual usb ports to charge devices 
  • Durable fold out solar panels

What We Didn’t Like

  • Storage pouch is tiny
  • Apple devices require their lightning cable

The competition for the top spot was neck and neck. The Ryno Tuff model even inches out the Nekteck in some areas. In the end, you couldn’t go wrong with either of these portable solar chargers.  

This is the highest efficiency we have seen on our list and thus the fastest charging so far. This portable solar charger comes with carabiners designed to go through the charger’s hooks, which are slightly sturdier than clips, as the Nekteck one does.

This also has trouble with some Apple devices, similar to the top spot. Namely, older models of Apple devices. This portable solar charger is twice as expensive, which nudged it down on our list. They released a newer model with an integrated battery that we didn’t get to test for this review.

See Price on Amazon

3. Best for Apple Products: X-DRAGON Solar Charger

X-DRAGON Solar Charger

Product Ratings

Affordability 3/5
Durability 5/5
Compatibility4/5
Capacity3/5
Quality 5/5

Sizes: 23.3″ x 12.1″ | USB Ports: 2 | Brand: X-DRAGON | Wattage: 20 Watts | Efficiency: 22-25% | Amps: 3 | Weight: 21.4 Ounces | Material: Nylon 

What We Liked

  • Self-regulating solar technology 
  • Waterproof design
  • Dirt-resistant cover
  • 2 ports to charge electronics
  • Each solar panel lighter with greater power
  • High efficiency solar cells 
  • Fast charging speeds

What We Didn’t Like

  • Doesn’t specify what it’s made out of besides nylon
  • Shading can disrupt charging

If you’ve sensed a recurring trend so far, Apple products tend to have a little bit of difficulty connecting some of the solar power chargers. X-DRAGON seems to not have that problem. 

It might seem like a trivial basis for its own category, but roughly 1 billion people use iPhones worldwide, and it’s more than necessary to provide solar charging for those devices also.

Another great thing about X-DRAGON’s solar charger is that it features its SolarIQ technology. Depending on whether it has direct sunlight or not, it’ll adjust the current and voltage to achieve the maximum power output. 

This solar power tech isn’t yet perfect as heavy shade can disrupt the charging and it won’t readjust when it clears, but keeping an eye on your cell phone or device may quell that issue. We found this to be frustrating when we tested outdoors on a partly cloudy day. On our sunny test day when the sun’s power was at its peak, it performed perfectly.

One detriment is the lack of durability compared to others on this list of best solar chargers. The product page only advertises the case being made out of waterproof nylon. While not a bad material, it isn’t as good as PET polymer.

See Price on Amazon

4. Best for Car Campers: Big Blue Solar Charger

Big Blue Solar Charger

Product Ratings

Affordability 3/5
Durability 5/5
Compatibility5/5
Capacity5/5
Quality 3/5

Sizes: 33.1″ x 11.1″ | USB Ports: 2 | Brand: Big Blue | Wattage: 28 Watts | Efficiency: 21.5-23.5% | Amps: 4 | Weight: 21 Ounces | Material: PET Polymer

What We Liked

  • Built-in ammeter
  • Smart charger
  • Fast charging speed
  • Waterproof
  • Better with Apple products
  • Can charge two devices simultaneously

What We Didn’t Like

  • Heavy
  • Pouch placement can lead to product overheating

Although the Big Blue is standing firm in the fourth spot, this solar power charger is no slouch when it comes to charging. It is still one of the best solar chargers! Its specs suggest that it might be the most powerful solar charger here. All the amps suggest that it’s good for not only your cell phone but larger devices, as well.

The main problem we found during testing is that it doesn’t have the best all-around appeal with its heavy size. For car campers, this may be the best fit for them and their needs. We attempted to use this 28w solar charger while hiking and found it was a little too heavy for packing around. We would not recommend this for a portable charger! 

Another thing working against this product is that the pouch is in a bad spot. This solar charger is on the same side as the solar panels, making whatever product in it susceptible to overheating.

See Price on Amazon

5. Best Lightweight Option: ECEEN Solar Charger Panel

ECEEN Solar Charger Panel

Product Ratings

Affordability 3/5
Durability 5/5
Compatibility4/5
Capacity3/5
Quality 4/5

Sizes: 11.5″ x 6.0″ | USB Ports: 1 | Brand: ECEEN | Wattage: 10 Watts | Efficiency: 22% | Amps: 1.5 | Weight: 12.8 Ounces | Material: PET Polymer 

What We Liked

  • Waterproof design
  • Shaped like a book and sealed by zippers to protect each solar panel
  • Ultra portable solar panel layout 
  • High efficiency solar cells

What We Didn’t Like

  • Only has two solar panels
  • Only has 1 USB Port

This entry might seem a little limited compared to the other options but it makes up for it in different areas, which is why it’s on our list for the best solar chargers!

The book-style case is protected by zippers so the solar panels can possibly have a longer shelf life compared to most other brands, which usually go with the folding look. 

We love this design because though it has less charging capacity, the solar panels are better protected for longevity. We can put it in a backpack with other gear without worrying about damaging the solar panels.

This solar charger is best used if you’re a solo traveler. It only has one USB port, two solar panels, and doesn’t have that much power output for charging devices.

It’s reliable, but you can’t expect it to generate power for the whole town. We also marked it down a little because some of the other choices provide more bang for your buck compared to this one.

See Price on Amazon

6. Best for Outdoor Use: Anker Solar Panel

Anker Solar Panel

Product Ratings

Affordability 3/5
Durability 5/5
Compatibility4/5
Capacity4/5
Quality 4/5

Sizes: 26.2″ x 11.1″ | USB Ports: 2 | Brand: Anker | Wattage: 21 Watts | Efficiency: 21.5-23.5% | Amps: 2.1 | Weight: 13.2 Ounces | Material: PET Polymer 

What We Liked

  • 18-month warranty
  • Efficient charging speed
  • Waterproof
  • Works well during cloudy days
  • Has a double power outlet

What We Didn’t Like

  • Velcro doesn’t completely seal and protect each solar panel
  • Isn’t compatible with every USB cable

We can’t review the best solar chargers without mentioning Anker to round out this list. While their model only just made the list, it’s still a very good choice with a fast charging speed. It’s known that it works every single time, no matter the circumstances. It’s also light, waterproof, and has decent hanging capabilities.

It isn’t the most accessible option, as some devices won’t receive it. Double-checking the descriptions before buying will save you a lot of trouble (especially if you have some older tech). There should be no worries as Anker is known for its stellar customer service.

See Price on Amazon

Comparison Chart

ProductsBest OverallBest EfficiencyBest for Apple ProductsBest For Car CampersBest Lightweight OptionBest for Outdoor Use
Overall Rating4/54/54/54/54/54/5
Affordability4/53/53/53/53/53/5
Durability5/55/54/55/55/55/5
Compatibility3/53/55/55/54/54/5
Capacity4/54/53/55/53/54/5
Quality4/54/54/53/54/54/5

The Winner

As evidenced by our best solar charger comparison chart, most of the solar chargers are evenly matched in terms of all-around effort quality with varying degrees of strengths and weaknesses. Comparing all of them, our top pick is still the Nekteck Portable Solar Charger

It doesn’t skimp in any area considered important and will get you through the night. While we assure you that is the case with all of these products, the Nekteck model is the one we stand by the most.

Read our related article on the best solar charge controllers to see how they stood up to our tests.

How to Choose the Best Solar Charger

Some of the features that we found to be most important for the best solar chargers are reflected in our ratings below. We highlighted durability, compatibility,  capacity (or battery), and overall quality. Of course, we need to include affordability as the price is always relevant to comparing products with the same function. 

As there are many uses for a solar charger, many different people may use it differently and for different devices. We try to consider these perspectives when making our ratings. 

Hopefully, you’ll come across it and see that your perspective is taken into account or see a feature you may not have thought mattered to actually be important. Here are some examples.

Backpackers and Travelers

Traveling can get cumbersome in a lot of cases. If you’re backpacking or even just hiking, you don’t want to be slowed down by your solar charger. You’ll definitely want one of the portable chargers on the list!

Having a lightweight solar charger is ideal in this case. It may have to sacrifice its lighter weight for solar panels to achieve a lighter device. Usually, it will limit the product, like reducing the charging speed or having a lower power output. Take a look at our best portable solar chargers to find one that has the right level of compromise. 

If you’re constantly on the go without the possibility of standard electricity, a solar power charger will need to be hung from your backpack and able to charge electronics in undesirable conditions like dirt or water. If you’re backpacking all day, you don’t want to inconvenience yourself to see if it’s charging or if it fell off your pack. 

Campers

For those who enjoy their camping to be a little more stationary, such as car camping or RV camping, a reliable solar charger is still a great investment. Save your car battery from charging your cell phone and speakers and use solar charging instead. Accidentally draining your car battery on a family camping trip can put you in a dangerous situation. 

In this situation, investing in a higher-capacity solar charger with good power output might be the way to go. Since you won’t be carrying it around as much, you can afford it to be a little bit heavier.

Backup Power Source for Emergency Purposes

Having a backup solar power source will be worth it if worse comes to worst. Situations with access to additional charging resources can save you and your loved ones. If you’re making a disaster kit, you’ll need solar charging to ensure you have enough power and a way to store power. 

Perks to look for would be high capacity, high power output, and wide compatibility to charge multiple devices. While phones are necessary, other devices will also need a spark, so charging multiple devices with the same solar charger is usually necessary.

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