The Best Portable Solar Chargers of 2023
Adam has been writing about mobile technology since 2011. He is the former host of the Android Authority podcast, and his work has appeared in numerous publications.
Rich Scherr is a seasoned technology and financial journalist who spent nearly two decades as the editor of Potomac and Bay Area Tech Wire.
The best solar chargers use the sun’s abundant power to keep your devices and batteries topped off. Solar chargers aren’t just for nature enthusiasts. Anyone who spends time away from an electrical outlet will find them helpful.
We recommend the X-DRAGON SunPower Solar Panel Charger for its 40W power output and high-efficiency cells. This charger doesn’t include a power bank to store all that juice, but if you are away from power and need to charge your phone or even your laptop, this is a great option. Opening the eight solar panels will give you plenty of power as long as there’s daylight.
X-DRAGON 40W Portable Foldable Solar Panel Charger
Our best overall charger can produce up to 40W of juice from its eight efficient panels. It opens wide to collect a lot of sunlight with eight high-efficiency panels, but it folds down small enough to fit into your backpack. There’s no water-resistance rating here, so be careful not to get caught in the rain, and no battery is included. But if you have large items that need a charge, the X-DRAGON SunPower Solar Panel Charger is a great choice.
You can plug in your phone and tablet, but you can also scale that up to your laptop with the five included different-sized barrel chargers and connection for your car battery. This is a great item to keep in your emergency car kit or your backpack for camping. The 18-month warranty will give you peace of mind too.
Number of Ports: 2 | Power Output: 2.8A max USB, 18V DC | Types of Ports: USB-A, DC | Number of Cells: 8 | Efficiency: 22 to 25% | Battery Capacity: N/A
BigBlue 28W Solar Charger
The Big Blue Solar Charger is a highly-portable solar charging solution that folds to a tiny 11.1 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches when closed. It’s long but narrow and thin, easily fitting into most backpacks. Included carabiners allow you to open and strap it to your bag outdoors.
There is no built-in battery, but the three USB-A ports allow you to charge any phone or tablet quickly. The panels are waterproof, which our reviewer tested by submerging the cells in a bathtub.
Our reviewer also noted that the advertised 28W output is misleading. There are four 7W panels which add up to 28 Watts. Unfortunately, the panels could output only around 17W maximum during our testing.
There’s a pouch for holding cables or devices while charging, which is a nice bonus. Given its water resistance, we’d recommend this for hikers and campers, even in inclement weather. Of course, cloudy days will mean less charging, but at least you know your panels can stand up to it.
Number of Ports: 3 | Power Output: 5V / 4.8A | Types of Ports: USB-A | Number of Cells: 4 | Efficiency: Not listed | Battery Capacity: N/A
What to Look for in a Portable Solar Charger
Solar power works best outside, so looking for water resistance in case you unexpectedly get caught in the rain or snow is a good idea.
Solar panels generate power, and that power has to go somewhere. If you have a solar panel and nothing plugged in, the panels will not generate energy, which is fine, but a battery would allow you to generate power and store it until you need it.
Keep in mind the kinds of devices you’ll be using. Most solar panels can do the job if all you need to charge is a phone or tablet. If you need to power something larger, such as a laptop or car, you’ll need a powerful setup to get the job done.
That depends mostly on the cells’ efficiency and the amount of sunlight you’re getting. Solar panels are getting more and more efficient these days, which means they’re capable of generating a lot of power. On a bright, sunny day, it’s not unreasonable to think you can generate enough power for a phone and tablet or even bigger items.
If it’s big enough, a solar panel can deliver a charge to your car’s battery to allow it to start. A jump start technically means you’re drawing from a power source to start your car right away. The solar option is more of a car battery charger, meaning you’ll need to wait some time for your car’s battery to charge before you can turn the key. But yes, it is possible.
Solar panels should never be left in a window or in a car to charge. The glass from the window can FOCUS with light on the panels and cause them to overheat. Solar panels are meant to be outside and under the sun, or put away.
Solar Charger Test of EasyAcc vs Ravpower vs Anker vs AUKEY
Have you ever tried the Aukey solar charger? Want to know the Anker vs Aukey result? Here are several Solar Chargers / USB solar panel chargers from famous manufacturers, just like Anker Solar Charger, EasyAcc Solar Charger, Aukey Solar Charger and so on. It’s very interesting to test all solar chargers I had with my smartphone and tablet.
But how well does it really work? Let’s find out in this test about these 9 USB solar chargers!
The test overview:
For this test, I have selected 9 Solar Chargers with 8W – 28W output.
- Anker 8W portable foldable solar charger
- Anker 14W dual port foldable outdoor solar charger
- Anker 21W Power Port 2-Port USB Solar Charger
- AUKEY 14W PB-P3 solar charger
- AUKEY 20W PB-P2 Solar Charger
- AUKEY 21W PB-P4 solar charger
- EasyAcc 15W portable solar charger
- EasyAcc 28W portable solar charger
- EC Technology 18W 2 Ports Solar Charger
The Test Candidates
Basically, all solar chargers are equal in this comparison. Accordingly, it makes sense to show you the picture of the individual solar panel chargers.
All solar chargers have a “case” of PVC fabric in which the individual solar cells are embedded. This “housing” consists of several elements which can be folded.
Depending on the model, the solar chargers have three to five of these elements. However it is important for them to have a connection unit with the solar panel charger.
And this AUKEY 20W PB-P2 Solar Charger has a special feature, as this has the terminal unit on the back, which is fully extended. The solar charger looks a bit more compact.
With the exception of 8W model of Anker and the 28W of EasyAcc all other solar chargers have two USB ports for connecting smartphone and Co.
The 8W model of Anker has only one USB port (more power at 8W no sense) that EasyAcc 28W solar charger on the other hand has four outputs.
In practice, moreover, it does not matter whether the built USB Ports 2.1A or 2.4A supported. Ultimately, in almost all cases, the solar panel is always the limiting factor.
Here show you the quite practical feature of AUKEY solar charger. These have on the back of a positioning aid which you can show to better align to the charger toward the sun.
It makes the AUKEY solar charger very useful in practice! Correct alignment towards the sun may well bring 20-30% more energy.
Basically, all solar chargers here in the test are quite robust. A fall from a normal height is too dangerous for any panel.
The PVC fabric here protects the Chargers definitely quite good and serves in a fall as a “buffer”. The panels themselves are flexible to a certain extent.
When it comes to you robustness, so there are no huge differences between the various models.
General Questions and Answers
Before coming to the measurements a few typical questions and answers.
I want to attach the solar panel charger on my backpack to charge my phone while hiking. Is that possible?
Basically, yes it is possible. All tested solar panel chargers bring matching loops or holes for fastening. Ironically, however, only not with a too high energy yield! In the shadow of the solar panels produce almost no power (3-0W), therefore you’d better not just run with the back under the sun, the solar charger cannot collect so much sunshine.
Will My Solar Panels Work When It’s Cloudy or Rainy?
Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels generate the most energy per square meter when they receive direct sunlight.
But what happens when it’s overcast and rainy?
When clouds block out the sun, your solar panels will still produce clean electricity. This is true even in the wintertime (in fact, all things being equal, modern PV panels actually perform better in colder temperatures).
Can I use the Solar Panel Charger in the rain?
Basically, this is NOT recommended. Although the panels can all add water resistant function, but once it comes into the connection panel of the device, it can be dangerous.
Why all Solar Chargers look similar?
Probably all USB Solar Panels are from the same manufacturer just like AUKEY, Anker and EasyAcc.
Here, you can choose these panels according to your prefer. For example, you can select the charger with larger panels.
Can a solar charger damaging my phone / tablet?
Yes and no. In normal use, it cannot actually damage your devices. The tablet can be charge at the voltage up to about 5.2V.
However, in a sudden drop shadow, for example, by a passing person, come to a massive drop in the voltage.
This is not fatal for smartphones or tablets but also certainly not optimal.
I recommend that you can also use a buffer Power Bank. info can be found later in the text.
What do you think of the various Solar Power Banks on the market, are not much more practical?
The idea of a power bank with built-in solar panel is of course great and practical, but it offer a very small area to collect energy and it usually outputs between 0.2W and 1W.
Compared with 5-18W of tested Solar Chargers, the solar power bank can output of course very little energy.
I run with all tested solar chargers by several load tests. The construction is always the same, the panel is extended, in most tests flat on the ground (in some but also aligned), and both USB ports each a meter a blank power bank is connected.
Here I measure now how many watts the charger manages to generate.
IMPORTANT! All tests were in April in Germany! Although I have chosen a very sunny day for this test, but you can certainly expect that you can use it in midsummer or in other regions of the world with even 20-30% better results.
It is of course same for all panels. So if a tested panel is better than others at the time under this testing weather conditions, this one will be also better than other solar panel chargers with other weather conditions.
See the test results values is not the best as their theoretical value! In my view, the realistic value which can be reached in Germany is certainly not the absolute maximum. See the values rather as a guide to what can be achieved, the individual USB Solar Charger.
We start with the measurements in the blazing sun.
Aukey PowerZeus 500 Portable Power Station Review Analysis
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Aukey PowerZeus 500
These days, we need our electronic devices more than ever. Even a few decades ago, a power outage was just a minor inconvenience. At worst, you might have to buy some ice to throw in your fridge. And outside of a flashlight, you wouldn’t even think of taking electronics camping. Nowadays, we rely on our smartphones, laptops, and other devices for work, play, and everyday life. When our gear isn’t working, it gets frustrating. Suddenly, we can’t do our banking, or even order out for food. Which makes it all the more frustrating when a power outage leaves you without any juice.
But a good power station is about more than backup power. If it’s going to be versatile, it also needs to be portable. For example, let’s say you want a power station for a weekend of camping. You may only be walking a few yards between your vehicle and the campsite. You may be walking a long distance. The point is, there’s always going to be a tradeoff between size and power. For example, take the Aukey Basix Pro. This is a small power bank that opens and doubles as a phone stand. It’s small enough to carry in your. but will only charge your phone a few times.
Today, we’re going to review a mid-sized option: the Aukey PowerZeus 500. This power station is designed with AC outlets and many similar features to full-sized power stations. At the same time, it’s not too big to carry around in one hand. This makes it suitable for transport, at least as long as you don’t have to carry it too far. But just because it’s medium-sized doesn’t mean it’s automatically going to be the mid-sized power station you need. To find out if it’s worth buying, we’ll need to go beneath the surface and look at how well it functions. We’ll discuss the design of the housing, the battery capacity, and the charging wattage. We’ll also talk about the safety features, and what you can plug into it. At that point, we’ll have a better picture of what we’re dealing with.
The Aukey PowerZeus 500 is a rectangular power station about the size of a mid-sized portable stereo. It’s constructed from black plastic, with total dimensions of 12.1 inches wide, 7.1 inches deep, and 7.6 inches high. The matte finish is understated and easy to keep clean, while the corners are slightly beveled for safety. There’s a handle on the top that folds to the back for easy storage. It’s all you really need to carry the entire unit, since the power station weighs only 14.3 pounds. This makes it easy to carry in one hand, leaving your other hand free for something else.
The sides of the housing are vented, which allows for plenty of air flow. This is essential for keeping the power station cool when it’s in use. The cooling system works very well, and can keep the power running up even in hot temperatures. That said, it’s important not to block the vents on the sides. This will restrict air flow, reducing the effectiveness of the cooling system. There are also plugs on both sides. On the right, there’s a pair of three-prong AC outlets. On the left, there’s a 12-volt DC outlet. Everything else is located on the front of the power bank. The back is entirely bare, while the bottom is occupied just by a few rubber anti-skid pads.
In the center of the front of the housing, you’ll notice a bright LED display. It’s easy to read, and shows you the information you need to know about your power station. On the right, you’ll see the current wattage currently being drawn by all your devices. In the same spot, you’ll also see how much wattage the PowerZeus is drawing for charging. On the right, there’s a percentage and visual readout showing you the current battery level. There are also indicators for temperature, air flow, and other safety features. You can even see which devices are plugged in and actively drawing power. This can help with troubleshooting, if you’re having trouble with one of your charging cables.
The package doesn’t just include the power station itself. You also get all the accessories you need in order to get started. Most importantly, these include an AC adapter and a DC socket adapter. As a result, you can charge anywhere there’s a wall outlet or a cigarette lighter. A solar adapter is also included for 100W-compatible panels.
Battery Performance and Capacity
The PowerZeus 500’s internal battery has a capacity of 518 watt-hours. If you’re like most people, that’s not a terribly helpful number. Here’s a more accurate breakdown of what it’s capable of. In terms of raw charging power, it can recharge an iPhone 12 just under 50 times. You’ll get five charges on a MacBook Pro 16”, and 90 full recharges on a standard GoPro. What does this equate to in terms of performance? If you’re using your phone for filming, you’ll get around 24 extra hours of record time. If you’re flying a drone, you’ll be able to run it for around 16 hours, depending on the model. Point being, you’ll get a lot of extra use out of your devices.
With this level of capacity, it’s best to think of the PowerZeus 500 as an adventure power station. It’s a bit more than you’re ever going to need just for charging your smartphone. On the other hand, it’s not big enough to be suitable as a whole house backup. Similarly, you might want to look elsewhere if you’re running medical equipment. But for a weekend off the grid with a few small devices, this power station is exactly what you need. It’s light enough to be portable, but still beefy enough to be useful.
When it’s time to charge this power station, you’ll have your choice of a few different methods. To begin with, most people are going to charge using a simple wall socket. When you plug into an ordinary three-prong outlet, the battery will charge in nine hours. The same is true for generator power, assuming your generator is working properly. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise; after all, it’s meant to replicate ordinary outlet power.
Counterintuitively, the fastest way to charge the battery is by using your car outlet. In an eight-amp car charging port, the battery will fully charge in only eight hours. That’s not bad at all, considering the capacity. Solar charging is more variable. Aukey advertises a charge time of 11 hours, but that assumes a solar panel that’s operating perfectly. If there’s anything sub-optimal, you won’t get the same results. For example, the solar panel needs to be in full sun, and it needs to be a sunny day. The temperature can also come into play. Even so, it’s nice to have the option if you don’t have access to a conventional power source.
Compatibility and Safety
The two AC outlets on the right side of the housing have a maximum power delivery of 500 watts. This is about 1/3 the maximum wattage of an ordinary wall outlet. over, that’s the maximum total cross both outlets. If you have two devices plugged in, they’ll be capped at 250 watts a piece. That said, the circuit does support up to 1,000 watts of peak voltage. This makes it safe for devices with a higher startup wattage. For example, you could run a very small mini fridge. You certainly won’t have trouble with any laptops, tablets, or similar electronics. They won’t come close to exceeding the power limit. The 12-volt DC port on the left is in-put only; it can’t actually be used to charge anything.
But what if you need a more powerful power station? In that case, consider the Bluetti AC200 Max and AC300. These are huge power banks, with potentially enough power to run your entire home. They’re modular systems, with add-on batteries, wireless charging support, and more. On the downside, they’re bulky and difficult to transport; you’d never want to take them camping.
Once again, we return to the PowerZeus 500’s front panel. The two USB Type-A ports on the left provide a standard five volts at 2.4 amps. This works out to 12 watts, which is what you get from most USB ports. It’s fine for charging many devices, but it’s slower than most modern devices are capable of supporting. For faster speed, use the other USB Type-A port on the top right. This is a Quick Charge 3.0 port, and provides up to 18 watts. That’s enough to charge your iPhone at maximum speed.
The bottom right port is a USB Type-C PD port. PD, which is short for “power delivery,” is a technology that can deliver up to 100 watts. However, there are faster and slower versions of the standard. In this case, the “PD” port only provides 18 watts of power, barely faster than ordinary USB. This is fine for Samsung smartphones and smaller Type-C devices. But you won’t be able to charge a MacBook while it’s in use. You’ll have to turn off your laptop first, instead.
If you’re looking for a power station with faster PD power, check out the Rockpals 500W Portable Power Station. It provides up to 400 watts, sufficient for tablets and mid-sized tablets. It’s also no larger than the Aukey, so it’s similarly easy to transport.
The Aukey PowerZeus 500 is a serviceable mid-sized power station that comes at a reasonable price. It’s powerful, it’s versatile, and it’s moderately portable. To be fair, it’s not perfect – we would have liked more PD power, and higher AC wattage. But for the most part, this is one of the better-designed power stations on today’s market. If you’re looking for a companion on your next camping trip, this is a solid choice.
AUKEY PowerZeus 500 Portable Power Station Review
For many people around the world van life is a new adventure that’s come out of the global realities of COVID. It’s a way of staying sane and experiencing new adventures while also staying safe. At the same time many people are experiencing a newfound freedom to work from anywhere they want. An integral part of modern van life is the need for power and that means batteries. The AUKEY PowerZeus 500 Portable Power Station is a solution I had a chance to take a look at. Now I’m not one for living the van life and I imagine there’s a lot of people reading this who don’t identify as van life folks either.
The AUKEY PowerZeus 500 has lots of applications beyond van life though. For many people a weekend on a bike might mean driving somewhere, setting up camp, and spending the days exploring. It could also mean a weekend spent camping and racing. These are times when a big battery pack simplifies packing and means you’ve got all the power you need for recharging lights and GPS bike computers. Keep reading to see the features of the AUKEY PowerZeus 500 Portable Power Station and how it might work for you.
Design and Aesthetics of the AUKEY PowerZeus 500 Portable Power Station
The AUKEY PowerZeus 500 Portable Power Station is a deceptively simple and small black box. Almost everything is the same dark but not actually black gray color. Lots of squares that reduce in size towards the center break up the visual a bit but they are all cosmetic. It weighs in at 14.3 lbs (just under 6.5kg) and the dimensions are 12.1in/308mm x 7.1in/194mm x 7.1in/179mm.
Along the top there’s a handle that extends the full length of the unit. When it’s folded up it sits centrally and it’s big enough in hand to provide an easy grip. Fold it down and two small rubber dots keep it from banging in to the main body of the battery. Once in place it fills a purpose cut void and completes the shape.
Each end of the main box houses a fan. One side is an inlet and one side an exhaust. The rectangles that the fans sit in are the only lighter, contrasting, color anywhere in the design. There’s a striped texture that is reminiscent of a grill and does actually function as a grill directly over the fans. One end has a rubberized cover over a 12v outlet like a car. At the opposite end are two 110v AC outlets.
The primary element at the front face is a large LCD. Below the LCD are power buttons for AC and DC as well as two standard USB outlets (5v/2.4A), one USB QC 3.0 outlet (5V, 3A / 9V, 2A / 12V, 1.5A max 18W), a single USB-C PD outlet (5V/3A,9V/2A,12V/1.5A), plus one 12v/6A DC port. The charging input is also among this array of outlet options.
Total battery storage is 518wh. To recharge the AUKEY PowerZeus 500 Portable Power Station either plug it into the wall or use a 100watt solar panel. Solar in full sun should take about 11 hours while wall charging takes around 9 hours. If you go the solar charging route Aukey does sell the Power Helio Y100 panel but others should work just as well.
What It’s Like to Use the AUKEY PowerZeus 500 Portable Power Station
When Aukey got in touch it happened to coincide with a 200-mile mixed surface race I was doing. I planned to ride to the race and camp but I also had a friend that was driving and camping. You could consider it cheating a bit to use my friend’s car to carry gear but I decided it was too good of an opportunity to pass up a test of this unit.
Two people camping for the weekend and racing modern bikes is a great use of the AUKEY PowerZeus 500 Portable Power Station. Charging phones, lighting the camp area, and charging all the on-bike necessities is what we needed something to handle. We could have packed a couple of small battery packs each but this way we had a single unit that could handle all of our needs with ease. It made packing simple and that’s worth a lot!
Just like the LED screen dominates the design it also dominates the use. Everything on the screen is big and with a blue/light blue color scheme it’s easy to read and gorgeous to look at. There’s a clear indication of how much battery power you’ve got left plus input and output wattage.
Turning on the side outlets for a wall plug experience requires holding down the power button. You’ll hear a beep followed by the fan coming on briefly and the outlets begin to work. The lower voltage USB ports only require a single press and the fan doesn’t come on. Once you’ve got it on and something plugged in you can watch the power draw in watts. It’s kind of fascinating to see in real time how much power a computer, or phone, is drawing.
The AUKEY PowerZeus 500 Portable Power Station isn’t alone in the marketplace. There are other options out there but Aukey undercuts them on price and the performance is just as good. I’ve used Aukey chargers and various batteries for years and never felt like they were lacking quality or features.
If you want to make packing for car camping trips a simple affair the AUKEY PowerZeus 500 Portable Power Station can do what you need. It will power all the modern electronics you, and your family, might bring with you. You can charge it via solar power if you’d like and if want to have a backup at home for power outages it’s good enough for double duty.
AUKEY Wireless 10,000mAh Power Bank with 18W PD PB-Y32 Review
This new power bank from AUKEY is a jack-of-all trades: not only does it provide normal USB 5V ⎓ 2.4A charging as you would come to expect from most power banks, it also has a built-in wireless Qi charging pad, Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 output and 18W Power Delivery output!
The AUKEY PB-Y32 is a multi-textured power bank, feature smooth plastic around most of it with a soft, tacky surface on top to help hold your phone in place while charging on the wireless Qi pad. On the front of the power bank is a regular USB-A output, a USB-C input/output port, and a Micro USB input. There are also 5 LEDs: The first LED beside the Micro USB port is an amber light indicating that wireless charging is enabled. The other 4 white LEDs indicate the power remaining in the power bank. The dimensions of this power bank are 5.67″ x 2.64″ x 0.67″ and it weighs 8.01 ounces.
- Qi wireless charging: Tapping the power button once will enable the Qi wireless charging pad located on the top of the power bank. An amber LED will light. Initially, the wireless charging pad will output 5W and if no other devices are connected to the power bank (and your phone supports it), the charging will increase to 7.5W or 10W. If no Qi device is detected, the wireless pad will automatically turn off after 15 seconds. Please note that the power bank cannot accept an incoming charge from another Qi wireless charging.
- Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0: The USB-A port can output up to 12 volts if a compatible Quick Charge device is connected. Otherwise, it will output the normal 5V ⎓ 2.4A standard for phones and tablets.
- USB-C Power Delivery: The USB-C port can output up to 12V ⎓ 1.5A to support fast charging of compatible devices, such as an iPhone 8 or newer.
- Low-Current Charging Mode: Many Bluetooth headphones and some smaller device such as fitness trackers may draw so little power that most power banks don’t detect them and stop charging prematurely. You can enable a “Low Current Charging Mode” for such devices so that the USB port stays on. To enable this mode, hold down the power button for 2 seconds until you see one of the LEDs turn green. This mode automatically turns off after 2 hours.
- 10,000mAh capacity: Enough to charge many smartphones 3 to 4 times via wired charging (wireless charging is less efficient on all chargers).
The power bank can output up to 18 watts via the Power Delivery USB-C port, which I found to be cable of charging my Dell Chromebook. This can also be used to charge other devices such as an iPhone 8 or newer (with a USB-C-to-Lightning cable, not included) or other USB-C devices such as the Nintendo Switch.
As you can see in the photo below, the power bank was able to deliver 18 watts (approximately 9V ⎓ 2A) to my Dell Chromebook. This can effectively charge compatible laptops when the laptop is powered off, but may not be enough power to charge and use the laptop at the same time depending on what you’re doing on the laptop while it is on.
USB-C Input: (18W Power Delivery 3.0) 5V⎓3A, 9V⎓2A
USB-C Output: (18W Power Delivery 3.0) 5V⎓3A, 9V⎓2A, 12V⎓1.5A
USB Output: (Quick Charge 3.0) 5–6V⎓3A, 6–9V⎓2A, 9–12V⎓1.5A
With an impressive feature set including wireless Qi charging, Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 and Power Delivery (18W), the AUKEY power bank packs a lot of charging options in a small, lightweight power bank.