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DIY solar phone charger. DIY solar phone charger

DIY solar phone charger. DIY solar phone charger

    Lifesaver DIY Phone Chargers You Should Build

    Why buy a charger for your smartphone when you can build one from commonly available components? Recharge your phone with these neat DIY chargers.

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    solar, phone, charger

    While there’s some debate over who invented the telephone, it has been nothing short of a game-changer to the human race. It has evolved in leaps and bounds, transforming into what we all know as the smartphone today. And it’s expected to get even better as tech steadily advances. But before then, we are all stuck to constantly recharging our smartphones until some genius innovates a charge-free phone.

    So, what are you to do when your phone is rapidly running out of juice, and you have no access to a charger? Try making any of these seven lifesaver DIY phone chargers below.

    USB iPhone iPod Dynamo Charger

    You don’t need to be an avid cyclist to use a dynamo charger. This project lets you transform one into a powerful charger you can carry on the fly. It’s small, portable, and the cherry on top of the cake: it can efficiently recharge your iPhone and your iPod, and other Smart devices in your arsenal. The best bit? It’s only a two-wire connection, meaning you won’t need any circuitry expertise to put it together. Check out the detailed Instructables guide to get started.

    Solar iPod/iPhone Charger

    This solar charger charges your iPhone not just via solar but also via USB or wall wart. And it’s powerful enough to recharge an iPhone, iPod, or any other Smart device you may own.

    You can rely on it whether you are hiking off-grid without access to power, stuck at an airport due to late flights, or even in the comfort of your home. Simply plug in the solar cell and then connect it to your iPhone when you have no access to power, and set it aside for the USB charging function when back to civilization. Check out the step-by-step Instructables guide to build it.

    If you’re building this project because you frequently go off grid, you should build one of these cell phone signal boosters to be self-sufficient.

    Solar Altoids iPhone/iPod Charger

    Altoids are popular for not just being the curiously strong mints we’ve loved since the 19th century but also for the iconic metal tins they come in. The tins are compact yet hollow enough to accommodate small accessories like earphones. With a little creativity, you can transform them into anything, including a lifesaving, solar-powered iPhone charger. It is affordable, takes about an hour to complete, and makes an excellent accessory, especially if you are always off-grid and need a reliable way to keep your iPhone powered.

    You’ll need a charging circuit, an AA battery holder, a pair of rechargeable batteries, and all the components listed in the easy-to-follow Instructables guide, to build this handy solar DIY phone charger from an Altoids tin. If you successfully build this project, you will definitely like to try out some DIY phone charging station ideas.

    Simple USB Socket Charger

    Have you recently lost or misplaced your Apple adapter and don’t want to spend some 30 bucks or more on one? If so, you’ll be happy to know that you can—with a 5V wall adapter, breadboard, a couple of pin headers, resistors (one 10kΩ and two 100kΩ), jumper wires, and an indicator LED—make a fully-functional wall adapter and save the cash, as shown in the Instructables guide.

    Before analyzing related costs, note that most of the supplies needed for this project are readily available. You may even recycle them from unused or old electronics. For instance, instead of buying, consider upcycling a 5V wall adapter from your first ever cellphone charger and chop off a USB connector from one of the USB cables sitting idle in your old electronics stash. To match your creative phone charger, why not transform your phone case with these cool DIY ideas?

    USB iPhone/iPod Charger in a Tin

    If you found the Altoids tin charger highlighted earlier fascinating, you’ll probably love this version even better. It is compact, and all components—from a voltage regulator, batteries, and resistors, to connected wires—are all securely held inside the tin. Hence, the only parts exposed are the USB port, switch, and LED to indicate when it’s on or off.

    It undoubtedly takes the bag for being utterly compact, and its 2V output means it’s capable of recharging an iPhone or iPod. While the circuit is a bit technical, the Instructables guide does a pretty good job at breaking it down so even the non-tech savvy DIYer can give it a shot.

    Use Wasted Heat to Charge Cell Phones

    This DIY project might be quite technical, but it lets you convert heat that would have otherwise been wasted and released to Mother Nature into electrical power, potent enough to recharge your smartphone. It lets you take two birds with one stone: save nature from additional waste, and money on a new charger. A thermoelectric unit is the heart of the project but, as highlighted in the step-by-step Instructables guide, you’ll also need a heat sink, thermal paste, regulator, capacitors, and a female USB plug to make one.

    Solar Powered USB Charger

    Are you looking to go green? You can always start small by switching from an electric-powered phone charger to this solar-powered USB charger. Although we’ve got others on our list, this DIY phone charger stands out because it directly generates its power from a series of solar panels.

    It sounds complicated but, as shown in the easy-to-follow Instructables guide, it’s one of the simplest lifesaver DIY phone chargers you can build on our list. You only need to connect positive and negative solar panels, connect your wires to a regulator, solder, and glue it all together, and boom! You have an efficient, fully-functional solar-powered phone charger at nearly a quarter the cost of buying a commercial solar charger. You can also go green by using your old phones to build these awesome DIY projects.

    Build a DIY Charger, Save Money, and Go Green

    Smartphones are great, but being stuck with a dying one and no access to a phone charger is incredibly frustrating. Luckily, you don’t have to bear with the situation as you can always build one from scratch using the ideas above or by borrowing some concepts to come up with an original, never-seen-before DIY charger version.

    Note that most of the lifesaver DIY phone chargers above are meant for iPhones and iPods, but you can always tweak them a little to enable Android compatibility. Even better, they all maximize alternative energy sources such as solar and wasted heat to generate power for your iPhone, meaning you get to skip the costs of buying a new charger and reduce your carbon footprint.

    Alan Blake holds a degree in microbiology and biotechnology. When he is not in the lab or traveling, you will find him tinkering with electronics or recycling/reusing stuff that would end up in landfills. He currently works as a DIY writer for MakeUseOf covering Arduino, reusing projects, how-tos, and a host of other exciting topics.

    How to Make a Solar USB Phone Charger

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    Solar power is no longer just for homes and campers. Nowadays portable solar chargers make it easy to recharge mobile devices on the go. No electricity? No problem, just get out in the sun, plug in your phone and watch the battery level go up. But what if you wanted to make a solar USB phone charger?

    The idea of creating your own solar phone charger sounds intimidating, but the basic steps are really simple. Once you have created a DIY phone charger, you can use this to charge other devices like tablets. the basic steps are:

    • Strip a USB cable to expose the black (negative) and red (positive) wires.
    • Solder the diode’s negative side to the red wire.
    • Cover the diode with heat shrink wrap.
    • Add more heat shrink wrap on the wires.
    • After soldering the wiring to the panel, apply shrink wrap.

    There are 3 types of solar mobile chargers you can make. Let’s take a closer look at all three and how straightforward the process is.

    Method 1: Make a Pure Solar USB Charger

    This charger works with most GPS units, mobile phones and tablets.

    Required Materials

    • USB charging cable
    • Soldering iron
    • Portable solar panel (preferably wired)
    • 1/4 inch heat shrink tubing
    • Wire stripper
    • 1N914 blocking diode

    Instructions

    • Use the wire cutter to snip the ends of the USB cables. Remove the insulation so the white or black (negative) and red (positive) are visible.
    • Get your solar panels. Solder the black part of the diode (the negative side) onto the red wire. It should not face the solar panel. This is necessary to keep the solar cells from using up power. Solder some more to the diode’s opposing end. A few inches will be sufficient.
    • Although not mandatory, it is a good idea to solder in a voltage regulator (5 watts) onto the unit. Modern mobile phones can handle 6V, but it you have an older model the regulator is necessary.
    • Use the heat shrink wrap to set the diode onto the wiring. Apply more heat shrink onto the USB wires.
    • Lastly, solder the wiring onto the solar panels. If necessary, use heat to shrink the wrap.

    While this solar charger works fine with most mobile devices, you might encounter trouble with iPhones as they demand consistent 5V to turn on the battery charge. For an iPhone, a solar battery USB charger is a better option.

    Method 2: Make a Solar Battery USB Charger

    Solar battery USB chargers are compatible with iPhones, tablets, mobile phones, lithium ion batteries and GPS devices. The difference between this charger and the one earlier is you wil be using a battery.

    Required Materials

    • A portable solar panel
    • Battery holder (AAA or AA)
    • 1N914 blocking diode
    • 1/8 inch wire
    • 1/4 in. heat shrink tubing
    • Case for charger storage
    • USB charging circuit
    • Super glue
    • Wire stripper
    • Soldering iron

    Instructions

    • Solder the negative side (black) of the diode onto to the solar panel’s red wiring. It should be facing away from the solar panel.
    • Put heat shrink tubing on.
    • Solder some fresh wiring onto the diode’s positive side. Not a lot, just a few inches is fine.
    • Twist the battery holder’s negative wire (black) onto the solar panel’s black wiring. You should end up with parallel wires. The battery holder wiring and the panel should also have a connection newly opened. Repeat these steps for the red wire.
    • Get a USB charging circuit and find the and – signs. Get the solar battery / panel wiring you just made and solder them onto the circuit’s and – points. Do this slowly.
    • Glue everything inside a case. Sturdy tape will also do.
    • You’re done. All that’s left is to test the charger. Get some charged batteries, set them in the charger case and plug in your smartphone. If the charger isn’t working, there might be a problem with the soldering points. If it is charging, get some dead batteries and watch the charger restore them.

    Tip: install a second solar panel and place a diode between the two. This will allow you to charge larger, more powerful devices and much faster too. By hooking up the black and red cables between the battery case and the panel, you’ll get a nice charging light.

    Method 3: Make a Lithium Solar Battery Charger

    As you might have guessed, this is for recharging lithium ion batteries. Most mobile phones today use lithium battery, a testament to its quality and dependability.

    Required Materials

    • Super glue
    • Wire stripper
    • Soldering iron
    • Storage case for the charger
    • Battery holder (AAA or AA)
    • 1N914 blocking diode
    • Portable solar panel

    Instructions

    • Just like the previous method, start by soldering the diode’s negative side (black) onto the solar panel’s red wire (positive).
    • Apply the heat shrink on the battery holder wires.
    • Solder the battery’s negative wire on the solar panel black wire. For the red wire, Solder it onto the diode.
    • Put the system in a case or small tin box. Glue or tape everything.
    • Test the charger.

    Pure Solar Battery Charger vs. Battery Solar Charger

    Direct or pure solar USB chargers are very light and easy to make. Just strip a USB cable, stick to a solar panel and it’s good to go. The solar panel does the work of converting the sun’s energy.

    The drawback is direct USB solar chargers do not generate a lot of power. They are also insufficient for devices that need a lot of amp power. Lastly, direct solar chargers depend entirely on the sun. If it’s cloudy or the sun’s intensity wanes off, so does the energy flow.

    Battery based USB solar changers are not as portable, but they’re more practical. You can charge the panel during the day and at night plug in your phone.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How Long Does it Take for a Solar Charger to Charge a Phone?

    A few hours at least. Battery based USB chargers are faster, but even then expect to wait hours to get a full charge. it also depends on how much you used up your phone. The weather condition also plays a factor.

    An iPhone comes with 3.7 volt battery (100 mA). With a 6.5 watt solar array (433 mA/hour) it will take 3 1/2 hours to charge the iPhone (0 battery to 100%). This assumes that the sun is at its peak for the entire 3 1/2 hours, however.

    You can make things easier by not waiting for your phone to drop to 0% before charging. It also helps if you keep your solar charger charged up during the day so you can power up your phone at night. powerful solar chargers are becoming available with shorter charge times though. You can also try these tips to make phone charging faster.

    How Can I Charge My Solar Battery without the Sun?

    Artificial light sources like LED will charge the battery. However it is going to be a lot slower and isn’t practical. You are better off with the sun.

    solar, phone, charger

    Do Solar Chargers Need Direct Sunlight?

    Direct sunlight is not needed for solar chargers to work, but you will get the best results if the charger is directly exposed to the sun. In some cases it may not be possible to place the charger directly under sunlight, but as much as possible try to.

    Will Solar Charge on Cloudy Days?

    The charger will still charge, but it will be at a lower level and take longer. That’s why it is best to charge during daytime so you get the best results and faster too.

    Why Isn’t My Solar Charger Working?

    The most common reasons are:

    • Check the wire soldering for damage.
    • The solar panels are dirty.
    • The phone is damaged.
    • There is no sun.

    Do Solar Phone Chargers Really Work?

    Assuming you followed the instructions above, yes, they do work. As pointed out, an iPhone is better suited for a battery based solar charger than the direct type. but for Android and other types of phones, any of the methods above will do.

    What Solar Panels Do I Choose?

    Any type of portable solar panel will do. Just make sure it has the power needed to charge your phone (and whatever other device you want to charge). Even the cheap ones will do as long as they’re not damaged.

    Conclusion

    Learning how to create a solar phone charger DIY style is not that difficult as we have shown. The fact that the costs have gone down, and keep going down is another plus. Sure you can buy a charger easy, but knowing how to make one means you can customize the features to suit your specific needs.

    Juiced: How a DIY newbie built a solar iPhone charger in 3 hours

    • Cyrus Farivar
    • 09/21/2012 4:39 pm
    • Categories: Features, Tech

    reader Комментарии и мнения владельцев

    As a maker n00b, I can’t express how awesome it is to build a homemade solar-powered iPhone charger. The little 2W solar panel currently sits in the window of my west-facing home office (more on that later). Now, every afternoon, as the sun starts blazing onto my desk, I soak up a little power.

    I know probably hundreds (or maybe thousands) of people have built similar chargers before. After all, 20,000 people attended the first San Francisco Maker Faire in 2006, and it’s only grown since. Nationwide, there are tens or hundreds of thousands of makers out there. But there are probably plenty more would-be DIYers who are intrigued but haven’t yet taken the plunge. I’m here to tell those people that for just 90 in parts and three hours of time, you too can keep your iPhone going, wherever you go. Seriously.

    % inspiration: Getting started

    I know what you’re thinking. Sure, I could just get an official Apple charger for 30. Maybe there’s a third-party option for less. And yes, I could throw down 80 for a Mophie Juicepack to meet my external battery desires. But where’s the fun or satisfaction in any of that?

    Ars-approved DIY Projects

    Until last week, I was one of those people who admired the craftsmanship involved in many DIY projects, but thought that they were a bit too involved for me. I’ve always felt that wordsmithing—rather than electrosmithing—is my best skill. I mean, sure, I’ve swapped some RAM on my own computer before, but nothing that involved a heat gun and melting metal! But you really don’t need any background to start. It only takes an idea.

    I’d been holding mine for awhile. A few years ago, I met Drake Martinet (now of NowThisNews) for lunch in Oakland. The area often gets called the sunny side of the San Francisco Bay, and Martinet came sporting a bag with a flexible solar panel cut into the top flap. He said he used it to charge his phone while out and about.

    I loved the idea. He keeps his phone charged and doesn’t have to think about it. My phone constantly runs low. I pretty much have to carry a charger with me when I’m on the run. If I get really power-conscious, I go into no-Internet/no-GPS mode. If I’m really desperate—here comes Airplane Mode, turning it off again just to quickly send/receive text messages.

    Ever since I saw Martinet’s, I couldn’t shake the thought. How cool would it be to have a similar setup?

    Enlisting help and assembling the pieces

    Earlier this summer, I mentioned this idea to my friend Malcolm Knapp, an electrical engineer here in Berkeley. Malcolm didn’t think it would be terribly difficult. A few Google searches proved him correct. Not only was it not difficult, but back in 2009, someone already put together a nice Instructables page outlining each step. To boot, it has a cutesy name: the MightyMintyBoost. Crucially, the page includes a shopping list (crucially, because, I didn’t find the instructions Martinet gave me until well after completing this project).

    Of course, Instructables or a knowledgeable friend aren’t the only places to get started. Websites like HackADay and magazines like Make offer great resources, too. So why did I eventually keep Malcolm involved? Mostly, I wanted his expertise for two reasons: first, to make sure I didn’t do any serious damage to myself or the electronics. And second, well, I don’t own a soldering iron. As the assistant organizer of MakeSF, Malcolm couldn’t have been a better teacher. And when we sought equipment help through the folks at Tech Liminal (an Oakland co-working space), we had a great place to do it.

    Soldering 101

    After waiting for all the parts to show up at my door (and for Malcolm to get back from his honeymoon), we finally sat down last week to do this together. Here’s what we started with (taxes and shipping included, and we also had to sacrifice a Micro USB cable that was kicking around):

    With all the parts gathered, it was time to assemble the MintyBoost. This little green circuit board, first designed way back in 2006, is meant to take in power from batteries or solar panels and boost power to the 5V that the iPhone is made to take. When it arrived in the mail, it was just a bunch of loose wires (I learned those were resistors and diodes), a female USB connector, and some padding. So, step one was to solder the resistors to the board.

    I always say that soldering is a three-hand job, Malcolm first told me, as he produced a weird little holding device. And this, is called a ‘third hand.’

    In front of us was a little stand with clips that I could secure my MintyBoost to as I worked on it. Malcolm showed me how to bend the resistor legs down and thread them through the board. Then, carefully, I’d touch the soldering iron to the filaments and, voilà, sleek tin would flow onto the little pads on the board.

    It got easier as I worked on it—and I quickly learned what happens when you mis-solder something (hint: you need to remove it). A spool of copper strips was produced, and through a combination of pressing heat to one side, the solder would jump to the copper.

    The MintyBoost is alive

    Once we’d finished assembling the MintyBoost—following essentially the same soldering steps for the four resistors, one diode, and two capacitors—it was time to wire it up to the LiPoly board.

    Now we have to do the ‘smoke test,’ Malcolm told me. That basically means, if you see smoke, unplug everything—you’ve done something wrong.

    No smoke, no fire, and we were well on our way. It took probably less than a minute to twist the electrical wires and connect all three elements of this setup to each other. Officially, this combination was the MintyBoost connected to the LiPoly, which in turn also connected to the already-charged battery. The moment of truth arrived and—it worked! Eureka! In less than two hours we had successfully created a functioning triad.

    But I’d forgotten to get an Altoids tin. OK, it didn’t have to be an Altoids tin. But I needed some sort of container to put the three electronic devices (the battery, the LiPoly converter, and the MintyBoost itself) into. So I ran a block down to the nearest liquor store to get an Altoids tin. Once I’d distributed the mints among the co-workers and had washed out the tin container, we needed to fix the cable feeding power out of the solar cell. Malcolm showed me how to take that Micro USB cable and splice it onto the cable coming out of the solar panel, so we could get power from the panel into the LiPoly charger, which would then feed power to the iPhone and to the battery.

    And with that, it functioned, solar panel and all. Malcolm put the foam pads onto the two boards so they wouldn’t short in the Altoids tin, made a few cutouts for each port, and we were done.

    And for my next trick.

    All that’s left now is for me to adhere the boards and the battery to the Altoids tin; then I could easily keep the whole thing in my bag when I’m out and about. I also need to sort out how best to adhere it to my backpack if I want to mimic Martinet accurately; though maybe velcro strips or clasps of some kind will work fine.

    So far, I haven’t had a chance to adequately test my MightyMintyBoost and see how many hours I need to leave it plugged in to fully charge my phone. In fact, after the first few days of trying to use the charger on my desk, it didn’t seem like it was fully getting adequate power. Frequently I’d get a Charging is not supported with this accessory error message on the phone, or it would alternate between charging and not.

    So I rang up Jerome Kelty, a Colorado-based jeweler by trade and the author of that original Instructable. Kelty told me that I should use it primarily outside.

    Want your own solar-powered charger?

    Remember, Cyrus utilized this Instructables page. It’s a simple five-step set of instructions, and the materials (soldering iron not included) cost under 100. Project run time: under three hours.

    Small panels like that, they pretty much have to be in direct, outdoor sunlight, he said. If I have it in my kitchen window, it doesn’t work nearly as well.

    He explained that being indoors simply doesn’t draw enough power, and that anything blocking the light—Windows, trees, shade—diminishes the current. The iPhone is also quite finicky about how much power it draws on its own.

    Kelty said that this Instructable continues to get a lot of attention, and people still frequently leave him Комментарии и мнения владельцев. He addresses every single one. Apparently I’m like a lot of DIY newbies out there.

    The MintyBoost is a great introduction to soldering, he added. This is an extension of that. Basically all you’re adding is a circuit, but it’s a really good starting point.

    Now that I’ve completed my first project, I feel confident in my abilities to do basic soldering and follow related instructions. I still am not 100 percent clear on what all the elements do, but Malcolm has been very patient with my sometimes inane questions. (So, a capacitor is different than a resistor, right?)

    I guess I’m ready to take my next step into the DIY world. I may not own a soldering iron yet, but I know that the nearest one is just a 10 minute bike ride away. Kelty suggested that for my next project, as a cyclist, I might try to tackle his Ultimate Night Vision Headlamp—it’s a cheap, lightweight, and crazy-bright light. This involves not only soldering, but gluing LEDs to an old CPU heat sink. (Coincidentally, I haven’t been this excited about gluing since elementary school!)

    solar, phone, charger

    So take note, Oakland. If you see someone wearing a ridiculous blue lamp on two wheels, you’ve been warned. There’s a new, very junior member of the maker movement in the neighborhood.

    The 7 Best Solar Phone Chargers of 2023

    We’re big fans of solar chargers with multiple features like working as a power bank while doubling as a flashlight.

    Grace Gavilanes is a freelance writer-editor who has covered a wide range of topics. Her writing has been published in InStyle, Food Wine, Glamour, and Mic, among other outlets.

    Nick Blackmer is a librarian, fact checker, and researcher with more than 25 years’ experience in consumer-oriented content.

    In This Article

    Picture this: You’re driving to your campsite or hiking on an unfamiliar trail, when suddenly your phone dies — right when you needed to double-check your maps. It’s an unfortunate circumstance that happens far too often. While wall chargers and outlets are hard to come by when you’re on the road or in the middle of nowhere, solar phone chargers come in handy for moments like this.

    We’ve found our favorite after extensive research and can’t recommend the Blavor Solar Power Bank enough. But don’t let its best overall rating steer you from checking out the others. They’re all winners in their own right: From a solar phone charger that doubles as a high-powered lantern to a lightweight option that’ll rival your wall charger’s speed, these offerings are bound to make an appearance on your next few trips.

    Best Overall

    Blavor Solar Power Bank

    Everything you could possibly need in a portable solar charger can be found in this lightweight power bank. It boasts three ports and wireless charging for your phone or Airpods. A built-in LED flashlight is great to have as an extra light source when you’re off the grid, as is the buffer-boosted exterior that helps protect it from falls. Since it’s dustproof and IPX5 waterproof (meaning it can withstand low-pressure water streams), you can feel confident bringing it along for beach trips. To easily expose it to sunlight when you’re out and about, it comes with a carabiner clip that has a compass on it. A USB output, wireless charging pad, and a USB C output/input are included. You get your pick between five color options, and if you want even more functionality, Blavor’s four-at-once charger is also available.

    Price at time of publish: 50

    The Details: 3 ports | 10 ounces | 10,000 mAh | 5.9 x 3.1 x 0.8 inches | Built-in battery | Waterproof

    solar, phone, charger

    Best Budget

    Hiluckey Outdoor Portable Power Bank

    • As is typical with solar chargers, for the most effective charge, consider first charging it via USB.

    While this solar charger was built for outdoor use, it can also be charged via USB cable if you’re near an outlet. It charges phones up to 10 times and tablets up to four times, separately. On average, the portable solar charger can be used nine times per charge, making it a staple for extended trips. It’s available on Amazon at a steal compared to chargers on the market with similar battery lives.

    Price at time of publish: 57

    The Details: 2 ports | 1.34 pounds | 25,000 mAh | 6.18 x 3.54 x 1.38 inches | Built-in battery

    Most Durable

    Goal Zero Nomad 50 Solar Panel

    • To avoid ruining your phone’s battery, don’t plug this panel into your device directly; instead, pair it with a power bank like the Yeti 200x Power Station first.

    This heavy-duty solar panel (that’s lighter than it looks) is big enough to capture sunlight to charge any device with help from an external power bank. From phones to laptops and even mini fridges, it can collect the amount of solar power needed to maintain your devices for long periods of time away from the hustle and bustle. However, since this panel does have a charge controller, you should only transfer power from it to a heavy-duty power bank that can then be used to power up your devices.

    Price at time of publish: 250

    The Details: 3 ports | 6.85 pounds | 50 watts | 53 x 17 x 1.5 inches (unfolded); 17 x 11.25 x 2.5 inches (folded) | Built-in battery | Water-resistant

    Best Lightweight

    Go Sun SolarPanel 10

    • Because of its convenient size, it may be more difficult to collect and transfer solar energy to power your device.

    Claiming to “charge about [as] fast as a typical wall outlet charger” when the sun is fully out, this solar panel can easily fit inside a tote bag thanks to its near-flat design or can freely hang on a backpack. It can also charge any device in as little as three hours due to its 10-watt power output, according to the brand. A bonus for those with overloaded suitcases? It weighs less than a pound. This charger is water-resistant but won’t stand up to being fully submerged.

    Price at time of publish: 99

    The Details: 1 port | 0.65 pounds | 10 watts | 10.5 x 7 inches (unfolded); 5.25 x 7 inches (folded) | Water-resistant

    Best for Multiple Devices

    BigBlue 28W Solar Charger

    With three USB-A ports, this four-panel solar charger is able to power up your favorite devices, such as your phone and Bluetooth speaker. This charger comes equipped with Smart chips to ensure your device is always protected and charged safely without experiencing over-voltage. It’s extremely thin for slipping into a backpack or tote, and when you need to hang it up to soak in the sun, holes with heavy-duty metal lining come in handy.

    Price at time of publish: 80

    The Details: 3 ports | 1.34 pounds | 28 watts | 33.1 x 11.1 x.2 inches (unfolded) or 11.1 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches (folded) | Waterproof

    Best Charging Speed

    Ryno Tuff Portable Solar Charger for Camping

    The Ryno Tuff Portable Solar Charger can fully charge a phone or tablet in approximately two hours. Another standout feature of this solar charger is its ability to stop charging when it senses your device is overheating or has reached its full capacity. Two carabiner clips are included with the foldable charger for hanging and hauling needs. In addition to providing your phone with top-notch energy, the team at Ryno Tuff is also committed to giving back to the earth — with every purchase of this solar charger, the company will plant a tree through the National Forest Foundation.

    Price at time of publish: 63

    The Details: 2 ports | 1.04 pounds | 21 watts | 18.1 x 11.8 x 0.12 inches (unfolded); 5.9 x 11.8 x 0.79 inches (folded) | Waterproof

    Best Flashlight

    LuminAID PackLite Max 2-in-1 Power Lantern

    With five brightness settings to light up your chosen environment, this backpacker-favorite lantern features adjustable straps so you can easily hang it from trees or inside a tent. It’s also collapsible (a must for those on the go), shatterproof (made from heavy-duty TPU, an elastic plastic that’s PVC-free), and waterproof (it can survive being submerged in water for up to 30 minutes).

    Price at time of publish: 50

    The Details: 1 port | 0.53 pounds | 2,000 mAh | 6 x 6 x 6 inches (unfolded); 6 x 6 x 1 inches (folded) | Built-in battery | Waterproof

    Tips for Buying a Solar Phone Charger

    Consider device compatibility

    When it comes to finding the perfect-for-you solar phone charger, it’s important to consider the types of ports (USB being the most common) your charger houses, as well as when you’ll be using it. A key rule of thumb: The bigger the solar panels, the faster your phone will charge, since the larger solar panels will capture more sunlight, thus providing more energy to your device. If you’re looking for something more compact, just know the charge time of those chosen power packs — which can typically reach 10-plus hours for solar phone chargers — will be on the lengthier side.

    Know the difference between direct and battery-bank solar chargers

    A built-in battery (i.e. a battery-bank solar charger) is important if you’re looking to charge your phone overnight or during a cloudy day, for example. The built-in battery will store any unused energy from the sun for future use (no sunlight needed as this is happening), while a portable direct charger without a built-in battery is best for on-the-go usage. For example, when you attach your solar panel charger to your backpack and connect the USB cord to your phone during an especially sunny hike, your phone will charge as you carry on with your adventure.

    Think about portability

    One of the biggest points in purchasing and using a solar phone charger is to bring it with you while caping, hiking, or enjoying other outdoor activities. You’ll want to make sure your charger isn’t so bulky or heavy that it become difficult to take with you while still providing all the capabilities you’re looking for.

    As the name suggests, solar phone chargers are powered by the sun. Here’s how: Photons carry energy from the sun, creating an electric field that produces energy that’s transferred to the charger itself, which is then delivered to the device. So, do solar phone chargers actually work? It really comes down to your expectations. Charging speed and durability are reflective of how you’re using your portable solar-powered charger. A few tips to consider: Make sure the solar panel is completely exposed to the sun, without any obstruction, and be patient — depending on which solar pack you choose, it’s important to remember that garnering a full charge will take more time than it would with a classic wall charger.

    Power output is measured in either mAh (milliamps per hour) and watts. Both units speak to the energy charge. The higher the number (for both), the more energy can be stored—meaning a longer battery life.

    You can take your solar phone charger on the plane if and only if your charger doesn’t contain a built-in, lithium-ion battery (the most common type of battery used in chargers). Lithium-ion batteries are susceptible to “[creating] sparks or [generating] a dangerous evolution of heat,” which is why the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and TSA do not allow portable chargers containing this battery in checked luggage; you can bring it on the plane with you, but only if it’s packed in your carry-on. Have a battery-less solar phone charger? You’re cleared to check it in as long as it’s able to fit into your suitcase.

    Why Trust Travel Leisure

    Grace Gavilanes is a writer-editor who has covered a wide range of topics — from celebrity news and beauty to food, wellness, and travel — for close to a decade. Her writing has been published in InStyle, Food Wine, Glamour, and Mic, among other outlets. To curate this list of the best solar phone chargers, she drew from her own experience as a lifestyle writer and researched dozens of products.

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