The 5 Reasons We Don’t Have Solar Powered Phones, Yet!
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Solar power is a practical and progressive way to power our world while also having less harsh impacts on the environment. The world is changing its mind about this resourceful way of charging our electronics and so much progress has been made just in the last decade to improve more natural means of power such as wind, solar, and water powering. But when will our cell phones be surged by the power of the sun?
The reason we don’t have solar powered phones yet is quite interesting because we have in fact had a solar powered phone, but barely anyone knows about it. In 2009, Samsung released the first solar-powered cell phone on the market. The Samsung Guru E1107 was designed with a small solar panel to the backside of the phone but the reason almost no one is aware of this breakthrough is because the design failed. It was unable to create enough meaningful and lasting power to charge the phone.
The 5 reasons we don’t have solar powered phones yet include:
- Changeability in weather/ sun-consistency
- Not being powerful enough compared to electricity
- Not mainstream enough to be affordable
- Not stable enough to provide a complete electrical current
- The panel required would be too large currently to be practical with petite smartphones
We will discuss the reasons the technology is so incredibly close yet just not quite there yet, the advantages, disadvantages, options to charge your phone by solar power which are currently available, and how long we’ll have to wait for the full-blown breakthrough! If you’ve ever wondered about a more environmentally friendly option to charging your world, this guide will be your go-to for all things solar and cell.
The 5 Reasons We Don’t Have Solar Powered Phones, Yet!
The answer to this is that we have (fascinatingly enough) had solar powered cell phones nearly a decade ago! The design failed, but why is it still taking so long to make progress?
The short answer is – they’re working on it. I personally don’t feel it’s far off based on the progressions made for eco-friendly power and the work that’s been done thus far. It’s certainly in our midst but what precisely is the holdup?
- Not powerful enough
- Not mainstream enough
- Not stable enough
- Not practical in size
These all seem like solvable problems at hand, because we already have hundreds of solar-powered panels to charge your cellphone, just none attached to the actual phone yet. That’s promising though, right?
They’re already charging calculators by solar power, but phones are a different story based on how much charge they require.
The first solar powered cell phone, the Samsung Guru E1107 had so much potential as it was created for third world countries and places which experienced a lot of power outages. It’s amazing that work was being done in these hostile living environments to make power a more accessible resource.
The issue was that the Guru would only be able to hold a charge for around 5-10 minutes. Basically, you would leave it out to charge all day and only be able to call mom for 5 minutes. Not the most useful, but good try!
For this short call, it would zap the power line and absorb a day’s worth of solar energy. The design made sense for the market’s it was targeted at.
Design Attempt Two – The Samsung Blue Earth
The second attempt was released in the same year, 2009, by Samsung. Now the design had mastered a full 10 minutes of phone conversation from the solar power panel on the backside of the cell phone.
The Blue Earth was actually quite a quick advancement as compared to the Guru. Now the phone could search the web, YouTube, hop on social media, and do advanced activities which the earlier design of that same year was nowhere near capable of reaching.
The Blue Earth was even constructed of recyclable materials, sold in a recycled cardboard box which the user could hold onto as it doubled as a stand, making this design perhaps the world’s most eco-friendly phone to date.
There is a link to the phone on Amazon still if you’d like to get a visual image of it, but the listing is unavailable with no signs of becoming available anytime soon – Samsung Blue Earth
The reviews are intriguing with a real balance of 1 rating per star (1 1-star rating, 1 2-star rating, etc.) with 6 users voicing their opinions on it. The general consensus is that the design is interesting but not practical.
When will Samsung attempt these designs again? Why have they taken a decade off from these advancements? We will explore these topics, but first, let’s understand why solar power is the direction they ought to be moving in.
Advantages of Solar Powered Phones
Some of you may be asking – why solar power? Fair question.
The reason solar power is advantageous and practical is because it can be used anywhere. You’re not tied to a wall, waiting for a plug to become available, or stuck at home until it’s complete.
You can be on the move, doing all you need to get done, while your phone actively charges in the sunrays.
- Unless you’re a deep-sea diver, you’ll always be close to a power source.
- Environmentally friendly – this low impact design doesn’t tap into the power grid therefore you’re not utilizing expendable fossil fuels to energize your phone. It is much cleaner to the planet and just imagine the ripple effect of everyone doing more for the planet? Don’t you think between the nearly 3 billion owners of cell phones in the world, that could have a huge impact?
- Cheaper – this will be in the long run because upfront, the solar powered phones may be high in price. This is the way for any new technological advancement. It’s incredibly expensive until it’s not. But speaking in long-term, you wouldn’t be wasting all your money on your energy bill. The savings could be astronomical across a 10-year duration (pun intended).
- This ties into – not being susceptible to a power outage. If the apocalypse comes, there will be no charging your phone. I’m half joking and don’t think an apocalypse is anywhere in our midst. But if hypothetically it were, wouldn’t you rather have a solar powered phone then just be out of luck?
These are just a few basics to consider, but let’s explore the disadvantages which are ultimately the reasoning behind solar powered cellphones not being available to the mainstream market.
Reason #1 Sun-Inconsistency
The disadvantages are low in number but high in significance. Meaning, there may not be a ton of cons, but the ones we have, are significant.
The impactful drawbacks to the solar design are what has led the solar powered phones to be placed on hold. Shortcomings have led to delays and not the designs appear to be at a standstill (based on the ten-year gap in Samsung attempts).
The main reasons we don’t all have solar powered phones yet come down to stability and efficiency.
The difficult part about the sun is that some climates are sunny year-round, while others like Seattle, may not have sun for many days at a time. This will not be a reliable solution to cloudy Londoners or dark Alaskan days in towns like Barrow which are in absolute darkness for around two full months of winter.
However, if you’re living in a place like Kenya, where the sun shines powerfully for the majority of the day and electrical currents aren’t always available, the sun’s inconsistency is unlikely to be an issue.
The answer isn’t simply about the sun’s exposure, but also where you store your phone.
Often times, people have their phone in their all day, unreachable by the sunlight. How are they to obtain energy in this case? What if you’re working in an office all day and don’t sit by a window for sun charging? In these cases, you’d head into evening with barely enough charge to last you through the night.
Being at the mercy of the sun is not optimal to many consumers, understandably, which has made the product less useful to a large chunk of the audience.
Reason #2 Not Enough Power
This is what I would argue as being the main reasoning for the standstill of solar cellphone production.
As mentioned with the initial prototypes of Guru and Blue Earth, what good is a phone to you if you leave it out to charge all day and only can extract a 10-minute call or half a YouTube clip? Quite useless in my opinion.
Talking on sunshine would be delightful, if it worked properly. But the comparative value in the electrical surge to our phone as compared to the sun’s rays, are figuratively speaking day and night.
The designs will need some major tinkering done to be comparable to the 9-11 hours that my Android phone will maintain a charge.
I do want to note again – there are solar charging panels which do charge your phone with the same lasting power as if you plugged it into a wall (I will recommend some to purchase below!) But the only factor here is that they are quite a bit slower to charge and large in structure (which is why they haven’t figured out how to make them petite enough to fit on a small Smart phone yet).
Reason #3 Not Mainstream Enough
The real answer to this lies in solar powers expense. It is more costly to create these sources of power collection, because they are relatively new and undeveloped.
This is the case for every new piece of technology that comes out, it costs a fortune at first until everyone has it then it’s cheap. I believe the same will unfold for solar powered phones, so perhaps waiting until the masses have had their pick will help affordability.
There are places in the US where electricity retails for more than the cost of solar technology. This is a good sign for solar power becoming more mainstream and available to consumers in more than just their cell-hones.
Since you can’t power your home at night or charge your phone after dusk, this makes electrical grid connections necessary. This reason will really be tethered to the regulatory and environmental institutions of each country and where their priorities lie.
If the government wants to make this switch for their country, you can bet your bottom dollar it will be enacted. But if profit is the deciding factor, we already know that money has been chosen over the environment on almost every account by public officials.
With activists like Greta Thunberg speaking out against congress for their profit-thirsty decision making, perhaps this will make environmental impact a more mainstream issue in the coming years.
America is undeniably behind the pace, with European countries being much more eco-conscious and even recycling being mainstream to nearly every household in Europe. I hope we can say the same about America someday soon.
We ought to take inspiration from Australia, who by 2018 had the goal of nearly half their homes to adopt solar power and move, ‘off the grid.’
Until they create solar chargers attached to cell phones that don’t take 40-60 hours to fully charge, we may be waiting for a while.
Reason #4 Not Stable Enough
This section is separate from the solar energy not being powerful enough, as it more so relates to the consistency of the energy rather than the fortitude.
The stability can come in the form of seasons. According to Yan Qin, a Senior Analyst at Thompson Reuters Point Carbon, says, “you have a strong seasonality in solar production. That is a problem at higher latitudes. If you would connect all countries around the world then always somewhere the sun would shine, and problem solved. But we are still quite far from that situation.”
So besides the fact that the solar energy will be slow to charge your phone and lack that power source, it’s also not stable and consistent enough to be viable in many places.
Another inconsistency comes with the cost to expand solar power upfront. Europe planned to have 15% of their power converted to solar energy by 2050, but this plan collapsed due to costs.
Countries like the UK argue that it may take combining solar energy with wind, tide, geothermal, and nuclear power to create the kind of consistency and stability needed to make solar a viable contender. (World Nuclear)
This is certainly worth considering if it makes the energy source more readily available to the world.
Reason #5 Not Practical in Size
This is based on how physically large the solar panels are which can charge cell phones now. Designers are unable to make the charger compact/small enough to fit on your smartphone and they are a bit inconvenient in size as of now.
Essentially, we could all have solar powered cell phones now, but they’d be the size of your grandmother’s bible. Not very practical for s and purses, if I do say so myself.
This is an issue that will simply take time for developers to work the kinks out of and patience on our end. Even in your current smartphone or cell phone, the heaviest part is the battery. The power, as listed for a Li-Ion battery is as follows: 3.8V∗1440mAH=5.5WattHours3.8V∗1440mAH=5.5WattHours, 5.5WattHours/20Hours=0.27Watts
(In human terms –.027 watts of battery to a normal phone).
As for solar – this same amount of energy creation would only be possible with a physically large panel that will exceed the width of the cell phone. This is just the way it is until developers can find a way to get the same amount of wattage in a more compact design.
Note – You can absolutely utilize the solar power sources to charge your phone, just keep in mind they probably won’t fit in your and you’ll need to find a convenient place to charge them in direct light while you’re at work or busy.
Best Solar Powered Charging Panels for Your Cell Phone
If you’re an outdoors lover or on the go in the sun often, you should consider an eco-friendlier way of charging your phone that won’t leave you desperate to find a wall outlet.
This article is owned by SolarPowerGenie.com and was first published on October 8, 2019
This can be a real game changer if you’re out in the desert or hiking daily. Let your charger do the work and don’t feel locked into the requirements of modern man (aka – bound to electricity). Even if you’re an indoor lover but just want to do something to minimize your power-absorption and carbon footprint, these are wonderful alternatives to consider.
Some of the top-rated panels for charging your phone through solar energy include:
- BigBlue 3 Solar Charger – Big blue folds up beautifully for on-the-go! With four high-functioning panels, this is an affordable option with 3 USBs so you can multi-charge. Users seem to love it with over 200 reviews and a 4-star rating. With Amazon prime shipping, what’s not to love? BigBlue is available on Amazon.
- Anker 21W Dual USB Solar Charger – This bad boy folds up with an opened span of about 1.5 feet. This is a lot of surface area to collect those rays and store them for environmentally friendly power! Very lightweight as well so this is perfect for hiking or camping trips with the family. Purchase yours from Amazon –Anker Solar Power
- Blavor – For the most affordable option of the bunch, the Blavor is a solar power bank which includes a flashlight and compass, as well as attachments to charge by cord. A great investment for beginners into the world of solar magic! Check out the 4.5-star rating from over 1,200 purchasers and reviewers. Purchase from Amazon here – Blavor
When shopping, search for a charger which will have around 7 watts to charge a smartphone (as listed in the insane math above, this is usually the average amount of watts for a cellphone). If it’s higher than this, you may be able to throw your iPad on top of the charging panel along with the phone! If this appeals to you, pay a bit more to get the higher wattage, it will be worth it to you.
We do have some amazing progressions that are finally at our fingertips, but what about that solar powered cell phone that can charge itself and won’t require a separate panel?
When Will it Happen?
This is a hard question to answer. Being that there are so many solar-powered panel chargers for your cell phone, I feel it’s only a matter of time before they consolidate that to being 100% attached to the phone.
Researchers believe it’s anywhere from 5-30 years away for a fully functional and fast charging solar powered cell phone that is not the size of the RIO Grande.
But who can say since the creation of solar powered energy was first discovered nearly 140 years ago! One would believe it would be in every household and business by now but look at how opposite-of-mainstream it still remains.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) is not quite optimistic with their take on the scenario being that solar electricity will be at 16% by 2050, according to The Guardian.
There has been an undeniable amount of progress considering that sixty years ago, the price per watt of solar panels was nearly 2,000 apiece. Today, solar companies are charging around 0.75 per watt, so it’s clearly gaining traction, even if only little by little.
It will take a shift from the higher-ups that decide how to make eco-friendly power sources more affordable than fossil fuels which we are consuming at a dangerously Rapid rate. The pricing of regional carbon would deflate the competition from fossil fuels, but this is something that feels out of the control of the average consumers. Some argue that solar energy will not solve our energy issues alone, but it sure seems like a wonderful place to start!
This article is owned by SolarPowerGenie.com and was first published on October 8, 2019
Title photo by Vaishnav Chogale on Unsplash
This article is owned by SolarPowerGenie.com and was first published on October 8, 2019
How do solar cell phone chargers work?
Having just spent a month (yes, a whole month!) with my family over Christmas (there was at least 11 of us at any given time sleeping and eating there), I have come to appreciate the need for an alternative method to charge my cell phone.
Trying to find a plug that was not already occupied by other cell phones, tablets, computers, and ipods charging was next to impossible.
This predicament led me to the pressing need to investigate an alternate means of charging my cell phone.
I knew solar charges were a great option, as I was pretty sure I could find a free windowsill somewhere in the house.
However, I did not know much about them or which one was right for my particular situation. So, I researched it, and this article is the result of my findings.
I found this information extremely useful when ultimately picking out my solar charger and I am confident you will too.
How solar chargers function
A solar charger consists of three parts:
The solar panel is made up of photovoltaic (PV) cells. These cells contain light-sensitive materials that convert sunlight into small amounts of electrical current.
When sunlight shines onto the solar panel, the resulting electricity is sent to the battery, which is regulated by the charge controller. The sunlight can be direct, or indirect.
A solar charger can recharge the following types of batteries:
The battery stores the electricity generated by the solar panel for later use by any electrical devices that are connected to it.
This stored energy is available to use at any time, including at night.
A charge controller regulates the amount of voltage delivered from the battery to the device it is connected to.
How to charge the charger
It’s simple, just like Ron Popeil says, ‘Set it and forget it!’
- point the solar panel towards the sun at a 90-degree angle
- while the charger is capable of charging in partially-cloudy conditions, full sunlight is ideal for a quicker charge
Literally, this is all you have to do to charge your solar charger.
How well do they charge?
How well a solar charger recharges your device depends on the weather.
When recharging your solar battery on a sunny day, with no Cloud interruptions, it will recharge much quicker and efficiently than on a cloudy overcast day.
It takes around 3 hours to fully recharge a solar battery (this is dependent on the size of the battery).
This means that on a sunny day, you will be able to recharge your device quicker than on a cloudy day because your battery would have charged quicker. Makes sense, right?
When a solar battery is completely recharged, it will take around 10 hours to fully recharge your cell phone.
how long do solar chargers last?
Solar chargers generally last around 300-400 charges. So the life expectancy of your charger will depend on how often it is used.
How to choose the right one for you
There are many different types of solar cell phone charges available to you. Picking the right one for your particular use will ensure you have the best experience as possible.
Picking a solar charger for home use is not as easy as it sounds. While solar technology keeps getting better and better, the solar panel collects sun rays more efficiently from direct sunlight, not indirectly through a pane of glass.
That being said, there are some solar chargers that are designed to stick in Windows, just be aware that they will not charge as fast or be as powerful as most directly charged batteries.
This solar window charger sticks right to the window using suction cups. It’s small and perfect for leaving in the window while your phone charges on the windowsill.
One major drawback of this charger is that at only 1800mAH, it may not be able to charge your phone completely with a fully charged battery.
Another window option is GreenLighting Solar Phone Charger, at 6000 mAH it boasts being able to charge your cell phone up to 1% per minute until it is fully charged.
It uses a lithium-ion battery, and is pretty small, so it won’t obstruct a window view too much.
With one large suction cup, you can leave it in a window at home and use it whenever your phone requires a charge.
In the Car
The same issue arises with in-the-car solar charging as at-home solar charging. Solar panels are less efficient when charging a battery from indirect sunlight.
So again, please keep in mind that when charging your battery through a pane of glass, it will not be as fast as charging it with sunlight directly.
Both solar charges mentioned above will work in the car as well, as they use suction cups to stick to the glass so they are not permanently fixed.
This is where solar chargers shine!
Beautiful, direct sunlight is the solar panels jam.
For outdoor activities such as hiking, backpacking, walking, jogging, rock climbing, or anything else you might get up to in the great outdoors, there are a few characteristics and features to look for in a solar charger.
- battery type
- water resistance
- ability to charge with an overcast sky
For an awesome comprehensive review of the best portable solar chargers, check out outdoorgearlab.com.
If your solar charger is not charging your phone to a full charge, here are a couple basic reasons why.
- Weather: a cloudy day could result in the rechargeable battery unable to receive a full charge, thereby rendering it unable to fully charge your device
- Indirect sunlight: charging through a window pane may result in inefficient charging of the solar battery, similar to a cloudy day
- Weak rechargeable battery: the solar battery may not be strong enough to charge your phone fully even when the solar battery itself is fully charged
In order to avoid these common issues:
- charge your solar battery with direct sunlight as much as possible
- make sure you buy a solar charger that is strong enough to fully charge your device
Do you use a solar charger? What is your opinion of them? Let me know in the Комментарии и мнения владельцев below!
I’m very interested in solar power, this information was a very good starting point for building my own pack thankyou. Reply
How much Solar Power do I need to Charge a Phone? Quick Guide
With all the distractions around us, sometimes we need a break from our daily lives and head out into nature. It doesn’t matter if you’re hiking or camping under the stars; getting away will do wonders for your mental state.
What happens when you’re miles from civilization and your cell phone goes dead? You can’t call for help if you don’t have a way to charge your device! That’s where solar power comes in handy.
But how much solar power do I need to charge a phone?
In this blog post we’ll go over everything you need to know about harnessing energy from the sun so your phone never runs out of juice.
How much Solar Power do I need to Charge a Phone?
A smartphone uses 2 to 3 watts from its battery when in use. The battery holds a charge of 1,440 mAh, or about 5.45 watt hours. A solar panel will need to provide a minimum of 5 watts when charging. Ideally 10 to 15 watts of charging power is recommended.
A lower wattage means that you will need more time to charge your phone.
In order to fully charge the phone battery, the solar panel charger voltage must at least match the voltage of a fully charged phone battery. A fully charged phone battery is 4.15 V (540 watts).
As an example, let’s compare the voltage in a phone battery to the air pressure in a bike tire. If you want to fill the tire to 20 psi then you must have an air source that is at least 20 psi to move the air into the tire. It’s the same concept as applying voltage to charge a phone battery.
Types of Solar Chargers
There are two types of solar phone chargers; direct and battery bank.
Direct solar chargers send power directly from the sun’s rays to your device.
A battery bank solar charger collects energy in an external battery pack that can be charged by either sunlight or plugging into a wall outlet when needed.
How does a Solar Charger Work?
The solar panel converts sunlight into usable charging power for your phone. The speed at which this happens depends on the efficiency of how much light is received by nature. By using sunlight to make the electrons in solar cells flow in a circuit, this creates current and thus charges your phone battery.
The amount of solar exposure however is affected by many factors such as weather patterns. Portable solar photovoltaic systems require direct sunlight on every single cell before they can produce electricity.
So it’s important to keep this in mind when out in nature and needing to charge your phone.
How long does a Solar Charger take to Charge a Phone?
The time it takes for a solar device to charge your phone will depend on many factors.
Portable solar panels are designed to be small. The batteries that they are charging generally have a very large capacity. So charging them completely takes a significant amount of power.
As an estimate, a fully charged portable solar panel will recharge a phone with 5% battery life to full battery life in about two to three hours.
It’s nearly impossible to calculate exactly how long it will take for a solar-powered device to charge a phone. That is because of the environmental factors.
Keep in mind a portable solar charger is not designed with the idea of charging from zero. Instead they are designed to be a maintenance of charge. Maintenance charges always take much less time and energy.
Is Charging Phone with Solar Bad?
No, charging your phone with a solar charger will not damage your device. The two most important factors to be aware of are the voltage of the solar panel output and of the phone battery you’re connecting to.
When you use a solar charger to recharge your phone, it’s important that the device be used minimally. Try not to use any apps or checking social media for awhile when charging with one of these devices in order maximize its efficiency.
So, if you’ve been looking for a way to ensure that your phone never runs out of juice again when you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, a solar charger might just be the answer for you.
Hopefully this blog post has helped answer how much solar power do I need to charge a phone.
Brian has spent over 30 years as a general contractor, and in that time seen and faced many challenges. He brings all his knowledge of portable generators, battery powered tools, and outdoor equipment to every post he writes through real life experience. Learn more about us.
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What’s the Best Solar Phone Charger in 2023?
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Written by Christian Yonkers
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Solar phone chargers are a great way to keep your phone juiced on the go. But many solar phone chargers don’t stop there: Units with larger panels and higher-capacity batteries are capable of charging cameras, GPS units, tablets and even computers, too.
Most solar-powered phone chargers incorporate integrated batteries and small solar panels with one or more ports for charging your gear. They’re hardy, portable and affordable. And best of all, you can feel good about the eco-friendly mobility they’ll give you on your next adventure.
In this article, we’ll break down the top 5 best solar phone chargers available in 2023
Best Solar Phone Chargers in 2023
We narrowed down the best solar phone chargers on the market based on criteria including durability, power output, portability, design, functionality, extra features and cost.
Each of the products listed below provided good value for the price and would be a great choice for powering up your iPhone or Android using solar energy.
The Renogy E.POWER Portable Solar Charger boasts a powerful 10000mAh battery to keep your gear going longer. Its water-resistant exterior and built-in flashlight give you peace of mind in any conditions, anywhere.
- IPX4-rated weather and dust sealing
- Efficient solar panel
- Multi-mode built-in flashlight
- 2 USB outputs
- Battery level indicator
- Quality build
- A bit heavy for backpacking
- Solar panel only powerful enough for trickle charging battery
- Long solar charging time
- Not best-in-class battery capacity
Why Buy: The Renogy E.POWER Portable Solar Charger is the perfect companion for off-grid, on-the-go applications where you need rugged and reliable power. With effective weather-sealing, dual USB charging ports and a carabiner, you’ll have enough juice to power your small electronics on a backcountry camping trip or wherever your adventures take you.
Runner Up: FEELLE Portable Solar Power Bank
The FEELLE Portable Solar Power Bank has a powerful 25000mAh battery powered by four solar panels, nearly the equivalent of a 5-watt wall charger. The panels fold neatly over the battery for compact storage, and the water-resistant cover gives you peace-of-mind when encountering adverse weather.
- High-capacity solar battery
- Multiple panels allow simultaneous device charging when in direct sunlight
- Dual USB outputs
- Weather-resistant cover
- Built-in flashlight
- Battery level indicator
- Solar charge indicator
- A bit heavy and bulky for backpacking
- Large footprint when unfolded
- Long solar charging time
- Build quality lacking
Why Buy: The FEELLE Portable Solar Power Bank is a great option for those needing more battery capacity with simultaneous solar charging. Like most solar panel chargers of this size, it takes a while to get a full charge from the panels and it’s a bit on the heavy side. But for the price and features, the FEELLE Portable Solar Power Bank is well-deserved as our pick for runner-up.
Best Low-Profile Panel: Renogy E.FLEX 21 Portable Solar Panel
The highly efficient Renogy E.FLEX 21 Portable Solar Panel provides best-in-class charging speeds. Three large solar panels provide an impressive 22% to 25% energy conversion rate and clock out at 21 watts. Two USB outputs allow charging to multiple batteries or devices at once. While not intended for strapping to a backpack for mobile charging, it’s light enough to pack in a backpack or camera bag or strap to a kayak or use as an RV solar panel.
- than enough capacity to quickly charge phones and small electronic devices
- Generous wattage
- Good build quality
- iSolar Technology provides fast charging and prevents overheating
- Relatively fast charge rate
- A bit heavy
- Large footprint
- Batteries and charge controllers not included
- A bit pricey
Why Buy: If you need a foldable solar panel to charge your devices at basecamp, the Renogy E.FLEX 21 Portable Solar Panel is tough to beat. It’s the perfect portable solution for quickly charging devices, cameras, and even laptops in off-grid situations.
Best Solar Charger for Hiking: Goal Zero Nomad 10 Foldable Solar Panel
The Goal Zero Nomad 10 Foldable Solar Panel provides low-profile, intuitive solar charging. Featuring two solar panels with a combined 10W of power, it provides ample capacity to charge cell phones, GPS units, camera batteries and more. A built-in kickstand allows optimal positioning, and its efficient design makes it small enough to strap to a bag for charging on-the-go. An integrated USB port charges phones, external battery banks, and other small devices.
- Built-in kickstand for multiple angles and optimal exposure
- Easily straps to backpack or tent
- Integrated USB ports
- Rugged and well-built
- Slower charging rate than other panels
- Batteries and charge controllers not included
Why Buy: Goal Zero has established itself as a leader in portable solar solutions. While it’s not the largest portable solar panel out there, the Goal Zero Nomad 10 Foldable Solar Panel hits the sweet spot between portability, versatility and capacity. If you need relatively fast charging for small electronics on your next outdoor adventure, this is the panel for you.
Best Charger Under : Blavor Solar Power Bank
For a budget option, we’ve placed the Blavor 10000mAh Solar Power Bank as our top pick. The generous battery capacity is enough for multiple cell phone charges, and the solar panel offers trickle charging when the sun is shining. A useful dual LED flashlight, compass and Qi wireless charging make the Blavor 10000mAh Solar Power Bank an attractive solar phone charger.
- Generous battery capacity
- IPX4 rated weather and dust sealing
- Built-in dual flashlights
- Dual USB outputs
- Battery level indicator
- Compass strap
- Qi wireless charging
- Great customer service
Why Buy: While not the fastest solar charger out there, the Blavor 10000mAh Solar Power Bank is a steady performer nonetheless. Whether charging from a wall or trickle charging with the solar panel, the Blavor 10000mAh Solar Power Bank is loaded with impressive features you might not expect at this price point.
How Do Solar Phone Chargers Work?
For those looking for a sun-powered adventure, the heart of a solar phone charger is the solar panel itself, which works exactly the same way as a larger rooftop panel does.
Solar panels convert the energy of photons (light particles) into electricity, a process called the photovoltaic effect. When a photon hits a solar panel, its energy causes electrons to flow throughout the solar cells, producing an electric current to charge devices or batteries.
All solar panels produce direct current (DC) energy, which can be used to charge small battery-powered devices like cell phones and computers. Solar panels for homes and businesses must be converted to alternating current (AC), which requires an inverter.
Lack of inverters and small panel sizes make solar phone chargers a compact and efficient way to charge DC electronics.
Types of Solar Phone Chargers
Just like there are different types of solar panels for homes, there are different types of solar phone chargers.
Standalone panels: These solar phone chargers consist of one or more panels with built-in charge ports (usually USB ports). They’re great if you need a large amount of energy for quick charging or powering larger devices. The downside to standalone panels is that they lack integrated batteries, so you can only charge your devices when the panels are in direct sunlight. They also tend to be on the large side. But if you need more power than a smaller charger can provide, standalone panels are the best option.
Solar battery banks: Solar chargers with a built-in battery are handy for carrying a reliable, portable charge wherever you go. The most common variants include a small solar panel atop a battery, but some options include fold-out panels for better capacity and faster charging. Aside from some notable exceptions, most solar battery banks take days to fully charge via sunshine alone, and almost none of them will charge your cell phone and the internal battery simultaneously. If you prioritize a rechargeable battery with solar backup, solar battery banks are a good option.
How Much Do Solar Phone Chargers Cost?
Solar phone charger costs vary depending on type, capacity, quality and features. The best solar phone chargers balance quality, performance and price, ranging from 30 for basic solar battery bank chargers to 150 for standalone solar phone charger kits.
Choosing the Best Solar Phone Charger for Your Needs and Budget
Now that you know how solar panels work to charge your phone and some of the best solar phone charger models available, you may be wondering how to narrow down the right product for you. Here are some things to consider when making your purchase:
Design and Size
You’ll probably want to take your solar phone charger on the go, so think about the following:
In addition, look for other features that might come in handy, such as:
Keep in mind that the greater the number of features, the larger (and sometimes more expensive) the unit will be.
How much power a unit can produce and store may be the most important factor to consider when buying a solar cell phone charger. A high-amperage battery will provide more charges for your devices but will take more solar input to charge. If you’re going to rely on the sun to provide all of your power, prioritize high-output solar panels capable of quickly charging your electronics. If you just need a high-capacity battery with the option for solar trickle charging, a smaller solar battery bank could be a good fit.
Because they’re portable, choose a durable solar-powered phone charger to stand up to the wear-and-tear of travelling and outdoor activity. The best solar phone chargers are rugged and dependable, featuring weather-sealing and robust construction.
All solar phone chargers are portable, at least in the technical sense. But there are degrees of portability depending on your needs. Ranging from somewhat heavy multi-panels requiring stationary placement to simple units you can strap to your pack, there’s a unit for everyone, from trail runners to off-grid nomads. Just remember that with greater portability often comes sacrifice in other features, especially panel output.
Many solar chargers for phones feature more than just charging, with integrated LED flashlights, backup batteries, charge indicators, carabiners, compass straps and more. While these can be nice, don’t let extra features distract from what really matters: Staying powered when you need it most.
Finally, there’s cost. While none of our top picks will break the bank, some are undoubtedly pricier than others. It’s best to save up for a costlier unit if you absolutely need its functions, but if you only need a battery with solar backup, there are plenty of budget-friendly options out there.
FAQ’s:Solar Phone Charger
Are solar chargers for phones any good?
Solar phone chargers are great for powering devices in off-grid situations. They can be used over and over again without having to be plugged into an outlet to recharge like standard battery banks.
How long does it take to charge a phone with a solar charger?
The time it takes to charge a phone with a solar charger will depend on the output of the battery and the amperage of your phone’s battery. Some battery chargers can fully charge a phone in as little as 90 minutes, but others may take up to four hours.
What are the best solar power chargers?
We rated the Renogy E.POWER Portable Solar Charger and FEELLE Portable Solar Power Bank as our top two picks for the best solar power chargers. These models are rugged and dependable enough to charge your devices anywhere you go.
How do I choose a solar cell phone charger?
Key factors to consider when choosing a solar cell phone charger include design features like number of charge ports, size/weight, power output, durability, portability, extra features, and cost.
Christian Yonkers is a writer, photographer, filmmaker, and outdoor junkie obsessed with the intersectionality between people and planet. He partners with brands and organizations with social and environmental impact at their core, assisting them in telling stories and spreading verifiable information that change the world for the better. Christian aims to have a sizable impact on the world helping foster a sustainable relationship between humans and the planet.
Irma joined the EcoWatch team in August 2015. She holds a Master’s degree and Bachelor’s degree from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. She is a member of Kappa Tau Alpha – a national honor society of journalism.
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