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Portable solar car charger. Portable solar car charger

Portable solar car charger. Portable solar car charger

    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.

    Best Overall

    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

    Most Portable

    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

    Water Resistance

    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.

    Built-in Battery

    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.

    Power Output

    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.

    The 101 of Portable Solar Chargers for Electric Cars

    If you own an electric car and don’t a portable solar charger for your electric car then you’re missing out big time! These can make your life much easier, making your vehicle investment worth it. Electric cars are a great step towards a better future. Charging them? Not so much. Most people who own electric cars still use grid electricity to charge them. In this article, I explain why this isn’t a sustainable method. You’ll also read about portable solar chargers and how having one will benefit you!

    What Is a Portable Solar Charger For An Electric Car?

    Electric cars don’t use petrol, diesel, or other gas types. The catch with these is that they run on electricity. All electric cars have a built-in battery that stores their power. The battery capacity is larger than a regular car, ensuring your vehicle stays “fueled.” When your car needs a recharge, you simply plug it into a power outlet. The energy gets distributed to your vehicle’s engine once you start driving.

    The main disadvantage of electric cars is that they need to stay parked in one spot until fully charged. Some gas stations have outlets, but since the concept is new, you won’t always find one. If you enjoy traveling, this is a definite roadblock. Until now. The geniuses of our world have devised a way to make charging your electric car more convenient. Introducing: the portable solar charger. You can now carry a portable solar charger with you on the road. A solar panel is built into the charger to harvest energy from the sun. These chargers can be used anywhere where it has access to sunlight.

    How Portable Solar Car Chargers Work

    Using a portable solar car charger is as easy as driving a car! If there’s sunlight and a spot for your car to stand still for a while, you’ll be ready to hit the road again in a flash. These chargers plug into your car like any other car charger. The difference is on the other side of the wiring – at the power source. Where there used to be a charging station, there is now a portable solar panel.

    You mount the panel to a spot where it will get optimal sunlight. Many people prefer putting it on the roof of their cars. If this makes you uncomfortable, you can find any other uncovered spot. All you have to do is wait for the solar panels to do their job. There are no extra costs involved in the process, and you can enjoy your daily excursions while your car charges.

    If you’re planning to charge your car fully before driving off again, you’ll need between 6 and 8 hours. This may not sound ideal if you’re in a rush, but the benefits of electric cars outweigh this slight inconvenience. I suggest planning your trips with a few favorite spots in mind.

    The Cost and Effectiveness of Portable Solar Chargers for Electric Cars

    Right now, it isn’t easy to find a portable solar charger for electric cars. If you have trouble getting your hands on one, you could try making your own. Here’s how their cost and effectiveness weigh up against regular chargers:

    Charging Time : A solar-powered charger is just as effective as regular electric car chargers. Both need about the same time to fully charge your car.

    Cost : The cost of charging your electric car will differ. If you’re stopping at a gas station, they’ll charge you a fee for using their charger. If you’re doing it at home, you’ll have added costs to your monthly bill. With solar-powered chargers, you don’t pay additional costs upon the initial. They work out less in the long run.

    Environmental Impact : Besides the cost difference, solar chargers have another benefit topping electrical chargers. Using solar to charge your car is much better for the environment! Switching to an electric car will decrease your direct carbon footprint, but if you’re using grid electricity created with fossil fuels, you’re still contributing.

    Portable Solar Chargers Suitability

    You can charge any electric car with portable solar panels. If it can charge with electricity, solar power will do the trick too!

    Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles

    Hybrid vehicles make use of a combination of both electric engines and regular internal combustion engines. They run on electricity stored in battery packs and fuel or gas. Regular hybrid vehicles won’t work with solar panels because they don’t charge with electricity. Plug-in hybrid vehicles are a better match for portable solar chargers.

    Battery Electric Vehicles

    Battery electric vehicles are the type of car that only works with batteries. You can use a portable solar charger with these cars since they plug into outlets to charge. They rely on the batteries charging fully to drive, and solar power can achieve this.

    Are Portable Solar Chargers Worth It?

    Portable solar chargers make the world a better place for everyone. The most significant benefit of electric cars, apart from being more cost-effective, is that it is the most eco-friendly vehicle. This doesn’t mean anything if the power source isn’t good for the environment. Regular electricity involves the burning of fossil fuels which releases harmful gasses. This breaks down the atmosphere and leads to global warming.

    Solar chargers don’t harm the environment in any way, bringing back the eco-friendliness of electric cars. They’re also portable, making them more convenient. You can use them anywhere, so you aren’t bound to a single spot while your car charges.

    Last Thoughts of Portable Solar Chargers for Electric Cars

    If you like traveling, keeping the environment clean, and saving money, you should definitely invest in a portable solar charger for your electric car. These can make your life easier while helping you achieve the goal you initially aimed for – helping the environment stay green. If you can’t find a portable solar charger for your car, try contacting the manufacturer for leads. While making one is also possible, this is at own risk. I t’s our goal here at SolarSena to introduce as many people as possible to the world of solar and sustainable energy so we hope you enjoyed our most recent article. If you still have unanswered questions, ask them in the Комментарии и мнения владельцев!

    The 5 Best Portable Solar Laptop Chargers

    Amber Nolan is a freelance writer for Treehugger who is passionate about sustainable living, nature, and outdoor adventure.

    Working remotely using a laptop is becoming more and more common, and with it comes the challenge of keeping a computer powered up when electric outlets are scarce. Whether camping in the wilderness, on a road trip, living off-grid, or in a sudden power-outage situation, a portable solar laptop charger is a handy device to have.

    portable, solar, charger

    Most portable solar laptop chargers function as mini power stations capable of charging other electronics like cell phones, cameras, drones, and tablets—to name a few. Now, with more options than ever to choose from, we’ve sorted through the latest solar devices to find our favorites.

    Here are the best portable solar laptop chargers.

    Best Overall

    Jackery 1000W Peak Solar Generator SG550 with 100W Solar Panel

    Founded by a former Apple battery engineer in Silicon Valley, Jackery Power Outdoors is one of the most well-recognized names in off-grid power supplies. The Solar Generator SG290 comes with a whopping 90-watt panel that folds shut and can easily be toted away using the carry handle. The 400-watt output can charge a MacBook four times before the power station requires a recharge, making it our top overall choice.

    Another stand-out feature is the built in MPPT module that monitors voltage and output of the solar panel, adding up to 23% more solar recharging efficiency. There’s also an automatic power-saving setting to power down when not in use. The Jackery can charge up to four devices at one time.

    Price at time of publish: 679

    Solar Panel Capacity: 400 watts | Battery Capacity: 290 watt hours | Weight: 7.5 pounds | Output Ports: AC Output, Car Port Output, USB Outputs

    Best Portable

    Goal Zero Sherpa 100AC Nomad 20 Solar Kit

    For an ultraportable laptop charger than can easily pack up and fit into luggage or a hiking pack, the Sherpa 100AC by Goal Zero weighs just over four pounds – for both the charger and the 20-watt solar panel. The Sherpa is ideal for charging laptops, cameras, tablets, and phones, plus it even has a wireless charging option.

    The Nomad 20 panel can fold shut and comes with a kickstand to get the proper angle in the sun. It takes about 7.5 to 15 hours to recharge (so a full day in the sun), however, it can also recharge from another USB source (in eight to 10 hours) or from the car adapter or wall charger in about three hours.

    Price at time of publish: 450

    Solar Panel Capacity: 20 watts | Battery Capacity: 94.7 watt hours | Weight: Power bank 2 pounds, solar panel 2.28 pounds | Output Ports: Wireless Qi, USB-C PD ports, USB-A, AC inverter

    Best for RVing

    Patriot Power Sidekick

    Specializing in emergency equipment such as water filters and ready-to-eat survival meals, the outdoor company 4 Patriots also makes must-have solar devices. The Power Sidekick is a reliable and efficient solar charger that’s designed for sudden power-outages, and is also a good addition to camping or RV gear.

    Although it’s lightweight, the Sidekick can charge phones, laptops, medical devices, Wi-Fi routers, radios, and more with a capacity of 300 watts. The four foldable solar panels (connected) provide total 40 watts of power to recharge the Sidekick and can also directly charge any device that has a USB port. There’s a light on the back that’s useful in a tent or on the picnic table, and the clear digital display shows the charging levels and how many watts the laptop being charged is using.

    The company supports active-duty military and veterans’ charities.

    Price at time of publish: 497

    Solar Panel Capacity: 40 watts | Battery Capacity: 300 watt hours | Weight: 8 pounds | Output Ports: Two USB, USB Type C, two pure sine wave AC output

    Best Backpack Charger

    Voltaic Systems Array Rapid Solar Backpack Charger for Laptops

    A solar-charging backpack allows you to charge a laptop on the go, and the redesigned Array Rapid Solar Backpack Charger by Voltaic Systems is lightweight (5.4 pounds), durable, and powerful. UV and water resistant, the backpack is made from 33 recycled plastic soda bottles (recycled PET fabric). Inside is 25 liters of storage, a dedicated padded 15-inch laptop sleeve for added protection, and plenty of interior s.

    The new larger capacity, 88-watt hour battery comes with USB-C to charge the latest devices. The battery can be recharged with the AC adapter or with the 10-watt solar panel that’s built into the rear of the backpack. It takes about six hours to fully charge a laptop.

    Price at time of publish: 249

    Solar Panel Capacity: 9 watts | Battery Capacity: 88.8 watt hours | Weight: 5.4 pounds | Output Ports: USB, USB Type C, and Hi-Voltage Laptop Output

    Best Budget

    SunJack 25W Portable Solar Charger Panel 2 Powerbanks

    This portable solar panel and battery kit is designed for phones, tablets, and other smaller devices, but if your laptop uses a USB-C power cable, you can also connect it. The kit includes a folding, three-panel portable solar charger, and two 10,000mAh batteries, plus two fast-charging cables and carabiners.

    This setup might not be ideal for powering work on your laptop for an extended period of time, but it can supplement your laptop’s internal battery enough to get it to boot up and check or send messages in the case of an emergency. At under 200, it’s a great value and considerably less expensive than setups with higher capacities.

    Sunjack is a trusted name is solar panels, and its durable design is back by a one year warranty.

    Price at time of publish: 120

    Solar Panel Capacity: 25 watts | Battery Capacity: 90 watt hours each | Weight: 3 pounds total | Output Ports: One USB-A, one USB-C

    Our top pick for a portable solar laptop charger is the Jackery Power Outdoors unit for its reasonable price and high functionality, but if you’re looking for a cost-friendly option, the SunJack Solar Panel and Power Bank set is an affordable, lightweight choice for charging laptops and cell phones in emergency situations.

    What to Consider When Shopping for a Solar Laptop Charger


    While some portable solar panel manufacturers claim they can charge laptops by connecting directly to the panel, it’s not a good idea. Voltage fluctuations can potentially damage devices, and portable solar panels are slower to charge devices than battery power packs. Not to mention, solar panels can only be utilized during daylight hours, while a combination of both (battery and panel) allows you to maximize power generation by using the battery in the evenings and recharging it on the panel during the day.


    Although solar panels and batteries have both gotten way lighter in recent years, a battery system that’s large enough to keep a laptop charged for a meaningful amount of time is not going to fit in your Generally speaking, bigger, heavier batteries are going to charge a laptop for longer. These steps tend to be best suited for off-grid homes, car camping, or RVing. If you need a super lightweight system, you may want to consider if tablet and smaller battery pack can suit your needs.

    Output Ports

    Make sure the battery has output ports that you can plug your laptop’s power cable into. Many newer laptops, like the MacBook Pro, use a power cable with a USB-C connector. Older laptops will need an AC output port, the kind you find on a wall outlet.

    Why Trust Treehugger?

    The author, Amber Nolan, lives off-grid (most of the year) on a houseboat using almost entirely solar power, but she also relies on the Jackery portable solar generator when she’s traveling.

    The Best Portable Solar Chargers for Camping (15W to 100W)

    While I’m a big fan of digital detoxing, there are plenty of good reasons to bring a portable solar panel camping, like being able to charge devices, photo equipment or even your laptop so you can work remotely while enjoying the outdoors.

    There are a lot of options when it comes to solar panel chargers. In choosing the best solar chargers for camping, I only included ones which fit these requirements:

    • 15 to 100 watts: Anything less than 15 watts won’t keep you reliably powered. And chargers larger than 100W aren’t very portable and are better suited for RVs.
    • Portable: Don’t need to be mounted, are light enough to carry around camp and will easily fit in your car.
    • USB out ports: So you can directly charge phones, tablets and other small devices without conversion cables.
    • Durable: Ideally waterproof and able to handle falling over in bad conditions.
    • Extra features: Like being chainable or compatible with power stations.

    Comparison Table

    Note that the price-per-watt was based on at time of writing. may change!

    ProductWattsWeightSize FoldedBlocking DiodeChainablePortsPrice Per Watt

    Best Portable Camping Solar Panels

    Anker 15W PowerPort Solar Panel

    Verdict: Choose if you need a lightweight solar panel for occassionally charging small devices


    • Panel Type: Monocrystalline
    • Weight: 12.5oz
    • Folded Size: 11 x 6.3 inches
    • Open Size: 18.1 x 11 inches
    • Outlets: 2x USB-A (2.1A each, 2.1A max)
    • Chainable: No
    • Available At:Amazon


    The Anker PowerPort is my top pick for ultralight backpacking solar panels. It is just 12.5oz, which means it has 1.2 watts per ounce. Few portable solar panels come close to offering that much power per weight.

    While 15W is too low for campers who want to charge laptops or even tablets, it’s just right for keeping your phone, Kindle, or other small devices topped off during occasional use. You’ll probably want to use a power bank as it’s more reliable than direct charging. There are grommets so you can hang it from a tent, your car, backpack, etc. to capture sunlight.

    portable, solar, charger

    It is designed in a way so the solar panel folds down quite compact but still delivers enough surface area for capturing sunlight. There are Smart built-in features like auto-reset so you don’t have to worry about the charger stopping because of passing clouds. There’s also a blocking diode so the charge won’t drain your batteries instead of charging them in low-light situations.

    The brand Anker is also highly reputable and known for producing quality power banks and other portable power solutions. If you pair this solar panel with a lightweight power bank, you will have a very efficient, lightweight solar setup for camping or backpacking.

    • High quality solar panel
    • Lightweight setup
    • Very portable
    • Auto reset and blocking diode

    Check Price At Amazon

    Goal Zero Nomad 50

    Verdict: Still the best camping solar panel but has a very high price-per-watt


    • Panel Type: Monocrystalline
    • Weight: 6.85lbs
    • Folded Size: 17 x 11.25 x 2.5 inches
    • Open Size: 53 x 17 x 1.5 inches
    • Outlets: USB-A (5V, 2.4amp) and 8mm (14-22V, 3.5A)
    • Chainable: Yes
    • Available At:Amazon, REI


    Goal Zero is by far the leader when it comes to portable solar chargers and panels. They make various types. Their small wattage chargers honestly aren’t great compared to the competition. However, their 50W solar charger is perfect for camping.

    The Nomad 50W has USB-A ports (5V, 2.4A) and a solar port (blue, 8mm, male). The solar port allows you to charge a power station.

    Note the Nomad 100W does NOT have a USB out port. Since the Nomad 50W chargers can be chained together (they can also be chained with the Nomad 100W or Boulder 100W). Even with cables, it almost costs the same two buy two Nomad 50s as one Nomad 100. Thus, I’d go with the Nomad 50 even if you think you might need more power later on.

    As for performance, the Goal Zero consistently does well on tests. They also are also very good at handling the elements. Several people have reported that the glue turns liquid in high heat, but not enough for the charger to come apart.

    • Very reliable brand
    • High-quality panels
    • Rugged build
    • Lightweight and compact for its class
    • Mostly waterproof
    • Can chain them with other Goal Zero panels
    • Pricier than lesser-known brands
    • Stupidly popular; the 50W panels are often out of stock
    • No USB-C outlet

    Check Price at Amazon and REI

    Jackery SolarSaga (60W and 100W)

    Verdict: All-around great solar panel for camping that is a fraction of the cost of Goal Zero

    Specs(for 60w solar panel):

    • Panel Type: Monocrystalline
    • Weight: 6.6lbs
    • Folded Size: 16.8 x 11.4 inches
    • Open Size: 35.2 x 16.8 x 0.2 inches
    • Outlets: USB-A (5V, 2.4amp), USB-C (5V, 3amp) and DC Output (22V, 3.09A, 68W)
    • Chainable: Up to 2 panels parallel
    • Available At:Amazon


    Jackery released the SolarSaga in 2020 to compete with the Goal Zero Nomad panels. They are available in 60, 100 and 200 watt sizes.

    Like the Nomad, the SolarSaga series are designed to be portable. They have a really nice folding design with a built-in rubberized orange handle. It looks sleek and professional and the hinges between the panels feels sturdy.

    There are two USB outlets so you can directly charge devices simultaneously. One of the ports is USB-C, which means you can get a faster charge.

    As for the DV outlet: The 60W has an Anderson connection and includes an Anderson-to-8mm cable to be used with the Jackery power station. Their 8mm cable isn’t the same as the Goal Zero cable; it doesn’t fit well in the Yeti power station. If you want to charge a Yeti with the SolarSaga, then you’ll need to get Goal Zero’s adapter cable.

    On the Gen 3 update, Jackery got rid of the Anderson on the SolarSaga 100W. Now it has an 8mmm adapter.

    While the ultralight design is appealing for portability, it does mean the SolarSaga panels aren’t that durable or tough. You won’t want to leave them unattended; even a slight breeze could send them toppling over. They are water-resistant to IP65, so don’t leave them in the rain either.

    How Does It Compare to Goal Zero Solar Chargers?

    Compared to the Goal Zero Nomad solar panels, Jackery’s SolarSaga panels are much lighter and thinner. They are half the weight and a fraction of the thickness (2.5 inches compared to 0.2 inches!). There is a built-in kickstand which can be adjusted to preset angles. Another plus is that the SolarSaga chargers support USB-C whereas Goal Zero does not.

    While Jackery solar chargers do perform well, the technology doesn’t seem to be as good as with Goal Zero. Some users have reported issues with the blocking diodes: in low light, the SolarSaga actually drained device batteries instead of charging them.

    • Very lightweight and compact
    • USB-A and USB-C ports
    • Built-in adjustable kickstand
    • Rubberized carrying cable
    • Comes with adapters
    • Not very waterproof
    • Easily toppled by wind
    • Not compatible with all power stations

    Renogy E. Flex 50W

    Verdict: Despite some performance issues, it’s still a great value and does its job well enough


    • Panel Type: Monocrystalline
    • Weight: 5.25lbs
    • Folded Size: 19.9 x 16.1 x 0.8 inch
    • Open Size: 32.5 x 19.9 x 0.2 inch
    • Outlets: USB A (5V, 2.4amp), USB-C (5V, 3amp), switchable DC (19V/2.4amp and 16V/2.8amp) and solar connector output (18V, 2.77amp)
    • Chainable: Yes
    • Available At:Amazon


    Renogy is well known for their affordable solar panels. Most of the Renogy solar panels are not very portable. However, their E. Flex panels are the exception. In particular, their 21, 30 and 50 watt solar panels are portable and light enough to use at camp. Because of some performance issues (they don’t seem to be as efficient as Goal Zero or Jackery), you’ll definitely want to get the higher wattage version.

    Before buying this solar charger, make sure it is compatible with your devices. Even though it has an USB-C port, it won’t charge USB-C laptops. You can only charge laptops with 16V or 19V.

    The E. Flex 50W does have auto-reset, so you don’t have to worry that the charging will stop if a Cloud passes overhead. However, some users did report problems with it and had to unplug/replug devices to get them charging again. Likewise, it doesn’t do great at charging multiple devices at once because of amp drops.

    • Some issues with the auto reset feature
    • Not great at charging multiple devices simultaneously

    Check Price At Amazon

    RockPals Portable Solar Panel 60W and 100W

    Verdict: Okay choice if you will monitor devices while they charge. Otherwise, spend a bit more to get a SolarSaga.

    Specs (for 60W Upgrade):

    • Panel Type: Monocrystalline
    • Weight: 7.3lbs
    • Folded Size: 13.8 x 13.39 x 2.36 inches
    • Open Size: 58.2 x 13.8 x 0.2 inches
    • Outlets: 1x USB QC3.0 (3.3A), 1x USB-C (18W max), DC 18V/3.3A
    • Chainable: Yes
    • Available At: Amazon


    At first glance, RockPals solar chargers look great. They are very popular and get good reviews. The RockPals chargers also have multiple charging options, including USB-C, and are compatible with most power stations.

    Yet, there is a reason that RockPals solar chargers are cheaper than brands like Jackery and Goal Zero: they tech isn’t nearly as good.

    The main issue is that RockPals chargers don’t have a blocking diode. This means the solar charger could actually cause your device battery to drain instead of charge. Trickle charging is almost impossible because of this.

    Another issue is that the RockPals solar chargers don’t withstand high temperatures as well as some other camping solar panels. It has a max operating temperature of 120F. The panel can easily reach that temperature in summer, so you’ll need to place a white cloth (or similar) underneath the panel to reduce heat absorption into the panel.

    TogoPower 60W and 100W

    Verdict: Good choice if you are on a tight budget and know which cables you need

    Specs (for 60W panel):

    • Panel Type: Monocrystalline
    • Weight: 6.5lbs
    • Folded Size: 16×14.5×1.9″
    • Open Size: 50.7 x 16 x 1 inches
    • Outlets: USB QC3.0 (5-12V 3.4A max), USB-C (5-15V, 4.5A max), DC (18V/5.5A max)
    • Chainable: Yes
    • Available At:Amazon


    Togo is a Chinese brand which makes cheap solar panels. I’m wary of buying from no-name Chinese brands but Togo is one which actually is of a good quality. Of course you won’t get nearly as much efficiency as the most popular brands, but it’s pretty good for a cheap solar charger.

    My main complaint about the TogoPower for camping is that it is very bulky. It only folds three times so it won’t fit in a backpack. You’ll have to carry it along your side like a briefcase.

    Also be warned that the Togo Power chargers don’t come with all of the cables you need. There may also be compatibility issues. Make sure you check if it will work with your power station and that you have the right cables.

    • Bulky even when folded
    • Not compatible with all power stations
    • Doesn’t include all cables

    TopSolar SolaryFairy 100W

    Verdict: Okay if you primarily care about price and don’t mind some glitches and compatibility issues

    • Panel Type: Monocrystalline
    • Weight: 5.1lbs
    • Folded Size: 11.2×7.8×2.3″
    • Open Size: 52 x 22.4”
    • Outlets: USB-A 5V/3A max, USB-C PD 5V/3A max, DC 19V, DC 14.4V
    • Chainable: No
    • Available At: Amazon


    The TP-Solar chargers come in various sizes. Their 100W solar charger is great for camping because it folds down into a very compact package. It’s one of the few camping solar panels of this wattage that can easily fit in a daypack.

    The downside of the compact size is that the charger has a lot of hinges. Hinges are often a fail point for folding solar panels, so it might not survive extensive use.

    One of the benefits of the SolarFairy charger is that it has four out ports for charging multiple devices, including car or boat batteries. It also supports USB-C PD charging devices. The downside is that the tech behind the solar charger can be a bit glitchy.

    Some users reported issues with the auto-rest (if a Cloud passes over, the SolarFairy might not start charging again without you resetting it). There are also several compatibility issues: it won’t work with all laptops or Goal Zero power stations. You can usually work around this by buying the right adapters yourself though.

    • Very compact when folded
    • Affordable
    • Lots of charging options
    • Actually works with car and boat batteries

    Specs (for 100W charger):

    • Panel Type: Monocrystalline
    • Weight: 8.8lbs
    • Folded Size: 15.16×8.23×3.15″
    • Outlets: 2x USB-A (5V, 4.8A total), DC 12-19V, PD Type-C 60W
    • Chainable: Yes
    • Available At:Amazon


    BigBlue solar chargers come in various sizes. The best ones for camping trips are: 42w, 63w and 100w. When you break down the cost-per-watt, BigBlue actually is one of the cheapest solar chargers available. The 100W charger is an insanely good value and costs almost half the price of the Jackery SolarSaga 100W.

    All of the larger wattage BigBlue solar chargers are feature-rich. The tech prevents overheating, supports fast charging, and works even in cloudy weather. They also have multiple out ports (which vary depending on the wattage of the product). Make sure you check the features before you buy.

    While it isn’t recommended, you can use the larger BigBlue chargers to charge a car battery (according to the company though, it’s better to just use it for jump starting). It is possible to chain multiple BigBlue solar chargers together. You’ll need an MC4 cable which doesn’t come with the kit.

    I’d recommend getting the BigBlue 100W as it is the best value and compatible with the most devices. The 28W charger is good if you only want to charge small devices like phones on camping trips.

    I do NOT recommend the 28W BigBlue solar charger. It does not have a blocking diode, which means it will drain batteries instead of charge them in shady conditions. If you need a smaller solar charger, get the Anker 21W instead.

    Do You Really Need a Solar Charger when Camping?

    Don’t get me wrong: portable solar chargers are awesome and have come a long way. They’ve gotten smaller, more durable, and much more reliable.

    But you need to be realistic about what solar chargers can do.

    You aren’t going to be able bring a small, cheap solar charger camping and expect it to keep all devices reliably charged. In cloudy or rainy conditions, you might not be able to charge anything with solar.

    For this reason, a power bank or power station (which you pre-charge at home) may be a better solution for charging your devices while camping.

    What Size Solar Charger Do I Need for Camping?

    As a general rule, you’ll need at least a:

    • 10W solar panel to charge your smartphone
    • 50W to use a laptop a few hours per day
    • 100W to run a small camping fridge
    • 300-500W to run multiple appliances throughout the day, such as a fridge, lights, game console, and other devices

    Note that these are just generalizations. Calculating how much solar power you need for camping is actually pretty complicated. It will vary drastically depending on factors like the efficiency of the solar panels, how much peak light you get, and how your panels are angled.

    To calculate camping solar needs:

    • List all the devices you want to use
    • Calculate how many watts they use per hour
    • Multiply the watts by how many hours you will use the device per day
    • This gives you your watt hours per day
    • Divide the watt hours by how many hours of peak daylight you expect to get per day.
    • This is the minimum size in watts your solar panel setup needs to be
    • Multiply by 2-5x to account for inefficiency and to have a margin of error

    You’ll Need Battery Storage If You Want Reliable Power

    If you have high power needs or cannot let your devices die, then you will need battery storage. For small devices, this can be a small backpacking power bank. For larger devices and appliances, you’ll need to invest in a power station like the Goal Zero Yeti.

    How to Charge Devices with Solar while Camping

    There are two main ways you can use portable solar panels when camping.

    Option 1: Directly Charge Devices from the Solar Panel

    Almost all portable solar panels have USB outlets. To use them, you simply plug your device into the solar panel, put the solar panel in the sun, and let it charge the device.

    The main benefit of directly charging is that it is more efficient. When you use the solar panel to charge a battery and then charge a device, you lose some of the power. It’s lost through the cables, conversion, and through the battery. By directly charging your devices, you will get the most power from the solar panel.

    • No way of storing power: If you need to charge your device and it’s a cloudy day, you are out of luck.
    • Compatibility: You may not be able to directly charge some devices with certain solar chargers.
    • Overheat devices: If you don’t disconnect your device from the solar charger, it might overheat your device and damage it. Good solar chargers have overheat protection but even this won’t completely save your devices from harm.
    • Might draw power from your device! If a device is plugged into a solar charger and there isn’t much sunlight, the charger might drain the device battery instead of charge it. Good solar chargers have a blocking diode feature which prevents power from draining out of the device.

    Option 2: Solar Panel Power Bank or Power Station

    If you need a more reliable source of power, then you’ll need a battery for your solar panels. This can be a small power bank or a large deep cyclic battery. You connect the solar panel to the battery to let it charge. Then you charge your devices from the battery.

    • Can store power for later
    • flexibility: You can choose the size of the battery, type of outlets, and number of outlets to suit your needs.
    • Pre-charge battery: Charge the battery at home before your camping trip so you have power when you arrive and just use solar for topping it off.
    • complicated: You may need a more complex solar setup for camping, including a regulator and invertor.
    • Less Efficient: Some power is lost when it is stored in the battery and also as it passes through the cables en route to the device.
    • Power stations are expensive: If you need to power lots of devices, you’ll need a large power station. These are not cheap.

    Solar Charger Terms

    Before choosing a portable solar charger for camping, you’ll need to understand the basics of power.


    Solar panels are rated in watts. It essentially is a measure of how much power the panels are able to produce. Most portable solar panels range from 5 to 100 watts. Anything bigger than 100 watts is probably too large to consider “portable.” Watts are calculated as Volts x Amps.


    Volts is the energy potential of the solar panel. All USB cables run at 5 volts (thus anything that charges via USB takes 5 volts). Laptop charger cables can be as high as 25 volts.

    If you were to try charging your cell phone on a 12 volt solar charger, it wouldn’t be able to handle that much electricity. You’d see sparks and melting plastic! This is why we use invertors with high-power solar panel setups.


    The amount of electricity that can flow at once is measured in amps. Older cell phones will handle about 1 amp. Newer fast-charge phones will handle upwards of 2 amps. Devices which use more power (such as tablets) usually handle around 2 to 2.5 amps. Laptops might have 5 amps.

    Higher amperage means you can charge devices more quickly. For example, it will take longer to charge a laptop at 1amp than at 5 amps.

    Confused? A good way to think about watts, volts and amps is using a metaphor of water going through a pipe:

    If you have high water pressure (volts) and big pipes (amps), then you are going to have a lot of water (watts) going through the pipes.

    Watt Hours

    Watt hours (Wh) is how much power you need over time. It is measured as Wh = W x time in hours. This is especially important for calculating power needs of devices you will be running frequently, like camping fridges.

    Amp Hours

    The amount of power a battery can hold is listed as amp hours (Ah). It is calculated as Ah = Wh/voltage. Amp hours is important because it represents the amount of power being used over time.

    Choosing a Portable Solar Panel for Camping

    Solar Charger vs. Solar Panel

    A solar charger is a solar panel which has a USB outlet. It won’t be able to charge anything which uses 12v plugs. By contrast, portable solar panels may only have a DC outlet. Many 100-200W solar panels have both USB and DC.

    Monocrystalline vs. Polycrystalline Panels

    Mono crystalline are considered the best type of solar panel. By comparison, poly-crystalline panels have boundaries between their crystals; these boundaries reduce efficiency. You’d need a slightly larger poly-crystalline panel to get the same power as a mono one.


    Good brands of portable solar chargers will list their efficiency rating. Anything above 22% is a fairly good efficiency. Yes, just 22%. Solar chargers will lose some efficiency over time.

    Blocking Diode

    A blocking diode only allows power to run in one direction. Without a blocking diode, energy from your device battery might run towards the solar panel, causing it to drain instead of charge. This is very important when charging in cloudy or low-light conditions.

    Almost all solar chargers have blocking diodes but some of the smaller or cheaper solar chargers do not.

    Price Per Watt

    To figure out the value of a solar charger, look at the price per watt instead of the overall price.

    Total price divided by watts = price per watt.

    Portable solar chargers are getting cheaper all of the time. It used to be that 10 per watt was a good deal. Now you can find quality portable solar chargers that cost less than 3 per watt. As a general rule, larger solar panels are cheaper per watt.

    Pay attention to whether the panel is monocrystalline or polycrystalline when comparing prices: poly is cheaper but not as efficient.

    Rigid vs. Flexible Solar Chargers

    Portable solar chargers are either rigid or flexible. As a general rule, rigid solar chargers are easier to set up but they might crack. Flexible solar panels can withstand some bending but are harder to prop open and blow away easier.

    Now that you’ve got power taken care of, what are you going to eat on the trail?

    Check out my eBook with over 50 trail recipes and lots of info about meal planning and nutrition for backpacking. Since you made it all the way to the end of this post, I’ll even give you 50% off.

    Resources for this article:,review-2857.html

    About the author /

    Diane Vukovic grew up camping and backpacking in upstate New York. Now, she takes her own daughters on wilderness adventures so they can connect with nature and learn resiliency. With dozens of trips under her belt, Diane is an expert in minimalist camping, going lightweight, planning, and keeping her kids entertained without screens.

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