Power Bank Solar Charger Instructions, Tips, and Troubleshooting
If your power bank solar charger did not come with instructions, or you simply misplaced them, then you’ve come to the right place. Although they are designed to be relatively simple devices, new electronics with inputs, outputs, lights, noises, and more can be a bit overwhelming without the proper guidance.
What to Expect From This Guide
This guide is designed to provide instructions, tips, and troubleshooting for small, handheld solar charging devices.
At Shop Solar Kits, we completely understand the value of having a little extra power on the go and are passionate about electricity independence with free solar energy. For a look at the possibilities of larger solar chargers, please read our best solar battery bank guide.
Although there are hundreds of brands and thousands of models of power bank solar chargers on the market today, we’ve assembled this information to serve as a comprehensive resource for simple instructions and frequently asked questions.
Below, we will outline the features and specs of typical solar chargers, showcase practical uses, provide operating instructions, and offer plenty of purchasing tips and tricks for picking the right product.
Features and Specs of a Power Bank Solar Charger
Although solar energy generation and storage may seem complicated, portable power banks are actually very simple products. As they are meant to be laid out in the sun, they are also typically very durable, weather-resistant, and long-lasting. Of course, the actual product lifespan will always depend on both the quality of the product and the frequency of use.
Almost all power bank solar chargers come with the following:
- An onboard solar panel
- Built-in battery storage
- Input port for AC, DC, or USB charging
- One or more outputs (typically USB)
- And a hard, durable outer casing
How much battery does a solar charger have?
The majority of small solar chargers have a battery bank between 8,000 mAh and 14,000 mAh. For modern smartphones, this is roughly enough electricity to charge a cell phone 3 to 5 times, with varied amounts of battery capacity.
Depending on the manufacturer, the battery of a solar charger will be rated in either amp-hours or watt-hours. In most instances, products will be advertised with their approximate runtime for normal electrical uses.
Besides finding the battery capacity of a potential solar charger, it is also important to look for the product’s expected lifetime. This may be expressed as “life cycles” on a product spec sheet, which refers to how many times the bank can be charged and discharged effectively. Of course, checking online reviews is a great way to see whether or not a solar charger is likely to live out its expected lifespan.
Best Uses for Solar Power Bank Chargers
By using a solar charger, you are unlocking access to electricity anywhere you go, at no additional cost to you or the environment. With the free and abundant energy of the sun, it is possible to charge your phones and other devices anywhere the sun shines.
Most commonly, solar power bank chargers are used for:
- Travel of all kinds
- Camping trips and off-grid adventures
- Sports games, tailgates, and parties
- Emergency preparedness
- RVs, vans, campers, skoolies, and other mobile homes
If you really think about it, an extra few phone charges in your or backpack is always a handy thing to have around both for yourself and those around you. In larger solar-powered generators, it is even possible to charge many devices at one time. For instance, in our Ego battery review. we showcase a solar charging generator with 4 USB outlets and 3 AC (wall) plugs.
How to Use a Power Bank Solar Charger
Aptly named, a power bank solar charger is used to charge devices with solar power. Technically, however, the power bank charges its own battery capacity and then discharges the energy to your phone. With this, these devices should actually be called “solar chargers and dischargers.”
Although that name is not very catchy, it truly shows how easy it is to use a power bank solar charger. In this sense, the process of using a solar power bank can be broken down into two simple steps:
#1: Charge the battery
#2: And discharge the power
Yes, it really is that easy. Some call it magic, others call it science. And actually, the science behind a small solar power charger is very simple to understand.
How Stored Solar Power Works
In between steps one and two, you are free to keep your power stored away for as long as you’d like. However, it is important to know that a battery will start to slowly lose its charge as it approaches its rated shelf life.
For small chargers, we recommend recharging your bank every 2-3 months if you always want to have a bit of extra power on hand. Some premium devices have rated shelf lives of up to 1 year, which makes them some of the easiest to use devices for reliable access to small amounts of power.
Of course, you should always remember to “top off” your battery if you are able to before using your charger. Even a few weeks without use can cause an idle battery to slowly lose its charge, which would not be a pleasant surprise when attempting to use it in a real-life situation.
Charging Your Solar Power Bank
For most small solar power banks, there is more than one way to charge the internal battery. Charging time will vary depending on both the electricity source and the amount of electrical input. Below, we will outline some of the most common methods used to power up a small solar battery bank.
Charging a Power Bank with Solar Power
As the name obviously implies, power bank solar chargers can be charged with solar power. Today, many small and handheld products have the solar panel directly mounted onto the device for a small, all-in-one solar generator.
For instance, you may have heard of the Patriot Power Cell. which is a popular all-in-one solar phone charger. Although we would not personally recommend this product, there are many similar devices that incorporate a solar panel directly on top of the battery.
Alternatively, some power banks can be charged with independent solar panels hooked up to the battery reserve. Although this is not very practical for small solar chargers, if you are looking for a large solar battery bank, then high-efficiency PV solar panels are an absolute must.
For instance, if you are charging an ego battery with the help of a small solar generator, then you will need to purchase solar panels separately. Although this is not as convenient, small all-in-one solar chargers are generally very limited by small or inefficient solar panels.
Using Other Electricity to Charge Your Power Bank
Alternatively, most power bank solar devices can be recharged with other sources of electricity. Most commonly, this is accomplished with a USB or USB-C port and cord. Occasionally, it may also be possible to charge a solar power bank with AC (wall outlet) or DC (carport) electricity using the right-sized device and equipment.
If you are considering a small solar charger that cannot be recharged with alternative electricity, then we highly recommend you reconsider. Whenever you are packing for your next trip, it will be incredibly convenient to simply plug in your solar charger to the wall or a USB outlet to ensure you will be able to bring some extra electricity along for the ride.
Discharging Your Solar Battery (Using the Power)
Of course, once our solar power bank is fully charged, then you will be able to use the power to charge your devices. Most commonly, power bank solar chargers are designed specifically to charge your phone, camera, drone, or other USB-powered devices.
With higher capacity models, it may be possible to charge larger devices or even provide continuous electricity for appliances, electronics, and more.
How to Charge a Phone with a Power Bank
We will be the first to say that charging a phone with a solar power bank is not rocket science, and can typically be figured out in a matter of seconds. Once you are sure that your battery bank has been charged (usually indicated by a series of lights), then you can simply plug your phone directly into the device’s USB outlets.
If your phone does not have the same outlet type that your charger provides, then you will need to purchase an adapter. Although this is still an effective solution, we encourage you to take a bit of time to find a power bank that directly matches your electrical needs, if possible.
Simply insert the right cord, and wallah, your phone should begin to charge. If your device is not indicating a charge is present, then you must ensure everything is connected properly and that the bank still has battery life remaining to discharge.
Powering Other Devices with a Solar Charger
Secondly, solar chargers with enough battery onboard are also fully capable of charging many other small electronics besides personal cell phones. For tablets, computers, cameras, drones, handheld video games, and more, solar chargers can help provide you with the extra battery life you need for staying online.
Using a high-powered solar charger, devices with AC and DC ports (in addition to the USB plug-ins), make it possible to energize any household item with portable solar power. Although running time will be limited by the size of the battery, chargers with enough power can help run CPAP machines and other medical devices with silent, clean electricity.
Before you plug anything other than a phone into a solar charger, be sure to identify your devices charging capacity. If the wattage or amperage of your large electronic item exceeds the continuous capacity of your solar charger, it can lead to permanent system damage.
The performance of a power bank solar charger will depend on a number of factors to ultimately determine how effective it is for both charging and discharging. These variables can be divided into product and usage factors, some of which can be improved with the proper adjustments.
If your solar charger seems to be underperforming, it may be because of one of the following common issues:
- Panels are not in direct sunlight (required for efficient charging)
- The charger is or has been, in temperatures outside of the recommended operating range
- The solar panel is covered in dust or has been scratched
- The device has overheated while charging on a metal (or other heat-capturing) surface
- Or the charger has been used beyond recommended discharge power capacity
To test your solar charger, simply stick it out in the sun for a few hours and let it do its thing. Whenever it comes time to check the charge, be careful when picking up your power bank as it may be very hot to the touch after hours in the sun. Once safe to use, simply plug in your electronics and begin to power your life with solar energy.
Power Bank Solar Charger Purchasing Tips and Tricks
To close things out, we’d like to take a moment to outline three of the most important tips and tricks to keep in mind when shopping for a power bank solar charger. With a high-quality product, hopefully, you will never have to seek out additional instructions on how to properly operate your device.
Always Get A Little Extra Battery
First and foremost, a little extra power never hurts. Unless you’re planning an ultralight backpacking trip, you will barely notice a difference between a 7 oz or a 2 pound (32 oz) solar charger. In fact, a heavier unit may even be the sign of a higher quality item, with both internal and external premium components.
When you are using your device, you will be thankful to pack a little extra power for both ordinary and emergency use. Imagine yourself on your next vacation, charging your phone with solar energy. We are sure that your friends and family will find a way to ask whether or not they could use a bit of power as well.
Beware of Fake Solar Chargers
Second, be on the lookout for fake solar chargers when shopping around for the right bargain item. Because many solar chargers can also be powered with USB electricity, there have been many products created with fake solar panels by shady companies.
The best way to evade a fake solar charger is by properly checking the manufacturers’ product reviews. If you are unable to find any information whatsoever online about a solar charger manufacturer, then that is a red flag indicating a possible decoy panel.
If you have a gut feeling that your power bank solar charger includes a fake panel, closely inspect the unit to see if it’s the real deal. Look to ensure that the solar cells are aligned and the electrical components seem to be working properly. After hours of unsuccessful charging, it also may be possible that a part may have malfunctioned. This brings us to our last tip.
Pay Close Attention to Warranties, Terms, and Conditions
Last but not least, it is important to always pay close attention to power bank solar charger warranties, terms, and conditions before making a purchase. If you’re currently searching for instructions on how to find your product’s warranty, then unfortunately it may be too late.
In general, solar chargers are designed to be affordable which means some low-priced items may come in cheaper quality builds. Although you do not need a multi-year warranty to ensure your cell phone has a bit of extra battery, we strongly suggest staying away from solar chargers with no or minimal warranty information.
With the wide array of products on the market today, power bank solar charger instructions will always vary between models. However, we hope that this resource has provided answers to some of the most commonly sought-after information regarding these handy devices.
To continue your green energy decisions, we recommend that you seek out the exact end-of-life instructions for your specific solar charger to verify whether or not it can be recycled. Hopefully, however, you will not need to think about recycling your high-quality battery bank for a very long time.
If you’re looking to learn more about how to store larger loads of renewable energy, feel free to check out our solar bank instructions for generators and DIY systems. Using the same technology that powers small solar chargers, large power banks, or “power walls” can electrify an entire home with endless solar energy.
Review: RAVPower 22,000mAh Power Bank Charger
When you get a high capacity portable charger, you can expect a larger size from it.
However, you can also expect the power bank charger to feature some awesome tech. The usual case for high capacity power banks is that they’re able to deliver a more well-rounded charging experience.
This is usually due to the size increase. With more size, there are simply more things to do about the tech that’s implemented with the charger.
In this review, we’re reviewing the RAVPower 22,000mAh power bank. Of course, it has a high capacity but it’s the other things that this portable charger has is what makes it ahead some of the competition.
Similar Power Banks:
So let’s talk about the power capacity. The initial power capacity is 22,000mAh and that’s great.
But if you’ve read our other reviews, then you know that the initial power capacity is not the same as the Output capacity that you’re receiving. Ultimately, the power capacity that you’re receiving will come down to how many devices you’re charging and what speed they’re charging at.
So if you’re charging a single device, and since each of the ports can charge at a max standard charging speed of 5V/2.4A, we can assume that the device that is connected to any of the ports will charge at its max speed.
As a result, each device connected to each of the 3 ports will deduct approximately 2,000mAh of power, because of the heat that is generated through charging. So if you plan on charging a single smartphone, then you can expect a real power capacity of 20,000mAh.
If you’re charging two devices at the same time, then the power capacity will be around 18,000mAh. Lastly, if you charge 3 devices at the same time, the power bank will be Outputting quite a lot of Amp current, resulting in more heat generation, and this can put the Output capacity at 15,000mAh.
Even with the many variables of power capacities that you’ll be receiving with this charger, the title of “High Capacity” still sticks with it no matter how much power capacity it has. Ultimately, you can expect many smartphones to achieve 5 or more full charges.
If you’re using the power bank charger wisely, you can do 2 full charges for tablets like an iPad. You can even charge a MacBook that takes USB Type-C Input when you use a Type-C cable.
The charging delivery that this power bank is capable of is one of the greatest parts of it. Each of the USB charging Output ports features RAVPower’s iSmart tech, which means that each of their ports can supply a 5V/2.4A charging speed; but here’s a little breakdown of it.
DevicesRAVPower 22,000mAh Power Bank Charger (Output Capacity = 18,000mAh)Phone CapacityRAVPower 22,000mAh Power Bank Left Capacity after One Charge
Output Charging Speed: Per Port – 5V/2.4A Max Output is 5.8A
So each of the charging ports is capable of charging at 5V/2.4A speed and this charging speed can provide max charging speed to any device that’s connected to it (Except for Quick Charge compatible devices because Quick Charge compatible devices can charge their fastest with Quick Charge technology).
With that said, the power bank can have a max output of 5.8A. This means that two ports can supply a max Output of 2.4A at the same time, which totals to 4.8A. Then the other port can supply a 1.0A because then the power bank’s total Output will add up to 5.8A.
All of this means that you charge 3 smartphones at their max speed because many smartphones charge at 2A or below if they’re not Quick Charge compatible. You’ll be able to charge two iPads at the same time with Max charging speed but if you charge a smartphone with the other port, then it will supply a max Output of only 5V/1.0A.
Conclusively the charging speed of this power bank has a lot of offer and whichever way you configure your devices, you’ll most likely be getting fast charging for any devices that are connected; since reaching a 5.8A output limit will most likely happen if you’re charging devices that can charge at high Amperages such as tablets.
This high capacity external battery can recharge via a Micro-USB Input and the recharge speed is done at 5V/2.4A.
This is a rather uncommon charging speed for input but it makes absolute sense with the power bank’s large capacity. If you’re using a wall charger that supplies a 5V/2.4A Output or higher (Quick Charge wall chargers supply more than just 5V/2.4A), then this power bank will able to recharge in 9-10 hours.
We highly recommend using a wall charger that can supply a 5V/2.4A Output because using anything lower than that, will result in a much slower recharge speed.
Size and Weight:
As we said before, higher-capacity power bank portable chargers have a larger size and weight. The length of this beast is 6.5 inches, the width is 2.8 inches and the thickness is 0.9 inches.
It’s a heavy charger at 14.4 ounces. Putting the size and weight of the charger together, it’s easy to tell that the power bank can be held, but it can’t be held without being cumbersome.
In comparison with more portable, lower capacity power banks, this charger is heavy and big. As a result, the charger can still be portable, but only if you’re setting it down on a surface and using it.
Setting it down and using it is especially the case if you’re charging more than just one device. Charging 2 or 3 devices at the same time with this power bank can’t be easy by holding it. It’s a Hub portable charger, which means that you can take it with you anywhere, but when you have to use it, you’re going to want to set it down.
All the functional things on the charger are easy to use and see. However, nearly all the functional components on the charger are all in different locations.
You can find all the USB charging Output ports on one side, horizontally placed next to each other; there’s an iSmart logo above the ports to signify that each port is capable of supplying a max charging rate but just remember the limit of 5.8 Amps.
There’s a Micro-USB Input port to the left side of the USB ports, and a power button on the right side of the USB ports. Lastly, there are 4 LED power indicators on top of the charger.
The power button of the power bank is rarely used, other than checking the amount of power capacity that’s left in the charger. This is because when you connect a device into the power bank, it begins to charge the device. When all devices are disconnected from the power bank, then the power bank will shut off automatically in about 5 seconds of being disconnected.
Structure and Material:
This large charger has two main pieces that hold it together, simply a large plastic body piece that’s cut in half down the center of the charger.
However, it’s not just any plastic, it’s made of Thermoplastic Alloy that is fire resistant.
So if the power bank does heat up and potentially start a fire, then the danger will most likely stop with the power bank itself and not spread, it’s a good precaution to have that not many other chargers have.
Inside, there are many safety tech features equivalent to Anker’s Multi Safe protection system. This means that it features things like Temperature Control, Over-Charge control, and Short-Circuit Control.
The power bank is also capable of Pass-Through Charging. but here at Charger Harbor, we don’t recommend using it because it can cause damage to the charger.
In most cases with a high capacity power bank, it’s going to depend on how you intend to use it. If the charger is only relied upon for charging a single device, then you’re simply not relying on it nearly as much as you should be. Perhaps you want to take it with you while you’re walking, but that’s not going to happen comfortably.
Instead, this power bank is most reliable is when it’s used to its relative or max potential. It can provide many charges for many devices and can charge 3 devices at the same time. Each of the ports can deliver a max charging speed. The only way to max out charging is with iPads.
So is this power bank reliable, most definitely. But it has different levels of reliability depending on the way you use it.
Its power capacity can have different variables depending on the way you charge. devices charging at the same time at high speeds can lower the Output capacity.
The charging speed is maxed out at 2.4A and the total output is 5.8A. So ultimately, nearly any device that you connect it, especially iPads, will be able to charge at their max speeds.
It’s a large and heavy charger but it’s still portable in the way of taking it to a location and using it. All of its functional components sit on different sides of the power bank but are still very easy to use.
The body is made of Thermoplastic, which is rather uncommon with portable chargers. It’s got safety tech that is on the level of Anker’s Multi Safe protection.
Its reliability can vary depending on the way you use it. Use it only for smartphones and you’re not relying on the full potential. Charge 3 devices at the same time, then you’re reliance and experience will be more well-rounded.
Just like many high capacity portable chargers, it’s big. Although, that’s not something to be surprised about.
It can still be taken anywhere, but if we’re talking about holding it in your hand and using it, then that can be a problem. The power capacity will fluctuate depending on how many devices you’re charging at once and what their charging speeds are.
With that said, it can charge most smartphones 5 times or more. It’s powerful charging as it can provide 2.4A charging throughout each of its ports, and even with a max output of 5.8A, nearly any device will charge at its maximum capability.
Solar Power Bank Charging Time – How Long To Fully Charge?
Solar power banks can be very handy when you are off-grid, away from a mains power source for any length of time. Whether that is on a camping trip, hiking or cycling, using the sun’s energy is an environmentally friendly way to charge your electronic devices. But how long do solar power banks actually take to charge? Typically in direct, unobstructed sunlight, you should allow up to 50 hours to charge the battery on a standard (25,000mAh) power bank fully. This is, of course, a very rough estimate based on my personal experience and what manufacturers state. But there are also many other factors to consider too which I will try and cover in detail in this article.
How does a solar power bank work?
Solar energy is one of the most sustainable and environmentally friendly ways to generate electricity. A solar power bank uses a small built-in solar panel to charge a rechargeable battery (usually a lithium-ion battery). The panel is a photovoltaic cell which is sandwiched between a semi-conductive material (usually silicon). This silicon has been altered by adding phosphorus to one end which creates a negative charge and boron to the other end which creates a positive charge. This allows an electrical field to be created. This electric field causes electrons (tiny particles) to move around within the cells. If you imagine sunlight also as a stream of tiny particles (called photons) hitting the solar panel these photons occasionally strike one of the free electrons and knock it out of the circuit where it is then collected by a conductive plate to create electricity and re-charge the battery. Lithium based batteries are favoured, as lithium is a substance that has a high tendency to lose electrons. Meaning electrons will easily move from one side of the battery to another when prompted, making them great for charging your electronics.
What is the best time of day to charge a solar power bank?
So now you know to re-charge the battery, we need to get as many photons hitting the solar panel as possible to increase the likelihood that an electron will be knocked out of the field to be used in the battery. The sun’s intensity varies depending on the time of year and the time of day. But remember it is the light not heat that the solar panel uses and so just because it is the hottest part of the day doesn’t mean that is the best time to charge. In fact, the light energy is often highest earlier in the day before temperatures get to their peak and extreme high temperatures can even affect the performance of the panel, making them less efficient.
Can it charge in indirect sunlight?
The reality with solar power banks is that you will be moving around a lot whilst using them. Many people like to attach them to a backpack for example. The answer is yes, it will still charge in indirect sunlight but nowhere near as effectively. This probably seems obvious now you know that you need the photon particles in order to generate electricity and charge the batteries. Less direct light hitting the panel means less chance of interaction with the electrons and therefore less charging occurs. With such a small panel you will need as much direct sunlight as possible and so if you have the option of a shorter time in direct sunlight over a longer time in indirect sunlight I would choose the direct sunlight option every time.
Will it charge in the shade?
A common misconception is that a solar panel will still charge on a hot day, even when in the shade. This comes back to the thought that heat is used to generate power, we now know this is not the case. You probably guessed it then, that unfortunately, your solar power bank will not charge in the shade as no photons are reaching the photovoltaic cells. ‘Shade’ is a term that will vary greatly though. Most objects causing shade will not be blocking out 100% of the sunlight. A tree, for example, will still let through quite a bit of light and so it will still charge a solar power bank, just much more slowly than in direct sunlight. So obviously if you can avoid shade then you will see much better results.
Will it charge when it’s cloudy?
Clouds have a similar effect to objects causing shading. They prevent as many photons from reaching your panel. Therefore, the same as in the shade, the solar power bank will still charge but at a much slower speed. Estimates and studies show this to be around 25% of direct sunlight on a moderately cloudy day and as little as 10% on a very cloudy day.
So what’s the point then?
You can see that it is slow to charge these banks in just the sun, around 50 hours! This compares to around 5 or 6 hours from mains electricity.
You may be asking now, what is the point in even trying to charge the power bank using the sun?
Most manufacturers therefore only really recommend charging from the sun to ‘top-up’ the battery or for use in emergencies.
This is how I use mine. I’ll charge it from the mains before I go on a trip and then I’ll leave it attached to the outside of my bag or on the ground when I’m camping to get some extra charge.
I still find this very useful, if you are out camping for a long time it can get you some vital battery which you might not have been able to get otherwise.
It’s a balance between practicality/ size and performance. With current solar technology, you would need several panels to provide the charge required to match that of your household plug socket. That wouldn’t exactly be the most practical solution for carrying around.
The nature of charging batteries too also means it will charge much more rapidly for the first 50% and then slow down thereafter. You may never use the sun to fully charge the power bank but might just use it to get a little extra ‘juice’ for those emergency situations when you are far away from the nearest power source.
Can you speed up the charging?
Add more panels
As you might have noticed with the examples. The ADDTOP which has 4 panels rather than the standard 1, charges much more rapidly.
panels give you more surface area for photons to strike and therefore electricity to be generated.
Taking this into account the best way to speed up solar charging is to add some more panels. This obviously requires you to have more space but there are some great options out there now.
The Nektek Solar Charger is a solar charger designed for the outdoors that has 3 decent size panels that fold up. There is no battery included in the unit but with USB outputs this will allow you to recharge your solar power bank more rapidly.
And because it has 2 USB charging points you can be recharging your device and recharging the power bank at the same time, making the best use of any available sunlight!
Using this you should be able to fully charge a large solar power bank in just one day.
This one is a bit more obvious, but make sure you optimize the chances of getting as much energy as possible to the panel. Keep it in direct sunlight and avoid shade.
If you have the option of staying still for a few hours then that will be better as you can move the panel and ensure it is always getting direct sunlight. If you are on the move and have it attached to a backpack for instance then a lot of the time you will be facing away from the sun or standing in the shade.
How do I tell when it’s fully charged?
Pretty much all solar power banks I have used or seen have a series of LED lights on the side to indicate the level of charge. When all the LED lights are on the device is fully charged.
However, the device will still work fine when only half charged so don’t worry about waiting for full charge before using it!
How many times will it charge my phone when fully charged?
This will again vary depending on the size of your power bank and the type of phone you are trying to charge. But from my experience with a 25,000mAh power bank, fully charged you can expect about 3-4 full charges of an iPhone.
As you now know it takes a long time to fully charge a solar power bank using just the sun’s energy. But I don’t think that really matters and it isn’t how these devices are designed to be used.
Charge them up fully before you go (of course make sure your home electricity is renewable too ) and then use the suns energy to ‘top-up’ the power bank to extend the use further than it would normally go. Think of the solar panel as more of a bonus feature.
If you are going ‘off grid’ for a while the reality is you will need to get yourself some more panels or you will be sat around for weeks! There are lots of great folding, portable solar panels sets out there now.
Rob is the head writer at Innovate Eco sharing knowledge and passion cultivated over 10 years working in the Environmental Sector. He is on a mission to build a community of people that are passionate about solving environmental problems.
Most of us know that we need to act now on environmental issues. From climate change to biodiversity loss, it is clear these are some of the biggest challenges of our time. But in an ever polarised.
As I’m sure many of you did, I sat down to on Sunday evening to watch David Attenborough’s latest ‘last ever’ series Wild Isles (David it’s time to accept you will live till at least 150.
Hi I’m Rob. I’ve spent over 10 years working in the environmental sector, with the belief that innovation gives us the best chance of solving the biggest issues currently impacting the planet.
Solar Power Bank Not Charging (Causes Solutions)
Are you an outdoor enthusiast who relies on a solar power bank for your adventures? Maybe you have a power bank as a reliable backup for emergencies? Either way, discovering that your solar power bank isn’t charging can be a frustrating experience. In this post, we discuss five possible reasons behind solar power bank charging issues and provide practical solutions to help you troubleshoot and fix each problem. By following these tips, you can ensure that your solar power bank is always ready to charge your devices, no matter where you are or what situation you’re facing.
Climatebiz is reader-supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our site.
DELTA Max 110W 600 Off
Use our coupon code to grab this limited deal from EcoFlow while it lasts. Back up your home during power outages with the DELTA Max 110W solar panel.
Reasons your solar power bank is not charging
There are many reasons why your solar power bank might not be charging. Here are the five most common ones:
The battery has reached the end of its life
Unfortunately, no battery lasts forever. It’s inevitable that it’ll reach the end of its lifespan after performing a certain number of cycles. If you’ve had your solar power bank for some time, your battery might have lost its ability to hold a charge.
You’re not using it properly
Although technically, you use your solar power bank while it’s charging (in an emergency, for instance), this practice isn’t recommended. Doing so frequently may result in your solar power bank not charging or charging erratically. When you do this, the power banks’ battery is in line (or in series) with the gadget. The result is a higher power draw which leads to excessive heating that can damage your battery.
Your solar panel isn’t getting enough sunlight
A common misconception is that the solar panel in your solar power bank can generate electricity on a hot day, even when placed in the shade. That is not true — solar panels require direct sunlight to work effectively. Additionally, solar power banks require a minimum amount of luminous flux per area unit (also called lux). If they don’t receive the minimum amount of lux, they won’t start charging via solar. The following image showing the charging instructions of a standard solar power bank serves as an example. Notice that it requires a minimum of 25,000 LUX sunlight to charge via solar.
Wrong or broken charger/power cable
If you’re trying to charge your solar power bank using a USB charger and it isn’t charging, the issue might not be your power bank. It could instead be the charger or the cable. Make sure you’re using the correct charger, one that delivers the proper voltage and current (as required by your solar power bank). If it still doesn’t work, the charger (or just its power cable) could be broken.
Excessive battery drainage
We recommend that you recharge your solar power bank before you drain it completely. If you drain your power bank completely, it’ll require more energy to get going again instead of charging it from a 50% state of charge. As a result, if you deplete your solar power bank entirely, it might take even longer to charge with solar, or in a worst-case scenario, it might not charge at all. Related reading: How To Use A Solar Power Bank – A Helpful Guide
How do I know if my solar power bank is charging?
Charge your power bank properly. Doing this ensures that it provides you with power when you need it.
Most Solar Power Banks on the market have four tiny LED indicators that flash progressively when charging. Although they may vary in size and color, you can quickly identify them on your Solar Power Bank. Advanced models display different LED colors to indicate the charging source. After reading the User Manual from a few different Solar Power Bank models, we’ve noticed that for most models:
- Blue LED: Indicates USB port charging
- Green LED: Indicates solar charging
Furthermore, the LEDs indicate the state of charge when the solar power bank isn’t charging (and the LEDs aren’t flashing). In this case, the lights represent:
- 1 LED on = 25% state of charge
- 2 LEDs on = 50% state of charge
- 3 LEDs on = 75% state of charge
- 4 LEDs on = 95%-100% state of charge
Logically, when fully charged, your solar power bank should have its 4 LED Indicators active. As it discharges, the indicators gradually turn off.
Because of the variety of models, you might find yourself with a device that indicates charging differently than the way we described.
For this reason, we strongly advise that you read your device’s user manual. There, you’ll find all the information you need, specific to your solar power bank model.
Ways to fix a solar power bank that won’t charge
If your solar power bank isn’t charging, don’t panic! Here are a few things you can try to get it up and running again:
Add extra solar panels
If you’re trying to charge your power bank with solar energy after draining it completely, it may not charge at all.
Why? The surface area of your power bank’s solar panel might be too small to generate enough electricity to get the redox reactions in the battery going.
In this case, adding extra solar panels might fix the problem. You can attach/connect small solar panels to your solar power bank (if it supports this addition) – you can easily find them online.
This will increase the solar input of your power bank until it recharges to at least 50%. After this point, the electricity generated by your main solar panel (without the extra ones) will probably be enough to continue charging your power bank.
Try charging it with electricity from a wall outlet
As mentioned above, your power bank might be too drained to start recharging only with the small energy input the solar panel provides. If this happens, don’t give up on your solar power bank just yet. Pumping up some juice from a wall outlet might bring it back to life.
Place it in direct sunlight for an extended period
Solar Power Banks can take over 50 hours to recharge using solar energy. Considering how many hours of sunlight are in a day, it could take an entire week to recharge your solar power bank.
For this reason, it may seem like it isn’t charging, when in reality, it’s just taking a long time.
To maximize sunlight absorption and overall efficiency, one way of speeding up this process is to place your solar power bank in direct sunlight for an extended period.
Check for any loose connections
A more elaborate way to fix your solar power bank requires some skills. If you have previous experience repairing electronics, you could try opening your solar power bank to check for any fraying or loose connections.
For instance, your solar power bank might not be charging because the wire that connects the solar panel to the circuit board is loose.
In this case, using a soldering iron to solder the loose wire will fix the broken.
Check if the battery is dead
This one also requires exposing the inner pieces of your solar power bank.
Depending on the battery’s chemistry (and its nominal voltage), you can tell if it’s dead by using a voltmeter to check its voltage.
If you conclude that it’s dead, the only way to fix your solar power bank would be to replace the battery. This procedure might not be cost-effective, so do your research before buying a replacement battery.
Here’s a little tip: You can also use the voltmeter to measure the output voltage of the solar panel. Maybe the battery is fine, but the solar panel isn’t generating any electricity.
If you’ve exhausted all your options, and cannot find a way to fix your solar power bank, it’s time to invest in a new one.
This video from Bushcraft Zone discusses the top solar power banks you’ll find on the market: