The demand for portable power sources is growing as the demand for a power source to recharge electronic portable devices and use facilities like LED camping lights in distant regions grow.

Portable solar chargers stand out among the different off-grid power alternatives as to the preferable option. If you’re new to this technology, you’re undoubtedly wondering if solar chargers are worthwhile.

Teenage girl relaxing on the balcony of a small wooden cabin in mountains while charging her e-book on a solar panel

The answer is yes! These chargers are both convenient and eco-friendly. When it comes to solar chargers, the most important thing to keep in mind is how to get the most out of them. To get the most out of your solar charger, you’ll need to be sure that the portable solar panels are properly aligned so they capture direct sunlight and maximize the capacity of the storage battery packs.

These chargers are a good choice for extended travel that will probably require multiple recharges for your electronic devices, because of the unlimited presence of renewable energy. This is especially worth considering if you’re organizing an upcoming camping trip or outdoor adventure!

Panels that include built-in battery chargers

These all-in-one gadgets usually include solar cells as well as a battery or battery pack in one package. They both produce electricity and store power for subsequent recharging. Their practical design allows you to fully recharge your devices even when the sun isn’t shining. Panels with built-in battery chargers are similarly simple to use.

Portable solar charger and their type

Portable solar chargers are available in a variety of styles to meet your specific needs. They can include options with built-in attachment points for charging from the USB C port or the standard USB cable output connector. Some will have integrated batteries and others come with external batteries.

The type you choose will depend on your requirements, in particular, what kind and quantity of electronic devices you want to power.

Chargers with only a small solar panel

The most basic type of solar charger. It usually consists of a single or a series of conveniently collapsible panels, as well as a power outlet. These chargers don’t have any power storage and instead send energy immediately to your devices or power banks. They would be suitable for small devices such as charging phones or maybe charging laptops.

Detachable battery charger panels

Solar chargers with their own solar panels and batteries are also available. This makes storage easier, allowing for a wide variety of applications. These chargers allow you to leave the solar panel at home or at the campsite and merely bring the battery with you.

These solar kits are changing the world in terms of personal solar charging efficiency and effectiveness! There are also a lot of solar chargers that include built-in batteries. They’re usually the size of a smartphone and have a portable solar panel on the back. This design might appear to be ideal, but the reality is a little less so. Although you won’t need a powerful panel if you’re merely charging small size batteries, you are likely to want more power storage than that.

Some things to consider:

Although most transportable solar panels are simple to put up and operate, there is always a lot to think about when purchasing new equipment. So we’ve compiled a list of the most critical considerations for you before you start working up a sweat in the great outdoors!

Options for storing energy

Most portable solar panels include the cords and batteries you’ll need to store electricity for later use. A power bank comes in handy when you are using solar energy when the sun isn’t shining. For example, to light a campsite at night or recharge your cell phones during a thunderstorm, or even maintain your laptop operating on a gloomy afternoon.

Consider purchasing a kit that contains the essential batteries, converters, and connectors if you want to start stocking up on solar power!

But it is also feasible to forego the attachments and immediately utilize your solar power just from the panel. Some portable panels include USB connectors allowing you to start solar charging devices immediately!

On a sunny day, a compact, lightweight solution can be all you need to keep your phone or laptop going! Leaving the battery and cables out of your solar setup might also help save money.

Wattage

Begin by calculating how much electricity you’ll use. Some solar panels come in a variety of wattages, which is a measurement of pure electrical power and helps you to know how many devices you can charge. A low wattage panel might not allow you to avoid conventional energy sources entirely, and they will possibly charge your electronics more slowly than you’re used to.

Take a look at your device’s specs to see how much power it can accept through its charging cables for the best results. This will help to avoid purchasing a panel with a wattage that is too low or too high for your devices.

Resistance to the elements

While the majority of solar panels are weather-resistant, not all of them are completely waterproof. The last thing you want is for your brand-new gadget to break down and leave you without power since it wasn’t built to resist the environment you want to use it in.

Take the initiative of determining your panel’s durability before you purchase, based on the intensity of your outside activities and the weather in your area.

Portability

The portability of your personal solar panel is determined by its size, weight, and design. If you’re driving to a sunny field to conduct some work, a heavier and bulkier panel would suffice: you’ll be able to store it in your car until you arrive, so size and weight won’t really matter.

Trekkers and hikers should opt for thinner, lightweight panels that won’t weigh them down on extended hikes. When you purchase a panel, check the weight and dimensions of the panel including those of all its attachments, as you will be carrying that with you!

Price

Last but not least, think about how much you’re willing to pay for your new portable solar panel! Although the electricity produced by such a small panel is unlikely to pay for itself, the freedom and access to the outdoors it can bring is fundamentally important to those who enjoy off-grid activities.

The cost of your panel will be determined by its power output, energy storage elements, and general bulk. But its value will be determined by you!

Solar charger buying advice

There are several popular solar panel choices available:

  • Semi-flexible or rigid solar panels
  • Panels with built-in battery storage
  • Panels with distinct (independent) battery storage

Some important points to think about

Connections

Most of the solar chargers we have looked at included USB ports, and several of them were USB-only chargers. In addition, most panels had at least one USB port with a greater amperage to accommodate the power demands of today’s smartphones and tablets. While most users’ demands are met by having a single USB output, you should be aware that because smartphones and tablets charge via USB you might not be able to charge multiple devices at the same time when you’re off the grid.

In recent times, an increasing number of panels and battery packs have also included a USB-C connection. This is an advantage because many devices nowadays, such as Google Pixel, use this type of connection. A solar panel USB will not work for charging devices that can only be plugged into a wall outlet, so check your gadgets’ connectors before choosing your solar device. For example, a USB solar panel will not work with cameras that connect to a wall outlet.

Most of these products will not operate with gadgets that require a 12-volt cigarette charging connector.

Weight

Low weight will be a top factor when purchasing a portable solar charger for vacation or hiking. However, if you’re wanting to power an expedition base camp, your requirements will be rather different. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to discern how much a panel weighs in real life – when carrying it! – from images or even the published specifications.

Make sure you’re comparing apples to apples when evaluating weights. The weight of simply the panel is sometimes specified by manufacturers. Other times, they list the panel’s total weight, including all attachments and the portable battery.

Remember that a little research can go a long way! Without that, it can be difficult to make a decision. For many of us, this is why we have 10 climbing backpacks in the closet, seven of which are rarely used!

It turns out that living fast and light in the highlands is not the same as living fast and lightweight in a condominium!

The cost of a solar panel per watts

The price per watt is the simplest approach to calculate value. Calculate the price by multiplying it by the number of watts. For instance, if your panel costs $70 and produces 7 watts, the cost per watt is $10. In our opinion, $10-15 per watt is a decent price. Anything over $20 per watt is too costly unless it includes important attachments, a battery, and an inverter.

Bottom line

Now that you know how to utilize a solar charger or what to check for when purchasing one, you’ll be better equipped to pick the best one for you to stay connected on your next outdoor adventure. Remember, whatever your requirements, there is a panel that can assist you in venturing off the main route!