Skip to main content

Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Why trust us?

The best solar chargers for your phone or tablet

Let’s face it, our phones are often teetering on the edge of shutting down, typically due to a drained battery. This is particularly frustrating on a hike, camping trip, or other excursions where you may be relying on your phone for GPS coordinates.

Fortunately, the sun is always on — at least during the day — so why not harness the power of solar energy and keep your devices running even when you’re trekking in the middle of nowhere? After months of testing, we chose the BigBlue 28W as the best solar charger for backcountry power, thanks to its affordable price tag and efficiency. If BigBlue’s offering is too large for your needs, however, we have a few alternatives.

Further reading

BigBlue 28W Solar Charger

Image used with permission by copyright holder
  • Capacity — None (panel only)
  • Outputs — 2 USB (2.4A)
  • Weight — 22 ounces
  • Solar panel — 28 watts

Many solar chargers are marketed as ultra-portable solar options, but few measure up to the BigBlue 28W solar charger. The unit isn’t the smallest panel on the market but delivers quite a punch when it comes to power. The solar panel charges quickly and reliably even under adverse conditions and then charges multiple devices rapidly. With a manufacturer suggested price tag of $60, the Big Blue is easy on the wallet as well. The only catch is that BigBlue doesn’t include a battery pack. You either need to charge your electronic devices directly or supply your own portable battery.

Renogy E.FLEX 10W

Image used with permission by copyright holder
  • Capacity — None (panel only)
  • Outputs — 1 USB port (1.92A)
  • Weight — 13 ounces
  • Solar panel — 10W

While the Renogy E.Flex has no battery backup (meaning it’s only useful when the sun’s out), it is one of the cheapest panel-only options that gets both high marks for durability and charging capability. A 1.92A USB port should give you enough amperage to charge your phone in about the same time as traditional power, and even power your phone without draining the battery in full sunlight, something many other panel-only options — most of which are more expensive — cannot do. There is a 5-watt model available on Amazon for only $24, but it produces less than an amp of power to the USB ports, making it insufficient for many applications.

NekTeck 21W Solar Charger

Image used with permission by copyright holder
  • Capacity — None (panel only)
  • Outputs — 2 USB ports (up to 3A total)
  • Weight — 1.3 lbs.
  • Solar panel — 21W

Despite having no battery storage capabilities, Nekteck’s solar charge wows us with up to 21 watts of power production, which is more than enough to charge any portable device quickly. Unlike most solar-only chargers (ones without a battery), Nekteck’s model does allow for up to two devices to be charged at once. Just keep in mind you’re limited to 3 amps total, so charging two devices will take a good deal longer. Another nice feature is SmartIC, which will intelligently detect the type of device and deliver just the right amount of power to charge your phone, tablet, or GPS as quickly as possible.

Voltaic Arc 20W Solar Charger Kit

Arc 20W Solar Charger Kit
Instagram/GazLeah
  • Capacity –24,000 mAh
  • Outputs — DC Output, USB Output (2A)
  • Weight — 3.25 pounds including battery and solar panels
  • Solar panel — 19.8 Watts

Unlike some of the clunkier, hard-shell builds on the market, the Arc 20 Watt Solar Charger easily fastens to a variety of awnings, packs, and tents, allowing for consistent charging throughout your adventure. This 20W kit also includes Voltaic’s V88 Universal Laptop Battery, which is designed with a DC Output, meaning you can charge most laptops at least once. The external battery also includes protection against short circuits and overcharging, so you don’t have to worry about frying your devices.

Panergy 18W Fast Charger with LED Flashlights

Panergy solar charger displayed on a table
Image used with permission by copyright holder
  • Capacity –26,800 mAh
  • Outputs — USB Output (up to 3A), Type-C (up to 3A)
  • Weight — 1.11 pounds
  • Solar panel — 1.5 Watts

This superior transportable power brick is an incredible addition to any nature lover’s survival pack. The Panergy solar charger offers 18-Watts of power, and a durable armor shell that will hold up well under most conditions the great outdoors will throw at you during a hike or camping trip. Moreover, the IPX1 weather shield can withstand most precipitation types, and the durable ABS material will keep the pack free from unwanted dust and debris. It can take up to 8 hours to charge up the battery, but once fully charged, the Panergy can capably charge both a Galaxy S10 and iPhone 11 at least six times over. Built with safety in mind, Panergy’s charger features a powerful LED allowing you to flash a distress signal from over 300 feet away. In addition, they’ve made the charger orange to repel insects.

Dizual 5,000 mAH Portable Solar Charger

Image used with permission by copyright holder
  • Capacity — 5,000 mAH
  • Outputs — Dual USB Output (up to 1A)
  • Weight — 0.5 pounds
  • Solar panel — 1.2 Watts

The affordable Dizual charger offers more than it costs. We fully back with charger and all of its great features. It comes with a backpack-ready design, including a lanyard to attach to your bag, protecting you from loss or damages. 

The eco-friendly pack has a hard-nose ABS material, protecting it from falls and water damage (but don’t dip it in a lake). Rubber caps on the dual USB outputs keep dirt and debris out and protect it from damaged or clogged ports. The LED light lets you know how much power the pack has left.

Editors' Recommendations

Michael Bizzaco
Michael Bizzaco has been writing about and working with consumer tech for well over a decade, writing about everything from…
The best robot kits for kids
Want your child to learn STEM skills? These fun robotics kits can help
Robot kits for kids

If you are a parent or teacher investigating robot kits for children, you likely don’t want a simple solution with a single purpose. You don't just want the child to experience science, technology, engineering, and math -- you want a kit that teaches all four categories, from piecing together the foundation to wiring the appendages to programming the “brain” using software. That’s where our list of robot kits for kids comes in.

Most of the robot kits listed below are tied to terms such as STEM, Arduino, and Blockly. Here are a few explanations of those and other terms before we get started:

Read more
The best drones under $100
Fly your local skies on a budget with these drones under $100
best drones under 100 ryze tello featured

Drone flying is a popular hobby, even despite government regulation and angry neighbors outright shooting at drones, but newcomers might find it daunting to get started, given how expensive drones can be. Thankfully, you don’t need to drop $2000 on a drone with all the bells and whistles; you don’t even need to spend $200. There are some great, functional drones available at $100 or less, and while they may not be the flashiest or the most powerful, they’ll give you a lot of the features you would want in a premium drone.

Further reading

Read more
Digital Trends’ Tech For Change CES 2023 Awards
Digital Trends CES 2023 Tech For Change Award Winners Feature

CES is more than just a neon-drenched show-and-tell session for the world’s biggest tech manufacturers. More and more, it’s also a place where companies showcase innovations that could truly make the world a better place — and at CES 2023, this type of tech was on full display. We saw everything from accessibility-minded PS5 controllers to pedal-powered smart desks. But of all the amazing innovations on display this year, these three impressed us the most:

Samsung's Relumino Mode
Across the globe, roughly 300 million people suffer from moderate to severe vision loss, and generally speaking, most TVs don’t take that into account. So in an effort to make television more accessible and enjoyable for those millions of people suffering from impaired vision, Samsung is adding a new picture mode to many of its new TVs.
[CES 2023] Relumino Mode: Innovation for every need | Samsung
Relumino Mode, as it’s called, works by adding a bunch of different visual filters to the picture simultaneously. Outlines of people and objects on screen are highlighted, the contrast and brightness of the overall picture are cranked up, and extra sharpness is applied to everything. The resulting video would likely look strange to people with normal vision, but for folks with low vision, it should look clearer and closer to "normal" than it otherwise would.
Excitingly, since Relumino Mode is ultimately just a clever software trick, this technology could theoretically be pushed out via a software update and installed on millions of existing Samsung TVs -- not just new and recently purchased ones.

Read more