The best solar car battery chargers are an easy to use and cost-effective way to maintain your car battery.
Solar car battery chargers are the perfect way to keep your car’s battery topped-up. They’re extremely easy to use, while also being inexpensive and durable.
Our #1 pick for solar battery chargers is Battery Tender’s Solar Maintainer, an all-in-one solar charger that can be left outside 24/7 and enjoys great customer reviews.
In total, we’ve found 8 of the best solar car battery chargers of 2020.
To decide what products to include, we looked at cost, ease of use, durability, and customer reviews. Prices vary based on the size and features of the battery charger, from about $20 to $250 (though most of the products below fall around $60 or less). Generally, the bigger the charger, the more expensive it is.
Below, we lay out the basics of each charger we chose, any unique features, and any defects customers have pointed out.
We’ve searched for the best solar car battery chargers on the market and here’s our top picks:
Top 8 Best Solar Car Battery Chargers for 2020
- Battery Tender Solar Maintainer – Best Overall for Most Cars
- SUNER POWER Battery Charger – Best Customer Reviews
- ACOPOWER 105 W Kit – Best Large Charger
- ECO-WORTHY 5 W Portable Solar Panel – Best Small Charger
- POWOXI 1.8 W Solar Battery Charger – Best for Motorcycles & Micro-Cars
- Newpowa 30 W Solar Panel with Charge Controller – Most Durable
- DuraVolt Magnetic Solar Battery Charger – Easiest to Install
- Suaoki 18 W Solar Battery Charger – Best Permanent Panel
Read on to read our reviews of each of our top picks and find the best solar powered car battery charger for your car.
If you’re looking for the easiest way to maintain your battery’s charge, take a look at Battery Tender’s Solar Maintainer. Battery Tender is a well-known brand that you can find in brick-and-mortar stores and make both solar and plug-in battery chargers.
Unlike some of the other products on our list, this battery maintainer is waterproof, sparkproof, and includes built-in temperature compensation, so it doesn’t damage your battery during extreme high or low temperatures. Other solar chargers must be kept inside (on a car dash, for example). Battery Tender’s product can be safely left outside 24/7, so you don’t need to worry about bringing it inside during rain or snow.
Their Solar Maintainer comes in 5 watt, 10 watt, and 15 watt models and includes both an integrated blocking diode so it doesn’t leach power from the battery at night as well as a charge controller so it doesn’t overcharge and damage your battery – both key components of any good solar battery maintainer.
This product has over 700 reviews, with the vast majority giving a perfect 5-star rating. Customers report the charger is extremely durable and many have left it outside for months on end without issues.
The only word of warning: the 15 watt model is huge, coming at 1ft x 3ft. Keep this in mind if you’re just going to use it every so often – it’s rather big!
Bottom Line: This is the ultimate all-in-one battery maintainer. It comes with an integrated diode and charge controller – two necessary components if you want to keep your battery topped up long-term – and it gets great reviews. You can’t go wrong.Learn More & Buy Now at Amazon
The SUNER POWER 6-watt solar battery charger is the 3rd smallest charger on our list, so it’s compact and easy to maneuver. It measures just 6” x 15”. Because it’s so small, you can just leave it in your car and, when you need to park your vehicle for an extended period, pull it out and suction it to the inside of your windshield (suction cups included) or just place it on your dash.
It’s got a plastic frame around the panel for protection. It also includes alligator clamps to connect directly to your battery, an output to charge your battery via the cigarette outlet (if your car is capable of that. If your cigarette lighter still has power when the car is turned off, you can charge your car battery directly from the lighter).
Like others on our list, it includes an integrated blocking diode to prevent unnecessary discharge. At this small size, you also don’t need to worry about a charge controller to protect your battery from overcharging, which keeps your kit as small as possible.
More than any other chargers on our list, customers rave about this product. It works in all weather and temperature, it’s got decent output for its size, and it’s durable and long-lasting – even the suction cups work well.
The small size though is also its only downside. If you have a larger vehicle or a newer vehicle with a lot of phantom load (lots of electronics that use the battery even when the car is turned off), this battery charger might be too small to keep up with the power draw.
Bottom Line: Extremely portable and easy to use, customers continue to rave about the SUNER POWER solar battery charger.Learn More & Buy Now at Amazon
All the other products on our list are small battery maintainers, not full-on battery chargers. If your battery suddenly dies, you need something strong enough to fully charge your battery from zero, which requires more than 5 to 30 watts. The only solar charger on this list that can help is the ACOPOWER’s 105 W Solar Kit.
While it’s strong enough to charge up your batteries, thanks to its folding design you can still easily slide it behind a seat or in the back of your truck. And at just 8 pounds, it’s easy to handle as well.
Customers report that the panel is durable and well-made and that ACOPOWER provides excellent customer support, always providing quick replacements if something doesn’t work.
Downsides? As this is a folding solar panel, the housing is a heavy-duty canvas. It is weather resistant, but you can’t leave it outside indefinitely and you’ll need to watch out for heavy storms that could damage it. This unit costs quite a bit more than the others on our list, but you’re getting much more as well. And compared to other similarly-sized products, you’re still getting a great deal.
Bottom Line: ACOPOWER’s solar charger is big enough to easily keep your battery charged and is backed up by excellent customer service and support. A great option if you’re looking for a bigger solar charger.Learn More & Buy Now at Amazon
If you don’t use your vehicle too much – let’s say you’ve got a convertible that sits during the winter – you don’t need a big, bulky solar charger like the ACOPOWER above. Instead, opt for the ECO-WORTHY 5 watt charger. At just 9” x 8” and weighing less than a pound, you could just keep this in your car door pocket or glove box.
Like the SUNER POWER charger above, this small solar battery maintainer comes with alligator clips to connect directly to the battery as well as a cigarette lighter adaptor so you can charge your batteries from inside the car.
In fact, you might be wondering whether you should buy the SUNER POWER charger instead of this one. They’re about the same size and price, but the ECO-WORTHY charger here is slightly thinner, as it doesn’t have the heavy duty plastic frame. If you’re going to throw your charger in the back of your truck on a camping trip, you might want to go for the more durable SUNER POWER charger. But if you’re just going to occasionally user the charger to keep the battery in your parked car topped off, this one is a bit thinner and easier to store. Both are great options, so just pick one and run with it.
Buyers use it in their parked trucks and cars with great success, even though it’s the 2nd smallest option here. One user did note that the heat on his dash caused the canvas lining around the solar panel to disintegrate, so you probably shouldn’t leave it on your hot dash 24/7. Even still, the vast majority of reviews note this little panel works great and keeps their batteries in tip-top shape.
Bottom Line: A very small, low-cost solar battery maintainer that is perfect for light use. Can’t go wrong at this cost.Learn More & Buy Now at Amazon
If you’ve got a tiny car like a Smart Car or Scion IQ , or even a motorcycle, you don’t need a huge solar charger to keep your battery topped up. Something small will do just fine, and the POWOXI 1.8 watt solar battery charger fits the bill.
This is the smallest charger on our list, so it’s limited to small batteries that aren’t frequently used. Why would you buy this one instead of a more versatile 5 or 10 watt charger? Two reasons. First, it’s really cheap. You can buy a 2-pack for less money than a single larger charger. Secondly, they’re very small and easy to pull out of the garage and throw on your dash. No bulk, little weight, and no wondering if the charger will fit on your compact windshield.
Unlike the other small chargers on our list, this one is also waterproof and UV resistant, so you’re safe to leave it outside in the rain and snow without worry.
It comes with all the typical accoutrements: clips to connect to the battery, cigarette lighter adapter, and suction cups. And did we mention it’s a two-pack? The charger also includes an integrated blocking diode, so you don’t have to disconnect the charger from the battery every night and, at this small size, you don’t need to worry about a charge controller to prevent battery overcharging.
This little charger is one of the best-reviewed products on our list, with an almost perfect review score. Customers report the charger functions extremely well, even after months left in the snow, rain, and cold.
Bottom Line: While it can’t handle large batteries that are frequently used, POWOXI’s 1.8 watt solar charger is perfect for small vehicles that sit in the driveway most of the time. It’s cheap and works well. Who could want anything more?Learn More & Buy Now at Amazon
If you’re looking for a permanent solution to keep your RV charged up when not in use, consider buying this Newpowa 30w kit. It’s the ultimate leave-it-and-forget-it solution, as it’s just a standard solar panel with aluminum framing and tempered glass. Out of all the products on our list, this is the one that’s time-tested and proven to be ultra-durable.
The kit comes with a separate charge controller and alligator clips for the battery. If you’re looking to leave the solar panel permanently attached, you’ll want to install the charge controller in the battery compartment to protect it against the elements.
At 30 watts, it’s more than enough to keep your battery topped up with power, but it’ll take a while if you want to completely charge a dead battery, so we wouldn’t recommend relying on this alone to restart your vehicle.
The only downside to the Newpowa kit is its weight and bulk. It’s durable because it’s thick and heavy. You’ll want to permanently mount this one because you won’t want to lug it to and from the garage repeatedly. On top of that, the back of the panel is prone to scratches and gouges, just like any standard panel, so it really is designed to be permanently mounted.
There aren’t too many customers reviews, but what’s there is positive. And besides, this is just a simple conventional solar panel and charge controller. There’s really not too much to go wrong.
Bottom Line: It’s cheap, simple, and ultra-durable. If you’re looking for a permanent, long-term solution to keep your batteries topped up, this is a great option.Learn More & Buy Now at Amazon
The medium-sized DuraVolt Solar Charger is just about the easiest solar panel you’ll ever install. You don’t need screws or adhesive. You don’t even need suction cups. The solar panel itself is magnetized, so just plop it down on the hood or roof of your vehicle, connect the wires to your battery, and you’re ready to go!
Originally designed to maintain the batteries in fifth wheel trailers while driving, this is really the perfect option if you’re looking for speedy installation that’s safe and secure, but easy to remove if necessary. The 8.3 watts is more than enough to keep your battery topped off, but don’t rely on it to charge your dead batteries, as it’s just too small.
Users report that the solar panel produces decent power and the magnet is strong enough that the solar panel doesn’t move around while driving. DuraVolt is a well-known manufacturer that makes solar panels and chargers for marine use, so you know you’re getting quality products.
The only real downside is the cost, as this magnetic solar panel is much more expensive than similarly-sized products on our list. However, if you want the best, you’ve got to pay for it.
Bottom Line: Installation doesn’t get easier than DuraVolt’s magnetic solar battery charger. It’s powerful enough for any car and it’s backed up by a respected company. Just be ready to open your wallet a bit wider than usual.Learn More & Buy Now at Amazon
Suaoki’s solar battery charger is different than any of the others on our list. The Newpowa kit above is durable and waterproof, but also heavy thanks to the heavy aluminum and glass. Others are lightweight and easy to maneuver, but the heavy-duty canvas can’t be left outside. Suaoki’s solar panel finds a nice meeting place. It’s completely waterproof and can be installed permanently outside, but it’s still lightweight and easy to install.
Suaoki’s solar panel is a flexible solar panel coated in a waterproof, rubbery polymer to protect against scratches and dings. Because there’s no glass or metal frame, these solar panels are incredibly light, just 12 ounces! And with the holes in each corner, you can attach it to pretty much any flat or gently curving surface, either with heavy-duty zip ties, screws, or even with strong adhesive.
At 18 watts, this isn’t a battery charger. Instead, it’s a battery maintainer, designed to keep your battery topped up with juice, not to completely charge it after dying. That’s not a bad thing though, as it’s perfect for attaching to the roof of an RV, boat, or any other vehicle you don’t regularly use.
You might be wondering why you’d buy this one instead of DuraVolt’s Magnetic solar charger above. While DuraVolt’s product is also waterproof and is even easier to install, this Suaoki charger comes in at about 1/3 of the price – not a bad trade.
Bottom Line: This flexible, lightweight solar panel can be quickly attached to any surface, an easy way to always know your battery will be in tip-top shape.Learn More & Buy Now at Amazon
What You Need to Know About Solar Car Battery Chargers
Before you buy your solar battery charger, here’s a couple things to know beforehand.
Pros and cons of solar car battery chargers
Solar car battery chargers are pretty clever pieces of equipment. First, they don’t need any electrical outlets nearby, so you can keep your car, RV, or boat charged up no matter where it’s located. Second, they’re cheap to buy and run off free electricity, which helps you keep a little extra cash in your pocket. Lastly, that free electricity is clean and renewable, so you’re helping the environment too.
Of course, nothing’s perfect and there are downsides to solar car battery chargers. First off, they need the sun to operate. On cloudy days and at night, they just don’t work. Secondly, solar chargers can’t provide the amount of power that the utility can. Overall, they’re pretty weak. Our largest solar charger above only provides 100 watts of power. In comparison, your home’s circuits can usually handle about 2,400 watts. However, 100 watts is still plenty powerful to charge up a battery in a few hours, so you don’t need much more than that anyway.
Even with these drawbacks, the versatility and cost-effectiveness of solar battery chargers make them a great solution for keeping your vehicle juiced up, especially if it’s far from an outlet.
Battery chargers vs maintainers (size matters)
If you’ve looked around online at different solar battery chargers, you’ve probably seen both the term ‘charger’ and ‘maintainer’ thrown around. There’s an important distinction between the two that isn’t immediately discernable. Solar chargers are designed to be able to fully charge your batteries after completely dying. Battery maintainers, on the other hand, only maintain your battery’s charge, giving it just a trickle of energy to keep it topped up.
Maintainers are useful when your car or truck will be parked for the season. When batteries sit for long periods of time, they naturally lose their charge, so a maintainer helps prevent that. As long as you’ve got a blocking diode (read below for more on that), you’re safe to leave your battery hooked up to your maintainer for months on end – letting you pull out that summer vehicle once the snow melts and start it right up without worrying.
Most solar battery maintainers are between 5 watts and 30 watts. What size to buy depends on both the size of your battery and how frequently you drive. The more you drive, the bigger the maintainer you need, though 5 to 15 watts should be enough for most people.
Battery chargers, on the other hand, are much bigger, usually around 50 to 100 watts. With this size, you’re able to fully charge your batteries, even after they’ve died completely. Bringing these setups on camping or road trips can help you out of a serious jam if you wake up and find you’ve left your vehicle’s lights on all night (we’ve all been there).
Blocking diode and charge controller
The most basic solar charger is simply a solar panel with wires to connect the positive and negative wires to the terminals on your battery. This system can work, but if anything goes wrong, you’ll quickly kill your battery. Two pieces of equipment – blocking diodes and charge controllers – help protect your battery from this potential damage.
Battery chargers larger than 5 watts typically need a charge controller to regulate the amount of electricity coming from the solar panels, so the solar panels don’t overload the battery and damage it. Without a controller, any spike in electricity could fry your battery. While a handful of solar chargers (like the Battery Tender model above) come with the charge controller built in, you’ll typically have to supply your own, which will knock you back about $10 to $20.
You’ll also need to make sure your solar charger includes a small device called a ‘blocking diode’. These little pieces of equipment (about the size of a pea) tacked onto the back of the solar panel allow electricity to flow from the solar panel to the battery, but not the other way around. Without a blocking diode, solar panels can actually suck electricity from the battery at night, and leave you with a dead battery in the morning. Without a blocking diode, you’d have to disconnect your solar charger from your battery every night – kind of pain, right? Thankfully, most solar chargers already include a blocking diode, so you don’t need to worry too much about that.
Bottom line: If you want to avoid headaches, make sure your battery charger includes a blocking diode and buy a charge controller to go with it.
Summary: Solar Car Battery Chargers
Solar chargers are a cheap, easy way to keep your car’s battery topped up. For most of us, a 5 to 15 watt charger is all we need. If you want to completely recharge a dead battery, you’ll need to bump up to 100 watts or so.
We hope you enjoyed our overview of solar battery chargers, now take a look and find the right one for you!. Here’s our top picks for the best solar battery charger of 2020.
Compare the Best Solar Powered Car Battery Chargers for 2020
- Best Overall: Battery Tender Solar Maintainer
- Best Customer Reviews: SUNER POWER Battery Charger
- Best Large Charger: ACOPOWER 105 W Kit
- Best Small Charger: ECO-WORTHY 5 W Portable Solar Panel
- Best for Micro-Cars: POWOXI 1.8 W Solar Battery Charger
- Most Durable: Newpowa 30 W Solar Panel with Charge Controller
- Easiest to Install: DuraVolt Magnetic Solar Battery Charger
- Best Permanent Panel: Suaoki 18 W Solar Battery Charger