Solar power banks are small and portable battery packs connected to a solar panel, all wrapped in a durable, compact shell. They offer a convenient and earth-friendly way to keep your devices powered up while you’re on the go. Most are big enough to charge your smartphone two or three times on a single charge – perfect for a weekend getaway to the mountains or when you’re stuck on a 20-hour flight with 3 layovers (we’ve all been there).
While solar power banks all share that same basic makeup – battery + solar panel – the specifics can vary considerably. Some have small batteries that can charge your phone once or twice while others have large batteries that can charge a smartphone 5 to 7 times. Solar power banks also come with a variety of optional features like USB output, built-in flashlights, or wireless charging support.
We researched the solar power bank market and reviewed the four best solar power banks.
Top 4 Best Solar Power Banks for 2021
Our pick for the overall best solar power bank is the Blavor Qi Portable Charger, which features wireless charging, a 10000mAh battery, and two bright flashlights. If you’ve got a newer smartphone, it’s the perfect power bank as it’s easy to use, well priced, and durable.
With the dozen of solar power packs on the market, we narrowed our list by focusing on cost, durability and reviews. We call out the important features or any trade offs we found in the review process. We then looked at battery size, solar panel size, features like flashlights and charging methods, and anything else that could set a power bank apart. Any of the power packs below should provide you with years of service, no matter if you’re camping, backpacking, or sitting in the airport watching Netflix.
Here are my reviews of my top picks for the top 4 best solar power banks for 2021.
Solar Power Bank Reviews
Let’s dig into each one of these a bit deeper. If you want some tips on finding the best solar power bank for you, read on to the end.
Customers report that the wireless charging works perfectly, the solar panels work well even in low light, and the flashlights are very bright. On top of that, it’s wrapped in a durable shell with a non-slip grip, making it great for everyday use.
It’s got 10,000mAh of capacity – enough to recharge your smartphone a couple of times, depending on the model. The battery pack can be fully charged in 6 hours via the two inputs (micro USB and Type C USB) or you can use the integrated solar panel. It also comes with two flashlights on one end. A small LED indicates whether the device is charging via the solar panel. There are also LEDs to keep you updated on how much battery power is left.
You can charge your phone via the single USB output or – and this is the cool part – via Qi wireless charging. If you have a Pixel 3, iPhoneX, a Galaxy S10, or any other phone that can charge sans cord, you can leave the charge cord at home on your next camping trip!
Unlike most of the battery chargers on our list, the Blavor power bank has been tested for waterproofness and is rated at IPX4. This means that it’s splash-proof but shouldn’t be left out in a heavy downpour. While Blavor advertises this charger as dustproof, it hasn’t been tested for ingress of dust or other particles, so we’ll have to take them at their word for that. If you’re looking for a truly waterproof and dustproof charger, take a look at the BEARTWO Ultra-Compact Solar Power Bank below, which is our top pick for the most durable power bank.
Like any solar power bank with a single solar panel, fully charging the battery via the solar panel alone takes quite a while. The manufacturer reports it takes about 40 hours of direct sunlight. At 8 hours of charging a day, that’s 5 days of charging! Instead, it’s probably safer to consider the solar panel as a way to keep your battery topped up while you’re on the go rather than relying on it for a full charge.
If you want to use a solar power bank on a two-week backpacking trip through the Sierras, you’ve got a couple of options. First, you could jump up to a solar power bank with a larger solar panel. The Hiluckey 25000mAh Solar Power Bank, for example, has 4 solar panels that fold out and can charge the power bank much faster than Blavor’s single panel. Alternately, you could purchase a solar charger (which is just a small solar panel, no battery) to charge up your battery pack. For example, the RAVPower 24W Solar Charger can fully charge a 10,000mAh battery in just a few hours and weighs 1.5lb.
While other power banks are bigger or include more solar panels, none quite match Blavor’s great reviews and features, which include Qi wireless charging.
If you’re looking for a rugged, durable, go-anywhere-and-do-anything solar power bank, the BEARTWO Ultra-Compact Solar Power Bank has you covered.
Like the Blavor power bank above, the BEARTWO boasts 10,000mAh of battery capacity. That’s on the smaller side compared to other solar power banks, but still enough to charge your smartphone a couple of times – perfect for a weekend camping or backpacking trip. You can charge your devices via the two USB outputs, but keep in mind that the battery only produces a total of 5V/2.1A of power at a time, so if you’re charging two devices at once, it’ll be a little slow.
You can fully charge the battery in 4 to 5 hours via the 5V/2A input, but it’ll take much longer with the small solar panel. BEARTWO doesn’t say exactly how long, but similar power banks take about 40 hours, so the solar panel is really only for emergencies or topping off the battery. If you’re looking for a power bank with more powerful solar charging, take a look at the Hiluckey 25000mAh Solar Power Bank. The Hiluckey charger includes four integrated solar panels that fold out – that’s about 4x the solar charging power of the BEARTWO.
Features are pretty standard, but helpful, on this solar power bank. Like other power packs, it has LED lights to denote battery levels, so you’re never left without power. It also has a built-in mini LED flashlight and a cut-out on one corner so you can easily clip it to a backpack. On top of all this, it weighs just 7.4 ounces, making it one of the lightest products on our list.
The real kicker is the power bank’s durability – and it beats the pants off all the other products on our list. The BEARTWO Ultra-Compact is rated IP67. The second digit denotes waterproofness, with the ‘7’ shows that it can withstand complete immersion in 1 meter of water for 30 minutes. That’s far and away the best on our list. There are only two other chargers on our list that are even IP rated, including the Blavor Power Bank above, and that’s only rated a ‘4’.
The first digit in IP67 denotes its protection from solid particles like dust and dirt. Again, the BEARTWO blows the competition out of the water. It’s the only power bank actually tested for particle protection and at a ‘6’ rating, it’s the top of the line – there’s nothing above 6. This solar power pack survived 8 hours of testing without any dust getting inside.
As you can see, the device is well-built and the case is covered in rubber protection for extra durability. Customers report it handles water well and, despite the small size, the solar panel charges the device efficiently.
If you need a power bank that can handle rain, mud, sand, or dust – or maybe all four – and just keep going, the BEARTWO Ultra-Compact is exactly what you’re looking for. And at just 7.4 ounces, it’s easy to throw in your backpack for the weekend warrior lifestyle.
Quick trips to the city and long-term traveling typically mean stuffed backpacks without much room to spare. Adding a bulky power bank for your phone just adds to the weight and stuffs your pack even more. Avoid the problem by taking a look at the BESWILL 8000mAh Solar Charger, our pick for the most portable solar power bank.
This power bank weighs just 7.8 ounces – less than half a pound – and is only 3 inches wide and 5.5 inches tall. It’s perfect for tossing in a backpack or medium-sized purse. Of course, our pick for the most durable power bank, the BEARTWO Ultra-Compact above, is actually 0.4 ounces lighter than the BESWILL, but it’s also a bit more expensive, likely thanks to its extreme waterproofness. If you’re looking for a portable power bank with great reviews, but want to spend as little as possible, the BESWILL should be top of your list.
At 8000mAh, this is the smallest power bank we have on our list. It can charge your smartphone 1 to 2 times, depending on the model, but will have a hard time fully charging a tablet. At this size, it’s really just for day or weekend trips where you’ll need to keep your phone battery topped up while out and about.
It comes with a fabric loop integrated into one corner so you can easily clip it to a backpack with the included carabiner. The black ABS plastic case is durable and easy to hold thanks to the molded grips around the edges.
You can find even smaller solar power banks, like the Dizaul 5000mAh Power Bank, but they generally suffer from poor reviews and aren’t any cheaper, so we don’t really recommend them.
Like other power banks with a single integrated solar panel, solar power alone isn’t powerful enough to charge the battery in a reasonable timeframe. You can expect to wait about 35 hours or so for the solar panel to completely charge the battery. A better method is to charge the battery at home with the micro USB input, which will take just 3 to 4 hours, and use the solar panel to keep the battery topped up while out and about.
The power bank has three USB outlets on the bottom, so you can charge multiple devices at one time, though again it’s really not big enough to fully charge three devices without needing a recharge itself. Small LEDs next to the solar panel keep you updated on the battery life and charging status.
Beyond the small size, the integrated flashlight also helps to set the BESWILL apart from the crowd. It has a whopping 21 LEDs that cover the entire back of the power bank. Customers report that it is extremely powerful and even better than most ‘normal’ flashlights.
If you like the extra-bright flashlight but want a bigger battery, GoerTek 25000mAh Solar Power Bank is almost identical in looks, but includes even more LEDs and over 3x the power.
The BESWILL 8000mAh Solar Charger is the perfect option for a day when you’re running around the city or on a short camping trip. With its small size, you can easily throw it in your bag without worrying.
All of the solar chargers above include a single solar panel integrated into the battery housing. While it makes for a compact, ultra-portable power bank, it’s slow to charge via solar energy. Most take about 40 hours to fully charge the 10,000mAh battery – far too long to be useful.
If you want to really keep your battery charged with solar energy, you’ll need to increase the size of the solar panels, and that’s where Hiluckey comes in. While the battery capacity of the Hiluckey 25000mAh Solar Power Bank is much bigger than all the power packs above, they’ve also quadrupled the number of solar panels – from a single integrated panel to four panels that fold out from the battery.
With the 5-watt solar panel, it’ll still take about 40 hours to completely charge the battery – which is 2.5x larger than the other power banks above – but on a per-hour basis, Hiluckey’s solar power bank will provide about 4x as much energy as any of the other power banks on our list.
The 25000mAh battery is about as big as solar power packs get. This can charge an iPhone X about 9 times before needing to be recharged. You can charge your devices with the two USB outputs, which share a total power of 5V/2A. You can charge the battery pack via the solar panel or a single micro USB input.
The whole kit looks very sleek, wrapped in faux leather, like a folding phone case or clutch. The flashlight on the back includes 9 LEDs – not quite as bright as the GoerTek below, but enough for occasional use. Overall, this power pack is likely designed for travel more than camping, as faux-leather looks great, but isn’t quite as durable as the heavy canvas that you would expect for outdoor gear. For a more rugged option, check out the RAVPower Solar Charger.
There are a couple of downsides to this product. First, at 1.2lb, it’s about twice as heavy as the BESWILL 8000mAh Solar Charger above. Second, it’s also about twice as expensive as other power banks on our list. Of course, you’re also getting 2.5x the power and 4x the solar panels, so a higher price shouldn’t be much of a surprise.
Other than that, if you need a powerful battery backup that will keep your phone and tablet going for more than just a day or two, this Hiluckey’s 25000mAh power pack is a great solution. It’s durable and is snazzy as any faux-leather wallet. It’s also a great value for its size and power.
Everything You Need to Know About Solar Power Banks
Solar power banks are pretty easy to use: charge it up and plug your phone in. But there are a few factors to consider before purchasing. Here are a few tips to get the most out of your solar power bank.
Solar Power Banks vs Solar Chargers
When looking at solar power banks, you’ve probably seen a lot of names and buzzwords thrown around, like solar power banks, power packs, and solar chargers. Manufacturers sometimes use muddled lingo, making it hard to figure out exactly what you’re looking at. Let’s set the record straight on what these terms mean.
Solar power banks, also called solar power packs, include a solar panel integrated into a portable battery. This can be a single solar panel or multiple panels that fold out, but it’s always a single unit. The type of solar power banks featured on our list are small and designed to charge your smartphone, tablets, and other small devices. As we’ve seen above, the solar panels are typically too small to fully charge the battery and are instead used as a backup charging option. It’s generally best practice to charge your solar power bank at home before you leave.
Solar chargers are also designed to charge your phones and tablets, but only include the solar panel, not a backup battery. The solar panels are typically larger than those on solar power banks, 5 to 25 watts compared to power banks’ 5 watts or less. With the large solar panel, solar chargers can keep your smartphone and tablet fully charged indefinitely, but only during the day when the sun is out. Solar chargers are the perfect option for long trips when outlets aren’t available – backpacking trips, weeks spent camping, etc – as they’re lightweight (no battery) yet powerful (big solar panel).
Don’t Expect to Charge Exclusively With Small Solar Panels
This might be a bit of a shock to you, but most of the solar power banks above can’t really be charged by their solar panels. Yes, it’s a bit sad and confusing, but it’s true. The solar panels are simply too small to fully charge the batteries in a reasonable amount of time. Most manufacturers say it’ll take about 40 hours to fully charge the battery via the solar panel. Yikes!
Instead, consider the solar panels as auxiliary or emergency charging. They can keep your battery pack topped up when you’re on the trail or running around town, but that’s about it. All the solar power banks above can be charged via a wall outlet in just a few hours with the included USB or micro USB input, so you’ll want to fully charge the power bank at home before leaving for any adventures.
If you want to keep your smartphone or tablet charged completely via solar energy, you have two options. You can use a larger solar charger instead of a solar power bank, but remember, this will only allow you to charge during the day. If you want to have a battery backup and use exclusive solar power, you will want to invest in a battery pack that can be connected to a larger solar panel.
The storage capacity of all batteries is measured in amp-hours or milliamp-hours (1,000 mAh equals 1 Ah). The higher the number, the more energy your battery can store at one time. For example, a 25,000mAh battery bank can store 2.5x more electricity than a 10,000mAh power bank. Pretty simple, right?
Most of these smaller solar power banks can hold between 10,000mAh to 30,000mAh. Exactly how many times it can charge your devices depends on what you’re trying to charge. With a 10,000mAh solar power bank, you’d be able to recharge the iPhone X’s (which has a 2,716mAh battery) about 3.5 times. With a 25,000mAh power bank, you can charge about 9 times.
Tablet batteries are much bigger than smartphone batteries. The latest iPad includes an 8820mAh battery, so a 10,000mAh power bank can charge it just once. This is important to know because if you’re planning on using solar to charge your tablets, you’ll need a bigger battery pack.
Figuring out how big your solar power bank should be is pretty easy. Just add up the mAh storage of all your devices, multiply by the number of times you want to recharge, and find the power bank that meets that number. For example, let’s say you want to charge your iPhone X three times and your iPad once. That’s a total of 26,460mAh. So while a 25,000mAh power bank is a little short, it’s probably close enough to meet your needs. If you want to go even bigger, you’ll have to sacrifice the solar, as good-quality solar power banks don’t go much larger than 25,000mAh.
Water-Resistant vs Waterproof
All manufacturers on Amazon like to say their products are waterproof, dustproof, water-resistant, shockproof, and everything in between, but few have been tested and verified for durability. If you’re going on a week-long camping trip in the mountains and want to know your power bank is up to the task, look for the devices’ IP rating. The IP ratings show that the product has actually been tested to prove that it is waterproof and/or dustproof.
IP ratings always include two numbers. Our top pick for the most durable power bank, the BEARTWO Ultra-Compact, enjoys a rating of IP67 – the best rating of any product on our list. The first number denotes the dustproof rating. In this case, that number is 6, which is the highest it can go. The second number denotes the waterproof rating. The 7 means that it can handle being fully submerged in 1 meter of water for 30 minutes.
Only two other products on our list are IP rated. Our pick for Best Overall, the Blavor Qi Portable Charger, is rated IPX4. The X denotes that it does not have a dustproof rating and the 4 means it can handle rain showers, but not heavy downpours or submersion.
Other products claim they’re waterproof or dustproof, but without the IP rating, we can’t verify those claims. If you’re drawn to a power bank that doesn’t list the IP rating, be sure to at least look at customer reviews for insight into its durability.
How To Get The Most Out Of Your Solar Power Bank
Like all batteries, these solar power banks do have a limited lifespan. How long that lifespan is will depend on you and how you use it. Here are a few tips that will help to ensure that you get the most out of your power bank.
1. Keep It Cool
Lithium-ion batteries are tough and can withstand a lot of use, but they do have a weakness: heat. Heat significantly increases stress on the battery, causing it to lose functionality quicker than it should. Always ensure that your battery pack is in a well-ventilated area that is below 86℉. Never leave the battery sitting on the dash in an enclosed car or setting directly on blacktop or cement on a hot summer day. Not only is this potentially dangerous, but it will also decrease the lifespan of the battery.
A good way to determine whether or not it’s too hot to use your battery pack is to simply determine if you’re comfortable or not. If you’re too hot, then your battery probably will be too. Remember you need the sun’s rays, not heat, to charge your battery pack, so try to only leave it out in environments that are cool enough for comfort.
2. Charge Completely And Often
You’ve probably heard at least once, if not a million times, that you shouldn’t charge your rechargeable batteries until they are completely dead. Where this was true about old school rechargeables, it is actually the opposite of what you should do for lithium-ion batteries, like those on our list. These batteries will in fact degrade faster the more often you let them run completely dead. It is much better to recharge them more often before they completely discharge.
3. Use Solar
Although it does take longer to charge your battery bank exclusively with solar, using the solar charger will extend the life of your battery. Continually recharging at high voltages will wear out your battery faster. So, if you’re not in a rush, solar charging is the better option. Not only will it protect your battery, but it will also help to protect the environment.
What We Learned About Solar Power Banks
If you’re looking to keep your phone topped up on weekend trips into the mountains or even just a day scooting around downtown, solar power banks can keep your phone going.
While the Blavor Qi Portable Charger is our top pick, exactly which device to buy depends on your own needs. Whether durability, battery capacity, or size is most important to you, one of our top picks will meet your needs:
Compare the Best Solar Power Banks for 2021
- Blavor Qi Portable Charger: Best Overall
- BEARTWO Ultra-Compact Solar Power Bank: Most Durable
- BESWILL 8000mAh Solar Charger: Most Portable
- Hiluckey 25000mAh Solar Power Bank: Fastest Charging
All of the power banks above are trustworthy, durable, and low cost, so grab a solar power bank and happy adventuring!