I bet you a ham sandwich your reading this on your phone, or you have a phone within arms reach.
Now I may be wrong once and a while. But I’m pretty sure I won’t be going hungry anytime soon.
Why? Because in 2016, 81% of the US population owned a cell phone.
And it’s predicted to be north of 82% in 2018.
So with the broad adaptation of mobile phones AND the advance of solar technology, it’s only a matter of time.
The day is coming fast when nearly everyone owns a solar phone charger to help keep their phones topped off.
Because there’s nothing more annoying and frustrating than running out of power midday!
Making a solar-powered phone charger the new “must-own” tech device.
Everyone who sees mine asks about it and then immediately goes out and gets one for themselves.
Making a solar phone charger an excellent gift idea (for others or yourself).
But don’t I don’t recommend you go out buy the first solar-powered phone charger you come across.
You need to learn what options are out there and what makes a quality portable solar charger for your phone vs. a bad one.
So today we’re going to cover the following solar phone charger topics in detail:
- Why You Should Invest In A Solar Phone Charger
- 3 Different Types Of Solar Phone Chargers
- Direct (with recommendations)
- Indirect (with recommendations)
- Case (with recommendations)
- Our Recommended Best Option
WHY YOU SHOULD INVEST IN A SOLAR PHONE CHARGER
The Perfect Plan B
As I pointed out already, nearly everyone owns a cell phone or smartphone.
Everyone (from teenagers to grandparents) is getting in on the act.
And as we know, smartphones are so much more than “traditional phones.”
They are a:
- GPS device
- Internet browser
- Video game console
- Recording device
- Music player
But these technical devices requires copious amounts of power to operate – all while on the go.
So they’re designed with a rechargeable battery.
But those batteries run out way too fast – often at inconvenient times and locations.
You know, those remote places without access to electrical outlets.
In the past, you just had to accept that and dealt with the consequences.
- Maybe you lost your GPS mid travel and had no map. Opps.
- Or perhaps you wanted to capture a special moment only to find your phone dead – missing out on the perfect picture.
- Or worse yet, what about if you got lost in the wilderness with no way to call for help...
But with a solar charger, you can get that phone back up and running – ANYWHERE.
So a solar phone charger act as a power backup for normal times, and a lifesaver device in times of dire emergency.
Save Some Money
If you use your solar phone charger often, it will save you some money over an extended period of time.
Now, it depends on how much you spend up front for the solar charger.
Using the sun’s “free” energy is great, but it’s not “savings” if the cost of the device is prohibitive.
But, as prices of solar phone chargers fall and as your electric rates rise you can save real money.
We’re not quite there quite yet to fully offset the original cost of the device (at least not quickly). However, a solar charger can still help offset much of your initial investment.
For example, let’s say it costs you $25 for the charger and you use it often (daily).
Let’s say each month you were able to save $0.25 in electricity. By using a solar phone charger often, instead of plugging into your home’s outlet.
That math would add up to $3 per year.
No, $3 won’t make you rich. But the device you buy today slowly pays for itself little by little over time.
Which is what I like to call a B.T.N. investment = Better Than Nothing
If you’re someone who wants to reduce your carbon footprint, then this is a no-brainer.
Using the power of the sun to keep your phone charged helps offset your carbon footprint.
Now, there is a carbon cost to manufacture the device in the first place – so it might not be 100% “carbon” friendly.
However, it’s better at offsetting carbon than all the other survival gadgets you buy every year.
3 DIFFERENT TYPES OF SOLAR PHONE CHARGERS
There are hundreds of solar charging solutions on the market today.
They are designed to keep your phone powered – whether at the beach, while camping, or in an emergency.
And while each design has their own small twist. Solar powered phone chargers tend to fall into one of three categories.
1) Direct (no battery bank) or 2) Indirect (has a battery bank) or 3) Case Chargers (no battery bank)
Choosing the right one comes down to how you plan to use it – and how you use your phone.
A direct charger makes things simple and efficient.
They are the best solution if you plan to be in one place during the day and aren’t on your phone all the time.
A battery bank charger is best if you need to be on the go.
For example, if you can’t stop to charge your phone until you’re back home.
And if you can’t be bothered with packing extra gear, you might want a case charger.
It automatically extends your phones battery life when you’re not using it.
But that’s just a quick rundown.
Let’s now deep dive into each solution a bit more. That way, you can zero in on the solution that will work best for you.
Direct solar phone chargers are often called solar panel phone chargers.
They connect straight from a solar panel directly into your phone via a USB cable.
The USB connection offers a simple way to connect to your phone to the panel with the charging cable.
A solar panel phone charger is the most efficient form of solar charging as well.
That’s because, whenever electricity is transferred between components, you lose some efficiency. Each transfer step has a small efficiency cost due to resistance.
These transfers add up and erode the total charge available to your phone.
So if you decide to go with a direct panel solution, you remove these transfer losses.
Helping you maximize the amount of charge reaching your phone.
Direct panel chargers also include few internal parts and minimal, delicate circuitry.
Helping to make them far more robust and weather resistant compared to other options.
This comes in handy when you can’t always count on the weather to be clear.
Of course, there are a few drawbacks to direct charging from a solar panel as well.
First, solar panels have a hard time producing a consistent flow of electricity.
Variables (such as clouds, shadows, etc.) create stronger and weaker signals over time.
This translates to slower charging and longer wait times as your devices charge.
During this time, your phone must stay connected to the solar charger for longer to reach a full charge.
So of if you have a large solar panel, you’re basically tethered to one location.
This makes it harder and less convenient to use.
For example, a single full charge could take up to 5 hours of full sun.
This means re-aiming the panel often to collect the most energetic rays throughout the day.
Second, the power output of a solar panel is directly related to the amount of incoming sunlight.
This means that the voltage levels will fluctuate throughout the day – and even in passing clouds.
Clearly, this means more power in full, bright sunlight and your phone will charge faster.
But, in low light conditions, your charger may not create enough charge to register on your phone.
Modern phones may stop charging if it senses electrical variations in the voltage. They do this to protect the phone in the case of power surges at home.
But can also prevent you from charging via solar panels if the output is too unpredictable.
Have you’ve ever seen the “This device is not supported” message when using a cheap charger?
This is because the cheap chargers are too variable and some phones don’t like it.
Finally, the old criticism of “what about when it’s dark out?” applies here.
With a direct charger, you are limited to charging during daylight hours only.
If you’re on the move or have bad weather during the day, this can put a damper on your charging capabilities.
Direct Solar Phone Charger Examples
Goal Zero Boulder 100 Briefcase
This is a briefcase-sized solar panel and is perfect for remote campsites.
This unit is too large to carry around every day but it will charge your phone very quickly.
Plus, it can charge so much more than just your mobile phone.
It can charge a battery bank so you can keep all your battery powered devices going.
Goal Zero Nomad Series
This solar panel series is made for easier transportation – hence the name “Nomad”.
There are three sizing options within this series:
- 7 plus
- 14 plus
- 28 plus
All of these options allow you to directly charge your phone using the power of the sun while on the go.
Nekteck 21W Solar Charger with 2-Port USB Charger
This solar panel phone charger is a well-designed unit.
It includes fast charging technology so you spend less time waiting for your phone to charge.
But due to its lightweight construction (18 oz), you can take it with you everywhere you go.
It also includes dual USB ports so you can charge multiple devices at the same time.
Solar Battery Banks
If the headaches of direct charging are too much to deal with, a solar charger with a battery bank solar charger may be the better bet.
Adding a high-capacity external battery solves several flaws of direct charging solar systems.
Battery banks are commonplace these days, with capacities up to 20,000mAh.
This is more than enough to charge your phone several times over.
This can really be a lifesaver when you only have opportunities to collect a solar charge every few days.
They also allow you to leave home with a full charge.
In addition to high-capacity batteries, they also have high quality charging circuits. Circuitry that’s far less sensitive to voltage fluctuations.
This means they will charge in partly-cloudy conditions and at low light far better. Allow you to collect more power than a direct system.
Maybe most importantly, battery banks mean you can charge where and when it’s convenient.
You can charge the battery bank all day while you go about your business. Then later use it to charge your phone overnight (or whenever is most convenient).
Meaning you can wake up to a full phone battery and get more done throughout the day.
On the other hand, a battery bank DOES mean one more device added between the sun and your phone. As we mentioned earlier this also means suffering a bit more transfer loss along the way.
A quality battery bank will minimize that loss and more than make up for it in available power.
Solar Battery Bank Examples
Quadrapro Solar PowerBank
For a completely comprehensive solar battery bank, we recommend the Quadrapro Solar Powerbank.
It’s the ideal solution, it’s the ideal size, it provides the right amount of power and the right amount of solar cells.
The QuadraPro Solar Powerbank can charge dead batteries even when there isn’t any sun!
Powered up, it’s got about 3 times the average cell phone battery capacity. (That means most phones will get one full charge, and still have some left over for later.)
Just set your QuadraPro Solar Powerbank out in the sun (or plug it into a wall), and this extra large battery backup soaks up a huge load of reserve power.
Then the power is literally in your hands, available to use anytime you need it — even if it’s been months since its last charge.
It’s our favorite solar phone charger solution period.
Easy Power Solar Power Bank
Or for a smaller but more affordable option, you can’t go wrong with the EasyPower Solar Bank.
It’s got a ton of features:
- It’s 100% waterproof
- Tough as nails
- Lightweight and compact
- Charges two devices at once
- Huge backup battery
- Built-in LED flashlight
Here’s my full video review of this high-quality solar phone charger.
Solar Charging Phone Case
Sometimes, you just want to go as simple as possible.
In these cases, carrying a separate solar panel and cables may be too much to deal with in your pack.
A solar charging phone case solves these issues.
These let you flip your phone over and set it in the sun to charge.
However solar cases are the smallest option. They are no equipped with a large solar panel or high-capacity battery banks.
Instead, they fit more so in the old adage of “the best tool for the job is the one you have with you.”
Due to their small solar panels, solar charging cases are slower to charge. So they require a lot of direct sunlight to be effective.
Also, to get the benefits of the case, you must place your phone screen down in the sun. Making the phone of limited use while charging and may overheat if left in the sun too long.
Finally, these solar charging cases are fitted to specific phones.
So when you change phones in a couple of years, you’ll likely need to shop for a new charger as well.
Solar Powered Phone Charger Case Example
UPsztec Battery Charger iPhone
Smart idea, but they’re currently only a very few options.
Also, it’s not designed to quickly charge your phone.
Instead, it helps to extend your phones life during the daytime (assuming you have the solar panel pointed toward the sun).
Some people love this concept while others are a bit disappointed.
However, it’s a good one to keep an eye on for future improvements.
THE BEST SOLAR PHONE CHARGER OPTION
If you’re interested in a solar charging solution for your phone, we highly suggest a battery bank.
They’re the best combination of all key features.
Giving you far more flexibility in planning your day than other systems.
Plus, the most solar battery chargers allow you to plug in multiple devices at the same time. Make them much more time efficient if you have lots of battery powered gear.
Plus, their USB plug outputs mean you don’t have to buy a new charger every time you change phones.
We have two solar phone chargers that are our favorites – depending on your specific needs.
The first one is an excellent entire family option while the second one is our favorite personal one.
1 – Quadrapro Solar PowerBank
This is the best solution for anyone who wants the ultimate mobile solar phone charger.
It can produce and store a lot of energy to be used while on the go.
You won’t regret having this powerful unit around to keep your phone (and everyone else’s phone) ready to go at all times.
Buy one for the family to keep everyone’s phones, kindles, tablets, etc. topped off while on the go!
2 – EasyPower Solar Power Bank
It comes in handy all the time and nearly he shows it to, end up getting one of their own.
It makes for a perfect survival gift to others or even to yourself!
If you’ve made it this far into the article, you are apparently very interested in this new technology.
I carry a solar phone charger with me every single day.
I take it camping, I take it to work, I use it at home.
Its one of those devices you’ll probably use every day. And it may just save your butt every once an awhile.
It’s one of my favorite pieces of survival gear.
It’s one of the better purchases I’ve made recently with no regrets!
And if you want to take solar technology to an even larger scale – check out our article on the best solar generators.