Last updated on January 6th, 2020
Heard of a solar power bank? These can be great resources to stay connected to the grid in emergency situations or while camping. These are the best solar power banks that will keep you connected (without the need for the grid).
Best Solar Power Banks: Stay Charged Without the Grid
You’ve wise up. You’ve seen the light. The sunlight, that is. And you have figured out that the sun’s energy is one of the best investments you can make.
Did you know that you can “bank” solar power? That way, you preserve the sun’s energy for a rainy or winter day. Solar energy and applications have both environmental and health benefits that can make the world a better, more sustainable place.
What is a solar power bank?
A solar bank integrates a solar panel directly into a battery. The panel captures the sun’s energy; the battery stores it. Most solar banks can be plugged into a wall outlet in the event that you need to charge the battery when there is little sunlight.
Solar power banks are vastly different from rooftop solar arrays and solar generators. Solar power banks are generally much smaller and more portable.
They can be used to power small appliances such as phones, tablet computers, PlayStations, boom boxes, calculators, and other electronics.
In general, something that can run on just one or two batteries can be charged with a solar power bank.
See Related: Solar Street Lights Overview
How does a solar power bank differ from a solar phone?
The technology to power a wireless phone with solar has been around since 2009. However, the first solar phones did not meet the needs of the many. They took too long to charge and provided far too little time to talk.
Today, people rely on their mobile phones to do a wide variety of things. Phones need to give us a solid connection to the internet while also being cameras and flashlights.
Solar phone technology was sidelined in favor of solar power banks that can charge faster and provide longer use of the phone. They are especially useful in that they can charge more than one phone at a time.
Solar phones may still be useful as emergency backups. But for camping and rural living, a solar power bank is more useful and versatile.
Who needs a solar power bank?
People who are often or always on the move often need solar power banks. Hikers and bicyclists can hang them from their backpacks and charge them while on foot.
At night they can call friends and check for local amenities on the solar-charged devices.
People who live in very rural conditions, miles away from another house or business, will want to own solar power banks. Hurricanes and avalanches can knock out power, leaving someone alone without a way to call for help.
Long road trippers may also benefit from solar power banks. With one of these lightweight appliances, you don’t have to drain your car’s battery to charge your phone.
And solar power banks can even be used to jump-start a dead car!
Campers may benefit the most from the simplicity of the solar power bank. You camp to get away from it all.
But you still need your phone’s GPS and the ability to call for help, no matter how far into the wilderness you wander.
How do you use a solar power bank?
Most solar power banks are extremely lightweight and weigh less than a pound. That makes them easy to travel with.
These solar power banks can be charged from inside a building if you leave them in a window that gets a lot of sunlight. However, you are unlikely to get the fullest charge that way.
They work best when charged outdoors and on sunny days. Many of these solar power banks fold out into a sort of pentagon or hexagon. Need to know how solar works with the weather? Read our guide on how solar panels work in weather conditions.
You unfold the panels into a semi-circle and lay the structure on the ground, with one panel touching the floor on one end and another touching the floor on the other end.
You can also lay your solar power bank across your pack and just let the panels fall on either side.
Arranging the panels in a pentagon or hexagon allows them to absorb as much sun as possible from several different angles.
You will have to be careful about what surface you place your solar panel bank on. Some of them cannot be safely charged on a concrete surface or a car dashboard.
Under certain circumstances, solar power banks can overheat. That damages the apparatus.
See Related: DIY Solar Generator Guide
What should you look for in a solar power bank?
As you are shopping for a solar power bank, carefully consider what you need it to do. Do you need it to power your phone for more than ten days away from all electrical power sources? If so, you will need a solar power bank with a large battery and heavier panels.
Do you need your solar power bank to serve as an emergency flashlight or beacon? Check for that feature.
How many devices will you need to plug in at one time? Most portable solar power banks are good for charging one or two devices simultaneously. But others can charge as many as four devices.
Are you going to have periodic use of traditional electricity? Many campers and hikers move between primitive and full-service campgrounds.
If that is the case, consider a solar power bank that can also be recharged by plugging it into a wall outlet.
You may only need solar power when you are at a primitive campground with no electrical outlets.
Then, when you rent a cabin, you can recharge the device with regular electricity.
Also, check the warranty and return policy for your solar power bank.
If the first one you get does not meet your needs, you can often return it for a full refund and try another.
See Related: Best Solar Panels to Buy Today
Best Solar Power Banks
Now that you know why you need a solar bank, let us look at the best ones so that you can buy exactly the power that matches your needs.
The manufacturer states that this power bank can be fully charged in as little as six hours in full sun.
The shell is designed from a blend of two thermoplastic materials. This proprietary material makes the casing safe against rain, falls, and even crashes.
It is warranted for twelve months, and the manufacturer provides a twenty-four-hour service hotline for troubleshooting problems.
It can be charged from a car, from a wall outlet, or directly by the sun. The power bank can charge an iPhone approximately 5 times and can charge an Android cell phone about 3.5 times.
For people who need to charge their phone immediately after a long flight, this energy source allows you to do that.
Four of the solar panels can be detached, in case you are pinching every ounce that goes in your day pack. At a little over one and a half pounds, it’s a little heavier than other portable solar power banks, but worth it for the extra energy.
At 1.75 pounds, this solar bank is a little heavier than the QI wireless outdoor portable power bank, but its users love it. It can be fully charged in as few as three hours of sunlight. And it provides enough power for two campers to keep their phones charged.
Users praise the Kogalla SSB2210 for its ability to absorb solar energy without having to be reset after use.
This device features three small solar panels that fold up and travel in a backpack which is at least six inches tall or wide. This wee power station has the capacity to charge an iPhone at least eight times at the same time that is also powering a tablet.
It is also waterproof, which is a blessing if your campsite gets rained on. And it comes with built-in LED lights so you can see your way in the dark.
No more fumbling around in your tent or on the trail.
It is waterproof and dust proof and will not die if it gets a shock from another appliance. It also comes with LED lights for camping safety.
And it can survive a rain or being accidentally doused with water. Fans of this device say the integrated LED flashlight is plenty bright.
It comes with its own connection device so that you can easily mount it to a backpack or handheld pack. This solar power bank also features multiple LED lights.
With the Tranmix solar charger 25000mAh portable power bank, you can charge two devices at once. It suits campers who are going to be away from electricity for up to ten days. It features several LED lights and is water-resistant and dust resistant.
This portable power bank can power up to six watts. It can charge a 2000mAh phone in as little as one hour. It is warranted for eighteen months and can be returned for up to ninety days after purchase for a full refund.
Be aware that most solar power banks do not have the capacity to charge a laptop, only a phone or tablet.
The Powobest solar power bank is well designed for rugged hiking and camping needs, with reinforced corners. It features a lithium/polymer battery, flashlight, and is compatible with a wide array of smart phones.
This power bank can be recharged in the sun or in a wall outlet. The manufacturer states that it charges up to five times faster than other, similar devices. In addition to being dust-proof, splash-proof, and water-proof, it is also fireproof.
This solar power bank is compatible with the Samsung S9/S8 smart phone as well as a variety of other iphones. Three different flashlights allow you access to a low light for reading, a bright light for finding your way through the woods, and an SOS light for emergencies.
One user says it takes as little as three hours to charge up an iphone7 plus. This solar charger has been used on safari and for a hospital stay. Users praise its versatility.
Conclusion on Solar Power Banks
It’s never been a better time to trek into the great outdoors, safe in the knowledge that you can call for help or find the nearest coffee shop.
Traveling with a solar power bank means that you can get far, far from the madding crowd.
And yet, you will still be only a few taps away from your friends and your GPS.
With a solar power bank in your backpack or other luggage, you will always have access to the best source of power ever invented: the sun.
So take a hike! And be sure to pack your solar power bank along with your smartphone.
Green Coast is a renewable energy and green living community focused on helping others live a better, more sustainable life.
We believe that energy and green living has become far too complex, so we created a number of different guides to build a sustainable foundation for our future.