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The best solar chargers for your smartphone or tablet

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By Ed Oswald


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Dead phones and tabletsare no fun, and it’s even worse when you don’t have access to a power outlet right away. Fortunately, the sun is always on (at least during the day), so why not harness the power of solar energy to keep your devices running even when you’re trekking through the middle of nowhere? Below, we’ve rounded up some of the best solar chargers available, especially when it comes to performance and value. Most of them can juice up several of your devices with a single charge — as long as there are clear skies, of course.

Fuse 6W Solar Charger($129)
Fuse 6W Solar Charger
Instagram/Arnell
  • Capacity — 4,000mAh
  • Outputs — 1 USB (1A)
  • Weight –1.3 pounds
  • Solar Panel –6.15 Watts

Many solar chargers are marketed as ultra-portable solar options, however, few measure up to theFuse 6W Solar Charger.The unit comes with a universal attachment system, complete with a set of interlocking clips. This allows you to fasten the charger to the back of your current pack and adjust the straps for a firmer fit. TheFuse 6W charges an external battery, though you can also charge the latter component via a traditional wall outlet or USB. Either way, once charged, the device should provide enough juice to fully charge your smartphone at least once. We tested the Voltaic’s panel-equipped backpack earlier this year, so if you’re in the market for a dedicated solar pack, we suggest giving our Voltaic OffGrid Solar Backpack review a gander.

Buy one now from:

Voltaic Systems

Aukey 16000mAh Power Bank($43)
  • Capacity — 16,000mAh
  • Outputs — 2 USB ports (2.4A)
  • Weight — 12 ounces

Aukey is one of those companies that seemingly make just about anything and everything when it comes to tech gadgets. They also have a line of solar chargers, but we think the Power Bank is one of the coolest. It’s your typical high-capacity power bank, but with a solar panel across the top. Now, with the size of the panel you’re not going to generate a ton of power, but a sub $50 price tag and USB 3.0 quick charging support makes this an attractive option.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Arc 20W Solar Charger Kit ($265)
Arc 20W Solar Charger Kit
Instagram/GazLeah
  • Capacity –19,800 mAh
  • Outputs — DC Output, USB Output (1A)
  • Weight — 3.25 pounds
  • 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 kit also includes Voltaic‘s V72 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 need not worry about frying your devices.

Buy one now from:

Voltaic Systems

Renogy E.Flex 10W($47)
best solar chargers renology
best solar chargers eflex10
  • Capacity — None (panel only)
  • Outputs — 1 USB port (1.92A)
  • Weight — 11.2 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 you would via traditional power, and even power your phone without draining the battery in full sunlight, something many other panel-only options — most 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, insufficient for many applications.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Yolk StationSolar Paper ($198)
Yolk Solar Paper
  • Capacity — None
  • Outputs — 1 USB port (1A)
  • Weight — 4 ounces
  • Solar Panel — 5W

Solar Paper is the thinnest solar charger available. It measures a mere 0.45 inches at its thickest point, and though it doesn’t contain a built-in battery,a display on the top of the unit will let you know if the charger is receiving enough energy to charge your device. In theory, with no battery to worry about, this particular solar charger could last a long time.There are several different options available, from the basic 5W version ($198) up to a 15W version ($350). Just keep in mind that you’ll need the5W modelif you want to charge your phone, or the 10W if you want to charge tablets or more than one device at a time.

Buy one now from:

AmazonYolk Station

AnkerPowerPort Solar ($62)
Anker PowerPort Solar Thumb
  • Capacity — None
  • Outputs — 1 USB port (up to 3A)
  • Weight —14.7 ounces
  • Solar Panel — 21W

Despite having no battery storage capabilities, Anker‘s PowerPort Solar wows us with up to 21 watts of power production, which is more than enough to charge any portable device quickly. Another feature, called PowerIQ, also adjusts the amperage of the power supplied to match your device, thus ensuring your device charges quicklyandsafely. The device’s compact design — it measures 11.1 6.3 inches when folded and26.4 11.1 inches when opened — makes iteasy to store, too, and eye holes on each end allow you to anchor it to just about anything. While it might not work the best whenthere are clouds in the sky, in direct sunlight, the PowerPort Solar has little competition.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Solio BoltBattery Pack + Solar Charger ($70)
Solio BOLT
  • Capacity –2,000mAh
  • Outputs — 1 USB, 1 Micro USB
  • Weight — 4.8 ounces
  • Solar Panel — 5W

Weighing a mere 4.8 ounces and measuring less than 4-inches long, the Solio Bolt is one of the most compact solar chargers on the market.The device can also hold a charge for up to a year, rendering it ideal for an emergency kit. The Bolt utilizes a central axis point, allowing it to open into a pair of individual panels. The small hole in the center of the unit was specifically designed to fit around a pencil, enabling individuals to firmly plant the solar panel in the ground and then position it toward the sun.

If you’re looking to prepare yourself for an unforeseen disaster, we also have an article outlining what to put an outdoor emergency kit. After all, things happen.

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Solio

ECEEN Foldable Solar Charger ($40)
ECEEN 13W 2-Port
  • Capacity —Not specified
  • Outputs — 2 USB ports
  • Weight — 9.3 ounces
  • Solar Panel — 13W

The ECEEN 13W 2-Port is one of the best 13W chargers we’ve seen. The entire unit weightsa mere 9ounces andmeasures an inch thick, rendering itexceptionally lightand compact.A convenient pouch on the back of the charger also allows you tostow your mobile phone, iPad Mini, and other mobile accessories whilecharging or on the move. A simple stand on the back of the device extends functionality even further, giving you a means for positioning the solar charger in direct sunlight. And atunder $40, ECEEN’s model is currently one of the more affordable solar chargers on the market.

Buy one now from:

Amazon


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