Are Solar Chargers Any Good?
Imagine heading for a long trip into the heart of the wilderness.
Be warned: There’ll be no power sources around to supply juice for your stay.
Now, what’s your best option for a steady source of power?
Undoubtedly, a solar-powered portable charger is a TopNotch choice.
In case you haven’t handled a solar charger before your first question may well be:
Do solar phone chargers really work?
The answer is – a resounding yes.
And in this article, I’m going to tell you how good they actually are.
Beyond that, we’ll also address some of the other common questions about solar mobile phone chargers.
So let’s get started with it…
Related: 9 Best Solar Chargers Reviewed
Q. What is the best portable solar charger?
Actually, here at TopNotch we field tested and reviewed some of the best solar panels on the market for a separate article .
So – allow me to present the basic facts.
The short answer is: The best portable solar charger is one that meets your requirements in as many ways as possible.
Of course, there are a few points to consider.
Firstly, you need to figure out how much wattage you’ll need.
That’ll be determined by the type of electronics you’ll be powering up.
Secondly, you’ll need to consider the overall portability of the solar phone battery bank. If you’re hiking or backpacking, you’ll need a device that’s light and compact.
Next, comes the quality.
The overall performance of the panel will depend on two things.
The quality of the solar cells and their efficiency in converting solar energy into electricity.
Now efficiency is very important here.
Because solar cells can convert only a small fraction of the total solar energy that they receive into electricity.
Lastly, I’d stress the importance of the durability of any portable solar charger for your phone. For the TopNotch team, choosing a rugged device that can handle a few knocks and bumps is super important.
Bonus points if you choose a waterproof solar panel!
Ultimately, the best solar mobile charger is one that delivers the optimum combination of all these factors put together.
Q.How do I choose a portable solar charger?
Chances are, as a first-time buyer, you’ll get lost in the technicalities.
Here are some of the most important points to keep in mind when buying solar chargers.
- First and foremost, determine your wattage requirement. If you need to charge only your iPhone, a 15W portable solar charger with USB will be sufficient. On the other hand, if you need to use a mini-refrigerator or LED lights, something that delivers around 100W will be the right choice. Point to be noted, the devices with higher wattage are more efficient.
- Also, consider how many days you’ll be staying off-grid. For a one or two day trip with small electronics, a relatively large power bank would be perfect.
- Up next is the budget. You need to decide on a budget that’s right for you and fulfills your needs. Keep in mind that you’ll also need to buy a solar charge controller and solar inverters. A charge controller keeps the output steady so any battery you’re charging stays safe. If you’re charging a laptop, you’ll definitely need an inverter.
- Ease of use is another aspect you can’t ignore. Many of the best portable solar battery chargers come with USB connectors to charge Smartphones directly. Multiple charging ports will allow you to charge two devices simultaneously. However, you’ll need to choose the right kind of adapters for anything else.
- If you want a steady source of juice even when the sun goes down, a solar mobile phone charger with an internal battery is a great choice. If your power needs are higher, you can invest in a large external battery.
How long do solar chargers last?
Before answering that question, we have to look into another: What is a portable solar charger?
Once you’ve gone through the basics of how a portable charger with solar panel functions, let’s look at the next part.
The fact is, a durable solar panel can last up to 25 years and still offer an overall efficiency of 75- 80%.
Sounds unbelievable, right?
But that’s how it works.
Moreover, many of the top brands offer long warranties on their products.
But hold on.
No panel will really give the same level of output for decades – as the solar cells will degrade with time.
In general, the rate of degradation depends on the overall quality and also on the ambient weather conditions.
Here’s something interesting for you.
Studies have indicated that the degradation rate of portable solar chargers can vary between 0.3%-0.8% per year.
Nevertheless, they can still offer you a reliable performance even after years of use.
Needless to say, that’s an excellent return on your initial investment.
To sum up, unless solar panels are physically damaged, they should last for an incredibly long time.
Conclusion: Are Solar Chargers Any Good?
There’s no doubt solar panel chargers are a superb piece of technology.
When it comes to clean and cheap power, they’ll give you amazing value.
Just think of this.
No matter where you are, all you need for a steady supply of solar power is a small clear space lit up by sunlight.
It simply doesn’t get easier than that.
Add to that some TopNotch portability and you’ll have a real winner on your hands.
In fact, I think it’s fair to say most of us here at TopNotch carry a solar panel for long outdoor trips.
I’m a complete convert – I just keep one in the trunk.
Before choosing yours, just think about what you want to charge so you can choose a product that offers the best value and optimum power.
Another big advantage of the best mobile solar chargers is low maintenance.
However, we do suggest you monitor the panels regularly and keep the surface clean.
You’ll be rewarded with better performance over the years.
So are solar chargers worth it?
They absolutely are.
But don’t just take my word for it.
Pick one for your next outdoor adventure and find out for yourself.
Related: 9 Best Solar Chargers Reviewed