In every TopNotch review, we provide you with in-depth information about a range of products to help you choose the crème de la crème from the many options.
Want to know how the Big Blue Solar Charger 2020 stacks up against the competition?
We got your back, The TopNotch team has given you a hand comparisons table, check it out below.
In this particular article, we’re reviewing the unique and indispensable BigBlue.
We took the TopNotch top 10 solar chargers for a week-long road trip through Montana to find out which ones came out shining.
The results are out – and in this BigBlue Solar Panel Review, you’ll learn about…
- The versatility and portability
- The capacity to charge multiple gadgets
- The ease of handling and weight
- And a whole lot more…
Want to know how the Big Blue stacks up against the competition?
We’ve got your back – the TopNotch team has made a handy comparisons table, check it out below.
We chose the BigBlue solar charger as the TopNotch Top Pick in this category.
Needless to say, we think this is a very special product.
Want to know why?
Let’s dive in to find more…
- Comes with SmartIC Technology
- Very easy to use
- Built-in ammeter
- IPX4 category waterproofing
- An affordable price
- Offers excellent portability
- 24 Month Warranty
- 2 foot micro USB cable
- Not the best choice for overcast conditions
- Overheating could be an issue in the pouch
Our Verdict: Big Blue Solar Charger
Whether you’re backpacking in the wilderness or just enjoying daily life on the freeway, this BigBlue charger gives you all the free and clean power you need to charge your gadgets on the go.
Look no further…
In addition, with a whole range of advanced technology, it’s well-equipped to safely handle any type of condition.
Here’s a secret for you.
It’s my personal go-to choice – I’m a keen photographer so I keep this stashed in my trunk to re-charge my camera batteries on the go.
To start with, the overall efficiency ranges between 21.5 to 23.5% which is really impressive for a 28w solar charger.
To top it off, it comes with a built-in ammeter which allows you to measure the current output at any moment.
Can you believe that?
But hold on, there’s more.
There’s an advanced digital chip that keeps the output steady even in varying conditions.
You can relax knowing your beloved gadgets won’t blow up.
And last but not least, the BigBlue solar charger comes at a great price.
In fact, with the combination of its quality construction and the very fair price, we feel it’s one of the best solar chargers out there.
So is it a solar charger worth your hard-earned buck?
Absolutely. No doubt about that.
Is it a perfect choice?
Well, we’d have liked it to perform slightly better in shady conditions.
We also found the pouch overheating a tad after prolonged exposure to the sun.
But the truth is, this is one product where we had to look really hard to find any faults.
As a result, it emerged as the undisputed king… as the TopNotch Top Pick.
So let’s move on and find out more about this excellent solar charger.
It’s lightweight, foldable AND waterproof so it even does a great job in the harshest outdoor conditions.
Related: 9 Best Portable Solar Panels
Our Analysis, Comparisons & Test Results
Coming back to our testing process, we took the best solar chargers on the market on a camping and hiking road trip and compared them back to back.
We found this is one of the best solar chargers for backpacking and trekking too.
In fact, we found this is a charger both veteran users and first-time buyers will love.
Moreover, it has the perfect capacity to meet the power demands of a small group or a family.
Point to be noted:
The 28w offers better value than the BigBlue 21w solar charger, which we also tested.
Anyone looking for a TopNotch portable solar pack will love the smooth performance and versatility of this charger.
Let’s find out why…
Value For Money
So what features does it pack?
To begin with, it offers 28W of power with excellent solar efficiency. The high-quality solar panels are designed to deliver efficient performance for years.
In addition, smart technology ensures an optimum charging speed in all conditions.
Value For Money Rating
And let’s not forget the best part…
There are three USB ports to charge all your phones and tablets directly.
Whether you have a smartphone or laptop, the BigBlue solar charger is ready to connect with it.
Apart from that, the addition of an ammeter is a unique feature that allows you to check the output anytime. No need to carry one separately.
We loved the BigBlue.
The cool thing is…
…the charger comes with an auto-restart function.
Why is it so important?
This makes the BigBlue totally hassle-free on an intermittently sunny day.
Finally, the great price combined with all these features definitely gives it the edge over the competition…
In short, we feel it offers great value all-round.
Charge Interruption Recovery
Frankly, this is one area where the BigBlue solar charger really shines with its auto-restart function.
Consider this scenario…
… the charger is under the sun and it suddenly clouds over.
Charge Interruption Recovery Rating
This BigBlue will automatically recover from such interruption and reconnect with the device it’s charging.
You’ll be surprised how many solar chargers don’t do this – imagine going to use your smartphone only to find its flat because your solar panel didn’t have an auto-restart function.
No chance of that with the Big Blue solar charger.
Coming to the next point…
We tested this feature by bringing the unit under shade from direct sun and then putting it back.
It was connected to my iPhone at the time.
The charger smoothly reconnected with the phone without requiring any manual intervention.
And you know what?
We found this a very effective feature while walking over a trail with intermittent light and shade. With the BigBlue solar charger, we never had to worry about it becoming disconnected.
We feel this intelligent design feature makes it one of the best solar chargers for backpacking.
In addition to that, the safe charging features prevent any overloading and keep your gadgets safe.
No wonder, we didn’t hesitate to place the charger at the top spot for this metric.
Let me say this straight.
The charging speed of the BigBlue solar charger is excellent under the full sun but when it gets cloudy, the charging speed does drop a tad.
No doubt, the superior design of the solar panel plays an important role in the high efficiency it offers.
Charging Speed Rating
In our field tests, we used the BigBlue to charge a 10,000 mAh battery pack. Under the full sun, it charged by 10% in an hour.
The iPhone charged from 20% to 60% in an hour under the same conditions.
Have you found yourself wondering about the best position for a solar panel for the maximum output?
We’ve all gone through that too.
Now, this is where the built-in ammeter in this charger plays an important part. We adjusted the position of the panels by noting the maximum current output for the best charging speeds.
That’s how easy it is.
The only problem?
The charging speed falls when there’s thick cloud cover.
On a fully overcast day, (the only one in our trip) we found the ammeter reading dropping to zero a couple of times.
That’s the reason the BigBlue solar charger lost a few points in this test.
Even so, under bright conditions, this is possibly the best solar charger for laptops and other electronic devices.
Multiple Device Charging Speed
In our opinion, this is a vital aspect of any portable solar pack for families and larger groups.
You want the queue for charging phones to go down quickly right?!
So how did the BigBlue solar charger perform?
Well, the multiple USB ports make connecting various gadgets smooth and easy.
Multiple Device Charging Speed Rating
Moreover, the ports have intelligent circuit recognition to optimize the charging process along with an auto-restart feature.
So, we connected the BigBlue with a phone, a battery pack and a DSLR camera simultaneously in our tests.
Under the bright sun, the charging was steady for all the devices. The 28W overall capacity helps to charge lighter and heavier gadgets simultaneously.
Admittedly, the speed fell under a cloud cover and when the sun went closer to the horizon.
And multiple device charging can lower the overall efficiency of the charger.
Obviously, if you want the fastest charging speeds, stick with one gadget at a time.
Having said that, the high-quality of the inductors and the efficient voltage regulators mean it delivers optimum performance.
Those looking for something more powerful can try the BigBlue 63w foldable solar charger.
Add affiliate link
Frankly, durability was never an issue with this solar panel during our testing phase.
Note: The panels are sewn into a polyester canvas material which is highly durable.
On the face of it, the charger may look fragile, but we can assure you the panel stood up against our rough handling.
In addition, there’s also a zipper pouch to put your phone, tablet, etc. while charging.
But remember this.
Under the hot sun, the black-colored pouch can overheat the charging gadgets – there’s room for improvement here.
Waterproofing is an important factor when it comes to solar panels.
If you want to dig deeper into the IPX ratings, you’ll find the details here.
Actually, we used it during a light session of rain and the device showed no sign of damage.
A word of caution.
The USB ports are not waterproof – take care not to get them wet.
We think the outer material will be good for months of outdoor use and exposure to full sun.
Weight & Portability
To start with, this solar charger weighs around 1.3 pounds.
When compared with the other panels of the same capacity, the BigBlue solar charger is on the heavier side of the scale.
In spite of that, we have to say we never felt this solar charger was difficult to carry around.
Weight & Portability Rating
Firstly, the foldable design makes it compact and portable.
BigBlue says that it folds down to the size of a magazine and we do agree with that.
Next, it has an innovative feature for easy attachment.
Thanks to the four hooks supplied with the charger, it can easily be attached to your backpack.
Here’s the thing…
We also found the hooks useful for attaching the charger to trees and to the tent.
So in terms of portability, is this among the best solar chargers backpacking or trekking?
You bet it is!
Will it fit into the backpack?
Then again, no other solar electronics charger in the category will, either.
When you consider the larger picture – i.e. efficiency and performance, the slightly heavier weight hardly matters. It’s a trade-off we totally accept for this solar charger.
… We placed the BigBlue solar charger as one of the top choices in this test.
Conclusion: Big Blue Solar Charger
The TopNotch team has no doubts about the excellent overall performance of the BigBlue.
At the end of the day, we’ll wholeheartedly be recommending this solar charger to backpackers, hikers, and campers alike.
So what’s the key to its TopNotch performance as the best solar charger for backpacking or camping?
The BigBlue solar charger comes loaded with a range of advanced technical features. This enables it to deliver superior efficiency and fast charging speed.
In addition, there’s a short circuit, overcurrent, and fail-safe protection. Your gadgets are totally safe using this charger.
The overall portability and durability are on par with the top competitors in this category.
Whether you take it for an adventure trip through rain and fog or use it at home, this versatile solar charger will perform smoothly at all times.
Tell me… what’s one of the most important factors for any solar charger review?
Yep. It’s the price.
The great price of this charger is one factor that really sets it apart from the competition in terms of value.
And believe it or not, there’s more good news.
BigBlue offers a full 24-month warranty with this charger!
How can you beat that?
We can confidently say that it’s one of the most versatile, reliable and fastest chargers you’ll find.
So our review team spoke unanimously – This is the TopNotch Top Pick in this category.
So as a backpacker or a camper or just for use in your RV, family sedan or at home, you can choose this charger without hesitation.
Trust me. You’ll be glad you did.