What Is The Best Portable Solar Charger For A Cell Phone?

Best Portable Solar Charger -Featured Image

So to keep the juice going what is the best portable solar charger for a cell phone? We all have cell phones these days and we can’t seem to live without them. Keeping your smartphone charged on the go seems to be vitally important.

Because let’s be honest there is nothing more frustrating than a dead cell phone battery. I mean how are you going to keep up with social media or call a loved one with no phone. You would feel lost, bemused and even frightened you might miss something important.

So there are a few ways you can keep your phone battery topped up so this particular nightmare never happens. Rest assured the most powerful energy source on the planet can come to your rescue. Your phone superhero won’t turn up in spandex but in the shape of sunshine.

What Is The Best Portable Solar Charger For A Cell Phone?

“ The best way to charge a cell phone with solar power is to use a solar panel called a portable solar charger. Typically they fold down to a small size that will fit into a backpack. Or you can use a power bank that has a built-in solar panel. This will fit into your pocket, vehicle glove compartment or handbag. Or you can use a portable power station and solar panel. Which can be transported in a car, recreational vehicle, trailer or boat ”

Charging IOS and Android cell phones with a portable solar charger

Many green-tech companies manufacture portable solar chargers for cell phones. But you need to be careful because not all will charge both IOS and Android. This is usually because they do not provide an IOS charging cable. You can normally find that information in the manufacturer’s description or specifications. 

Best portable solar Charger - Android phone

I have not seen a solar charger that will not charge an Android smartphone. In fact they usually ship with a USB cable for this purpose. But newer Androids have a larger connection on the end of their USB charging cables. This is for fast charging so the USB cable supplied with a portable solar charger is unlikely to fit.

Many solar chargers have technology built in that recognises the type of battery they are charging. This can cause a problem with IOS phones if the original cable isn’t used. If you use an inferior ‘IOS compatible cable’ the solar charger may not recognise it.

So as a word to the wise, the best way to avoid any IOS or Android smartphone charging problems. Make sure that you always use the manufacturer’s original supplied USB charging cable.

Best portable solar Charger - IOS phone

Some of the latest portable solar chargers have the newer faster charging ports built in. But I wouldn’t be thinking that they will charge x-times faster than a conventional USB port. Sure they will be faster but you need to manage your expectations. 

These are small portable solar powered charging devices. So they will not be charging as quickly as a mains AC household charging socket.

Related == >>>>>>>>>> Anker Portable Solar Panel 21w PowerPort

How Can I Charge A Cell Phone With A Portable Solar Charger?

Renogy E.Flex Portable Solar Charger Range

If you are a camper, a hiker, a cyclist, love the great outdoors or travel a lot for work or pleasure. You will be spending a significant amount of time off-grid and keeping your cell phone charged can be a challenge. 

But not if you have a portable solar charger. Because it can help to keep your smartphone battery topped up even in the remotest of locations. It must be noted that these solar chargers are not meant to replace mains charging. But are meant to be used as a backup when there are no electricity hook-ups around.

Best portable solar Charger - Backpacker

Because they do not store electricity a portable solar charger will only charge your phone battery during daylight hours. To achieve an overnight charge you would need to use a power bank. 

The way this would work would be to charge the power bank during the day with the solar charger. And charge your phone battery at night while you sleep. Not only is this convenient it is also much safer for your very expensive smartphone. 

Portable solar charger construction

Solar chargers are constructed from tough industrial polymers or nylon and man made Oxford fabric. This makes the solar charger carcas extremely durable, lightweight and water resistant. The carcas usually has between 2 and 4 solar panels sewn into it.

The multiple solar panels make up the final wattage rating of the solar charger. For example a 28w portable charger could have 4 x 7 watt solar panels sewn into it. This means the charger will fold down in a neat package to the size of a quality women’s magazine. 

Ideal for storing in a pack, car boot, bicycle basket or panniers. When unfolded they can be attached to a pack for gathering sunlight using eyelets and carabiners.. As long as the sun is behind you of course. The eyelets allow for the charger to be hung from a tent, tree or vehicle. 

Some come with a small kick stand. So it can be stood up at an angle for more efficient sunlight collection. But whichever way you decide to position them to collect sunshine they are very easy to use.

Best Portable Solar Charger - Panel section

This is because they come with a built- in controller unit that houses 1 to 3 USB charging ports. The controller is not to be confused with a solar controller. Although the controllers usually have several safety features to help protect your cell phone’s battery. 

To charge your phone all you have to do is point the charger at the sun. Connect your phone via an available USB port and it will start charging.

A Tip For Charging A Cell Phone With A Fold-Up Solar Charger

I would use it with a power bank rather than charge the phone directly with a fold-up solar charger. My reasoning is that they do have safety features to protect your smartphone’s battery. Including disconnecting to the phone when there is no charging happening. 

But not all do. A cheap solar charger without the right protection could cost you your phone’s battery. So always check the manufacturer’s specifications to find out what protection is provided.

For instance they can during bad weather or if you forget to disconnect the phone from them. Allow the phone’s battery to discharge back into the solar charger. 

Best Portable Solar Charger - Cloud

What that actually means is instead of the solar charger charging your phone’s battery. It can under the aforementioned circumstances drain it. By adding a power bank and charging that instead this can’t happen. 

Related == >>>>>>>>>>BigBlue 28W Solar Charger with Digital Ammeter

How Can I Charge A Cell Phone With A Power Bank And Built In Solar Panel?

Some power banks have a built-in solar panel. They are very small and lightweight compared to their foldable portable solar charger cousins. Carrying them is easy because they will fit into your pocket, handbag or vehicle glove compartment. 

Solar Charging

A solar power bank is able to charge and store energy at the same time. But there can be a solar charging disadvantage from the point of view that the panel is very small. This means it can take much longer to charge from the built-in solar panel. 

Best Portable Solar Charger - Solar Power Bank

Having said that, a solar power bank will store enough energy in 2 to 4 hours to enable a few cell phone charges. This is because a solar power bank isn’t designed to be either fully charged or depleted to 0%. The idea is to keep it topped up with charge when you are out and about using it’s built-in solar panel. 

Some have more than one solar panel attached to them that fold in and out in a concertina fashion. These types are obviously better at collecting sunlight because of the overall solar panel surface area. Meaning they will input more charge into the power bank in a shorter period of time.

The Solar Power Bank

The solar power banks capacities vary from one model to another and are measured in mAh (milliAmpere hour). The higher the mAh the higher the power bank’s capacity. Meaning the amount of charge it can give to your cell phone.

But as a rule of thumb if you are going to be off-grid for any length of time. A higher capacity power bank with higher solar input would be the best option. For day trips or for everyday use with a vehicle a smaller capacity solar power bank would be fine.

These types of power banks are constructed with out-door use in mind and are pretty durable and rugged. They can withstand lots of tough usage surviving knocks, bumps and scrapes. But for those fitted with fold out solar panels you need to be a little more careful. This is because the panels are delicate and can be easily damaged. 

Best Portable Solar Charger - Sunshine
Using The Solar Power Bank

Solar power banks are really easy to use. All you have to do is leave it out pointing at the sun and it will start charging. In full sun it will charge pretty quickly but not so much in cloudy conditions. So you will need to manage your expectations because cloud equals much longer charging times. 

To hook your cell phone up for charging. Simply plug the phone’s charging cable into one of the power banks USB ports and hey presto. It will start charging your smartphone. I would recommend using the manufacturer’s originally supplied USB charging cable.

How Can I Charge A Cell Phone With a Portable Power Station And Solar Panel?

If you and your family enjoy lots of days out, short breaks and weekends away. Investing in a small portable power station and a solar panel might be the way to go. This is because a portable power station is capable of charging multiple cell phones at the same time.

AcoPower portable power station and solar panel
AcoPower portable power station and solar panel

Plus you can also charge your laptop, tablet, drone and other electrical devices. There is no need for a solar controller as they have one built-in along with an AC inverter. They have 2 or more USB output ports for charging. And all the necessary safeguards to protect your phone.

They are much bigger than a portable solar charger or solar power bank but have much larger capacities. This means you can charge more electronic devices over longer periods of time. 

Again they are very easy to set up. You simply hook the portable solar panel up the power station and it will immediately start charging. As your cell phone’s battery runs down you plug it into an available USB charging port and your phone starts charging.

Related == >>>>>>>>>> AcoPower solar generator 220Wh and 70w portable solar panel review

My Closing Thoughts

So there are several ways you can use a portable solar charger to charge a cell phone. If you are into outdoor adventure you can use a fold-up charger or a solar power bank. Whichever you find most convenient for you to use. If you are a family or couple who like day trips and weekends away. Using a portable power station and solar panel might be better for you.

The best portable solar charger for a cell phone depends on your circumstances and how you want to use it. I haven’t gone into how long each method takes to charge a phone because it is impossible to say. 

This is because it depends on weather conditions with regard to the solar panel. But charging from a power bank or portable power station will always be faster. This is because the energy to charge a smartphone is already stored in the battery.

Further Reading == >>>>>>>>>> Renogy E.Flex 21 Portable Solar Panel USB Charger

I hope you enjoyed this post and have found it helpful. If you have any questions about charging a cell phone with a portable solar charger. Or want to leave your own personal review, please feel free to leave a comment below.

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4 Comments on “What Is The Best Portable Solar Charger For A Cell Phone?”

  1. A solar charger? Why haven’t I heard this before! I’m thankful I came across this post, one because I’m using my phone all the time which means I’m in a lot of frustration of getting my battery up again and secondly I’m all about helping the environment so this would be a nice little prezzy for myself!

    1. Hi Sariyah

      Yes portable solar chargers are great for keeping your phone battery topped up when you are out and about. Environmentally speaking anything that will reduce your carbon footprint has to be good

      Sounds like you are going to treat yourself



  2. This is a great idea. I recently am finding that I have to recharge my phone in the middle of the day because I use it late into the night and I was wondering how I could find a solution while I am out and about. I love the idea of the Solar Bank, it sounds safer and a more flexible solution. My only concern is that it is only a small face and it will take a lot longer to charge up but I love the small portable size. How robust are the panels on the solar bank?

    A very informative blog thanks.

    1. Hi Lilly

      The solar panel attached to the solar power bank is quite robust but you do need to be careful with it. The fold out type are quite delicate so you need to be very careful with them.

      If you are concerned about this it might be better to look at a foldable portable solar charger and a power bank. Such as the  Renogy E.Flex 21 Portable Solar Panel USB Charger



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