Our Pick: Bigblue 28w Usb Solar Charger
*At the time of publishing, the price was $60.
The BigBlue 28W USB Solar Charger is the USB solar charger wed pack for a week in the woods or a month in Malawi. It produced the most power of the models we tested and offers several standout featuresan additional output port, a weatherproof port protector, and an expansive array of panels to catch every last ray of sunlight.
At the sunniest point of our tests, the BigBlue tied with the X-Dragon 20W SunPower Solar Charger for how much power it produced at any one instant, reaching about 10.7 watts. But over the course of the day, the BigBlue had the highest cumulative wattage: 48.8 watt-hours to the X-Dragons 43.7 watt-hours. That isnt a huge gainyou could barely charge an iPhone X battery halfway with the additional powerbut every watt matters if youre far from an outlet, and the extra power costs little more in size or price.
The BigBlue stood out among the dozens of models we considered in part because it has two 2.4 A ports and one 1 A port so you can charge three devices simultaneously. Every other model we tested had just two ports. Plus, the ports on the BigBlue are the most protected from water and dust among all the models we tested, as theyre covered by both a cloth flap and a rubber cover. Thankfully the cover is connected by a small tether so you dont lose it.
What Makes The Best Portable Power Pack
Firstly, think about how much power youre likely to need and how long you might be away from a power source. This will dictate what size power bank you need in terms of battery capacity, which is usually measured in milliamp hours .
To help you out, note that it typically takes 2,500 to 3,500mAh to charge a modern smartphone . Charging a GPS unit or digital camera is likely to consume a similar amount of power, while charging a head torch, smartwatch or GoPro will consume much less. High-powered devices like tablets and laptops are the biggest drain on battery capacity.
Put simply, the larger the rated capacity , the more juice the power bank can store though the trade-off is increased size and weight. So if youre only carrying a smartphone on a day walk and just want a back-up power source, look for a pocket-sized battery charger. On the other hand, if youre planning to spend multiple days in the wilderness carrying a number of different devices , then youre going to need one of the bigger power banks around .
To power multiple devices effectively youll also need a power bank that supports simultaneous charging, i.e. one that has at least two or more outlet ports. Many of the latest models also offer features such as quick charging through high-speed USB or USB-C connectivity, as well as in-built technologies to prevent over-charging and optimise charging efficiency.
Roam Freely With Camping And Hiking Solar Panels
Green is the word across Australia today, and solar power is the key to the green power revolution, especially on a small scale. As any Goal Zero Nomad knows, small, portable solar panel kits are a great way to supply you with all the power you need when hiking and camping.
They also tend to be much lighter and cleaner than a generator, and with folding panels available, they can fit into even the tightest of spaces. All you need is an inverter, and you can run any home appliance with a portable solar panel anywhere. So try going solar next time you’re exploring the great outdoors.
Portable Solar Panels
The smallest type, these can easily be hand carried or mounted on a backpack for the perfect addition to your kit. Incredibly lightweight but effective, in full sun these can usually produce plenty of amps to make the perfect charger for a phone, tablet, or any other USB-powered device, with extra to spare. Many even have integrated batteries to help keep you charged when the sun isn’t out.
Foldable Solar PanelsFlexible Solar Panels
Once, all commercially available solar panels were monocrystalline or “mono”. Now, you have the option of flexible panels made from polycrystalline and thin film. The advantage of a film-type PV solar panel over a mono is that it bends. This means it can be mounted easily on the roof of a car or caravan, and won’t shatter or break.
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Solar Panels For Campervans
If youre thinking of getting a larger solar panel fitted into the roof of your campervan, then your installation will, most probably, integrate into your vehicle electrics and power your leisure battery.
Getting that right means finding an installer you trust or speaking to people whove done a successful DIY job.
You need to check with the installer not just about the panels capability but about how power will be regulated to avoid damage to the leisure battery, says Caroline. This is a fairly simple option for 5V and 12V devices, but if you want to plug in a three-pin 230V appliance , you need an inverter. An inverter itself needs power to run, so make sure your installer gives you advice about turning it off when not in use.
Solar panels can be useful for trickle-charging the battery when the campervan isnt used very often in storage, for example.
How To Choose The A Solar Charger Or Mini Solar Panel
There are innumerous options out there when it comes to portable solar panels. Each year, more and more companies pop up online, and it can be hard to separate the good products from the just okay options. Nowadays, portable solar charging kits are by and large very affordable and are becoming more compact and powerful every year. When we started this review, we tested panels that ranged from 2W to 28W, with 28W being the upper end of the spectrum in terms of power. Now, though, it is not abnormal to find panels with 20 to 40-watt capacities in fairly portable sizes. We’ve even thrown in a 50W model to see how it compares to the more portable setups.
For this review, we have narrowed in on the top products out there, ranging from small battery packs with low-capacity panels to 50-watt mega panels capable of charging laptops. Though the products we have selected are the most popular and best we could find on the market, numerous other options are out there. This review is merely a window into the ever-grower world of portable solar technology. Here, we hope to provide you with some information to help you make an informed decision as you seek out the best solar kit for your next adventure.
Before we get started, here is a short anecdote about this review.
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Ecoflow Delta Key Features
According to the portable power station review from reputable sources, this tool is the best choice in terms of price-quality ratio. Also, EcoFlow DELTA boasts a high power supported by all modern technologies that ensure maximum power recovery under all circumstances. An efficient solar generator with several charging modes at once. The lithium battery pack has increased reliability and capacity to surprise even the biggest skeptics of alternative sources of energy.
- via AC wall outlets
- via Car charger.
- via Solar panels
It supports multiple power sources, a very convenient feature that will help you charge your devices in different conditions. Power Station uses X-STREAM technology, which is EcoFlow’s own development. This fast-charging capability allows you to recharge the power station to 80% in an hour and to full in 1.6 hours. This allow the user to prepare the unit fast and get ready for your outdoor adventure. This feature also making the DELTA solar generator unique on the market, with a 3 times faster recharging speed than the other brands.
EcoFlow DELTA features many outputs for different devices for all occasions. This makes it much easier to use because the corresponding connector is present in the overwhelming majority of equipment. The full list is provided below:
- 2 USB Type-A
The convenient informative LCD display of the charging station displays the battery charge, charging status, type of sockets in use and other useful information.
Option : Solar Panel + Power Bank Or Power Station
If you need a more reliable source of power, then youll need a battery for your solar panels. This can be a small power bank or a large deep cyclic battery. You connect the solar panel to the battery to let it charge. Then you charge your devices from the battery.
- Can store power for later
- More flexibility: You can choose the size of the battery, type of outlets, and number of outlets to suit your needs.
- Pre-charge battery: Charge the battery at home before your camping trip so you have power when you arrive and just use solar for topping it off.
- More complicated: You may need a more complex solar setup for camping, including a regulator and invertor.
- Less Efficient: Some power is lost when it is stored in the battery and also as it passes through the cables en route to the device.
- Power stations are expensive: If you need to power lots of devices, youll need a large power station. These are not cheap.
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Flaws But Not Dealbreakers
The main downside of the BigBlue charger is, as the brand name might suggest, its size. Even though it weighs the same as the X-Dragon, its a good 10 inches longer when unfolded, making it a little harder to maneuver into just the right position. But the extra size gives it more surface area to collect the sunshine, and its still relatively sleek and compact when packedthats when size and weight are most important.
Some models weve tested, such as the Eceen, snap closed with two magnets sewn into the materialmaking them, quite literally, a snap to pack up and stow away. The BigBlues single strip of Velcro was wimpier than that of the X-Dragon and came unstuck more easily. Weve noticed in past long-term testing that Velcro generally wears poorly in water, mud, and sun in comparison with magnets. Something to keep in mind, but again, not a dealbreaker.
To Calculate Camping Solar Needs:
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Compare To Similar Products
|Inexpensive, efficient, user-friendly, excels in partly cloudy conditions||Quick to charge, portable size, panel actually works despite small wattage||Efficient, powerful, great value for its size, lightweight||Compact, lightweight, fast charging capabilities||Impressive charging speeds, can charge multiple devices simultaneously, affordable|
|Cons||Heavy, slow to replenish battery via solar||Pocket too small to hold extra cords and accessories||Lacks versatility||Poor interruption recovery|
|Bottom Line||We were impressed by its ability to charge our gadgets quickly and reliably and its reasonable price is the cherry on top||This exceptionally priced battery pack quickly charges devices, and if left in the sun for hours, can replenish via solar||A compact, lightweight panel with exceptional efficiency and charging capabilities||This little panel is by far the lightest in this review, but its charging abilities are impressive||A powerful, fast charging machine, capable of charging multiple devices, complete with a reasonable price tag|
|Multiple Device Charging Speed||9.0|
|Max USB Output Current||2 amp|
|11.1″ x 6.3″ x 1.3″||7″ x 3.75″ x 1.25″||11″ x 6.3″ x 0.75″||5.5″ x 3″ x 0.7″||5.9″ x 11.8″ x 0.8″|
|33.1″ x 11.1″ x 0.2″||7″ x 3.75″ x 1.25″||26.3″ x 11.1″ x 0.2″||5.5″ x 3″ x 0.7″||18″ x 11.8″ x 0.1″|
Portable Solar Charger Type
It might catch you by surprise. But there are several types of solar chargers. All work using solar energy, yes. Yet, they charge devices differently. There are three common solar charger types:
- Panel-only solar chargers
- Panel and integrated battery solar chargers
- Panel and removable battery solar chargers
Panel-Only Solar Chargers
As the name suggests, panel-only solar chargers are stand-alone solar panels with no storage means. With this in mind, you need to connect them to a phone, battery, or any other device to reap energy. They are useless otherwise.
So, why should you purchase a panel-only solar charger at all? Well, these are ideal for people looking to stay in one place for several hours. You can also benefit from panel-only solar chargers if you already have a power bank. Specifically, just leave the two connected and take the juice with you after.
Panel Solar Chargers with Integrated Batteries
This is the most common type of portable solar charger you can find. It looks like any other portable solar power bank around, but it has a small panel on one side.
Likewise, you can charge the charger itself and the phone at the same time while you hike. Plus, having a battery means that all the energy gathered by the solar panel will get stored for later use.
Naturally, you need to keep your solar charger out at all times. It wont charge the battery otherwise. Therefore, you must be careful not to hit the panel, or you will render the solar charger useless.
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Best Overall Solar Power Bank
Get it on Amazon for $34.84: Buy Now
- Capacity: 25,000mAh
- Output: 1 USB output 5V 2A, 1 Micro USB output 5v 2A, 1 Type C USB 5V 2A
- Size: 6.9 x 3.3 x 1.2 inches
- Weight: 1.37 pounds
- Wall charging speed: 6 hours
- Solar charging speed: 83 hours
The Licorne Solar Power Bank is a great blend of portability, capacity, charging capability, and price. The Licorne has three charging outputs: USB, USB Type C, and wireless. It has enough capacity to charge a smartphone 10 times or a tablet 4 times. Along with great charging capabilities, the Licorne is waterproof and shock-resistant.
While the solar charging of this unit takes several days of full sunlight, its capacity and versatility make it our favorite for most people looking for a small portable solar power bank.
Overall this is a great versatile solar power bank that can keep your devices charged whether you’re hiking, biking, or just out and about away from your static charging station.
What To Look For In A Portable Charger
Features to look out for are Quick Charge 4.0 and USB-C. If these are useable for input as well as output, theyll be faster to charge themselves
Passthrough charging is something to look for too. It means you can charge a phone at the same time as the powerbank itself.
PowerIQ or similar-sounding names tell you that the charger can recognise the type of device youve connected so that it can deliver the optimum amount of power.
These are great for phones, tablets, cameras and LED lights, but youll need a higher performing battery bank for laptops. Check the wattage of your machine.
If you have a new MacBook, youll need extra oomph from your battery bank. The BatPower P26B will charge a laptop.. For larger laptops , BatPower has other options too.
Youll also need a cable , as your three-pin plug wont attach to the bank, unless you go for one of the few powerbanks with an AC socket. See the next bit
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Top 16 Product Ratings
|Inexpensive, efficient, user-friendly, excels in partly cloudy conditions||Efficient, powerful, great value for its size, lightweight||Quick to charge, portable size, panel actually works despite small wattage||Compact, lightweight, fast charging capabilities||Lightweight, durable, lots of charging options|
|Cons||Pocket too small to hold extra cords and accessories||Heavy, slow to replenish battery via solar||Lacks versatility||A bit bulky, slow charging speeds considering battery capacity|
|Bottom Line||We were impressed by its ability to charge our gadgets quickly and reliably and its reasonable price is the cherry on top||A compact, lightweight panel with exceptional efficiency and charging capabilities||This exceptionally priced battery pack quickly charges devices, and if left in the sun for hours, can replenish via solar||This little panel is by far the lightest in this review, but its charging abilities are impressive||A relatively lightweight battery pack with multiple charging options, this small model has a USB-C and wireless charging port|
|Max USB Output Current||2 amp|
|11.1″ x 6.3″ x 1.3″||11″ x 6.3″ x 0.75″||7″ x 3.75″ x 1.25″||5.5″ x 3″ x 0.7″||6″ x 3″ x 0.5″|
|33.1″ x 11.1″ x 0.2″||26.3″ x 11.1″ x 0.2″||7″ x 3.75″ x 1.25″||5.5″ x 3″ x 0.7″||6″ x 3″ x 0.5″|
Key Specs For Portable Battery Packs
Storage capacity: This tells you how much charge the battery pack can store for use later to recharge your devices, before it in turn needs recharging.
Tip: Transferring energy from one battery to another is not 100% electrically efficient. Thus, a power pack rated at 2000 mAh will not fully recharge a 1000 mAh electronics battery twice.
To recharge or top off your electronic device, you need a battery pack with enough storage capacity and enough output voltage to move energy into your device.
How much is enough? Find out the storage capacity of the battery in your device. For electronics with built-in batteries, check the technical specs to find the battery capacity. If your device uses only replaceable AA batteries, this is not an issue. Choose a battery pack that features these.
Power output: The output of the charger must be equal to the input battery voltage requirement of your electronic device. If its lower, you may drain your devices battery instead of charging it up. Oops!
Most portable battery packs will charge small personal electronics like cell phones and mp3 players, but relatively few can recharge a laptop battery.
Small electronic devices that can be charged with a USB cable need a 5V output rating. Larger electronic devices that require a DC power input may need a 12V 24V output rating. This is available from the largest portable battery packs.
Output connectors and adapter tips:
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