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The 3 best portable solar panels

A lot of us can’t escape it. Electrical appliances with you on holiday. Even if you’re backpacking or going into the mountains, some of these devices are damn handy.

That’s why for many of us it’s not really an option anymore to leave everything at home. But what do you take with you and what do you leave at home? And all that extra weight of extra batteries can make a heavy backpack.

That’s why you should think carefully about what you do and don’t take with you. I often have 2 devices with me. My mobile phone (since you can use almost anything on it these days. Taking pictures, gaming, reading, etc.). And my drone for beautiful images (for this I bought a very compact drone that can easily be used).

Now only a compact portable solar charger or portable solar panel for my mobile phone and drone, which I can use even when there is no power. And that’s why portable solar panels can work miracles. Especially when you look at the options that combine solar energy with a power bank. So you have a solar battery charger!

Portable solar panels/solar chargers test

These portable solar panels come in many sizes, and many price ranges. And one is less “portable” than you think, because they are much bigger and heavier than they appear.

Considering my search for a good solar panel, I have already tested several of them. And I have looked at several points that play a role for me. Where functionality often scores higher than the price. The following points were of great importance to me and I suspect that this also applies to many others.

  • Charging speed
  • Universal (can be connected to multiple devices and also has multiple USB options).
  • Weight and large
  • Must be able to withstand a bump or water
  • Price (as a last option if everything else satisfies :P)

Finally I made a list with the – and + points per part and took my preference from it. It also depends on what kind of holiday it will be. Am I really going completely outdoors (into the mountains, multi-day trip). Then I want to have 1 with me who can take a bit more of a beating. But if it is normal camping and with maybe more people. I want to have a solar panel with me that has a bit more capacity and can charge multiple devices without any problem. So weight is a bit less of an issue here. Or does an extra power bank cover the need for extra power?

My personal top 3 portable solar panels

1: ADDTOP Portable Solar Power Bank

Addtop portable solar powerbank

Directly my personal favorite, compact, high capacity, and can take a beating. And with its 25000mAh, it can easily charge a phone 8-11 times (when full). This may be one of its drawbacks, it takes quite a long time before it’s actually full 😛 (25-30 hours of sunshine). But otherwise an excellent portable solar panel with battery!

So what I often do is that I take it full (it can also just charge via mains power). And after charging a phone, let it take in the sun. Until now I never got empty during a backpack holiday.

Plus points:

  • 4 solar panels to catch the sun well
  • Compact 16x8x2cm
  • Can take a beating and is waterproof. (don’t dive with me).
  • 2 USB charging points of 5v and 2.1A output. Don’t forget any connectors for your devices!
  • Price between €40-50

Minus points:

  • Weight is around 500 grams and for backpacking this can be quite heavy. So far no problems considering the compactness.
  • Not very easy to hang on your backpack.

Extras:
The powerbank has a built-in flashlight with 3 modes, normal, SOS and strobe. 18 months warranty from the factory.

2: Anchor 21w 2x USB

Foldable Solar panel charger from Anker

If you only need solar panels, the Anker 21w is an excellent option. This version is powerful enough to charge 2 tablets, (there is also a lighter version, which only charges phones properly). And these are also foldable solar panels to make it really compact

So there is no power bank included! This portable solar charger charges devices directly. +/- 2 hours to fully charge a phone in direct sunlight. And because the panels are quite large, it does this directly and well, even with cloudy weather (the output is a bit less!).

In addition, it is very robust and can take a beating, you can easily hang it on your backpack to catch them while walking in the sun.

Plus points:

  • Large panels, so you catch a lot of sun
  • Charges quickly and generates a lot of power
  • Easy to attach to your bag, 4 titanium rings
  • Bag where your phone can be stored while charging
  • Portable solar panel for the backpack

Minus points:

  • Big, and for optimal use it should hang on your backpack
  • Not waterproof/resistant, you need to quickly remove water from the panels or you will get spots on them.
  • Most efficient by combining with a power bank

Personally found that this type of portable solar panels works great when you’re in one place with direct sun, think of camping and fishing. And I use this one for that. To quickly load powerbanks which I then take with me when I go for a walk.

3: BLAVOR PN-W05

Compact and durable solar charger from Blavor

This is 1 of the more compact portable solar panels / power bank on solar energy in 1! It is sturdy and can take a beating. And with its 10.000 mAh a phone can charge 2 to 4 times. This of course depends on the type of device, iPhoneX 2-3 times and an iphone 8 (normal size) 3-4 times.

The solar charger part is a lot smaller than my personal favorite, the ADDTOP, which makes it less fast and efficient to charge. But it is a lot more robust and can withstand a lot better. The edges are extra reinforced, which makes it a great device for the tough and adventurous hike. Or small day trips.

We use this device mainly for day hikes. It is fully charged, and charging via the sun is an excellent backup option to have enough power.

Plus points:

  • Compact and sturdy. Can easily be hung on your bag all day long
  • Wireless charging (Qi charger)
  • Built-in flashlight
  • IPX4 waterproof
  • Price, €29-39 euro
  • Power bank solar panel in 1

Minus points:

  • But 10.000 mAh so not suitable for longer trips (provided you have extra charging options)
  • Sun exposure is sometimes disappointing, small panel = little sun.

This 10.000 mah solar power bank is a good option, but if you want to capture the sun with this charger I recommend to change the position of the charger every now and then. So hang the charger on the side where the sun shines so it can charge optimally. Besides that the 10.000 mah is nowadays a bit on the lean side!

Summary

I’ve tried to test a solar charger for every situation. This resulted in my personal top 3. Long hikes, short hikes and some more stay in one place. The ADDTOP is the most used portable solar panel. Because nowadays I take it with me on both long and short hikes. The only big disadvantage is that I ordered everything through Amazon, and I hope the chargers will be available soon through Amazon.nl 😀.

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