Our yellow sun is what gives Superman his powers, so of course, it can also keep your phone charged while you’re on the go! It’s almost weird, right? Using nature to keep technology working. Keep in mind that while the sun is very powerful, it will not charge a solar battery bank / charger or your phone as quickly as a wall outlet can. You will have to be patient with these. But, what a beautiful melding of the old and the new! Whether you are camping or are dealing with a power outage, you don’t have access to an outlet then grab a solar charger and take advantage of the biggest battery Earth has!
When you need to power your gadgets but don’t want to deal with another battery to get the juice you need, a powerful solar panel is the way to go. Anker makes excellent charging products and the 515 Solar Panel Charger fits in well. This 24W, 3 port USB charger is very thin (1.97 inches folded or 0.16 open) and comes in at just over two pounds. While it isn’t the lightest and most compact charging solar panel, it will be lighter than carrying an extra battery.
The upside to the slightly bulky size of the Anker 515 Solar Panel Charger is that it can gather more sunlight to produce more power than a smaller option can. This solar charger is so efficient that you can charge three devices simultaneously, and it can charge at up to 12W in direct sunlight, making it about as fast as regular chargers under ideal conditions. Without an actual battery, you don’t have to wait for the Anker 515 to charge up – just grab it and hit the trails.
Goal Zero has been making excellent battery packs for years as well as solar accessories. The Nomad 5 is a fantastic way to power up your favorite Android smartphone while away from traditional power. What makes the Nomad 5 different from the Anker 515 is how small and lightweight it is – perfect for outdoor excursions.
The panel comes in at only 12.7oz and is smaller than a standard piece of paper. Its weight and size mean that you won’t be burdened with extra weight while out on a hike. When it comes to power, there is a single USB port that can output up to 5V and 1A, for a maximum of 5W. So this isn’t going to get your phone powered up fast, but it’s great to keep your phone topped up while on the trail.
While it is great to keep one of the best portable chargers around for charging on the go, the only way to refill its power bank is with a wall charger. That’s where the Tekpluze Solar Battery Pack comes in. Thanks to its built-in solar panel, you’ll be able to recharge your battery pack anywhere the sun is shining, as it did when I used it on a recent beach camping trip.
The 5V solar panel can pump out up to 330mAh into the pack when a wall outlet isn’t available to recharge it. Aside from powering your devices, there is also an LED flashlight to help you see in the dark. There are two USB-A ports for charging devices as well as a wireless charging pad. If you do want to use a wall plug to refill your battery pack you can use either a micro USB or USB-C cable to do so. But with 30,000mAh of power, the Tekpluze will have plenty of juice to keep your phone going while on the hike.
Like the Tekpluze before it, the Blavor Solar Battery Bank comes with the on-the-go power you need but in a more compact package. However, getting a smaller footprint for the pack comes at the sacrifice of capacity. At 10,000mAh, the size of the cell in the bank isn’t small, but depending on your phone you may only get 1-2 full charges.
When you aren’t recharging the power bank with the USB-C port, you can take advantage of the sunshine to bring it back to full. As for getting your smartphone back up and running, you’ll have a USB-C and USB-A port to pull power from in addition to the wireless charging pad. Blavor also included a dual LED light to help guide you once the sun has gone down.
When your situation calls for more power output than a solar panel can provide and you need more capacity than a battery pack, reach for a power station like the Jackery Explorer 300. Not only does this have 295Wh, it offers plenty of port options to provide clean electricity to all of your gadgets. However, coming in at a little over seven pounds, it isn’t one you’re likely to take hiking with you.
The Jackery Explorer 300 is about more than capacity and ports. It can also kick out up to 300W of power to run all sorts of devices. From Chromebooks like the Lenovo Flex 5i Chromebook to cell phones and lights to fans, this power station is ready to go. When it comes to recharging the battery pack, you can refill it using a wall outlet, a vehicle, and of course – solar. While it can be recharged using solar, you’ll need to buy the panel separately to take advantage of this clean energy option.
Power wherever you go
Finding ways to power our favorite electronics by using clean energy is a great way to not only help the planet but make for more enjoyable excursions. When the weight of what you’re carrying is at the top of your packing list, taking a solar panel with charging capabilities is a great way to ensure you have portable power without adding too much weight.
The Anker 515 Solar Panel has not only the output but also the ports to get you plenty of power. But its size may not fit with your lightweight goals, so reach for the Goal Zero Nomad 5 to fill that slot. When you need power during light or dark, consider a solar battery pack like the Tekpluze option. Its 30,000mAh capacity and multiple charging port will be ready when you are, thanks to the built-in solar panel to recharge it when the sun comes back out.