There are few things more frustrating than having your phone battery die when you need it most—and there is no way of charging it. Unfortunately, many of us know what it’s like to reach for our phones to send an important last-minute message, only to find out that it’s out of juice.
That’s where solar energy chargers come in. These handy devices use photovoltaic cells to form solar panels. These panels then take the energy from the sun and convert it into electricity to power your personal devices.
Best of all, solar chargers are light and portable, so they can be taken with you on the go. Their lightweight form factor makes solar power banks convenient for those dire situations when you need to make an emergency phone call or fire off an email on a moment’s notice.
Interested in picking up a solar power bank? To help you make the best purchasing decision possible, we put together this quick checklist to guide you toward a solar energy power bank that best suits your needs. So, read on and discover all there is to know about the best portable power bank money can buy.
Pick Your Form Factor
Choosing a preferred form factor is one of the first decisions that must be made before deciding on a solar charger. Currently, there are several varieties of solar power banks in production. The form factor you decide to use will depend on the purpose you intend to use it for.
At present, handheld solar power banks are the most popular on the market. Since debuting a few years ago, the handheld solar charger has made the market due to its ultra-lightweight body, improved solar panel technology, and small, durable build.
Handheld solar banks are generally smaller than most modern smartphones. Each modern portable power bank will easily fit into the palm of a hand and are primarily used to charge personal devices like iPads, smartwatches, cell phones, and various other USB-connected gadgets.
Unlike handheld solar banks, fold-out solar charging power banks are built for use in vehicles. Using a suction cup or plastic carrier, they attach to the dashboard of a car for easy access to those in the front seat. Fold-out solar power banks connect to the cigarette lighter to supply the car’s battery with electricity when it is not being used.
Public solar charging power banks are solar chargers that are installed in public places such as parks and recreation centers. These power banks are typically large in size and are owned by a local government or service providers rather than individual consumers.
Pick Your Capacity
Personal solar power banks vary widely in battery capacity. A power bank with a higher battery capacity will be able to provide more electricity to your devices; however, this usually comes at a cost in terms of physical size and price. If you want a more budget-friendly unit, you might want to consider opting for a lower-capacity device.
For most casual users, a 10,000mAh battery pack will suffice. These devices make for excellent emergency power sources in the case of a local blackout. They are also typically small enough to carry on your person while commuting to and from work or while out and about.
Solar power banks in this capacity range are designed for more hardcore power users. At maximum capacity, they can supply your personal devices with power for up to two weeks. They are a great choice if your neighborhood is prone to long-term power outages or if you want to charge multiple devices simultaneously.
Battery packs above 25,000mAh are generally reserved for heavy-duty users only. In most cases, seasoned outdoorsmen and private companies will seek out power banks of this size. This is because they are reliable for charging many devices at the same time, and they can supply several weeks’ worth of power with every charge.
Be warned, however, that some devices in this storage range are known to have fraudulent claims regarding their capacity. For example, there are several 100,000mAh that have been proven to have actual capacities far below that mark. For that reason, we suggest only choosing reputable, highly-rated devices such as the MAXOAK 50,000mAh Power Bank.
Pick Whether or Not to Waterproof
One of the most overlooked aspects of buying a solar power bank is deciding whether you want a waterproof unit. Most shoppers assume that a waterproof power bank is necessary—after all, who’s going to jump in a swimming pool with a portable battery?
However, it is often taken for granted that solar power banks will be used in pleasant, clear weather. Of course, this is not always the case. In fact, a power outage is perhaps the main reason why you might need to use a power bank for an extended period of time. Often, inclement weather is the culprit behind a power outage or blackout.
If you expect to take your power bank outdoors, or if you intend to bring it camping or hiking, we strongly recommend picking up a fully waterproof device. Be wary of water-resistant devices, as only waterproof units can keep all water and moisture away from the electrical components housed inside. We recommend going with the Digital Kingdom Waterproof Power Bank.
Pick Your Bra05nd
Like any other household electronic device, the brand you choose is an important factor. Many cheaply made devices have saturated the market, which can be less than helpful if you need to rely on them in a pinch.
Choose a reputable brand to get the best value, and the best user experience, out of your solar power bank. Plus, esteemed brands generally outperform discount brands several times over. In fact, our name-brand solar power bank charged our iPhone 8 over three times faster than our no-name device!
To save you the research here is a shortlist of some of the top brands when it comes to solar power banks. While this list is by no means exhaustive, it will at least provide a starting point for your purchasing decision: