Solar isn't just great for charging things - it can power your home too

Solar isn't just great for charging things - it can power your home too

Solar battery chargers: What are they for and which ones are best in 2020?

Written by Andrew Sendy

Updated August 12, 2021

5 minutes read

Categories: Solar batteries

Best solar battery chargers in 2019

Solar battery chargers: What are they for and which ones are best in 2020?

Solar battery chargers are becoming a popular way to reap the benefits of solar energy. There is an ever-increasing number of great options on the market.

Just like residential solar panels, solar battery chargers use photovoltaic (PV) cells to turn solar energy into an electrical charge. However, these chargers don’t directly power your device; the solar cells have their own batteries that get charged up by solar energy, and then distribute that charge to your device’s battery system.

Solar chargers are typically small and portable, perfect for those who need quick charging options on the go. Whether you’re in your car, out for a hike, camping, or on vacation, a portable charger guarantees that phones, tablets, and other batteries you have with you never go wanting for a charge.

What can be charged with solar power battery chargers?

Solar battery charging is gaining some serious steam in the solar market. It wasn’t that long ago that solar technology was too cumbersome to be effective as a portable charging option, but today, chargers of all sizes and capabilities are available to charge things like:

  • Smartphones
  • Laptops/tablets
  • Flashlights
  • Car batteries
  • RV batteries
  • Boat batteries

Really, anything with a battery can be charged with a solar charger...

Whether you need a portable charging station, or you just want to take small steps towards renewable energy, solar chargers make it happen.

[For more details on making a full transition to renewable energy, check out our handy solar power savings calculator.]

What’s the average cost of a solar battery charger?

The average handheld solar battery charger won’t cost you more than $50, though exact prices depend on which battery charger you choose. For those interested in finding a solar charger for their mobile phones or flashlights, a standard option like Necktek 21W will more than do the job.

The cheapest options on the market can cost as little as $25, though these will generally feature longer charging times and less functionality than their more expensive counterparts. These will do fine for basic phone charging and other small applications, but they won’t provide enough charge to power your larger toys.

Now, if we’re talking about solar battery chargers strong enough to charge vehicle batteries, the price will go up. Expect to pay at least a couple hundred dollars for solar chargers of this size and output. It’s a bit more of an investment, but like all solar technologies, it’ll pay for itself over time.

What should I look for when I choose a solar charger?

The biggest question affecting your decision is what you’ll need it for. Are you interested in a small charger for your phone while traveling? Or are you buying a charger that will function as a fail-safe for your RV or boat in emergencies?

This basic question will determine the size of the solar charger. From there, you can look at your options and find one that has the functionality you need:

  • How fast do you want the device to charge?
  • Will you need to charge multiple devices at once?
  • Is it important that it’s portable and easy to lug around?
  • Do I need any other features, such as charge controllers?

To help you decide, we’ve pulled together a few of our favorite solar battery chargers for electronics, cars, and more.

What are the best solar battery chargers for electronics in 2020?

Our first pick is the Dizaul 5000mAh portable solar power bank. This is a great entry-level option for those interested in affordability and portability—the power bank is compact, water-resistant, and light, making it perfect for travel. However, its limited solar surface area means that it’ll charge slowly, so keep that in mind as you plan.

Another great charging option is the Jetsun Solar Charger 16750mAh portable solar power bank. Clocking in around the same price point as Dizual’s offering, this power bank does a bit of everything. It features multiple USB ports, a built-in LED light, and a fast charging time—perfect for recreation or as an emergency power bank.

What are the best solar battery chargers for cars in 2020?

When it comes to solar battery chargers for cars, we suggest checking out this ACOPOWER solar panel kit.

Portable and efficient with a built-in charge controller, this has everything you need to bring solar power to your car. Keep in mind that for most solar car chargers, the name of the game is trickle charging—meaning slow charging over time. For this reason, you’ll find that most solar car chargers work best at maintaining an active charge in your car’s battery, with less ability to jumpstart one that’s dead.

What are the best solar battery chargers for RVs in 2020?

For larger vehicles, such as RVs, you’ll need a charging kit with some power. For this, we have to go with the Sunforce 50048 60W solar charging kit. This is a series of solar panels that can be mounted on top of your RV or nearby to power your devices.

This is a great way to decrease your energy costs with little fuss. The panels are easy to set up and come with built-in instructions on how to wire them to your devices. It even features a diode that helps prevent battery discharge over long periods.

What are the best solar battery chargers for boats in 2020?

The biggest benefit of solar chargers for boats involves preserving battery life. Every battery discharges over time, and if you don’t take your boat out much, your battery performance and life will suffer. To get around this, we recommend the DuraVolt solar battery charger. This is one of the easiest ways to upgrade your boat with solar power without the need to purchase any additional equipment, such as solar regulators. It’s lightweight, flexible, and surprisingly affordable for what it provides as a battery backup. Check it out.

What new solar charger technology is on the horizon?

Solar technology is developing fast, and there are some great new advancements on the horizon.

One example is roof-mounted solar panels for cars. This type of system would allow cars to collect solar charge on the go, reducing the energy needed to operate the car’s electrical functions. I’m eager to see how this technology matures over the next few years.

You can learn about other emerging solar technologies in this article: Solar today and tomorrow: Why our future will be solar powered.

Can you use a solar battery charger for a large battery like a Tesla Powerwall?

No. Solar battery chargers are small units designed to charge small devices or to provide slow “trickle charging” to larger batteries like an RV, car or boat battery.

Charging a larger battery storage unit like a Tesla Powerwall 2 or other popular units like the LG Chem Resu or Sonnen will require greater amounts of electricity. Such output can only be provided by grid electricity or a large solar panel array such as those used in rooftop systems. If you’re curious to see how many solar panels would be required for a home with your energy needs, along with the potential cost and savings, check out Solar Estimate’s easy online solar calculator.

Author: Andrew Sendy Andrew Sendy LinkedIn

As chairman of Solar Investments Inc and chairman of the largest solar panel installation company in South Australia, Andy is passionate about solar power. With his unique working background he writes on the residential solar industry in America from a unique perspective.