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The 3 Best Portable Solar Chargers of 2022

We tested solar chargers from BigBlue, X-Dragon, OEUUDD, Goal Zero, and more to find the best for your setup
Best Portable Solar Charger of 2022
The panels in this review range from massive 50W options to tiny battery packs.
Credit: Jane Jackson
Friday November 4, 2022
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Our solar charger experts have been rigorously testing the best solar chargers on the market for almost 10 years. After reviewing over 65 models, you could say we know a thing or two about top portable technology. For our review update, we purchased 10 of the top models for in-person testing. While assessing each panel's charging abilities, we narrowed in on the best of the best to highlight. From gigantic panels designed for expeditions and car camping to pocket-sized battery packs made for the backcountry, we've been able to hands-on test a wide variety. The result is a detailed summary of our findings, with the best solar panels for specific uses highlighted. Ready to join the solar revolution?

If you're planning on carrying a portable solar charger into the backcountry, then you must be carrying electronics that require charging. Our outdoor electronics experts have written in-depth reviews covering expedition essentials like the best handheld GPS and top satellite messengers.

Top 10 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 10
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Awards Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award    
Price $100 List
$57.57 at Amazon
$65 List
$51.98 at Amazon
$120 List
$79.95 at Amazon
$63 List
$62.99 at Amazon
$250 List
$249.95 at REI
Overall Score Sort Icon
86
77
77
73
56
Star Rating
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Pros Inexpensive, efficient, user-friendly, great charging speed, excels in partly cloudy conditionsGood charging speed, lots of places to clip carabiners, highly affordableDurable, well-designed, fast charging times, rugged designImpressive charging speeds, can charge multiple devices simultaneously, affordableDurable, works well in all kinds of conditions, large capacity, 12V Connection, can daisy chain together, has a built-in stand
Cons Bulky, lacks portability, and the storage pouch is only semi-secureHard to reach pouch makes the panel lay crooked, just a solar panel with no battery pack,Expensive, bulky, ridged design is harder to pack, weak magnetic closurePoor interruption recoveryExpensive, heavy, lacks portability, can't charge multiple devices, massive size
Bottom Line This speedy solar charger handles multiple devices and offers reliability at a reasonable priceThis low-priced, incredibly efficient solar panel converts the sun into charges while saving on costsA powerful, well-designed, durable panel, with fast charging speeds
Decent solar charger that charges well
A powerful, fast charging machine, capable of charging multiple devices, complete with a reasonable price tagThis massive panel with an expensive price tag and a large capacity performed below our expectations
Rating Categories BigBlue 3 X-Dragon 20W SunJack 25W Ryno-Tuff 21W Goal Zero Nomad 50
Direct Solar Charging Speed (35%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Indirect Solar Charging Speed (35%)
10.0
8.5
8.5
6.5
7.0
Portability (15%)
5.5
5.5
4.0
6.5
1
Multiple Device Charging (15%)
9.5
7.5
8.5
8.0
1
Specs BigBlue 3 X-Dragon 20W SunJack 25W Ryno-Tuff 21W Goal Zero Nomad 50
Panel Size (watts) Power Output? 28W 20W 25W 21W 50W
Weight (measured) 21.8oz 21.1oz 29.4oz 17.5oz 110.4oz
# of USB outlets 3 2 2 2 1
Max USB Output Current (amps per port) 2.4 amp 3 amp 2 amp 2.1 amp 2.4 amp
Size folded 11.1" x 6.3" x 1.3" 12.1" x 7.2" x .51" 12.6" x 7.8" x 0.8" 5.9" x 11.8" x 0.8" 17" x 11.25" x 2.5"
Size opened 33.1" x 11.1" x 0.2" 23.3" x 12.1" x .12" 24.6" x 7.8" x 0.8" 18" x 11.8" x 0.1" 17" x 53" x 1.5"
Battery? No No No No No
Charge capacity (mAh) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Charge tablet? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Charge laptop? No No No No Yes
Charge iPhone/Smartphone Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Panel outside material PET Polymer Fabric PTFE PET Polymer Fabric PET Polymer Fabric Hard plastic
Panel type Mono-crystalline Mono-crystalline Mono-crystalline Mono-crystalline Mono-crystalline
Battery input (Volts / Amps) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Direct USB Plug? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Daisy Chain? No No No No Yes
12-Volt connection No No No No Yes
DC Output No No No No Yes


Best Overall Portable Solar Panel


BigBlue 3


86
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Direct Solar Charging Speed 8.0
  • Indirect Solar Charging Speed 10.0
  • Portability 5.5
  • Multiple Device Charging 9.5
Weight: 21.8 oz | Number of USB outlets: 3
REASONS TO BUY
Efficient with great charging speed
Excels in marginal conditions
Inexpensive
REASONS TO AVOID
Lacks portability
Bulky

The BigBlue 3 goes above and beyond the rest. Thanks to its impressive charging abilities and consistent performance across the board, this panel maintains its place at the top of the pack for another year. Though there may be other options out there that charge faster or look cooler, nothing beats this model when it comes to overall performance. When your electronics need a boost, this panel will deliver a consistent charge in variable conditions (from full sun to partially cloudy). In terms of features, we love the built-in ammeter. We also appreciate this panel's simplicity and reasonable price tag. With three USB ports and a classic fold-out design, the BigBlue is an excellent all-arounder that will efficiently charge most small gadgets.

One downside to this panel is its weight. Weighing in at 21.8 ounces, it's a bit heavy. As a result, it's better suited for front-country use, though it will excel wherever you use it. Other than its weight, this panel receives high marks across the board.

Read more: BigBlue 3 review

solar charger - best overall portable solar panel
With six large panels of solar cells, the BigBlue is efficient, even when partially shaded.
Credit: Jane Jackson

Best Value for a Solar Panel


X-Dragon 20W


77
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Direct Solar Charging Speed 8.0
  • Indirect Solar Charging Speed 8.5
  • Portability 5.5
  • Multiple Device Charging 7.5
Weight: 21.1 oz | Panel Size: 20 Watts
REASONS TO BUY
Good charging speed
Easy to hang
Great value
Lightweight
REASONS TO AVOID
Hard to reach pouch makes panel lay crooked

When you're outside in the sun, having a fast charging panel can make the difference between a dead battery and one sparking with charge. The X-Dragon brought electricity to our devices. This 20W solar panel provided solid charging at a fast speed and at a reasonable price. The high conversion rate made the panel efficiently charge on pretty sunny days and when there were dark cloudy skies. The X-Dragon also produces up to three amps per port, providing an excellent amount of charge for any USB device.

Roughly the size of a notebook, this solar panel unfolds its three panels to capture an impressive amount of sunlight. The X-Dragon had a solid conversion rate, transferring a lot of sun into charges. Anyone looking for a backpacking solar panel, a place to charge while at basecamp, or just some extra energy in the sun should check out this affordable, strong solar panel.

Read more: X-Dragon 20W review

solar charger - best value for a solar panel
The Anker PowerPort 21W, an efficient three-paneled solar charger, soaking up maximum rays in the Sierra sunshine.
Credit: Jane Jackson

Best Battery Pack and Panel Combo


OEUUDD 25000mAh


31
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Direct Solar Charging Speed 1.0
  • Indirect Solar Charging Speed 1.5
  • Portability 7.5
  • Multiple Device Charging 7.5
Weight: 18.6 oz | Number of USB outlets: 3
REASONS TO BUY
Large battery capacity
Portable size
LED back panel
Lots of charges in bad weather
REASONS TO AVOID
Brick like shape
Hard to replenish battery via solar

The OEUUDD 25000mAh battery pack is a high-capacity battery; it has three USB ports that deliver rapid charge to small electronics. We love that it has a large capacity and can fully charge a phone multiple times when the battery is topped off. Additionally, the small solar panel works well enough for the battery to replenish using solar, though it takes longer than traditional panels. In addition to all these great features, the OEUUDD 25,000mAH rings in as one of the most reasonably priced options for solar charger set-ups.

Our issues with this battery pack are similar to the problems we've had with other battery packs/solar options — patience is required. This product does not work that well as a solar charger alone; if you're planning to fully charge the 25,000 mAh battery off the sun, give yourself a few full days. That said, the panel will continue to trickle charge the battery pack, even when small electronics are plugged in, which is a feature that we appreciate. We recommend also considering a top portable charger and pair it with a panel.

Read more: OEUUDD 25000mAh review

solar charger - the oeuudd is a convenient portable size.
The OEUUDD is a convenient portable size.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price
86
BigBlue 3
bigblue 3 solar charger review
$100
Editors' Choice Award
77
X-Dragon 20W
x-dragon 20w solar charger review
$65
Best Buy Award
77
SunJack 25W
sunjack 25w solar charger review
$120
73
Ryno-Tuff 21W
ryno-tuff 21w solar charger review
$63
56
Goal Zero Nomad 50
goal zero nomad 50 solar charger review
$250
41
Goal Zero Nomad 20
goal zero nomad 20 solar charger review
$150
31
OEUUDD 25000mAh
oeuudd 25000mah solar charger review
$42
Top Pick Award
30
Dizaul 5000mAh Portable
dizaul 5000mah portable solar charger review
$24
29
Powertraveller Falcon 21
powertraveller falcon 21 solar charger review
$175
23
Blavor Qi 10,000 mAh
blavor qi 10,000 mah solar charger review
$45

solar charger - an assortment of test subjects - ready for the sun.
An assortment of test subjects - ready for the sun.
Credit: Jane Jackson

Why You Should Trust Us


James Lucas who authors this review, is a long-time writer, editor, and photographer. As an avid climber who authored the Yosemite Valley Bouldering , James spends hundreds of days outside every year documenting the outdoors and testing gear while traveling around his home in Boulder, Colorado and where his heart is in the Sierra. From working out of his van in the dispersed sun of the Rockies to base camping on top of sunny El Capitan in Yosemite, James uses solar panels from large to small to harness the sun and power his adventures, charging his camera gear and his connection to the world. Outdoor Gear Lab and James performed rigorous testing on all the models in this thorough review.

We put this comprehensive review together after researching over 80 different products on the market. After careful researching, we selected and bought the best of the best. Then, we tested each product objectively and thoroughly. We look at how quickly each model charges with different amounts of sunlight, how it handles multiple devices at once, the rate of charging, and its portability and durability. To test our metrics, we used each contender in the field. Our process reflects the most up-to-date products, with updates occurring multiple times per year.


Analysis and Test Results


Now more than ever, solar technology is growing in popularity. In this updated review, we've tested a wide variety of portable models. Our current line-up includes small panels with built-in battery packs to massive 50W behemoths. By spending time testing these solar panels on the road, we get to see firsthand the latest and greatest #vanlife solar setups. After looking over several options, we rated each on four important metrics: direct solar charging, indirect solar charging, multiple device charging, and portability. Whether you are looking for a solar setup for car camping or a compact charger to power your iPhone while on a backpacking trip, our review offers excellent recommendations for anybody.

Dozens of companies produce affordable, effective monocrystalline panels ranging from small 5W models to more substantial, powerful options that will allow for a faster charge. These monocrystalline models are much more effective and lightweight than their polycrystalline forefathers. We tested a few small wattage models that were portable and lightweight. The OEUUDD 25000mAh, has a larger capacity battery and a 5W panel. While it doesn't function as well as some of the larger solar panels, their ability to charge our devices made them forces to be reckoned with.

solar charger
Credit: Jane Jackson

We filled out the upper end of the wattage range with the addition of the Anker 21, the SunJack 25, and the Ryno-Tuff. We added the BigBlue 3 and the Goal Zero Nomad 50 on the far upper end of the spectrum. In general, solar technology is improving, and most panels performed fairly well. That said, it's important to note that in this review, the panels' metric ratings range in scores, mostly due to their output capabilities (i.e., wattage), rather than the design of the models themselves.

Just as was the case in past reviews, panels with large-capacity battery packs and small-capacity solar panels tend to charge our electronics quickly but take eons to charge via the sun. With this style of charger, we recommend topping off your battery pack at home before bringing it into the field.

The Goal Zero Nomad 20 and the Goal Zero Nomad 50 are capable of charging laptops.

We looked at each solar panel's durability as well. By design, portable solar panels need to be able to withstand long exposure to the elements. The way to get ample charge to small electronics is by leaving the panels exposed to the sun for long periods. To ensure these panels are up to the task, we have tested them in all kinds of conditions — from the baking desert sun to high alpine terrain to extreme wind and rain. In general, almost all the panels stood up to the challenge. The canvas protective fabric is like an exoskeleton guarding the important insides of the panels. Solar technology seems to be advancing too, with companies working to make cells more durable and resistant to sun and water damage.

During our testing, we also checked out each panel's accessories. Panels that don't come with a built-in battery are often paired with a top-quality portable external battery pack. This arrangement allows the panel to charge the battery during the day while you're using your devices, and you can charge your device at night via the external battery. External batteries are an essential addition to any portable charging kit. Most modern tablets and smartphones demand higher power (like 2A charging ports), and this becomes harder to produce from the sun (which is variable at best). Instead of bulking up the solar panels themselves and making them too cumbersome to use, we found it much more effective to simply charge external batteries on a rotating system to keep a constant stockpile of fully charged battery packs ready to go. That way, you have a lighter-weight solar charger that charges a high-quality external battery. This battery can, in turn, produce the necessary 2A of current to charge small devices. Overall, we generally prefer going with a top quality panel paired with a great battery rather than choosing a battery with an integrated panel.


Value


Unlike some other products we test here at OutdoorGearLab (we've tested bikes- non-electric models -that cost more than our cars!), portable solar chargers tend to be on the affordable end of the outdoor gear spectrum. However, even with such a reasonable price point, some models had much better value than others. For example, the reasonably priced OEUUDD 25000mAh performed exceptionally well across the board, even standing up to some of the more expensive, higher capacity models like the Goal Zero Nomad 50. Other models cost a pretty penny and did not compare to the high scorers in our side-by-side tests. To determine the value of the products we gauged the ability to charge, the portability, and how many devices the panel could charge against the price. This metric often comes down to being the most important as it determines the actual worthiness of the product.

solar charger - some of our testing fleet catching rays under the watchful eye of...
Some of our testing fleet catching rays under the watchful eye of Castleton Tower in Southern Utah.
Credit: Jane Jackson

Direct Solar Charging Speed


The main use for a portable solar panel is charging a device when electricity is not readily available. We took this into account when we weighted direct solar charging speed as one of our two highest rating testing metric. We used our lead tester's personal cell phone to execute this experiment — a Google Pixel 3. We timed each panel as it charged our phone and also used a standard small-capacity battery pack to cross-reference our results. It should be noted that in previous iterations of this test, we used an iPhone 6, which is also reflected.


We set each one in full sun for thirty minutes to test the panels and noted how much charge the phone received. This way, we could obtain a good read on how efficiently the individual models worked over extended periods. We also timed how long it took each one to charge our 10,000 mAh portable battery packs, so we also had that data to compare. In general, this size battery can charge an iPhone from 0 to 100% about two times.

We found a broad range in the ability to charge batteries. This considerable variability is due to the extensive range in output power of the contenders we tested. Twenty-one watts is four times as powerful as a 5W device, so it makes sense that panels like the BigBlue 3 earned one of the highest in our testing. The Ryno-Tuff 21W also impressed us in this metric, especially considering its humble 21-watt capacity. This panel charged our phone 34% over the course of a 30 minute period.

solar charger - using this usb multimeter, we found that the measured output was...
Using this USB multimeter, we found that the measured output was often less than what the manufacturers' claimed.
Credit: Jane Jackson

The main function of a solar charger is to charge electronics efficiently. Therefore, we recommend investing in a higher wattage charger to facilitate this function. For speed and efficiency, a more effective watt option is more efficient. That is unless you're trying to save weight or money, in which case a less powerful model might be a good compromise. With that in mind, it's no surprise that some of our highest scoring panels in this metric were panels with the largest capacity.

Indirect Solar Charging Speed


Here we consider the following questions: is your panel going to quit on you just because one cloud passes overhead, as you left it out on what appeared to be a clear afternoon? Or is the solar model strapped to your backpack, causing your phone to constantly vibrate as the connection goes in and out of the USB port? These are the questions we addressed in our charge interruption recovery metric. We measured the amount each model charged within a half-hour span to test this criterion, first in full shade and then again in intermittent sun and shade.


solar charger - all the surface area on this bigblue 42 helps the panel endure...
All the surface area on this BigBlue 42 helps the panel endure interruptions.
Credit: Jane Jackson

The highest performing models in this category were the ones with a large capacity (15-20W or higher) or a built-in external battery. Though small battery/panel combos, like the OEUUDD 25000mAh, can manage shade — since it continues to charge your device off the battery — the panels themselves are too small to receive substantial power from the sun. The panel capacity of these models means their solar production provides a backup as opposed to a primary power source.

solar charger - compared to the bigblue, the falcon has a larger surface area with...
Compared to the BigBlue, the Falcon has a larger surface area with solar cells, improving its performance in this metric.
Credit: Jane Jackson

Those with a larger surface area also tended to do better in this metric because there are more cells exposed to the sun at one time. The BigBlue 3, which has lots of surface area, comes with a built-in auto-restart function. This feature allows the panel to reconnect to your device after being shaded automatically. Naturally, the unit will still charge slower in cloudy conditions. The auto-restart feature will help to continue the flow of power in less-than-ideal charging conditions. It also helps avoid the constant vibrating that happens when a phone is continually reconnecting to a panel.

solar charger - these are the types of conditions we wish for when charging...
These are the types of conditions we wish for when charging electronics using solar power.
Credit: Jane Jackson

Multiple Device Charging Speed


As you might guess, when tasked with the challenge of charging multiple devices at once, the more powerful models performed better than lower wattage models. Smaller panels such as the 5W and 7W models don't have the power to sustain two gadgets at once. If this is a priority for you, then select a panel with a higher wattage. Generally, our testing found lower watt models to be less capable in this metric than the higher watt devices that can charge two devices.


The BigBlue 3, Anker 21, and SunJack were high scorers, as was the OEUUDD 25000mAh. As discussed above, the results show that models with higher wattage are more effective at charging multiple devices at once. We were impressed by the SunJack's overall power and efficiency in this metric. Panels with built-in battery packs also excel in this metric, with the Goertek holding its own.

solar charger - both the eceen (previously tested) and the blavor impressed us with...
Both the ECEEN (previously tested) and the Blavor impressed us with their burly designs.
Credit: Jane Jackson

Portability


Since an essential function of many of these panels is to remain portable, this is a crucial category. A too heavy or bulky model will be left behind to collect dust in the closet rather than accompany you on your next adventure.


The panels that cleaned up in this metric in terms of weight were the Dizaul 5000mAh Portableand the Blavor Qi 10,000mAh. These models are the latest in battery-pack/solar charger combos, and we were impressed to see manufacturers getting this design into such a compact shape and size. These two panels weigh 4.8 ounces and 9.3 ounces, respectively.

solar charger - small panels, like the beartwo, are easy to throw into a bag without...
Small panels, like the BEARTWO, are easy to throw into a bag without much thought about weight or size.
Credit: Jane Jackson

Others come with lots of accessories and extra features, which make them more exciting to use but also make them bulky and unappealing to carry on long trips. There is a happy medium between overkill and overly simple, which of course, depends on your preference and needs.

solar charger - the falcon is definitely one of the largest panels we&#039;ve used in a...
The Falcon is definitely one of the largest panels we've used in a while.
Credit: Jane Jackson

While portability is a critical consideration, we placed more emphasis on performance. If the panel doesn't work, then it is just training weight. That was our reasoning behind handing out awards to larger panels like the BigBlue 3.

Conclusion


Deciding on the right solar charger can be an overwhelming task. To make it easier to wrap your head around, you'll want to figure out what you will be using it for and go from there. Are you running a mobile office and need to keep multiple, energy-hungry devices happy? Or are you concerned with having a fully charged phone on a weekend excursion?

The smaller watt options are going to be less expensive and often less powerful. As you increase the wattage, the panels typically become more efficient. The sky is the limit, but it depends on how much money you are willing to spend. We narrowed in on the top competitors and put them to the test. Some perform better than others, and a higher price tag doesn't necessarily mean a better product. We hope that our thorough tests and reviews of these products will be useful to you as you shop around for your new solar charger.

James Lucas and Matt Spencer


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