Which solar power bank is best?
A power bank is a nifty gadget to have if you know that a wall socket or charging adapter won’t be available for some time. For example, when you go on a five-day hike over a section of the Appalachian Trail, you know that an electrical outlet will be a luxury.
But even regular power banks go flat and must be recharged to use them again. With no socket in sight to charge your phone or power bank, the best solution is to hook up your gadgets to a solar power bank. The QiSa 38,800mAh Solar Power Bank With Dual 3.1A Outputs is an excellent option; it’s waterproof and features a built-in flashlight.
What to know before you buy a solar power bank
Understand how it works
As the name implies, a solar power bank relies on the power of the sun to recharge. While it also can recharge through a USB cable like a regular battery, that isn’t always possible. So, to ensure that you always have power available, it comes with a series of small solar panels to soak up the rays. The panels are much smaller than those on sustainable-energy houses, but the principle is the same.
Battery charging time
As you would expect, the more solar panels you have, the faster the power bank charges. But if you are out in the woods, you definitely don’t want to carry an extra bag just for additional panels. So, the charging time is much slower than regular charging through a USB. Typically, you can expect to get a full charge after leaving it in sunlight for about 24 hours.
It needs direct sunlight — and lots of it
The charging time of a solar power bank is related to how many or how big the solar panels are, but direct sunlight is crucial. The tiny photoelectric cells are made from monocrystalline or polycrystalline silicon and perform best in bright, direct sunlight. The panels still deliver a charge if they are in the shade or it’s overcast, but at a reduced charging capacity.
What to look for in a quality solar power bank
Taking so long to fully charge, you probably want to make the best of the situation by plugging as many devices into it as possible. That is why a good-quality solar charger handles three or four simultaneous connections. But you must consider which charging connections your devices use, as solar power banks often only support one or two types. The most common are a micro USB connection for Android phones and a Lightning connection for Apple devices.
The capacity of the battery
Solar power banks aren’t that much different from regular battery packs when it comes to capacity. Measured in milliampere-hours, the capacity relates to how much of a charge it can hold when full. For example, an iPhone 13 has a 3,227mAh battery. A power bank with a maximum capacity of 6,000mAh should recharge the phone almost twice. Naturally, the larger the capacity, the more times it can recharge a device. A good-quality power bank has a capacity of at least 10,000mAh.
Adjustable solar panels
With the entire power bank reliant on direct sunlight, it is critical that you have as many solar panels as possible. While basic power banks have one flat panel on their bodies, a good-quality solar battery has multiple. Some are extendable or fold out, so you can adjust the panel according to the sun’s position.
How much you can expect to spend on a solar power bank
The price of a solar power bank depends on the capacity of the battery and the technology of the solar panels. A basic model with an average capacity costs $20-$30, while a power bank with fold-out panels and a higher capacity costs $40-$80.
Solar power bank FAQ
What’s the difference between a solar power bank and a mobile charger?
A. While the two gadgets work on the same technological principle, a power bank stores the electrical charge in a battery. A solar mobile charger doesn’t have a built-in battery and charges a mobile device directly through sunlight.
Can you use a mobile charger to recharge a solar power bank?
A. Yes, in theory, that should be possible. It would be the same principle as using the sun to charge the power bank while it’s connected to a secondary USB charger. The best advice is to check the manual if recharging from two simultaneous sources is possible.
What’s the best solar power bank to buy?
Top solar power bank
What you need to know: This power bank has an enormous battery capacity that can recharge an iPhone 13 more than 10 times.
What you’ll love: The four high-conversion solar charging panels provide a continuous 12-watt charge, and they are adjustable to make the most of the sun’s movement.
What you should consider: It has two USB ports and wireless charging, so only three devices can recharge at the same time.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top solar power bank for the money
What you need to know: With a built-in flashlight and a cable for Android and Apple devices, this 30,000mAh power bank can recharge everybody’s mobile phones.
What you’ll love: In addition to the cables, the power bank has a Qi-compatible wireless charger, with the solar panel on the opposite side. It is waterproof, dustproof and secured in rugged housing.
What you should consider: The drop-proof protection makes this power bank larger than most.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: No cable? No problem, as this power bank has a Qi-compatible wireless surface to charge most devices.
What you’ll love: The solar power bank is made from rugged plastic that is drop-proof and has a built-in flashlight. The battery capacity is enough to recharge any modern phone a few times.
What you should consider: The panels are relatively small, so it will take longer to reach a full charge.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Charlie Fripp writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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