Solar Charger vs Power Bank - Which is Best?

There are three categories of portable battery chargers: Solar panel chargers, power banks, and hybrid solar/battery chargers. Both solar chargers and power banks serve their purpose, but we do not think that hybrid chargers are worth spending money on. If you buy a hybrid solar/battery charger the chances are you will just be disappointed when you notice just how slow they are at charging. Looking at solar charger vs power bank and which one is the best for you it all depends on your specific use case. In this article, we will list all the pros and cons for each type and also give advice about what to consider when shopping for a quality charger.

Index

  1. Solar panel charger pros
  2. Solar panel charger cons
  3. How many Watts do a solar charger need to charge my phone fast?
  4. Power bank pros
  5. Power bank cons
  6. How many charges will I get out of a power bank?
  7. Hybrid solar/battery charger pros
  8. Hybrid solar/battery charger cons
  9. Conclusion

Solar Panel Charger Pros

Solar Panel Charger Cons

How many Watts do a solar charger need to charge my phone fast?

In theory 10 Watt since you want 5 Volts and 2 Ampere to quickly charge a phone or tablet. In reality, there is always some loss in efficiency due to heat dissipation and resistance in the electronics. The important thing to look for to see if the solar charger is fast is that it can output 5 Volts at 2 Ampere. High-quality solar panel chargers marked 15 Watt or higher should be able to accomplish this. The TuffGear 15W is a good example of a solar charger that will charge a phone fast and still is lightweight and compact.

How long does it take to charge my phone with a solar panel charger?

A typical solar panel marked with 5 Volts 2 Ampere output would take 1 hour to charge an iPhone 7 (2 000 mAh). A panel labeled 5 Volts 1 Ampere would take 2 hours.

Power Bank Pros

Power Bank Cons

How long does it take to charge a phone using a power bank?

A typical power bank with an output of 5 Volts 2 Ampere would take 1 hour to charge an iPhone 7 (2 000 mAh). A power bank marked 5 Volts 1 Ampere would take 2 hours.

How many charges will I get out of a power bank?

One might think that a 20 000 mAh battery will fully charge a 2 000mAh phone 10 times. This is not the case since the charging is not 100% effective. The lower Ampere the power bank use to charge your device the more energy is lost. Charging at 1 Ampere typical gives a 10% loss. On top of that, the fact that many manufacturers mark their power banks in a deceiving way makes it even more far from the correct number. Many power banks are not marked with the capacity at 5 Volt (which is what your phone or tablet need) instead they label the battery's capacity at 3.7 Volt. This only gives 74% of the capacity when charging at 5 Volt. So a 20 000 mAh power bank that is labeled in this way would only give 6.6 full charges and not 10.

Hybrid Solar/Battery Charger Pros

Hybrid Solar/Battery Charger Cons

Conclusion

Hybrid chargers have too small and weak solar panels to work satisfactory and should be treated as novelty power banks. The very best option is to get both a solar charger and a power bank. This combination will provide you with free portable electricity that does not run out. If you can only afford one of the two it all depends on your use case. If you are satisfied to have a limited number of full charges for your phone, a power bank is the best option because of it's compact size and portability. But if you plan on going off the grid for longer periods, a high-quality solar panel charger is the way to go.

If you have decided which portable charger is the best for you we offer more in-depth articles on both Power Banks and Solar Chargers to help you make the best pick possible.