How to Choose Solar Chargers and Portable Power

In short, you use or recharge your electronic equipment with power stored in a portable battery that was first supplied by a power source.


The Power Supply System

You’ll be well on your way to identifying the right technology for your needs if you grasp the fundamental components of the power supply chain. In chronological order:

Energy Sources

Several power sources can be utilized to directly charge a power storage unit (battery pack) or your electronic gadget. The most prevalent sources, in order of speed:

alternating current (wall outlet)


12-volt direct current (car charger)

USB flash drive (any source: wall, car, computer, or even the BioLite Wood Burning CampStove)

The solar panel

Kinetic movement

Fuel cell-powered by hydrogen

To recharge your portable power pack when you’re not near a wall outlet, a vehicle, or a USB port, you’ll need a battery pack that can be charged by solar power or another method.

Solar Power

This is the most popular type of off-grid power source. However, consider using a solar panel for extra energy if your electronics consumption surpasses the available power stored in an extra portable battery.

Solar energy is your best alternative when many recharge of your electronics is required on a long trip.

Solar Charger Buying Guide

There are several popular solar panel options available:

Only rigid or semi-flexible panels

Panels with built-in storage batteries

Panels with distinct (independent) storage batteries

The primary variables to consider are:

Total surface area: The larger the solar panel, the more sunlight it absorbs and converts to power stored in a battery. Although a smaller panel is easier to pack, it takes longer to charge a battery. A large surface area is also ideal for conditions such as cloud cover or low-angled, low-intensity light in winter or when logistical restrictions limit the amount of time it can be exposed to sunlight. Charge times for the same battery might range from 4 to 16 hours of sunlight, depending on surface area and light conditions.

Output capacity: Watts is the unit of measurement for solar panels. The greater the number, the more power is produced in a certain period.

Panels that are semi-flexible or rigid: Semi-flexible solar panels fold or roll up for easy transport and open up to provide a larger surface area than typical rigid panels. Consider the connection choices for a solar panel so that you can safely attach it to your bag, bike, kayak, or tent.

Fuel Cells Powered by Hydrogen

The most recent advancement in portable power gadgets is generating electricity from hydrogen (a chemical reaction that creates electricity). This necessitates the use of a disposable hydrogen cartridge. It produces a low voltage, yet it is available at all times.

Power Retention (Battery Pack)

Rather than directly charging an electrical item, a solar energy producer is better to charge a storage battery. Why? These power sources may not have any circuitry to regulate the flow of current into your electrical gadget, which could cause damage. Instead, check the manufacturer’s suggestions; some solar panels provide a regulated USB output for charging small electronic devices directly.

An integrated storage battery combines the benefits of a power generator to generate power and a battery to store it for later recharging.

An independent storage battery allows you to leave the generator (e.g., solar panel) at home or base camp and only bring the battery.

When purchasing a solar panel with a storage battery, pay close attention to the battery specs. This is possibly the most significant component of the package.

Specifications for Portable Battery Packs

Storage space: This indicates how much charge the battery pack can store for subsequent use in charging your gadgets before it needs to be recharged.