The 5 Best Solar Powered iPad & iPhone Chargers
Harnessing the Sun is a Clean, Convenient & Money-Saving Way to Charge Your Device
Wouldn't it be great if you could find a limitless resource to power your gadgets that didn't pollute, didn't use electricity or fossil fuels, and didn't cost anything?
Oh wait, we already have it: The sun.
Solar power is one of the cleanest and most practical ways of harnessing energy - in this case, electricity. In the last few years there have been a number of good quality products that make use of the solar power to charge your cellphone, be it you iPhone, Droid or Blackberry (or Windows Phone, c'mon now), or your iPad, Galaxy, or Kindle.
In this lens I'll review each one and give you the best features of each one, so all you have to is figure out which one has the options you need - you don't have to dig around and compare them all on your own.
#1 - Opteka BP SC4000 - A 4000mAh Capacity Charger with Multiple Connectors For Lots of Devices
The Opteka BP-SC4000 is one of the best selling solar chargers available (and the #1 best seller on Amazon) - and for good reason. It provides 4000mAh, a plethora of connecting tips for charging almost every popular device you can find, and an auto shut-off feature so it won't keep powering a battery once it's charged (which can hurt the overall life of the battery). I like this model for it's trim size and good capacity onboard battery.
- 10 Connector Tips for charging Apple, Samsung, Nokia, Nintendo, and a host of other handheld devices. Basically, if it connects by USB it'll work.
- Weight: 6.5oz. It's on the heftier side of backup power units, but solar chargers are meant to set up and walk away from so this problem is minimized.
- 4000mAh Capacity By comparison, the iPhone has a battery capacity under 2000mAh, so you have more than enough juice to go around.
- LEDs to Indicate Charge Strength Four LEDs will light up to indicate the amount of charge and how much power it's getting from the sun - the lights blink faster if you're harnessing more solar power, and you'll get one LED lighting up for each 25% of its charge: 1 light for 25%, 2 lights for 50%, etc.
- 2 Year Performance Guarantee A lot of other battery backups give you less than 12-18 months.
- Size: 4.5" x 3.5" 0.5" Opteka says it is 'ultra thin' and they're right: The size of the SC4000 is in the area it uses for the solar cell (more area is better) not in the thickness.
#2 - ReVIVE Solar Restore - Smartphone-Sized Solar Power that Fits In Your Pocket
The ReVIVE Solar Restore is a small, pocketable solar charger for smartphones and other devices - it's great for handhelds but does lack power to really boost a tablet. You can charge it by USB, AC wall adapter, or of course by sunlight. Like other popular models it also uses LED lights to let you know how much of a charge you have on the device, although lacks the feature of blinking faster when it's getting more solar energy, like the Opteka SC4000 has. It uses the sun to charge it's on board 1500mAh battery - again not big, but enough to charge popular smartphones.
- Size is the strongpoint. The size of the ReVIVE is the big selling point for the device. It's the same basic size and shape of an iPhone, so it carries easily.
- 1500mAh Capacity This isn't huge, but it is enough for effectively doubling your existing battery life - and given the size of the ReVIVE it's pretty good.
- Compatibility is really good. It's compatible with just any device from a ton of popular makers, including Apple, Samsung, LG, Nokia, Sony, HTC, Motorola, and even the B&N Nook.
- Size: 4.7" x 2.6" x 0.5" at 3.6oz Very convenient size as a companion to a handheld device like an ereader or smartphone, and not heavy at all.
- Convenient suction mount so you that you can stick it to your car window and get the best sunlight rather than have it slide around the dashboard or slide into the shade.
The big bonus with the ReVIVE, and with other Solar Restore sun chargers it the add on solar panels - you can easily double the size of your solar cell with an add on solar panel, made to work specifically with this charger. This one I can recommend for it's expandability - if you need more solar cell area, you can easily add on.
#3 - AGPTek 5000mAh Charger
This is a heavy charger, but it packs the power to back it up: 5000mAh, making it usable for not only smartphones but also reaching into the tablet area as well. Made with a tough plastic hardshell, it's also durable enough to take on hiking or camping trips. It outputs at 1-2 Amps, which is suitable for both handhelds and tablets like the iPad (please note that the 5000mAh is still a bit over half the capacity for the iPad).
- 5000mAh capacity is easily one of the bigger solar chargers available.
- 9.1oz makes it a tank. It's heavy, but it's also heavy duty. Weight goes up with battery capacity, so overall this is a reasonable weight - just know that you may want to leave it at camp to do it's work rather than take hike around with it.
- Can charge in unnatural light - it does best with direct sunlight, but can still charge on the kitchen table, for example.
- Size: 5.25" x 2.7" x 0.7" A bit bigger than some other entries, but still a very portable item.
#4 - Suntactics sCharger-5 - The Heavyweight Champion of Solar Power
The Suntactic sCharger is the best option available, because it charges directly rather than charging an internal battery which then charges your device (it's not on the list of Best Practices to let a battery sit in direct sun). The sCharger harnesses enough solar power to feed directly into your device - and at wall rates! With this kind of power, you can surf the internet and talk at the same time you're recharging your battery. This kind of power doesn't come cheap, but the sCharger is a high quality piece of equipment that is not going to wear out any time soon, and provides more than enough power.
- Size: 11.5" x 6.25" x .25" opened up, and it folds into a 6.25" x 7.75" and slips into an easy carry pouch for travel.
- Water & weather resistant makes it ideal for camping and hiking.
- "Auto Retry" technology charging interruptions on your device caused by partial clouds and occasional shadows you encounter outside.
- Weight is 8oz so it will not be too heavy to carry, but you may still prefer to set it up and charge at your campsite rather than trekking around with it in your pack.
#5 - Suntactics sCharger-12 - The Rolls-Royce of Solar Tablet Chargers: Power & Convenience
The Suntactics sCharger 5 is a great option for charging a smartphone (it pumps sunlight out at a 1 Amp rate... perfect! However, for tablets your need to have around 2 Amps or better to charge the best.
That's where the SunTactics sCharger-12 comes in. It capture sunlight and turns it into a direct 2.5+ Amp pipeline right into your iPad or other tablet. It also features dual ports, so you can charge more than one device at a time if you need to, a tablet and a smartphone both at once. It does all this while still being light enough to carry conveniently. Like the sCharger-5 above, it also uses 'Auto Retry' technology to prevent big fluctuations in power when you catch a cloud.
- Size is 11.5" x 14.5" (open) and 11.75" x 7.25" (closed) Easy to carry and weather and water resistant. It's made for campers, if you will.
- Dual USB ports with independent circuits for charging both a tablet and a smartphone separately.
- Designed & built in the United States so you can support local manufacturing and jobs.
- Weight is 0.9lbs - making it easy to carry; but again, best left in the sun at your basecamp to do it's job.
Did You Know?
Most solar chargers are able to only charge enough energy to fill an onboard battery, which you then use to charge your device. The Suntactics sChargers are true solar panel, and produce enough energy to charge directly into your device - no middleman battery required.
The Sun is Everywhere, So Why Not Use It?
It's Free, Clean, and Easy to Set Up for Practical Use
Solar power has been around for a while, but it's only the state of newer technology that can - literally - put solar power in our backpacks.
Even if you don't use a cell phone on a hiking trip, you may still want to keep one power up for emergencies - and solar energy is the best way to get electricity. I hope these solar chargers can help you keep your smartphone or tablet powered up and ready to use.
More About Solar Power - Clean Energy for More Than Just Electronics
A solar charger can save a headache or two when your iPhone battery gets low on a hiking trip, but it can be used for more than that. Energy prices are going up, and on top of that most energy resources are not renewable.
Solar power is a ready source and can save money and environment. I'm also including a few highly recommended books about the benefits of solar power and practical ways it can be used.