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Working remotely using a laptop is becoming more and more common, and with it comes the challenge of keeping a computer powered up when electric outlets are scarce. Whether at an outdoor café, camping in the wilderness, on a road trip, living off-grid, or in a sudden power-outage situation, a portable solar laptop charger is a handy device to have.
Most portable solar laptop chargers function as mini power stations capable of charging other electronics like cell phones, cameras, drones, and tablets – to name a few. Now, with more options than ever to choose from, we’ve sorted through the latest solar devices to find our favorites.
Here are the six best portable solar laptop chargers.
Best Overall: Jackery 1000W Peak Solar Generator SG550 with 100W Solar Panel
Founded by a former Apple battery engineer in Silicon Valley, Jackery Power Outdoors is one of the most well-recognized names in off-grid power supplies. The Solar Generator SG290 comes with a whopping 90-watt panel that folds shut and can easily be toted away using the carry handle. The 400-watt output can charge a Macbook four times before the power station requires a recharge.
Another stand-out feature is the built in MPPT module that monitors voltage and output of the solar panel, adding up to 23% more solar recharging efficiency. There’s also an automatic power-saving setting to power down when not in use. The Jackery can charge up to four devices at one time.
Best Budget: Expert Power S200
ExpertPower Station’s S200 is an affordable starter kit for charging laptops on the go, as well as phones, tablets, drones, and other devices (up to 200watts). The kit includes a 50-watt, weather-resistant solar panel that’s built on a copper foundation, and it can provide up to 22% to 25% energy efficiency (depending on cloud coverage).
The panel has a flexible design and weighs just 2.4 pounds, while the portable lithium generator weighs 4.4 pounds, making this an extremely lightweight option. The generator can be charged using a car outlet, wall outlet, or using the solar panel (mount holes are pre-drilled for easy installation).
Best Portable: Goal Zero Sherpa 100AC + Nomad 20 Solar Kit
For an ultraportable laptop charger than can easily pack up and fit into luggage or a hiking pack, the Sherpa 100AC by Goal Zero weighs just over four pounds – for both the charger and the 20-watt solar panel. The Sherpa is ideal for charging laptops, cameras, tablets, and phones, plus it even has a wireless charging option.
The Nomad 20 panel can fold shut and comes with a kickstand to get the proper angle in the sun. It takes about 7.5 to 15 hours to recharge (so a full day in the sun), however, it can also recharge from another USB source (in eight to 10 hours) or from the car adapter or wall charger in about three hours.
Best Splurge: EcoFlow River Max Portable Solar Generator Kit
If you’re shopping for a laptop charger but are considering a versatile option, the River Max (R600) includes an expansion battery for added power without having to purchase a second device. The River Max can also handle a roster of electronics ranging from laptops, coffee makers, hotplate burners, televisions, hair dryers, and almost any gadget that draws less than 600 watts.
The kit includes a foldable, 110 watt solar panel, allowing the battery to recharge faster than most other options. The R600 weighs 11 pounds, can fully charge within 1.6 hours on a wall charger, and can also be paired with a mobile app to set recharge alerts and monitor output.
Best for RVing: Patriot Power Sidekick
Specializing in emergency equipment such as water filters and ready-to-eat survival meals, the outdoor company 4 Patriots also makes must-have solar devices. The Power Sidekick is a reliable and efficient solar charger that’s designed for sudden power-outages, and is also a good addition to camping or RV gear.
Although it's lightweight, the Sidekick can charge phones, laptops, medical devices, WiFi routers, radios, and more with a capacity of 300 watts. The four foldable solar panels (connected) provide total 40 watts of power to recharge the Sidekick and can also directly charge any device that has a USB port. There’s a light on the back that’s useful in a tent or on the picnic table, and the clear digital display shows the charging levels and how many watts the laptop being charged is using.
The company supports active-duty military and veterans’ charities.
Best Backpack Charger: Voltaic Systems Array Rapid Solar Backpack Charger for Laptops
A solar-charging backpack allows you to charge a laptop on the go, and the redesigned Array Rapid Solar Backpack Charger by Voltaic Systems is lightweight (5.4 pounds), durable, and powerful. UV and water resistant, the backpack is made from 33 recycled plastic soda bottles (recycled PET fabric). Inside is 25 liters of storage, a dedicated padded 15-inch laptop sleeve for added protection, and plenty of interior pockets.
The new larger capacity, 88-watt hour battery comes with USB-C to charge the latest devices. The battery can be recharged with the AC adapter or with the 10-watt solar panel that’s built into the rear of the backpack. It takes about six hours to fully charge a laptop.
Our top pick for a portable solar laptop charger is the Jackery Power Outdoor unit for its reasonable price and high functionality, but if you’re looking for a cost-friendly option, the Expert Power Station’s S200 is an affordable, lightweight choice for charging laptops and cell phones on the go. If you’d like to splurge on something more powerful to charge laptops as well as larger electronics, the River Max Solar Generator Kit is a worthwhile investment.
Good to Know
While some portable solar panel manufacturers claim they can charge laptops by connecting directly to the panel, it’s not a good idea. Voltage fluctuations can potentially damage devices, and portable solar panels are slower to charge devices than battery power packs. Not to mention, solar panels can only be utilized during daylight hours, while a combination of both (battery and panel) allows you to maximize power generation by using the battery in the evenings and recharging it on the panel during the day.