Portable solar laptops chargers have been around for a little while now, and they offer a great way to extend the battery life of your laptop using renewable, clean energy. While we typically can't run our laptops solely on a portable solar charger the way we can when we plug into a wall outlet, we can get our batteries to last quite a bit longer, or recharge our laptop batteries while turned off.
However, portable solar chargers are not yet perfect, and have always had some sort of issue that makes them undesirable.
There are three key elements to the ideal solar charger: power, portability and price.
The consumer wants something that is strong enough to run or at least trickle charge their laptop enough to work on it while out and about, with the charger not being impossible to carry around, and also not costing an arm, a leg, and a first born child.
The options are getting better, but that doesn't mean choosing the right solar charger has gotten much easier. So we've scoured the market for the best choices in solar chargers, trying to make sure each option is reasonable regarding the three key elements, and put them here for you to make shopping around a little easier.
This charger has proven itself a favorite among the outdoor types for backpacking and camping excursions.
Power: The SolarRoll comes in three sizes, depending on the output need. The roll that is powerful enough to charge a laptop has an output of 14 watts. It provides a trickle charge, or can provide a full charge in 5 to 10 hours, depending on the quality of sunlight. Multiple rolls can be linked together to get even more output.
Portability: SolarRolls, as the name says, rolls up, making it very easy to carry around. Also, its waterproof durability makes it safer to cart around and use on damp lawns, or cafÃ© tables where drinks may be spilled. The large SolarRoll, which can suck up enough sunlight to power your laptop, is actually fairly large, measuring 12" wide by 57" long. So you need a pretty long surface area on which to unroll it in the sun. However, it only weighs 17 oz, and since it rolls up, it is easy to cart around.
Price: Ranges from $295 to $655 depending on the size. However, panel that is powerful enough to charge a laptop is the one priced at $655.
We've been eyeballing this handy solar bag for some time. It comes with battery packs to store energy, holding enough for a full laptop battery charge. It is also large enough to hold a 17" laptop inside.
Power: This is on the more powerful end, generating up to 15 watts. It takes about a day of charging, though.
Portability: The Generator is the essence of portability because it is, in fact, a bag. It is made of recycled PET, which makes it water resistant and light weight — though the bag still is 4.5 pounds. Add to that the weight of a laptop and that's a fairly hefty load.
Price: A tag of $599 puts it on par with other solar chargers. Given that it is also a handy carrying case, the price tag looks a bit more attractive.
This charger offers a briefcase style, but doesn't double as a briefcase. We talked about it a few years ago, and the fact that it's still around says something for its functionality.
Power: Offering 13 watts, this isn't the most powerful of options, though it is enough to extend the battery time of a laptop while in use.
Portability: While it is shaped like a briefcase, it doesn't carry like one. Rather, it weighs a hefty 9.25 pounds, putting a damper on running around with one during the day. Yet, portability is relative — perhaps you're looking for something to help you out while on a cruise or a remote area, and won't need to be carrying it much. So, the compact size (20.5" x 13" x 1.5" is a nice, small size to cart around.
Price: This charger is surprisingly inexpensive, coming in at about $160, though it is on sale for $90 through October 27th. However, there's a selection of accessories, like a charge regulator ($30), a four-panel connector cable ($18) and others that can bring up the total cost of the system. Still, it is relatively very cheap.