How We Tested Solar Chargers

By:
Lyra Pierotti
Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Saturday

Solar technology is rife with glitches and gimmicks. We put several panels and chargers to the test to whittle out the good and the bad and present an unbiased review.

We tested these panels in all sorts of backcountry locations and weather situations: on the side of Yosemite's 3,000-foot El Captain, in the Cascades of Washington, in the 24-hour sun in Antarctica, on sailing trips in the San Juan Islands, on several expeditions in the Alaska Range, and biking and hiking on the California coast. We used them for backpacking, hiking, climbing, mountaineering, biking, sailing, car camping, RV camping, and hanging out at cafes and campgrounds while living out of the back of a truck.

But as the personal sized solar panel market gets flooded with more companies and products, it becomes harder to wade through the advertised specifications. For this, we connected a USB power monitor to each device and checked the amperage (current) of each panel and battery to see if the devices worked as advertised. This often confirmed our rougher field observations with concrete numbers. Take a good look at the photos in this review to see what amperage readings we measured.

Brunton's solar panel just always seemed to work  if not powerful or fast  certainly reliably.
Brunton's solar panel just always seemed to work, if not powerful or fast, certainly reliably.

We also tried to power the computers and monitors that wrote this review with a beefier set of panels. We even tried to power our electric bike and make a solar-powered electric bike …and succeeded!

Alchemy Goods Pike
Alchemy Goods Pike

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    Unbiased.