Emergency Power: The Top Portable Solar Panel Chargers for Disasters

From seasonal storms and natural disasters to hacking attacks and terrorism, we face more threats on our power grid than ever before. With much of our electrical infrastructure still relying on antiquated equipment and technologies, our power grid has become extremely vulnerable to disruption.

Luckily, advances in solar technology have made it possible for everyone to at least have a small emergency solar backup, even if it’s just something that can keep your small electronic devices up and running. These small portable devices are not only great for camping and hiking adventures, but when disaster strikes they can help keep devices like cell phones, small tablets, flashlights, emergency radios, ham radios, and GPS devices up and running.

As these technologies continue to improve and be adopted by the public, prices on emergency solar chargers have continued to drop, making them an affordable addition to anyone’s supply list. Here are some of our favorites.

The SunJack Portable Solar Charger

SunJack Solar Charger charging a Radio and an iPad

The SunJack is something that I keep in all of my Bug Out Bags. It’s lightweight, provides enough power to keep my iPhone, handheld radios and backup batteries running indefinitely, and can provide power to anything that accepts a USB charger.

The SunJack 25W Solar Charger Panel can charge the battery backups in about 5 hours; they enough power to charge an iPhone about 5 times.

GoalZero Nomad 7, Guide 10 Adventure Kit

Goal Zero Charger with Survival Gear

Goal Zero is known for making high-quality solar chargers. For the last couple of years, I’ve been using the Goal Zero Guide 10 Adventure Kit as an emergency EDC. The kit includes a Nomad 7 Solar Panel and a Guide 10 Power Pack that can charge AA and AAA batteries.

It’s small enough to slip into your vehicle’s glove box and has an added pocket that allows you to pack it full of extra Every Day Carry (EDC) gear.

The unit retails for around $130.

The Solio Bolt

The Solio Bolt Charger with Sun Dial Pencil

If you’re looking for something that you can literally slip in your pocket, then you need to check out the Solio Bolt or the Solio Classic2 Solar Charger. Both of these chargers are small, can hold their charge for up to a year, and their battery packs can hold enough juice to power the average smartphone about 4 times.

The Solio Bolt can be found here on Amazon and the Classic2, which has an extra panel, can be found here.

The iLand Trek Solar Kit

iLand Trek Solar Charger powering a Ham Radio

While this is the priciest unit on the list, it also packs the largest punch. The iLand Trek Solar Kit comes with a 10W panel and a heavy-duty battery with an operating voltage of 5V-12V. That means this unit can power things like Ham, Marine, and CB Radios; camp lighting and computers; and even things like water pumps and tools. Check it out in action, powering my Emergency Ham Radio Setup.

The unit can be found on amazon here

The WakaWaka Power+

An iPhone plugged into a The WakaWaka Solar Charger

The WakaWaka Power+ is another small, easy-to-carry solar kit that can slip inside just about any bug out bag or EDC kit. It does take a bit longer to charge, which is to be expected with these smaller panel units, but once fully charged it holds enough power to charge a smartphone in about 2 hours. It also comes with built-in LED lights (5 to 75 lumens) that provide up to 150 hours of emergency lighting on a single charge.

The WakaWaka can be found here on Amzon

The Powermonkey Extreme

The Powermonkey Extreme charging an iPad

The best thing about the Powermonkey Extreme is the massive amount of power the battery holds. It comes with a 9000mAh lithium polymer battery, and can power virtually any 5V or 12V devices including handheld radios, DSLR cameras and tablet computers. It’s great for camping, and something I like to take with on all long-distance road trips.

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  1. Another portable solar charging option you should mention are Brunton’s solar charging products. The SolarRoll, which I own, comes in 4.5, 7, 9, 14, and 27 watt flavors. Brunton also makes a variety of flat panel solar charges, as well as lithium battery power storage devices and AA/AAA battery chargers that can plug into their charging panels.

  2. I have been searching for a portable solar unit that will charge
    my 13.3″ MacBook Pro.
    It requires a lot more charge than I have found in normal solar
    chargers. Do youknow of anything I can buy to charge such a
    powerful laptop?

  3. Always good to see other people’s different ideas.. However I built my own two from parts available off a well known auction site easy enough done starting with a new 12v car battery and suitable panel/charging system then added correct usb chargers the end result covers all my needs, portability is down to the end users requirements though

    • If you can deal with the lower power storage,smaller lead-acid storage batteries that are much more portable are readily available-Walmart,etc.They have the same 12 volts,less weight,often cheaper!

  4. Any ideas for how to make a generator form stuff i can make at home? (water power is option; I live on a moderate-fast river)

    • old alternator from a car a walmart 12v marine batter and a dc inverter will do fine for a homemade water wheel, add more weels/alternators+batteries to increase the output

    • Rivers have a lot of submerged debris moving with the current that can clog and drag a generator.You might have trouble making it waterproof and snag proof.You can see plans and strategies on YouTube or other sites.

  5. I decided to build a solar electric system large enough to keep a small chest freezer running, as well as powering the motors on a pellet stove. Pro’s are: plenty of power for comfort, cooking, security, food preservation, etc. Not as expensive as a large solar electric system. Con’s: Has no value if I need to bug-out.

  6. Thanks for the information. While I am considered a “Leftist” by people like you, I do appreciate the information given here. Just remember that sustainability issues is what is causing the next economic crash…not some liberal conspiracy. Constant economic growth is not possible.

    • And what does anything you mention in your comment have to do with solar power back up for emergencies?

      • Solar electricity is now for first time in history available to the masses and that will cause big economic shifts.Communist China is one of the biggest producers.No one in the world will be unaffected because of the huge scale.It’s wonderful that trickle-down has allowed survivalists to use this technology.Make use of what’s available to individuals while it’s there.

  7. Be cautious of many USB power adapters, many are cheap and unreliable.

    Although, it may take a little more space; consider using a solar panel charging AA or AAA batteries. Many HAM radio’s have AA or AAA option battery packs. And you can still use standard non-rechargeable batteries as well.

    The newer portable battery packs people use for cell phones recharging also fits in. Bulk charge from the solar panel in the Li-ion battery pack, from there power to direct USB powered devices or use a small AA or AAA battery charger. Minimal extra weight be very flexible and reliable.

  8. If the threat is EMP, all that electronics, including rechargeable batteries, solar panels, and solar charge controllers, all need to be inside and EMP proof container or Faraday enclosure. Throwing a radio in a bugout bag with some extra batteries will be useless after an EMP event. No one ever talks about this.

  9. Can you give me the best battery/solar panel generator for me & my Mom. I’m on the coast in SC and susceptible to hurricanes and my 88 yr old mother is in rural NC and loses power several times a year sometimes lasting 2 weeks. Looking for something that will run an electric fry pan, hot pot for water, radio, and charge our phones. We’re both on very tight budgets and don’t want to waste or money on a product that won’t do what we want or not last more than a season or two.

  10. The main problem with any solar system is if disasters occur with minimal sunlight (overcast, etc). Have some small hand crank devices where you use mechanical energy, has USB outlets to charge cell phones, etc. As well as radio and flash light built in.

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