Reviews

Best Solar Car Battery Chargers: Keep Your Battery Charged Anywhere

The best solar chargers that can handle any car battery

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BY Austin Fracchia / LAST UPDATED ON October 1, 2019

You don't need a wall outlet to keep your car battery charged, particularly when you are far from any sign of normal civilization. Solar car battery chargers make it easy to juice a battery almost anywhere on the planet. Like other solar devices, it can be somewhat difficult to know what you need, so check out our guide below for some recommendations.

Best Overall
SUNER POWER 12V Solar Car Battery Charger & Maintainer
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Summary
Summary
A large solar battery charger for typical 12-volt car batteries that can be used almost anywhere there is direct sunlight.
Pros
Pros
The large solar panel allows a good deal of sunlight to hit at once. Easy to connect to the terminals of a standard car battery.
Cons
Cons
Poor performance in low-light or cloudy conditions. It can't be used to run more power-intensive items like fridges.
Best Overall
SUNER POWER 12V Solar Car Battery Charger & Maintainer
Best Value
Sunway Solar Car Battery Trickle Charger & Maintainer
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Summary
Summary
The type of car battery charger that is easier to pack or hideaway in small spaces, thanks to the long and narrow design of the solar panel and body.
Pros
Pros
Good general charging performance that doesn't take too long to "fill up" a car battery in direct sunlight. Quality body and solar panel construction.
Cons
Cons
Difficult to use during the winter or in rainy areas. Only meant to be used periodically instead of for routine battery maintenance.
Best Value
Sunway Solar Car Battery Trickle Charger & Maintainer
Honorable Mention
Battery Tender 021-1163 5W Solar Maintainer
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Summary
Summary
A large and wide solar car battery maintainer that comes in several different sizes from a well-known brand in car battery charging.
Pros
Pros
Available in 5-, 10-, and 15-watt options. It offers a trickle charge to keep batteries at a premium charge level while going off-road or camping in the wilderness.
Cons
Cons
The onboard controller can have some difficulties analyzing certain car batteries. Some controllers have been reported to stop working after a few months of use.
Honorable Mention
Battery Tender 021-1163 5W Solar Maintainer

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Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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Benefits of Solar Car Battery Chargers

  • Eco-friendly. The main benefit of solar battery chargers is an environmentally-friendly design. These devices don't require external electrical sources to recharge batteries and don't generate emissions and waste. They use the energy converted by sunlight into electricity to recharge car batteries, which is the most eco-friendly option out there. 
  • Prolong battery life. Another great thing about these chargers is the fact they provide a steady stream of power. They keep car batteries at optimum levels and prevent complete discharges. That ensures batteries stay healthy and last for longer. 
  • Convenient and portable. Solar chargers offer incredible freedom of movement. They are compact and highly portable, allowing you to charge your vehicle no matter where you are. All you need to do is to place the unit under sunlight and power it up.  
  • Cost-efficient. Solar chargers will save you quite some money in the long run. By charging the unit under sunlight, you get a free electricity source and avoid getting high electricity bills. 

Types of Solar Car Battery Chargers

Solar Car Battery Maintainer

Solar car battery maintainers are designed for maintaining the battery's charge. They keep the electricity at optimum levels, which is essential for stored batteries. If you have your car parked throughout the entire season, you'll need a battery maintainer to prevent the vehicle from losing the charge. A quality device will keep the battery healthy and allow you to start up your car after a long time without any issues. 

Solar Car Battery Charger

These devices can fully charge car batteries, even if they drain out completely. Solar car battery chargers are bigger and more powerful than maintainers, allowing you to recharge your vehicle quickly and effortlessly. That makes them ideal for of-the-road situations when you're far away from the power source.   

Top Brands

Deltran Battery Tender

Deltran Battery Tender was founded in 1965 and is located in DeLand, Fla. The company produces high-quality battery chargers, jump starters, solar panels, and a variety of accessories. It prides itself on innovative designs and technologies used for the construction of modern charging devices. The Battery Tender 021-1163 5W Solar Maintainer is one of our favorite picks from Battery Tender. 

Solar Car Battery Chargers Pricing

  • Under $40: You can find lightweight and compact solar car battery chargers at this price point. Although inexpensive, these prove to be quite powerful and reliable. They might lack some extra features such as overcharging protection, but are still very useful. 
  • $40 and up: For a couple of extra bucks, you can get solar chargers with high efficiency, outstanding power, and excellent weather protection. These are ideal for long-term use and mostly ensure both battery charging and maintenance. 

Key Features

Efficiency

First things first, it's crucial to get an efficient solar charger. What we mean by efficiency is the charger's ability to work even when not exposed to the sunlight. The best-performing devices don't need to lay under direct sunlight to operate, which makes them convenient for dark, rainy, and cloudy conditions. They can even power up the battery during the winter season. 

Power

Solar battery chargers offer power from 2 to 18 volts. The less powerful devices require more charging time but are safer for the battery. With them, you don't run the risk of overpowering it. On the other hand, more powerful chargers can fully recharge the battery quickly and effortlessly. Still, you have to make sure these devices don't cause damages due to electrical overload. 

Reverse Charge Blocking Diode

When it comes to safety, we recommend getting a device that has a reverse charge blocking diode. This feature ensures the charger retains all the collected energy without leaking, even when it's stored for a while. Luckily, most newly designed solar chargers have this feature, but we still recommend double-checking before the purchase. 

Size and Weight

It might seem like the size and weight of the solar charger is not that important, but the truth is just the opposite. If you're planning road trips or need a portable charger for any other reason, a lightweight and compact device is a must-have. Also, you want to make sure you can store the charger in your vehicle in the first place. It shouldn't take up too much storage space, and you should be able to carry it around with ease. 

Other Considerations

  • Construction. If you're planning to use a solar charger in challenging conditions, consider the quality of the casing before the purchase. Some devices feature weather-sealed cases that are protected against moisture, dirt, dust, and other environmental hazards. 
  • Cables and Connectors. Don't forget to check the cables and connectors in each particular charger. We recommend getting the one with at least two connectors so you have different charging options. A long power cord also makes charging more convenient. 

Best Solar Car Battery Chargers Reviews & Recommendations 2021

Best Overall
SUNER POWER 12V Solar Car Battery Charger and Maintainer

This is a 12-volt car battery charger that uses solar power to recharge and maintain batteries in cars, motorcycles, boats, RVs, and more. As long as you place the device under enough sunlight, it will successfully recharge any battery and keep it at optimum performance. The battery charger works on wet, gel, SLA, AGM, deep cycle, and many other battery types. 


The solar charger comes at a reasonable price and is packed with outstanding features. First of all, it has a built-in blocking diode that prevents reverse discharge and accidental drains. Secondly, the device is made with durability in mind. It features strong solar glass and a sturdy ABS frame that can withstand quite heavy loads. Thirdly, the solar charger is super easy to use, highly portable, and comes with a one-year warranty. 


However, if you need a solar charger that will work on different electronic devices and not only vehicles, the Suner Power one is not the best choice. It's a little underpowered for large electric batteries. You also might notice the charger doesn't perform well in low-light or cloudy conditions. It needs direct sunlight for optimum working power.

Best Value
Sunway Solar Car Battery Trickle Charger and Maintainer

If you're looking for a compact car battery charger, the Sunway model might be perfect for you. It's a lightweight and small device you can transport and store with ease. On top of that, the charger offers reliable and impressive performance for the price. It recharges batteries quite quickly when placed under direct sunlight and is suitable for all 12-volt batteries. 


The main benefit of this charger type is overcharge protection. The device is efficient yet safe for the battery. It mounts easily on the windshield or dash and plugs into the 12-volt cigarette lighter. Additionally, the item offers study and durable construction as well as a one-year warranty. 


Keep in mind, though, that this device is most suitable for occasional recharges. Although it can be used as a battery maintainer too, it doesn't perform that well for maintaining stored batteries. The device also might be unsuitable for winter and rainy days.

Best Weatherproof
Battery Tender 021-1163 5W Solar Maintainer

Battery Tender offers one of the best solar chargers on the market. It's a large and wide device that works both as a charger and a maintainer. You can even get it in 5 and 15 watts according to your needs. The solar panel offers three-step smart-charging and overcharging protection. It's incredibly easy to operate and perfect for both indoor and outdoor use. 


Along with providing excellent current flow, the device also comes with sturdy construction for even better performance and ultimate durability. The device has a weather- and spark-proof design and features a temperature compensation sensor. It's perfect for outdoor use and works great in all daily conditions. With a weight of only 3 pounds, the device is also highly portable and easy to store. 


The main drawback of this product comes from the onboard controller. It sometimes has difficulty analyzing car batteries. Some buyers even complained that a few controllers stopped working after a while. Another minor caveat regards the LED light indicator. It doesn't always show the proper light color for the charging status. 

Most Portable
ALLPOWERS Automotive Portable Solar Panel

Those who are looking for an inexpensive solar charger might find this model perfect for their needs. The device powers up 12-volt batteries and is great for cars, motorcycles, tractors, boats, and other vehicle types. It's easy to use and highly portable, which makes it ideal for off-road situations.


This is a mono-crystalline silicon panel that works in all daylight conditions. It's water-resistant and has a blocking diode for reverse discharge prevention. Overall, the charger is quite useful, efficient, and safe for batteries. Because it's not overpowered, the device doesn't cause damage to batteries and extends their lifespan. It even comes with an 18-month warranty and suction cups for easy mounting.


Still, keep in mind that this is a budget-friendly option. The charger is not as efficient as some other pricier options on our list. When it comes to the design of the charger, the only thing that might bother you is the quality of the frame. The edges of the charger might get damaged from constant exposure to the sun.

Honorable Mention
TP-Solar Solar Panel Car Battery Charger

This 12-volt solar charger is perfect for maintaining car, RV, truck, motorcycle, and other vehicle batteries. It's designed to plug into the cigarette lighter and provide a steady flow of electricity to keep a battery in optimal condition. The installation is pretty easy, so you can set up and run the device in a matter of minutes. 


The thing we like about this device is the overall quality it provides for the cost. Along with being efficient, the charger proves to be safe and durable. It comes with a built-in circuit board to prevent discharges and features a waterproof design. The device is still lightweight and easy to carry around. You can easily store it in your vehicle and bring it on your adventures. 


The included suction cups are not of the best quality, though. We don't recommend using them for mounting the charger because it might fall. Also, the panel could get quite hot under direct sunlight. Make sure to handle it carefully and move it away from the sun when it warms up.

Honorable Mention
POWOXI Solar Car Battery Charger

This charger offers powerful charging and a user-friendly design. It works in cloudy conditions, so you don't need to put it under direct sunlight to charge your car's battery. All in all, the device works on cars, motorcycles, boats, trucks, and many other vehicles. You can recharge any 12-volt battery with it quite efficiently. 


What's great about this charger is the fact it has a barrier diode to prevent discharges. It's meant for both indoor and outdoor use and features a weather-resistant panel. The housing is made from heavy-duty plastic, so this device should last for quite a while. You'll even get a one-year warranty just in case you run into any issues. 


However, we don't recommend this device for heavy-duty outdoor use. It's protected from damages and raindrops, but not completely sealed from water and daily abuse. You'll find it perfect for occasional use. Also, keep in mind that the suction cups might fail to hold the charger. You might want to get another accessory for attaching the device to the windshield.

Honorable Mention
SUNAPEX Solar Trickle Charger

The Sunapex charger uses amorphous film technology for charging batteries in all weather conditions. It's a 12-volt device you can use on different battery types and make sure you never end up without power when off the road. Furthermore, the charger comes at an attractive price and is suitable for all budgets. 


The charger generates electricity quite well and comes with a built-in reverse diode to prevent discharges. It's pretty easy to use and maintain. The charger comes with a weatherproof design and a sturdy ABS plastic frame. You can use it anywhere and anytime on cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats, and other vehicles. There's even a one-year warranty for an extra peace of mind. 


The thing that might bother you the most about this charger is the quality of the connector cable fasteners. They are challenging to slip into the battery clip cables. You'll have to apply some extra pressure and handle the cables with caution. Actually, the entire device might feel a little fragile, and we recommend careful handling at all times.

Honorable Mention
PALADIN Solar Car Battery Charger

Last but not least, we have a Paladin solar charger to introduce. It's one of those useful devices that works in low-light conditions and proves to be highly beneficial for travelers. Thanks to the simple design, the 12-volt Paladin solar charger is easy to use and perfect for off-road situations. 


The device is protected from weather and high impacts. The plastic housing proves to be quite sturdy and durable, and you can use the unit in the rain, snow, and other extreme weather conditions. There's also a blocking diode for more protection to the battery. Additionally, the package includes two solar panels, mounting suction cups, battery clamps, cigarette lighter plugs, and a user manual. 


We only have to warn you about the design of the plugs on this device. They are a little different than those found on most solar chargers, so it takes time to figure them out. Some buyers also complained about the unit not being that fast in recharging completely drained batteries.

Tips

  • Solar battery chargers work best in direct sunlight.
  • Solar chargers can still work in the shade or bad weather, but the charging performance tends to be slower and less effective.
  • Larger solar panels tend to trade weight and overall bulk for better, faster performance.

FAQs

Q. Do solar battery chargers work better than normal chargers?

A. Generally, no. Solar battery chargers, especially for cars, tend to be slower due to the limitations of the solar panel.

Q. Can I use a car solar battery charger with other batteries and devices?

A. This depends on the design and capabilities of the individual battery charger. Some have other connectors or USB ports to charge small devices.

Q. What is a trickle charger?

A. Trickle chargers, which come in regular and solar power varieties, charge a battery over time. This helps increase and maintain a battery's power level without damaging the battery itself.

Final Thoughts

We found the SUNER POWER 12V Solar Car Battery Charger & Maintainer to be a good all-around solar charger that blends good performance and durability.

You can also save some space and money with our budget pick, the Sunway Solar Car Battery Trickle Charger & Maintainer.