Solar power banks are the perfect travel companion for those of us interested in prolonged adventures away from modern day conveniences such as electric power points.
If you’re planning one of these sort of adventures, you’re not alone in wondering how you’ll charge your devices.
I asked this same question when planning my bikepacking trip from Barcelona to Rome.
After some research, the answer was obvious, invest in a solar power bank.
However, before buying one, many of you may be wondering how to use a solar power bank?
To use a solar power bank efficiently, expose the devices solar panel to full sunlight to maximize it’s charging capabilities. On average, it will take your solar power bank between 25-50 hours to fully charge, assuming the device was exposed to unobstructed sunlight.
This article aims to walk you through the the in’s and out’s of how to use a solar power bank efficiently.
You can also skip to our best solar power bank recommendations.
How to use a solar power bank?
Read the user manual
As with any tech product you buy, first things first, read the user manual.
Even though solar power banks are easy to use, and you may want to rip it out of it’s packaging and start using it, be mindful.
Ask yourself some user friendly questions, such as how do I preserve the performance, battery life and capacity of my solar power bank.
All your answers will be found in the user manual.
Reading this may seem like a schlep at first. However, I cant stress it enough, read the user manual, YOU WILL LEARN SOMETHING.
Charge your solar power bank
Solar power banks are always able to be charged by two power sources.
- The sun
The amount of solar panels your solar power bank has is a good indicator on how efficient it will be charging in the sun.
Let’s say it only has one solar panel on the face of the power bank. It’s highly likely in this scenario that charging your power bank by the sun is a supplementary charging option, but not your main option.
Meaning, don’t expect to fully charge your solar power bank in a couple of hours of sun exposure.
More likely than not your power bank will rely on power points now and then to get it fully charged.
However, if you have a power bank with many monocrystalline solar panels, it likely your battery can be solely charged by sun exposure.
Charging your device with your solar power bank
Once your solar power bank is fully charged, you’ll want to charge your device with it.
You can do this by connecting the USB end of your charger to the power bank, and inserting the other end into your device.
Most power banks have multiple USB ports for charging many devices at once, look out for these ports on the front of your solar power bank.
Something to take into consideration is the Amp output of your charging ports. Make sure that the ports you charge your smartphone with read only 1 amp.
Charging your smartphone with 2 amps may damage the battery life over time as it’s too fast for phones. Read the user manual to find this information out.
Know when your solar power bank is fully charged
Something which helped me a lot during my bikepacking travels is knowing what charge level my power bank is sitting at.
This allowed me to know how long I could be without electricity for.
Usually power banks have a light indicator to indicate how charged they are.
- 1 light = 25% charged
- 2 lights = 50% charged
- 3 lights = 75% charged
- 4 lights = 95% charged
Most solar power banks do not give 100% readings for safety reasons, it’s important you do not overcharge your power bank.
Make sure you recharge your solar power bank before its completely drained. Power banks that are completely drained require more energy to get going again, as apposed to a solar power bank charging from 50%.
How to maintain your solar power bank
Investing in a quality solar power bank can sometimes cost you 100’s of dollars. Insuring it’s maintenance will see to it your money was well spent.
4 tips to maintaining your solar power bank
- Do not over charge it.
- Keep it in cool places, any major increase in temperature will adversely affect the battery life of your power bank. 77°F to 86°F (25°C to 30°C) is optimum.
- Don’t keep it at low charge, if you plan not to use it, charge it to 50% capacity first.
- Charge your smartphone device with short length cables.
How long does it take to charge a solar power bank?
This all depends on the amount of solar panels your power bank has, the panels, the faster it will charge as more sunlight is converted into electricity through the photovoltaic effect.
On average, you can expect a solar power bank of 25,000mAh to charge within 25-50 hours by the sun alone.
This is assuming the conditions were exceptionally adequate meaning full sun with no obstructions such as clouds.
Can I use my phone while charging on power bank?
You are able to use your phone whilst charging your solar power bank.
However, doing this generally results in the battery being inline (or in series) with the smartphone. This causes a higher power draw which leads to excessive heating which could damage your battery.
I recommend only doing this when you absolutely need to.
Read your manual to find out what your manufacturer recommends. they usually know best how to use a solar power bank.
Best solar power banks
Anker Solar Power Bank high quality
Feelle Solar Power Bank Best Value
Sozo Solar Power Bank most compact
Knowing how to use a solar power bank can make your off grid adventurers that much more pleasurable. And in some cases, may even save you a world of trouble!
Please feel free to share any helpful tips you may know of that aren’t included in this article, in the comments section below.