How to choose a portable power bank or solar phone charger

Mobile SOlar Chargers charging iPhone 4s

Why do I need portable power ?

All our expensive and portable devices are only as good as their battery life. All our modern consumer devices, such as mobile phones, tablets, Go Pro Cameras, Electric cigarettes, GPS are useless without power and it defeats the object of their use if you have to keep on plugging them into the mains.

 If you wish to remain mobile with your mobile device, the only solution in the foreseeable future is a backup battery, either with or without solar charge.  This is particularly important in the case of mobile phones, able to do more or less what a PC can, but at the expense of shorter battery life, making them potentially useless when you actually need to use them as a 'Phone'.

Power Banks and Solar Phone Chargers are portable batteries of varying capacity, that are able to charge most of these devices, whilst still being able to use them, without also being attached to the wall/car/PC.

At Mobile Solar Chargers we have specialized in portable power for 5 years. Our standard Power Banks are the most economic and compact way of always having rechargeable power for phones, Tablets etc ready when required.

We also have a select range of Solar Power Banks, which work in exactly the same way as our non-solar devices, (can be recharged via mains or USB) with the addition of a trickle charge when in direct sunlight, ideal in an emergency or when off-grid. 

As the efficiency in solar has increased significantly, we also have a range of very compact, yet powerful folding Solar Panel Chargers. Although these do not store power, they do produce it continuously in any natural light.  They are intended to use with our range of power banks and can directly charge 12v batteries and inverters, ideal for Camper vans, off-grid or boats.

Arctic Expedition powered by Mobile Solar Chargers

How do I choose the right Mobile Solar Phone Charger?

The two main defining characteristics of the solar chargers are the size of battery (i.e. what they can charge and the frequency that the solar battery charger may need to recharge) and the surface area (size) of the solar panels. As a rule of thumb, you need up to 2000mAh + of a portable battery charger to get one full smartphone charge.

For Camping weekends and a few days away the combined solar chargers will suffice to keep your phone topped up. For longer trips, independent travel, Expeditions and off-grid power, choose a suitable Power Bank and a folding Solar Panel for indefinite reliable portable power.

For Expeditions and Group travel, please get in touch to discuss your power requirements. We have powered a number of Expeditions (Arctic/Borneo/PNG etc) in hostile environments with temperaturesranging from -40C to +50C, it is important to start with the right kit.

Te. 01935 825914

MSC Aqua Trek charging HTC Desire
MSC Aqua Trek charging HTC Desire

What is the best Power Bank ?

There is a vast selection of power banks and USB chargers available, be cautious when choosing an appropriate device.  The outer cases are widely available to any manufacturer for them to put in their own electronics and batteries, two identical looking devices could perform very differently. There are many cheap USB chargers that have a great variation of 'True battery' capacity, illegal, but common practice, all things built to a price.

With Lithium Polymer batteries, more than most things, you very much get what you pay for, to make well they are expensive. Samsung and Sanyo are the most expensive and the best available. The differences are : safety, heat, holding charge for long periods of time, delivering full charge and longevity of service. With USB power banks and solar chargers, they do not really work below £20, since the heart of them, the battery, cannot be any good, impure cobalt, cheap manufacture.

When choosing the right portable power bank,  it is important to understand what size battery you need. As a general rule of thumb, allow 2000mAh battery (large phones such as Note 3, 3000mah) for each phone charge, i.e. a 6000mah portable charger will give around 3 full phone charges before it needs a re-charge. 

The other point is what you are trying to charge, i.e. if you wish to recharge a tablet you will need a portable or solar charger with at least the equivalent battery capacity, i.e. do not try and use a 1000mah emergency phone charger to charge a 5000mah Google tablet !

Most modern mobile devices, such as phones, Tablets, Bluetooth, GPS, Garmin, GoPro and Cameras are 5v USB charged, compatible with any of our power banks and solar chargers. Laptops, Fridges, some cameras and car batteries are either 12v or 19v. Our larger Overland + and Solar Panels are able to charge any 5v, 12v and 19v device.

MSC Travel + charging iPhone and Tablet
MSC Travel + charging iPhone and Tablet

As with all things they need to be fit for purpose. All the mobile solar chargers on our site are primarily high-quality rechargeable and portable batteries. All of these power banks are rechargeable in the same way as a mobile phone i.e. USB or mains charging. 

The solar chargers have the additional benefit of also having a solar trickle charge back up. The advantage of this is that for each given battery output you will get additional phone charges due to solar recovery, than you would without a solar panel.

The built-in solar panels also mean that when 'off-grid'  you will always be able to make a call in an emergency and when left in the sun they will continue to recover charge.

The recent developments in the increased efficiency of monocrystalline solar panels has meant that solar chargers such as the Camping Solar Charger can keep up with charging a phone when they have decent sun light to recover charge.  The 12w Solar panel charger  will deliver peak power of 2amp, the same as a mains socket for charging your phone. It is very light and compact and yet able to deliver off grid phone power each and every day.

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