Best Solar Battery Charger for AA, AAA, C, D, & USB
Solar powered devices are great and due to popular demand more and more applications hit the market each year. However, some devices are not suited for a built-in battery with attached solar panels. Smaller devices such as flashlights, wireless keyboards, remote controls, and cameras come to mind. There is just no feasible way to integrate solar panels in such small devices, some manufacturers try, but these items should be considered hyped novelty baits that do not measure up to conventional counterparts.
The solution is to buy yourself a good portable solar charger and rechargeable AA and AAA batteries. This way you can power a plethora of battery powered devices, save money, and do a good deed for the environment.
- The best solar battery charger for AA & AAA batteries
- Comparison table
- Crane Solar 11-in-1 Battery Charger
- GoldMaster Solar Powered Battery Charger
- LiitoKala 4 Bay Battery Charger
- Goal Zero 21005 Guide 10 Plus
- Portable solar panel and battery charger kit from Goal Zero
- Solar battery charge time
If your demands on quick charge time and the number of batteries are not high an all-in-one solution might be for you. Solar battery charger boxes have integrated solar cells in their lids so everything is contained in one unit. This can be very practical and easy to handle the solution. The drawback with these kinds of battery chargers is that they are often not powerful enough. The lack of power is simply because the lid is no way near as large to fit enough solar cells to produce high enough Voltage and Ampere for quick charging. Another concern is overheating, since the lid and solar panel is part of the box, the charging electronics, and the batteries are exposed to the sun for a prolonged time, which can hurt the performance and life span of both charger and batteries.
Our own preferred way to charge AA or AAA batteries with the Sun is to use an external solar charger and a normal battery charger that can be powered via USB. We strongly recommend this approach since there are so many upsides to owning a solar charger besides being able to charge batteries. 10 Watt and up are good enough to charge 1.5 Volt AA and AAA batteries, at this Wattage the high-quality solar chargers are ultra-portable and often foldable for a compact design. If your budget allows for it we do recommend going for a bit more than 10 Watt since it will then also be usable in other situations. You can read more about the best ultra-compact solar chargers or the highest performing portable solar chargers in our other articles.
Crane Solar 11-in-1 Battery Charger
A great all-in-one solar battery recharger which is more than a solar powered AAA battery charger since it can handle all of the most common rechargeable battery sizes. The Crane Solar 11-in-1 charger supports AA, AAA, C, D, and 7 GUM sizes (polymer based battery). The Crane Solar charger cannot handle 9V batteries. The solar cells are built into the lid of the charger and the lid can be tilted to align to the rays of the sun. We think this is a very nice concept and the charger works as advertised, but do not expect too much. Due to the limited size of the charger's solar cells, your batteries will take quite some time to recharge. If you are not in a rush this is a very good and affordable option though.
Item Weight: 13.9 ounces
Dimensions: 7 x 5 x 2.5 inches
Charges NiCd and NiMH batteries (AAA, AA, C, D, and 7 GUM sizes)
Max 2 pieces of same size at the time
- All-in-one solution
- Supports all common battery sizes
- Discharge protection
- Slower charging
- Only two pieces of the same size at same time
GoldMaster Solar Powered Battery Charger
This is one of the best solar chargers for batteries, it is a handy and highly portable AA, AAA, C, D & USB solar charger from GoldMaster. It can charge up to 4 batteries at a time with its built-in solar panels. The case comes with a practical handle for easy carrying. The battery chargers solar cells are mounted in its lid which can be tilted to align with the sunlight. The charger also comes with USB output which will let you use the sun to charge your cell phone or other mobile devices. A fair warning though, the solar panels on this charger is not powerful enough to let you charge a modern cell phone quickly, it will take considerable time even in full sunlight. Charging four batteries of the same type takes about 5 hours depending on the size of the rechargeable battery.
Item Weight: 14.4 ounces
Dimensions: 7 x 2.5 x 7 inches
Charges NiCd and NiMH batteries (AAA, AA, C, D, and USB)
Charge 4 batteries of the same size at the same time
- Faster charging times for its size
- Can charge 4 batteries at the same time
- All-in-one solution
- Discharge protection
- Must charge 4 batteries at the same time
LiitoKala 4 Bay Battery Charger
This battery charger is one of our favorites because of its good design and versatility. The LiitoKala is much more than a solar AA charger since it can charge virtually any battery thanks to its smart feature that automatically adjusts to the size of the battery. The charger will also auto-detect which Voltage the battery has and give it the appropriate charge. This will, in turn, extend the life span and number of recharge cycles of the battery. This is not a solar battery charger per se, but thanks to its 5V USB input it can easily be converted into a solar charger for rechargeable batteries by using an external solar panel charger. Another smart function that this charger has is the ability to work as a power bank. You can put an already charged battery in the fourth slot and use it to charge any USB device.
Item Weight: 4 ounces
Dimensions: 4.5 x 3.5 x 1.2 inches
- Charge 1 to 4 batteries of any size at once
- Fast charging
- Superior battery size support
- Not all-in-one solution
Goal Zero 21005 Guide 10 Plus
Popular Goal Zero's take on charging AA and AAA batteries by solar power is another of our favorites. Goal Zero 21005 Guide 10 Plus can only charge AA and AAA batteries and it cannot charge AA and AAA batteries at the same time, but that is the only drawback. Goal Zero features excellent quality as usual and everything from the casing to the internal components are well designed and robust. You can use a USB adapter to power the charger either through a wall outlet or an external solar panel charger.
We have set this option as our premium pick since you will have to pay a little more than the other options, but you also get 4 rechargeable AA batteries for free and even if you already have AA batteries an extra set can be handy. We think that this is the perfect charger if you already own a solar charger or if you want to invest in one. In this review, the Goal Zero is nominated as the best AA battery solar charger.
Goal Zero has dedicated one of their foldable solar chargers, the Nomad 7, to work flawlessly together with the Guide 10 Plus. The two can also be bought as a complete solar charger set, you can read more about that further down in the article. Using the portable Nomad solar charger 4 AAA batteries can be charged in only 3 hours. Using the USB and some other brand of solar charger will bring the charge time up to 5 hours, which is still very fast.
Item Weight: 6.4 ounces
Dimensions: 3.9 x 2.5 x 0.8 inches
Charges NiCd and NiMH batteries (AAA, AA)
Max 4 pieces of same size at the same time
- Fully solar charger compatible
- Premium all-in-one solution available
- Charge 1 to 4 batteries at once
- 4-pack rechargeable AA batteries included
- Cannot charge C or D batteries
- Cannot charge AA and AAA at the same time.
The Crane Solar 11-in-1 Battery Charger is a solid pick if you want a complete solution to charge your AA, AAA, C and D batteries with the Sun. If you are up for the extra hassle of using an external solar panel charger we can really recommend the Goal Zero 21005 Guide 10 Plus with or without the Nomad 7 foldable solar panel. If you need a charger that can handle C, and D size batteries too, the best choice is the LiitoKala 4 Bay Battery Charger
Portable solar panel and battery charger kit from Goal ZeroAs a bonus, we wanted to write a bit about the Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Solar Recharging Kit with Nomad 7 Plus Solar Panel. This is Goal Zeros complete solar kit for battery charging and a perfect option if you do not already own a solar cell charger.
The kit comes complete with a 7 Watt foldable and highly portable solar panel, 4 slot AA and AAA battery charger, cables to connect the two and a 4-pack of AA batteries included. Both panels and charger have USB output which will allow you to charge any USB device such as cell phone, tables, camera, GPS etc. when the Sun is shining and with stored solar power on a cloudy day. Check out Goal Zero Guide 10 with Nomad 7 on Amazon
Solar battery charge timeHow long does it take to charge a rechargeable battery? It depends on two things, the capacity of the battery and the capacity of the charger. Solar AA rechargeable batteries are typically around 2.5 Wh and the AAA rechargeable batteries are around 1Wh, you can read more about the math here if you are interested in the details on how to calculate Watt-hours. Then you get the charge time by simply dividing the Watt-hours of the battery with the Wattage of the solar panels.
Let's take 4 AA size batteries and the Nomad 7 solar panel charger as an example: 4 x 2.5 / 7 = 1.4 hours. If you read the part about the Goal Zero Nomad 7 you notice that the manufacturer states that charging 4 AA batteries takes around 3 hours. Is our math wrong, or is the manufacturer wrong? It is actually neither, the math will only give the theoretical value for loading under perfect conditions and with no loss of energy due to for example heat dissipation. The fact that Goal Zero tells us the value for the actual real-life condition is noteworthy since most manufacturers like to give you the theoretical values to make their products look better than they are.