The sun is a very powerful thing, isn't it? It helps us see and keeps us warm despite being roughly 92,955,807 miles away from us. It is also incredible how much power can be harnessed from it, not only with massive arrays of solar panels but now with cars too.
And while the idea of a production solar-powered car may not be a reality yet, you can harness some of the power to stop your car's battery from going flat. Solar car battery chargers are a clever way to top up your battery without having to plug it into the mains or have them charged up all the time, making them ideal for caravaners or people who street-park their car. We've found the best examples for sale right here.
Related: CAR's guide to home EV chargers
The best solar car battery chargers
AA 12V Car Solar Battery Charger 4.8W
The AA 12V Solar Battery Charger is our top pick for solar car battery chargers because of how effective it is. Not only can it attach to your 12V socket and the battery directly, but it can also plug into your car's OBD port to provide power even when the ignition is turned off. And at 4.8-watts, it should be strong enough to restart a dead battery too.
|• Works without an ignition source||• Not overly stylish, if that matters|
|• Includes several connection ports|
Halfords 2.4W Solar Battery Charger
While it may not be as fancy or powerful as the AA battery charger, this simple battery maintainer from Halfords will still make an excellent trickle charger. Rated at 2.4-watts, it'll keep a car battery topped up with ease. While it may only connect to your car using a 12V socket of battery cables as standard, you can buy an OFB socket that allows for easier charging.
|• Good value for money||• OBD charging is an extra purchase|
Eco-Worthy 12V Portable 10W Solar Panel Battery Maintainer
Best option for a car dashboard
Boasting a very impressive 10-watts and designed for more than just cars (boats and ATVs can be charged too), this solar car battery charger is a good way of keeping your battery charged. While it can only connect via a 12V socket or battery cables, the soft, padded rear makes it perfect for use of your dashboard without the fear of scratches occurring.
|• Good power for the price||• No OBD connector|
|• Soft back means no scratches to your dash|
Streetwize 12V Solar Battery Charger 6W
Best trickle charger
Designed to be used over a long period of time, this battery charger is ideal if you have a car you rarely use (like a delicate classic car) but don't want the hassle of having to jump-start it on the occasion you do use it. With 6W, it is ideal as a trickle charger.
|• Keep your battery topped up with ease||• Most expensive option here|
|• Good quality product|
Sealey Solar Power Panel Trickle Charger
Best compact solar car battery charger
The smallest solar car battery charger here may be the weakest, but it is still an effective and good value option for keeping a battery topped up. It can plug into a 12V socket or directly to the battery and while the 1.5W won't restart a dead battery, it will keep a battery topped up. Larger sizes are available.
|• Small size||• Not powerful enough to restart a dead battery|
|• Good value and quality|
What you need to know about solar car battery chargers:
What features should I look for?
The main thing to look for is what wattage the solar panel offers. A smaller watt will be fine for trickle charging and preventing a flat battery and will cost less. A higher wattage battery charger will be able to restart a dead engine but the panel will be bigger and it'll cost more.
Also, try to find a solar car battery charger that has an OBD option. While not every car comes with an OBD socket, most modern ones do and it'll make trickle charging a lot easier.
Related: CAR's guide to Alexa for your car
How do I install a solar battery charger?
If you're wanting to use a solar battery charger the first thing to remember is to turn your engine off before plugging the solar car battery charger in.
If you're connecting your solar car battery charger to your OBD or 12V socket then the best place to place the panel is on the dashboard. It's also important to remember that not all 12V sockets are usable without your ignition turned on. Even if your solar car battery charger is plugged in and working, it won't be charging your battery.
If you are connecting the solar car battery charger to your car's battery then you'll need to leave your bonnet open for the solar panel to pick up the sun (unless you have massive BL-quality panel gaps and can easily slot your wires out without damaging them).