Why Is My Solar Power Bank Not Charging? Here’s What To Do About It

Solar power banks come in a wide variety of different sizes. The strong advancements in solar energy means that the days of giant non-portable solar banks are over. There are powerful portable solar power banks that allow you to harness the power of the sun and take it with you.

But what about when they stop working? What about when they stop charging?

While there are many reasons charging issues occur, there are four issues that account for around 98% of all solar power bank charging issues. Those are the age of the battery, too much drainage/use while charging, insufficient solar panel support, or a failed charge connector.

Most of these are solvable issues and we go over those and the other most likely problems that could explain why your solar power bank isn’t charging well enough, or isn’t charging at all.

solar bank charging on grass

Why Is My Solar Power Bank Not Charging?

We have the seven main reasons why a solar power bank just isn’t charging up the way that it is supposed to. Keep in mind that the top four here account for around 98% of all issues with the others covering the rest.

There are rare exceptions but if one or more of the following seven issues don’t cover it, you’ll need a 30-year expert or possibly a new charger.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If this is a question about efficiency keep in mind that ALL solar power banks are expected to lose about 15% of their charge just from sitting over time.

Reason #1: Age of the Solar Battery

No battery, no matter how well built, lasts forever. While a 15% bleed is considered pretty normal for even very good solar batteries, they are going to wear out over time.

In the case of solar batteries and charging stations “wearing out” means that over time solar batteries will become less effective. They won’t hold the same maximum charge, and they will often take longer to get to that even lower point.

This is usually a multi-year process. There are people still using solar power banks from a decade ago, but there’s no question they’re less effective now than they were back then.

Solution: Look for a New Battery

While this is unfortunate, age is something that overcomes us all. Solar batteries are no exception. If the lack of charge or slowness of charge is becoming a hinderance then you might need to look for a new one completely.

That probably isn’t the answer you want to hear, but this situation it is the best one.

If the older battery still works it might be a good supplemental or emergency solar station option, but you don’t want to let an old battery’s refusal to charge end up throwing a wrench into the rest of what you’re doing.

Reason #2: Too Much Energy Use While “Charging”

One common issues is that people try to charge their electronics or use “just a little” bit of power while charging is taking place.

The large number of hours many portable solar stations need to fully charge are in ideal situations.

If you’re paying attention to the solar panel charge while draining the battery and using it, then that explains the situation. In this situation the solar power bank very well could be charging, but the drain from usage is making it charge even slower than the math would suggest.

This isn’t a perfect “If the average hourly charge is 5X, and the phone takes 1X, then I’ll get 4X charge from the hour” situation.

Solutions: Multiple Options for Better Energy Management

There are multiple solutions for getting over this particular issue. The best one for you depends on specific situation

  • Have two solar power banks so one runs while the other re-charges
  • Have two solar power banks to split the load
  • Make sure the solar power source is NOT used at all while charging
  • Look to reason #3 for more guidance

Reason #3: Insufficient Solar Panel Support

This can also be a catch all of “not enough optimization of sunlight.” The main point here is that many people have a large solar battery but the portable solar panels they have just don’t capture much energy.

In this situation it’s going to be far easier to drain the battery than it is to re-charge it.

Solar panels are getting better by the year, but they still face plenty of challenges. Especially the ones that are meant for portable outdoor or field camp use.

You may think you have enough solar panels based on the math. But the math changes when it meets real world conditions.

Examples of popular solar bank charge times:

  • Pealiker 10,000 milli-amps (mAh) solar battery: 30 hours to fully charge in direct sunlight
  • Outxe 20,000 milli-amps (mAh) emergency solar battery: 50-70 hours to achieve full charge in ideal sunlight/conditions
  • Addtop 25,000 milli-amps (mAh) portable solar station: 25-50 hours using all four portable solar panels that come with this unit*

These are numbers representing ideal conditions. If you’re in an isolated hunting or work camp in the middle of nowhere or have panels attached to your pack as you hike five, six, or seven hours through the day you may need more time.

Ideal conditions and real life conditions are not the same thing. You may need a larger solar panel, more efficient solar panel, or if the option to connect more than one is there, more solar panels.

*While there are anecdotal stories of charge times being much, much faster with all four panels up (some even as short as an hour or two) but these are all second hand stories and not the official numbers.

Solution: Improve Your Solar Panel Coverage

Ideal conditions and real life conditions are not the same thing. You may need a larger solar panel, more efficient solar panel, or if the option to connect more than one is there, more solar panels.

Reason #4: Failed Charge Connector

This is a piece of the solar setup that can get finnicky with time. If after you check all the connections, see if another charge connector works. Doing a quick test by having a spare on hand lets you know if it’s just a matter of a quick swap out or if there’s a bigger issue at hand.

All it takes is one loose or finnicky connector to throw a wrench into the entire solar power setup.

If at any point you notice it getting touchy when connecting everything, then you should look at getting another connector right then. Having a backup of a crucial piece is always important, especially at the first sign of potential trouble coming down the road.

Solution: Replace Your Charge Connector

While this isn’t a “common” problem as in happening a lot, this is one of the major reasons a solar power bank may have an issue charging fully or charging within a reasonable time.

This is a simpler, and cheaper, solution than having to buy an entirely new power bank.

Reason #5: Failure in Supporting Cables or Sockets

Sometimes the problem is as simple as just a loose connection. This is far less common than it used to be. But the supporting cables or sockets have their own internal structure and if something is even a bit off, that can screw everything up.

This is like a pair of wireless laptop headphones that work, but the charging cable and socket no longer recognize one another. The headphones might be good, but you can’t use them.

If the supporting cable, the sockets on the cable or the solar power bank, or both, have issues then that could easily be the core issue.

Solution: Test Every Piece of Your Solar Power Bank Setup

Fixing this involves a lot of testing, because you need to narrow down the list of where the problem could be and then confirm it. If you think it’s a connection or socket that “seems funny” and you’re wrong, you’ll spend money and waste time with no noticeable results.

Not a great place to be.

Test every single potential issue, narrow it down, and if it’s a supporting cable then purchase a new supporting cable. If it’s a socket in the power station itself, you may unfortunately need to purchase a new one.

Reason #6: Weather Damage

Weather damage is a bit uncommon but it isn’t unheard of. Most quality solar power stations are designed for outdoor use, so they’re built to put up with the average beating from a hike or camping trip.

That covers a lot of things but sometimes there will be those fourteen straight days of downpour, those falls over rocky trails, extreme cold temperatures where these shouldn’t be used, or even the scorching unrelenting heat of the hottest deserts in the world.

In other words, there are continuous weather and outdoor conditions that can create issues with even the best built solar panels.

Portable panels for camps, outdoor use, and extended portable power just can’t be built quite as sturdy as the “Viking shields” of conventional solar panels.

Solution: Careful Management & Extended Warranty

One of the biggest ways to avoid weather damage is with careful management. While most of the time the weather is a non-thought if you know you’re heading into really rough, windy, or otherwise unpleasant conditions (especially ones where a solar charger doesn’t help out much anyway) then pack it away.

The other option is to look at extended warranty options early. If you know you are going to be in especially challenging conditions over an extended period of times, opt-in for an extended cover-all warranty.

Something like an extra $60 for three years’ of coverage is a steal compared to having to buy a brand new solar power bank at full price and tossing on overnight shipping (with insurance and new warranty).

Reason #7: Damage from Owner Actions or Accidents

Look, no judgement. We are all clumsy at times, we all knock things over at times, and accidents happen.

If this is the potential cause, then you probably know. A little bit of thought probably brings up a memory of a fall, tripping, knocking something over.

Whatever the reason, if the damage was done by the owner then you’d better hope the warranty covers it. Otherwise you’re stuck buying a new one and learning an expensive lesson.

Solution: Hope the Warranty Is Still in Effect

A good warranty will cover pretty much all damage unless it is ridiculously egregious. In these situations look at getting covered under the warranty.

If you can’t get any coverage from the warranty then you will need to make a new purchase and go from there.

Reason #8: Faulty Manufacturing

At this point this is an extremely rare issue from any solar power bank manufacturer of note, but once in a while it can still happen. While the instinct by consumers is often to jump to this one first, make sure the other 7 listed causes are not at fault first.

Then look at warranty information. Depending on who you bought your solar power pack from it can still be worth contacting even if you are outside the printed warranty’s terms of service.

Solar is still a very consumer-oriented industry. Many solar companies are more than happy to work with you to find a solution.

The worst that happens is they say no, and you’re back to where you started with the expired warranty.

Solution: Get a Replacement or a Refund

If your solar power station is under warranty then this is a no-brainer. You shouldn’t have to pay for a mistake the factory made.

Even if you’re past the warranty, it’s worth contacting the company. Sometimes you can get them to agree to get you a replacement, other times you might get a discount on a new purchase.

It’s always worth making that call just to see.

How Do I Fix My Solar Power Bank?

Fixing your solar power bank so it charges again is going to depend on correctly identifying the problem.

Sometimes it is really to see what the major issue is while at other times you need to look around and try to locate what all the potential problems could be.

The troubleshooting checklist below, along with the advice from the points above, will help you figure out what the problem is.

Once you have the problem down, then fixing your solar power bank becomes simple. You’ll know your options, the possible solutions, and will be able to react accordingly.

Basic Solar Power Bank Troubleshooting Checklist

  • Does the device still work properly outside of the charging issues?
  • Are all the cables properly connected and the sockets clean? Check the sockets for dust and adjust any loose fits to see if this solves the issue.
  • Is there any identifiable damage or potential issues that could explain the issue?
  • Call customer service to see if there are any reports or recalls you weren’t aware of. Good customer service/tech support will be able to walk you through the most likely actions to fix your problems.
  • Double check all the cables, ports, and connections
  • Test to see if it’s an indicator issue. If the indicator says no charging is taking place but your electronics are getting charged, the issue is with the indicator and not your solar power bank
  • Charge the solar power bank up before use if it hasn’t been used in three or more months. This is just good practice.
  • Swap out any extra or spare parts to see if this changes the results. If not, eliminate those from likely issues.

In Conclusion

If you look through all these potential problems and follow the advice in this article you’ll be in good shape.

Or at least know where you stand when it comes to needing to purchase a new solar power bank.