We put the leading solar-powered Bluetooth speakers to the test to see which speaker came out on top. We extensively compared their build and audio quality, battery life, solar charging capabilities and features. The Nuboom turned out to be our favorite.
Nuboom Solar Speaker
Eton Rukus Xtreme
Harnessing the energy provided by the sun to power our everyday electronic items is a growing trend. This is no different with speakers, especially ones which are portable and likely to spend time in the sun. For this reason, we’ve explored the best solar-powered Bluetooth speakers – designed to be able to run without disposable batteries or need to be charged from mains power.
Environmental concerns are growing, and people are looking for ways to become more responsible with their energy use. We expect there to be even more speakers like these coming onto the market. That said, there is already a very strong selection to choose from, as you will see.
How Do Solar Panels Work?
The inbuilt solar panels which give these products their power work in the same way as most solar technology.
A quick explanation of how they work is as follows: They allow photons (particles carried within light) to impact electrons in atoms, which creates electricity. This is then stored in a battery unit ready to use. The technology which is doing this is called a photovoltaic cell. All a solar panel is is a lot of these photovoltaic cells put together to allow the product to make the most of the sunlight. Of course, to be effective, your speaker must spend some time exposed to light outdoors.
The following are the top three solar-powered Bluetooth speakers out of those we have tried and tested. Our detailed reviews, as well as product ratings, are designed to help you work out which speaker could be the one for you, and which will suit your unique needs.
Nuboom Solar Power Bluetooth Speaker
- Long battery life
- 32 feet connectivity
- Convincing audio quality
- Not 100% waterproof (Only IPX5)
The Nuboom Solar powered Bluetooth speaker has a lot to offer and is another of the options on the market which has absolutely incredible battery life. It is able to last for over 55 hours on a single charge, which is truly impressive and of course is wonderful for long trips.
The Nuboom combines some of the features of the other two products on our list. As well as having the battery life similar to the Solarbox. It also has the ability to charge phones just like the Rukus. This can be really valuable when heading out of the house.
We loved the sound of this speaker. Two 5W speakers give a wonderful level of volume and the stereo sound which can make your tracks sound so much richer. It also has a bass boost built-in, amplifying lower frequencies and ensuring you don’t lose the feel of your music.
It is shockproof and splashproof, so in relatively challenging environments you can rest assured that the Nuboom can handle it. The build quality is very good and you can tell by the feel of it that this is a good quality piece of kit.
On top of this, the Bluetooth range is very good with up to 32 feet of reliable connectivity. No need to worry about the sound dropping out if you stray a few feet from the speaker.
Solarbox IPX5 Waterproof Outdoor Portable Speaker
- Very durable & shockproof
- Good value
- Excellent 60hr battery life
- Can cut out at range
- Sound quality not that impressive
The Solarbox is a pretty impressive portable speaker. It combines reliability and good audio quality with a very good price tag, so you don’t have to spend a fortune to get something you know can do a decent job.
The charging is one of the big benefits of this speaker. 10 minutes of charge gives roughly 30 minutes of playing time. If you aren’t able to charge purely via the sun then you can also attach via USB. The speaker also has the ability to work for 60 hours once fully charged.
The Bluetooth range of around 33 ft means that you can easily connect to it on a camping trip or in the backyard at a party. If you don’t want to use Bluetooth you can also connect via an aux cable too.
In terms of audio quality, we would rate this among the best in the field. Though it is not the absolute elite product for sound clarity, it has plenty of responsiveness and a bass boost built-in which amplifies lower frequencies. The volume is pretty impressive too, and we found it sounded good on all of our test songs.
Considering the price, this speaker is also very well made, the manufacturers have definitely thought about their responsibilities when making something that is totally portable. It is protected by gel and rubber mesh so that it doesn’t stop working if some sort of dust, mud or sand gets into it. It is waterproof so you can happily use this in any weather conditions. On top of this, it is ‘shockproof’ so if you drop it, the Solarbox will be able to withstand the hit it takes.
Other great features include inbuilt LED light for use in the dark, an included carabiner for attaching this wherever you want and the ability to take phone calls via your speaker when hooked up to your smartphone.
Eton Rukus Xtreme Rugged Solar Speaker
- Incredible sound quality
- Strong 5200 mAh battery
- Only splashproof (IPX4)
- Somewhat expensive
The Eton Rugged Rukus is another great solar powered speaker which can connect to your devices either via Bluetooth or aux cable. The Bluetooth connection is reliable and fast, with a ‘one touch’ system letting you get those tunes playing in no time.
The battery is good, though not quite as amazing as some of the other products on the market. It charges in under 5 hours and can then provide around eight hours of playing time, which is plenty. Though not a ‘weakness’ as such, it is worth considering that some of the other products on the market manage four or five times this battery life.
The sound is good quality and the output power is pretty impressive, especially due to the stereo speaker system meaning more detail and more volume! Our set of test songs sounded very good when listening to them on the Rukus.
One of the big benefits is the fact that this can even charge your smartphone. This is especially useful if you are using a phone to play songs from, as this can sap your battery. It is also great if you are out and about on a camping trip or hiking as power might not be easily available. In terms of charging the unit, this can be done from mains power too in around 2.5 hours.
The product is well built and water ‘resistant’ so not totally waterproof. However, moderate rain or a few splashes from the pool won’t cause too much of an issue. The Bluetooth range is decent, but realistically with this speaker, the closer you can be to the speaker, the better. If we went more than a few meters away then it wasn’t quite as reliable.
The Rukus can easily be strapped onto backpacks or elsewhere, and is relatively small and only weighs around 1 lb, so it is perfect to take on your travels with you.
The Verdict – Which Is Best?
Asked to whittle it down to one product for all-round quality, we would have to go with the Nuboom. The sound is excellent, and a large range for connecting via Bluetooth means more reliable audio with no drop-outs. The battery life is incredible.
The Rukus is a good option for people who want to spend a little more on improved audio quality. It is one of the best sounding solar Bluetooth speakers out there. The place where it falls a little short is its battery life and range. If you are able to keep your device near the product and don’t need longer than 8 hours of battery life then the Rukus is worth a second look.
The Solarbox provides not only an excellent budget option but an excellent battery life. It is similar in this respect to our top choice, the Nuboom. However, it isn’t quite as good in terms of audio quality and doesn’t have the capacity to charge devices. For a cheap speaker with a long battery then the Solarbox is worth considering.
There are a few things to consider when you are planning to purchase a solar-powered Bluetooth speaker. You shouldn’t just dive in and buy the first one you come across! The following features and functions are the criteria for a good quality solar-powered Bluetooth speaker.
This is definitely the top consideration whenever you’re buying any kind of audio product. It is all very well buying a durable rugged speaker with high battery power, but this is all useless if the sound quality isn’t good enough.
A good Bluetooth speaker should have a clear audio response as well as being able to recreate bass frequencies so you don’t lose the ‘punchy’ low-end sounds. This is a common problem in smaller speakers.
Materials as well as how the speaker is made will contribute to how the sound is replicated. If it is made out of cheap components then the likelihood is that the sound quality will suffer.
A solar-powered Bluetooth speaker is usually purchased because it is portable, wireless and easy to just take out and about with you. Whether you’re taking it to the beach or just into the backyard for a gathering with friends, it will need to have enough output power so that you can enjoy the music properly. You shouldn’t have to be right next to it to hear anything! A speaker with low power is not good for large gatherings. You should at least have the option to crank it louder and be able to hear it from a distance.
A solar-powered speaker will be charged by the sun and then it will hold this charge for a period of time. It is like charging up your phone. So the capacity and quality of the battery should definitely be thought about, as well as how quickly it charges in the sun.
Not everyone lives in an area where sunlight is constant, so it helps if the power provided by the sun can last long into the night so you can keep the music playing.
It is worth noting that all of these units can be charged using a power cord as well in case you’re not lucky enough to see the face of the sun.
Build Quality (Is it Weatherproof?)
The benefits of having a product which is well made and durable are pretty clear. For a Bluetooth speaker, it is pointless if it cannot hold up to changing weather conditions as it will probably be used outdoors a lot. Some of the products on the market have been known to not work as well in the heat, while some aren’t as waterproof as needed. A good portable speaker of any type should be able to hold up to all weather conditions.
The Bluetooth technology within should be high quality too. By this, we mean it should have a good range so that you can connect from a distance. It should also be reliable and simple to connect to.
It is so frustrating if you’re playing music from a phone or other device and it stops due to the Bluetooth failing. We’ve looked for products offering a good level of reliability, compatibility, and distance here. Walking around the garden with your phone in your pocket shouldn’t mean you go out of range.
Size and Weight
This is another thing you should definitely think about. A lot of people are looking for a speaker they can throw in their bag and take hiking, camping or on other long trips. A big and bulky product can be cumbersome and difficult to take with you.