I have a treat for y’all today. I was given a SunJack last month to test out and review. If you’ve been looking to add one of these to your preps, read on. This solar charger rocks! Now, first, some caveats. My family is NOT heavy on battery powered devices. Hubby and I share a dum-phone. The kids don’t have phones. We have 1 Tablet and 1 mp3 player. It’s also been the rainiest, cloudiest summer EVER up here in Iowa. So, my apologies to the GigaWatt rep, for the time it took to get this review posted. It was an honest struggle to get devices that needed charging and sunny days.
By Calamity Jane, a contributing author of Survival Cache & SHTFBlog
Especially with how fast the SunJack recharged them. I’d work for days to get the mp3 player to a low battery state and then the Sunjack battery would have it back to full in just a couple of hours. And the massive battery pack with the Sunjack barely even used 20% of its charge to do that. It took multiple charges of multiple devices to get the SunJack battery to the point where I needed to recharge it in sunlight. A good problem to have.
What’s In The Box
Let’s go back for a minute though, “What comes out of the box?” you might be wondering. A great looking solar panel, folded accordion style. This looks tough but polished, the stitching looks solid, and the mesh pocket seems sturdy. The plug ins are well labeled and the wires seem of good quality. There is a battery pack, heavy, but not terribly big. That’s a child’s hand in the picture above showing the SunJack battery pack next to our mp3 player. The battery pack indicates charge level with some awesomely bright blue LEDs. And speaking of LED’s a bright LED light is one of the options with this SunJack, and it’s a nice one.
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The LED light is so bright, my family literally complained about it and asked me to take it to a different room. I ran the light for an hour and the battery pack only went down 25%. So I’m betting you can use this light for 4 or 5 hours off a full charge. The light has a couple of downsides though, it’s a round light bulb shape, which means you can’t just set it somewhere. It has a hanging handle, but it’s not very big, and it comes with little D-rings, but be prepared with some paracord or something to hang it in a good spot. It’s a corded light, the cord is really long, but you’ve still got to keep the light connected to the big battery pack. I’m thinking I’ll whip up a carry bag to solve these downsides in a way that makes it useful for my family.
The battery pack really makes this solar charger a winner. I’ve been looking at other solar chargers, and probably half the ones I looked at didn’t come with batteries, so they would only provide power when the sun shines.
Off Grid Ready
The SunJack portable solar charger by GigaWatt is an off-the-grid charging solution for environmentally conscience consumers, military and government, travelers, medical and outdoor professionals, and emergency preparedness kits. SunJack can charge any USB device – phones, tablets, GPS, cameras, speakers, lights, and more – making it easy-to-use for the outdoor enthusiast, road warrior, field professional or a city dweller.
How long does it take to charge something? From my experiments, it took the same amount of time to charge a device from the battery as it would take to charge a device from a wall socket. So a couple of hours was sufficient to charge the mp3 player straight from the charged SunJack battery pack. Honestly, I don’t track how long these sorts of things take when they are plugged into the wall, so I didn’t care overly much about how long it took. But it was nice it didn’t take an excessively long time either.
You’ll want to try and aim to charge devices from the battery pack whenever you can. (As opposed to charging them from the solar panel.) Here’s why. I plugged the tablet into the solar panel, and took it outside. Immediately I was reminded of an owners manual warning against leaving the device in direct sun. So then I got a bag to place the tablet in so that it wouldn’t be in the direct sun, and it would also have some protection against dust and damp. Then I had to do the sun dance, where for the next 4 hours I moved both the panel and the tablet around my front lawn to dodge the tree shade. Sometimes it was on the porch, and that felt fine, but other times it was off the porch and I felt nervous. If we lived in an area with more crime, I would have been unhappy to have the tablet that far from the house. All that said, it did charge the tablet, straight from sunshine, which was AWESOME. It wasn’t as fast as plugging the tablet into the wall, mostly I think because of the shade that kept creeping up on the panel.
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I think my plan from here on out though will be to charge the battery pack with the solar panel, then take everything inside to charge my devices. Losing a solar panel to thieves would be bad enough, losing a panel and a tablet to thieves would be twice as bad. After only 5 hours of direct sunlight, the 14 watt SunJack can power either 4 iPhones, 0.7 iPads or over 3.5 hours of LED light. Unlike many other chargers, the SunJack 20W Kit includes 2 batteries enabling you to simultaneously power 4 to 6 USB devices at a rate equal to on-grid charge speed (2 Amp).
Technical Specifications – Sunjack Tablet (20W)
Solar panels: 20 watts of high efficiency mono-crystalline
Max output voltage/current: Two 5V/2A USB ports
Battery: Two 8,000mAh lithium-polymer batteries
Size folded: 7.5” x 10” x 1.5” (19.05cm x 25.40cm x 3.81cm)
Size unfolded: 35.5” x 10” x 1.5” (90.17cm x 25.40cm x 3.81cm)
Weight: 2.7lbs (1224.70grams)
Where do I see myself using this? Where don’t I see myself using this? I’ll probably take it camping, we don’t always get electric sites. It would come in handy during any duration of grid down. Although, charging the battery before a blizzard hits could be problematic, if I don’t have it done before the clouds roll in. But, there are grid down situations in sunny weather too, and I expect those will become more frequent as climate gets weirder and the grid gets older and the population gets ever larger. I would definitely take it on a bug out, especially if I thought my phone would be useful at some point for reconnecting with friends and family.
Like a lot of other preps I think the key will be to integrate it into my routines with the various devices, so that it’s the norm for the SunJack battery pack to be charged and ready, and the charging area is set up to work well for both plugging into the grid and plugging into the SunJack. Carting charging cables to and fro is just a recipe to lose them. Better to have it all in one place and set up to use both sources of power.
I’ll be interested to see how well it ages. I’ll be interested to see how it fairs in cloudy or hazy weather. Anyone else have a solar charger? Are you using it frequently or is it packed for an emergency? The SunJack is currently available for $149.95 online at vendors such as Amazon. Also check them out their website (click here)
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