I had always wanted to use and have an alternative source of power, but for one reason or another, I never seemed to get around to.
But a little over four years ago I had my first opportunity to own a set of solar panels.
These panels were small scale and were intended to charge up handheld devices rather than deliver power to a household.
What I got was a product from SunJack. It consisted of four, 14W mono crystalline panels and an 8,000 mAh battery. Its maximum output was 5V/1.5A per USB port, which it has four of.
Other features that make this product easy to use is that it only weighs 1.75lbs and when folded up, it is roughly the size of an electronic tablet.
I have used this product off and on over the last four years and wanted to give my thoughts on it during that time.
A Little History
I received this SunJack Solar Charger in late 2015. At the time I thought it was well made and it certainly charged my phone and tablet well.
For a short period after receiving it I also thought it was a bit of a novelty because I either charged my phone at home or while I was in my vehicle.
A few weeks later three things happened that helped me to better understand its place. The town I lived in lost power for several days, a family member was in the hospital in another city, and the phone charger in my vehicle broke. This series of events jump-started me into using the panels more.
Being brand new, the battery pack charged quickly when I spread the panels out across a sunlit window.
One feature that I like about this model is that it has two USB ports attached to the panels and two USB ports on the battery pack.
This configuration allows for multiple devices to be plugged in while the battery pack is charging, although this increases the amount of time until a full pack.
I also really like the two ports that are directly attached to the panels. This allows me to directly charge a device from the panels while the battery pack is removed and used elsewhere.
Over the two day weekend that the power was out I was able to keep the phone and my tablet charged using the SunJack, which allowed me to stay in touch with the hospital and get work done.
SunJack Solar Charger Experience Over the Years
Over the next couple of years, I used the SunJack in a few different ways.
On The Road
During this period, I spent a lot of time driving and was frequently quite a distance from home.
I found that when the four panels were unfolded, they fit perfectly across the top of my vehicle’s dashboard. I started using the battery pack to charge my phone, flashlights, and other devices so the battery pack had to be charged more often.
No better time to charge it then during idle drive time. Even during lowlight conditions or overcast days, the panels always seemed to pick up enough light to keep the blue indicator lights on the battery pack blinking.
When I would arrive at my destination, I would fold up the panels and secure them shut with the Velcro strap. The dimensions of the SunJack are small enough that I could easily place it in my work bag and haul it around with me.
This gave me the option of using just the battery pack or if the opportunity arose, I would unfold the panels and obtain a charge in that manner.
Out and About
I also spend a lot of time outdoors and away from electrical outlets needed to charge my phone, camera, flashlight, and other small devices I sometimes carried.
Just like when I was driving, I enjoyed the fact that I could charge the battery pack during “idle time.”
SunJack made this easy by sewing strong loops along the border of the panels.
I attached these straps to the outside of my pack and let the panels hang down. This allowed me to keep charging the battery even when I was on the move.
A little over a year ago my daily routine was changed up and I pretty much stopped using the SunJack. I placed it in a cabinet in my home and nearly forgot about it.
That is until a large and powerful weather front moved across my state, wiping out power to tens of thousands of homes.
My home did lose power but only for roughly ten hours. Others were not so lucky as their lights did not come back on for almost a week.
One of the people that lost power was a friend of ours who had a wife and two kids. I decided to lend them the SunJack to help keep their phones charged.
While they were grateful for the charger, I informed them I would not be surprised if the battery pack did not work well since it had not been used for over a year. They thanked me anyway and left.
About a week later the power was fully restored and my friend returned the SunJack. He handed it over with a smile on his face and said, “that thing is pretty cool!”
I asked if it had worked alright for them and he told me they were able to easily keep all four phones fully charged throughout the week.
After he left, I did not put the SunJack back into the dark dismal cabinet as before. I was shocked that it was still working so well and wanted to test it out soon.
Over the next few days, I charged up the battery pack and would hook my phone into it. At this point, I did not keep track of how much or how fast it charged my phone but it appeared to work as good as ever.
Out of curiosity I wanted to conduct a more detailed test, and lucky for me, another storm system came through a few months later and again knocked out the power.
A Little More Detail…
A few weeks back another nasty storm moved through blowing up a transformer two doors down. While several thousand people lost power, I did not expect it to be down for days.
However, since you never know, the wife and I immediately put our phones on battery saver mode.
Instead of using the flashlight on my phone, I used the small LED light on the battery pack which I will admit, I have not used all that much. It was not as bright as I remember but it still worked well for gathering candles and other necessities in the dark.
I pulled out the SunJack pack but had not charged it for some time (a dumb move on my part) Out of the five blue lights that indicate charge status on the battery pack, only two of them lit up.
The wife’s phone was at 33% and mine was at 50%. I was not sure how long the battery was going to last so I plugged hers in first.
Within an hour it brought her phone from 33% to 100% with the second blue indicator flashing. I plugged my phone in next and it charged the phone from 50% to 100% in roughly 45 minutes.
The battery pack had one solid blue indicator bar left and I used that to power a small camp LED bulb for the remainder of the power outage.
When I first got the SunJack it was incredibly efficient and effective, not surprising for a brand-new product.
But over the years it has been taken in and out of my pack, folded and unfolded, placed on the dash of my vehicle, been hung from trees, laid on rocks, and has bounced around from place to place countless times during my travels.
And, four years later the battery pack still charges to full within several hours and can fully power any handheld device I require.
As dependent as most of us are these days on our electronics, a backup power source can be a critical tool to have.
Through a lot of use, storage, and some unintentional abuse, my SunJack Solar Charger and Power Pack is still fighting the good fight and it is a tool I definitely believe is worth having!
Thanks for reading and stay prepared!
Do you have experience with SunJack chargers? Sound off in the comment section below and let us know your experience!