These days, it is impossible to conceive of life without our phones, tablets gaming and other mobile devices. And I would guess for most of us having a backup power source is a must. But what happens when you decide to go off the grid to go camping or worse yet, you end up in an area with a major multi-day power outage (it happens more often then we like to admit)? The SunJack line of solar chargers from GigaWatt Inc may be your solution.
SunJack touts itself as being the “most powerful solar charger in the world”, I will take them at their word. Having started out as a KickStarter project with almost double the funding they were seeking, the SunJack is now available commercially.
The SunJack comes in two varieties, the SunJack Phone with 14 watts of power and the SunJack Tablet 20 watts. I was sent the SunJack Phone version to review.
The 14 watt SunJack comes with the following accessories:
- 8000 mAh SunJack battery
- Fast charge USB cable (USB to Micro USB)
- Two carabiners (for hanging the SunJack)
- User documentation
The SunJack folds up onto itself for easy storage and transport, as you can see from the above third picture. One nice feature that was added to the back of the SunJack is a zippered mesh pocket that allows you to carry the accessories. The back pocket is also where the solar panel output USB ports are located. The USB ports are the square box in the upper left hand corner with the “USB1” and “USB2” printed on it. The USB ports have a max output of 5 volts at 2 amps. This will allow you to charge your devices directly from the Sunjack.
The SunJack has the following technical specs from its web site:
- Solar panels: 14 watts of high efficiency mono-crystalline solar cells
- Max output voltage/current: Two 5V/2A USB ports
- Battery: 8,000mAh lithium-polymer battery
- Size folded: 6.75” x 9.25” x 1.75” (17.15cm x 23.50cm x 4.5cm)
- Size unfolded: 30.75” x 9.25” x 1.75” (78.11cm x 23.50cm x 4.5cm)
- Weight: 2lbs (907.19grams)
As you can see when folded up, the SunJack is a little smaller than my iPad Air. The size is one of the features that makes the SunJack a great accessory for camping or any other outdoor activity you may be involved in.
Although the solar charging capability of the SunJack is the highlight of this system, the SunJack battery should not be over looked. At 8000 mAh, the lithium polymer battery is not the biggest, but for its size it packs a decent punch. The battery has two USB outputs, “Output 1” has a one amp output for phones and other devices and “Output 2” has a two amp output for tablets and higher drawing devices. The SunJack battery can be charged using the SunJack solar charger or via a USB outlet. The battery has five LEDs each one representing 20% of the batteries capacity.
A nice feature of the SunJack battery is the built in LED flashlight. While it is not the brightest LED light I have used, it is bright enough to use in emergencies. To use you simply hold down the button on top of the battery to turn it on, and do the same to turn it off.
While the included carabiners are nothing real special in my eyes, the fact that they were included with the SunJack shows that the developers and designers have enough foresight to know these items may be needed to use the SunJack in the field.
Using the SunJack is as simple as unfolding the solar panels and facing them towards the sun. With the included carabiners and all of the loops built into the SunJack you have the option of hanging it, laying it flat or even laying it on top of an uneven surface like a backpack. All these options give you the ability find the best method of using the SunJack when you are out and about.
Charging my iPhone from the SunJack battery was simple and straight forward. Plug it in, press the button and let it charge. I had no problem giving my iPhone a full charge from the battery. I also used the battery to charge up my iPad Air. A fully charged SunJack battery will give you an approximately 57% charge in about 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
Charging my iPhone directly from the SunJack was again fairly simple. I plugged my iPhone into the USB port and let it run. Note that the solar panel doesn’t have any sort of indicator to show you that it’s getting enough sunlight to charge connected devices. You’ll need to rely on the charging status of the device to know if it’s getting power. My iPhone went from a 38% charge to a full charge in about three hours
Along with the SunJack solar charger that I received, I was sent a CampLight LED Bulb to try. This light is a nice add on if you are camping or in need of some emergency lighting. The light has the following specifications from their website:
- Super bright 8 LED USB light bulb
- 340 lumens, equivalent to a 40W incandescent bulb
- 7 foot long USB cord
- 270 degree beam angle
- Powered by any USB source
The light also came with a a carabiner to hang it. I was impressed with the light output on this LED bulb.
What’s my bottom line here? All in all the SunJack solar charging system is a great system for campers or emergency situations. With the ability to fold up and pack away, it is perfect for campers. The SunJack battery has more then enough juice to charge a phone or two and even enough to give a tablet a decent charge. The built in flashlight is a nice touch. The battery also adds flexibility to how you use the SunJack to charge your devices, directly from the solar panels or from the battery. Charging a device directly from the SunJack solar panels is as simple as plugging your USB cord into the outlet. The zippered pocket on the back of the solar panels is a nice place to put your phone or the battery while charging them. The one thing I did notice while charging directly from the SunJack is that it can get a little hot (I had my iPhone stored in the back mesh pocket while it was charging. I did get a heat warning from my iPhone while charging it, so you will need to keep that in mind. At a price of $150 for the 14 watt SunJack phone model I am reviewing, I don’t think the price is out of line for what it provides. Both the SunJack solar charger and the CampLight LED Bulb (on sale for $9.95) are available from the SunJack web site. If you are looking for a portable solar charging system you will probably like this one, I do.
Source: The sample for this review was provided by SunJack. Visit their site for more info.