By SkipJack & Will
A few months ago, (more like 6), Sunjack reached out and asked us to look at and abuse two of their portable solar charges.
As usual, we were pretty excited to test out something as technologically intriguing as a solar panel, and so of course we said yes! This was the second solar product we have reviewed and its always fun to see solar technology becoming more advanced and affordable!
Sunjack sent us two versions to test, both a 7 and a 14 watt model.
Both versions fold up to about the size of an iPad. The units are held together with fabric and multiple loops around the units make for easy attachment to any piece of gear.
Greatest of all is the price. At a price of $100 you can get a fully modular and self contained 7 watt solar charging device. The 14 watt runs around $150 and since we started testing them, Sunjack has released a 20 watt version at $200.
Need to drop your pack but still power your small devices?
Both 7 and 14 watt units come with detachable batteries. These batteries are small and almost as slim as an off the shelf smart phone, perfect for slipping into a pocket and extending your small device life by up to 8 times depending on the version.
The Sunjack 7watt solar charger comes with a 4000mAh battery that charged rather quickly in full sun (Sunjack claims 5 hours but we saw it charge in less time due to the Arizona sun) and managed to charge an iPhone 6 with juice to spare.
The 14 watt Sunjack battery is 8000mAh and charges in about the same amount of time due to double the number of panels. The 8000mAh battery is slightly larger than the 7 watt and we didnt actually see how many charges we could get out of it as we spent most of our time with the 7 watt which was more than enough for our needs.
There are three main differences that separate the 7 and 14 watt versions.
First, the 14 watt folds out into four panels giving you double the solar collection surface with minimal increase in weight. Next, the 14 watt’s 8000mAh battery sports a second USB port allowing for a second device to be charged at the same time.
Lastly, the 14 watt solar unit has a second USB port on the panel. This means that a second battery can be attached.
By spending an extra $50 you can bump up from a 7 to a 14 watt kit. In our opinion the 14 watt is a significant jump in options and value.
We took these panels on a test drive in our kits and several things impressed us.
First, the size, weight and compact nature of the panels made them ideal for much more than just your typical outdoor adventure.
Secondly, the units worked as advertised and were at home on both a pile of schoolbooks as well as a mountain ruck.
The solar panels are robust with some flex. A good endo from a mountain bike might rash the plastic covering but won’t totally destroy the unit.
A little rain won’t bother the Sunjack either but we doubt you will be getting a lot of sun in a driving squall.
Things we would like to see improved:
It would be nice to see Sunjack develop a harder use version of the solar charger. Some of the improvements would be hardened battery packs with a waterproof door covering the indicator lights and USB ports.
It would also be nice to see a better material for the construction as we are not sure how long the fabric will last under direct sunlight. Its been our experience that certain fabrics will deteriorate under direct sun. Salt water exposure could possibly be an issue as well.
We would like to see them make the solar chargers and components in the USA.
As they are, the units are pretty cool, and will suffice for almost any civilian or temporary law enforcement use, however, they might not be up to the task for long term MIL/LE use.
Sunjack has a handful of other products that go hand in hand with the solar chargers.
Battery chargers, lights and other devices that can be powered right off a USB port.
Each Sunjack device comes with a one year limited warranty.
Solar panels: 7 watts of high efficiency mono-crystalline
Max output voltage/current: One 5V/1.5A USB port
Battery: 4,000mAh lithium-polymer battery
Size folded: 6.5” x 9.25” x 1.5” (16.51cm x 23.50cm x 3.81cm)
Size unfolded: 16.35” x 9.25” x 1.5” (41.53cm x 23.50cm x 3.81cm)
Solar panels: 14 watts of high efficiency mono-crystalline
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)