Review

SunJack 20W Portable Charger and Waterproof Lightstick

The SunJack 20W Portable Charger and Waterproof Lightstick.

The SunJack 20W Portable Charger and Waterproof Lightstick.

It seems there is no place the SunJack Portable Charger can’t go. Put it on the tarp covering the wood pile. Let it lounge on the deck. Keep it warm with a fleece blanket companion on the snow. Secure it to the back of the rack on your bicycle. Lay with it in the grass on a picnic. Hang it at hunting or fishing camp. Place it on mountain ledges or, with carabiners, attach it to a backpack. Bring it to the beach.

Though unplugging in the outdoors is wonderful, there are times when you’ve got to have power, and SunJack delivers.

The SunJack 20W Portable Charger is a handy solar-powered charging station used to fuel up smartphones, tablets, cameras, GPS devices, game devices, music players, and other USB-powered essentials. The internal battery collects the solar energy. Connect the batteries to your device of choice, and voila, get juiced. Or attached it to the solar array.

The batteries get charged into about five hours with enough power to fuel eight smartphones or about a tablet and a half.

Keep the batteries in the mesh or take them along. Your choice.

Manufactured by California-based GigaWatt Inc., the company was founded in 2006 to distribute solar components. They took the SunJack idea to Kickstarter and successfully funded it in May of 2014.

The SunJack 20W Portable Charger.

The SunJack 20W Portable Charger.

So, get out of the box and into the outdoors with the SunJack. The smart-looking power companion comes with two 8000mAh lithium powered batteries, two carabiners and two small 2A fast-charge USB cables all packaged neatly in the zipper mesh pocket.

The array itself is a neat, durable foldable case with four solar 20 watt panels, about the size of an iPad. The cells are monocrystalline with the device weighing in at about two and a half pounds.

The quick start guide inside is easy to follow:

  1. Unzip the mesh cover and plug the SunJack battery into one of the SunJack USB ports with the provided fast-charging cable.
  2. Unfold the unit and place in direct sunlight. he unit may be placed flat, angled to face the sun, or hung from one or more of the loops (there are five on the unit’s case).
  3. When current begins to flow into the battery from the solar panel, the LEDs on the battery begin to flash a brilliant blue. Each of the five LEDS 20 percent of batter capacity. Light them all and the battery is fully charged.
  4. Remove the battery from the case for more convenience.
  5. The USB ports built into the panel can be used to directly power USB devices.

So simple, even the not-so-tech-savvy can plug in in no time.

According to the manufacturer, the best performance is when the panels are directly angled to the sun in bright sunlight. Windows and shade cut into the performance.

They also suggest using Output 2 on the battery for high power devices and tablets because it is 2 amps of charge. Output 1 is one amp of charge.

The batteries also have another function—small flashlights. Press and hold the power button for a thin stream of light.

The SunJack kept to its mantra, readily supplying devices a handful of devices in the time projected. Even in the grasp of a cold New England spring, the product did its job, though at times it was a good idea to move the SunJack into direct line with the sun. But basically, stick it outside and you get juice.

A nifty accessory is the SunJack Waterproof Lightstick. With low, medium, high, and strobe modes the light—think flourescent light versus flashlight—can come along on a camping trip and with the two lanyards it comes up hang from the tent. Or keep it in your vehicle for emergencies or around the garage. It is multi-purpose, being both USB rechargeable and a functioning back-up battery. So it’s useful to have as a  back-up for your smartphone and provides more than 40 hours of light on a charge that takes about five hours. It’s durable too. To see how much, it was left outside for 12 hours on a spring night with temps downs to the teens on its low mode. In the morning, it still smiled and used one-third of its energy.

Though made for traveling, both the charger and lightstick come in in very handy at home when the power goes out, an illuminating Plan B for peace of mind.

Quality

Good-looking and durable straight out of the box.

Reliability

Even in the chill of spring and tested in the woods, the SunJack came through.

Price/Value

At $250, the 20W charger may be a tad high for some, but there are other versions that are less costly. The Lightstick, $45, is a good value.

Referability

If you need your devices and are off the grid, this is it.

Images by Marty Basch

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