Quick Prepper Tip: Solar Power When and Where You Need it

By Dave Dolbee published on in Boating and Water Sports, Camping & Survival, Gear

Recently, I discovered a product that has finally matured to point that it is worthy of cracking open your wallet and parting with a few hard-earned greenbacks. Portable solar panels and battery packs, have finally progressed to level of durability, size, and most importantly, longevity that make them a must-have item. The SunJack 14W +8000mAh Battery is a product that should be in every household, car, backpack… you name it. Don’t get too hung up on the name. The engineers at SunJack spent their time where it would do you the most good—engineering, not marketing.

SunJack 14W +8000mAh Battery

The battery pack can be recharged using the solar charging panels that fold into a folio for easy storage. The whole unit measures a mere 9″ x 6.5″ x 1.75″ (23cm x 16.5cm x 4.5cm) and tips the scales at well under two pounds.

It does not matter whether you are a prepper, survivalist, hunter, student, commuter, boater, or parent. The world we live in depends on power. From our cell phones to kids portable game systems, emergency radios to tablets—there are so many everyday portable items—that we depend on more each day—and all of them run on electricity. As much as the majority of us would hate to admit it, but we are dependent on the electrons that flow so freely from the grid.

What happens when the power goes out? How annoying is it when your child’s device goes dead? If that child is a teenager, they try to convince you it was a matter of life and death. While these examples are matters of convenience, let’s think about something more serious. What would happen during an attack on the power grid or in a natural disaster? How long would the batteries in your emergency FM radio hold out? What about a rechargeable walkie-talkie or ham radio?

What other minor devices do you depend on? How are you going to recharge your device in an emergency bug out situation or when you get injured while hiking through signal-draining hills and valleys? Imagine what would happen if you car broke down in the middle of nowhere? Or, worse yet, an accident in a remote area with little traffic, and your cellphone’s battery is in the red. What would you do?

What Do You Get?

– 14 Watt Portable Solar Charger with dual 2 Amp USB output ports
– Qualcomm 2.0 Quickcharge Battery Pack
– Fast-Charge Cable
– Carabiners

Specifications

Solar panels: 14 watts of high efficiency mono-crystalline
Max output voltage/current: One 5V/1.5A USB port
Battery: 8,000mAh lithium-polymer battery ~ 5 hours
Unit Size folded: 9″ x 6.5″ x 1.75″
Unit Size unfolded: 9″ x 31″ x 1″
Unit Weight: 1.75 / 0.8 (lbs/kg)
Packaging Dimension: 10.5″ x 8.5′ x 2″

The single answer to all of these issues is a solar charger with battery pack. The SunJack’s battery pack is handy when you need portable power on demand. Once charged, it carries enough juice to recharge my cell phone or tablet, but with power to spare. The battery pack can be recharged using the solar charging panels that fold into a folio for easy storage. The whole unit measures a mere 9″ x 6.5″ x 1.75″ (23cm x 16.5cm x 4.5cm) and tips the scales at well under two pounds.

The SunJack’s attached mesh pouch holds the battery pack, charging cable, and houses two USB ports. The battery pack—with two USB ports—detaches, so you can ditch the solar panels and carry it as a back up for day trips. You could also simultaneously charge two devices directly from the solar panels. That means, you could have two devices charging from the solar panels and two from the battery pack. That’s four devices at one time!

The SunJack comes with two carbineers to conveniently hang the unit for charging, or to keep it out of the way of little feet, horse hooves, being knocked over the side of the boat etc. The hooks allow the SunJack to be hung vertically or horizontally, whichever works best for your situation to maximize solar collection.

The SunJack’s instructions are simple. So simple, they are on a single side of a sheet of paper. The SunJack is truly plug and play. About the only mistake you can make is hanging it in a window. Most modern windows have UV filters or some such technology that messes with things. However, give the SunJack direct sunlight, and your phone will be charged in about 90 minutes.

With all of the advantages and uses the SunJack offers, how could you afford to be without one? Power is essential in many emergency scenarios, and the convenience factor is off the charts.

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Do you own a solar charger? How would you use a SunJack? Share your answers in the comment section.

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Comments (10)

  • Michael

    |

    I would like to see “bumper’s” reply to G-Man, regarding the $40 unit.

    Reply

  • Jason Procell

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    How would this or any solar powered setup hold up to an EMP pulse?

    Reply

    • Jim

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      Jason, if it is electronic, it will not hold up to a EMP unless it is in a protected (grounded) cage. Plans for constructing a “Faraday Cage” are easy to find on a search. A old microwave found in a junk yard can make a good small Faraday Cage if grounded properly. — Good luck.

      Reply

    • G-Man

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      @ Jason Procell,

      In my dual careers as both federal law enforcement and a military reservist I’ve had the opportunity to attend some preparatory training on this topic. From everything I’ve learned your question is un-answerable due to the incredible number of variables involved.

      Below is a short list of the most common factors affecting your answer:

      * The type and intensity of EMP: Nuclear yield, EMP Bomb, or a natural solar flare – CME (Coronal Mass Ejection).
      * Whether or not the system is in use during the EMP.
      * Distance from the EMP epicenter.
      * Varying designs and quality in circuitry per manufacturer.
      * Length of wiring.
      * Number and types of other connected electronic devices.
      * Protection measures used (Faraday cages etc.).

      Another thing to consider after an EMP is those devices that appear to have survived because they still power up, but instead actually sustained undetectable damage. They can lead to fires while sleeping or damage other sensitive devices you connect later.

      Again, you question is simply un-answerable.

      Reply

  • Robert Lee

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    Check out 1byone 24 watt panel. You can find it by doing a search. Price is $36 with good reviews. I have a number of portable panels at various price ranges. The 1byone is only the panel and no battery like the one in this article. Regardless of what you get, get something and a battery pack to go with it for storing some of that daylight only solar panel electricity.

    Reply

    • G-Man

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      @ Robert Lee,

      Confused by your comment which reads, “…and no battery like the one in this article.” Yet the one in this article DOES come with a battery.

      Reply

    • jim

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      It was a poorly worded sentence. I think he meant his panel had no battery unlike yours which has a battery.

      Reply

    • G-Man

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      @ Jim,

      Ah, gotcha and agree with your assessment. Thanks for helping Robert Lee clarify and me understand the translation.

      Reply

  • bumper

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    Solar has been dropping in price year upon year for ages. And of course, battery technology has been improving as well. At only 14 watts, the mentioned panel is by a good margin and less capable than much less expensive offerings. A quick check found a similar product selling for less than $40 shipped, 24 watt instead of 14, and with a built in battery too. The product in this review is over 3 times as much.

    Reply

    • G-Man

      |

      @ bumper,

      Can you provide a link or the name of the $40 unit you mentioned? It just sounds too good to be true.

      People just getting into solar quickly realize that quality versions of these products are quite expensive. But there are many cheap and deceptive products flooding the market as well.

      For instance they will say “battery bank” when they really mean “port” for charging and there are no batteries included at all.

      If you double-check the $40 unit you’re comparing, more than likely it does not come with a detachable 8000mAh battery, let alone a quality one. Rechargeable batteries are expensive, and yet even more expensive if it is a quality one like this product.

      Another big difference you will probably discover in the $40 unit is the solar panels aren’t made of the higher purity mono-crystalline like this product.

      Most cheap (low cost) solar products use panels made of a lower silicon purity known as poly-crystalline. These cheaper products are nowhere near as efficient as the mono-crystalline found in this product. The deceptive product won’t even list this difference and leads the consumer to believe they are getting a bargain when maybe they are not.

      One more thing is the quality of the built in voltage regulator. The market is flooded with cheap Chinese products that have no quality control and can lead to fires. Do not confuse this with Chinese products manufactured for U.S. companies which are carefully monitored to maintain quality.

      In addition, a quality voltage regulator will have circuitry to check each device you plug in and adjust automatically to its correct recharge rate so it doesn’t damage the phone or tablet. I doubt a $40 product can afford to do this.

      I could be wrong, and this $40 product is a breakthrough. So please provide a link so I can check it out. Thanks.

      Reply

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