Besides creating homeschool curriculum, I also sometimes write reviews for products. Most of those product reviews are on Amazon. In fact, my current reviewer ranking # is 540 (top 1000 out of anyone / everyone who writes reviews on Amazon )! This translates into getting lots of interesting items for free or a discount in exchange for a review through Amazon sellers. It’s taken me several years to build my reviewer ranking up, but it’s been well worth the time invested. Recently I was asked to test and review a solar charger that we actually really need/want, but the review needs to be posted on my blog, so here it is. I know a lot of you who are homeschooling are into a more natural lifestyle and the like, so you might find this interesting. Christmas is also coming up (for those of you who are early shoppers, LOL), so if you have a husband into prepping, a science minded kid, or if your family hikes a lot or lives where the power goes out, this is a REALLY great item….a SunJack portable solar charger!
P.S. Some homeschool news is posted at the end of this post. 😉
The dog moved when I was taking the picture with my tablet – hence the goofy ghost paws. 😉
I’ve tried some smaller solar power banks, and it turns out that they aren’t very efficient and take days (on average) to fully charge. The SunJack solves the problem with a much more powerful solar cells that are strong enough to not only run my tablet when it’s on, but also charge it to 100% without leaving it in the sun all day. I’m VERY pleased, as this means we can charge both of our phones, tablet, solar lights, and other goodies when we are “off-the-grid” and also when exploring the local area on treks/hikes/camping trips.
The SunJack is NOT cheap, and you might be wondering if it’s worth the steep price tag. If you need the ability to charge USB items (phone, tablets, camping lights, small USB fans, Kindle, etc.), I think it’s worth the investment. Homeschoolers have the added educational bonus, too, lol. Seriously, this is something Otter would have LOVED to play with. 😉
I did a bit of research about the efficiency of solar cells. The SunJack’s efficiency is rated at 19%. This means that in combination with latitude and the climate, it can convert 19% of the sunlight energy it captures into electrical energy. It seems that there aren’t many solar cells out there that can do much more with a few exceptions, especially at this price point.
The SunJack comes with a 8000mah batter/power bank that has enough power to charge an iPhone 6 Plus about 2.7 times. I kept my Kindle Fire 8 HD tablet plugged to it and turned on for 2 days and I only ran the batter down halfway. Then I hooked the battery up to a Bluetooth speaker and a Kindle Fire 7 and while using those items like a radio. By morning I finally ran the battery down to the point where it was there was only 1 blue indicator light blinking (to indicate the battery was low). The battery / power bank detaches from the SunJack via a USB cord – which is nice that it’s not tethered.
It might be worthwhile to purchase a 2nd battery to charge with the 1st one is being used. It took me about 7 hours to fully charge the battery/power bank. When it’s fully charged, the 5 blue indicator lights are solid, when you push the power button. The battery is a terrific feature that you can power up using the sun initially, and then use it to charge items when the sun isn’t shining! You can also plug the battery straight into a USB charger via a wall outlet for convenience sake. The SunJack has a built in voltage regulator so that you can’t overcharge the battery pack.
When the sun IS shining, the SunJack works pretty well as an instant charger – just like plugging your gadget(s) into a wall socket! This is its most amazing feature, as far as I’m concerned. I hooked my tablet directly up to the SunJack via a USB cord. I kept it running AND charging at the same time. The SunJack was able to charge it 10% in about 40 minutes. That’s not bad considering that the tablet was ON and the SunJack wasn’t in constant direct sunlight the entire time. It was also the late afternoon heading into the evening. It puts out 5 volts, so it should be able to charge any USB item that has that requirement. I read in the questions and answers that the SunJack can’t charge a laptop (via an official answer by the seller). It worked great for my tablet, though! The official description says it can charge a phone in 90 minutes, and I think that is a pretty correct assessment, as long as you put it in full sun.
As for construction – the SunJack is really well put together. When it’s all folded up, it only takes up about 9 x 7 inches and weighs about 2 pounds. It features a zipper net style pouch where the battery is stored via slipping into a stretchy strap. There are also 2 USB ports and an included plug to plug in either the battery for charging purposes, or an electronic device, if you want to run it directly off the SunJack. One of the USB ports is high power, the other low power. You can plug two items in at one time. The solar panels are covered by a water-resistant material (probably a polyester??). It stays closed and folded up via a Velcro. When you unfold it, it’s 30.75 inches long by 9.25 inches wide (AND 1.75” thick). The solar panels are mono-crystalline and protected by plastic panels. All of the stitching of the case is sturdy and well done. There are 2 carabiners that you can attach to various loops located in different places, so you can hang the SunJack on the back of your pack, a tree, or other object. I used it lying flat on the grass and angled toward the sun on a chair.
I’m really impressed with the SunJack and know it will be the first solar charger we pull out when the power goes out, or when we are backpacking out in a forest far from civilization. 😉 It puts out enough juice to keep our important items running, and I love the freedom of using just the sun to power things up. If you are looking for something for your bugout box, homestead, camping trip, emergency kit, kid’s science project, or hike – the SunJack is pricey, but it actually gets the job done when it comes to charging things up.
Click here to go to the official website, or here to buy a SunJack from Amazon.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a SunJack for free from Sunjack in consideration for a gear review.
HOMESCHOOL & CURRICULUM NEWS:
Keep a lookout for my new, terrific language arts unit about prepositions! I’ll be posting it soon. It will be the first in a series of grammar units for elementary age. It is truly the most fun and hands-on grammar unit I’ve seen (in my biased opinion, lol). I also plan on starting work on a NON MATH high school physics course sometime this late fall. American history will follow physics! Subscribe to my blog for updates, or keep an eye on my Facebook page!