I am doing some controlled backyard testing of the Jackery SolarSaga 60-watt solar panel paired with Jackery’s entry-level Explorer 160 model power station. Our Kalamera Portable Fridge has become a staple in our camping gear box for extended trips and we’d love to be able to keep it powered by the sun.
Keeping a portable fridge powered up when camping or overlanding eliminates the need for ice and multiple stops to the convenience store. Let’s get on with testing Jackery solar panels…
Jackery Solar Panels and Power Station Test
It’s sunny and 80F degrees here in Southern California today so we figured it’s a perfect time to test these portable solar panels for Jackery USA. We usually don’t camp when hotter than 80F so it’s very relatable camping weather.
The test began with our portable fridge at room temperature which was about 70F degrees. I loaded a few large bottles of apple juice and a tall Nalgene water bottle just to take up some air and be able to test how cold everything is. The Jackery 160 power station and the Jackery 60w solar panel are the smallest and cheapest options in Jackery’s lineup so I was curious to see how this pair would perform.
Our portable fridge for camping
My Kalamera portable fridge is very efficient and has multiple power-saving modes to handle any situation. Just to give this setup the stress test we have the fridge in MAX mode for the least power efficiency and best cooling power. While this fridge can go into FREEZE mode, I have never used it for freezing items. We have the target temperature set to 29F degrees and it typically dips below that to allow the fridge to utilize its insulation capabilities.
According to the Jackery 160 display panel, the solar panel is consistently feeding between 28-32 watts. Something as small as a shadow the size of my hand drops that number down considerably, so full sun is highly important.
The output when the fridge is cooling is usually between 50-70 watts, mostly hovering around 60. I’ve checked on the battery percentage every 20 minutes for about 6 hours and the battery never dipped below 99% and was usually showing 100%. The fridge is very efficient and well insulated. During the times the motor doesn’t need to run, the Jackery 160 has time to fully charge thanks to the sun.
I couldn’t ask for better performance during the hottest parts of the day, although if I had some clouds I’m sure the results would be greatly altered. The SolarSaga also has charging ports on the back of the panel and the nerd in me was ecstatic to see a USB-C charging port. My Google Pixel showed “charging rapidly” — good on Jackery for keeping up with the times and giving us the latest technology.
More about the SolarSaga and Jackery 160
I’ve had this portable power station for a few years and it’s been an invaluable tool on camping trips. For tent camping we’re usually without many electronics. It will charge our phones, bluetooth speakers, and dog training collar. The portable fridge didn’t come into the picture until about 6 months ago so we have limited experience in the field with this setup.
I typically keep the Jackery 160 charged up with the vehicle power when driving away from the campsite to go explore off-road or in a local town. It’s rare when the Jackery gets too low but it does happen. Now that we intend to run the portable fridge off the Jackery 160 full-time it became a necessity to be able to keep the portable power bank charged by the sun.
Impressed with Jackery solar panels
So far I’m impressed with the SolarSaga 60w. It weighs in at just over 3lbs. and has a handy magnetic tab to keep the two panels folded together. A lot of work went into making a portable, lightweight, and durable solar panel specifically for camping and outdoor adventures — I think Jackery nailed it!
When we take our new-to-us Livin’ Lite Quicksilver pop up camper (Ladybug) we mostly use the Jackery 160 for running the fridge. The camper has its own deep cycle RV battery to run the LED lights, 12v fans, and blower motor for the built-in heater. We have a Renogy 100 watt solar panel that is much heavier and bulkier — I’m really not too happy with it. But it was meant to charge the big RV battery and it does the job well. Just not sure if we actually need it.
Better options from Jackery USA
Since I already own the Jackery Explorer 160 (167Wh) I am eager to make this setup work. Realistically one should use the Jackery Explorer 240 (240Wh) for running a portable fridge along with charging various electronics. And the 100 watt SolaSaga is a surefire way to capture the sun but I wanted something as portable as possible so we’re hoping the 60 watt solar panel works.
Click here to visit Jackery’s full lineup.
How do you keep your fridge and devices powered when camping or overlanding?
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