Disclaimer: This product was sent to us for free, in exchange for a review. We were not paid by Jackery to do this review but we did receive it for free. All opinions expressed in this post are based on our personal views and experiences.
Is The Jackery SolarSaga 100W The Best Portable & Foldable Solar Panel?
We recently reviewed the Jackery Explorer 1000, which is a portable power station not only for travelers but also homeowners that want to have a backup power source in case of an emergency. Jackery also makes solar panels that pair well with its batteries, so in this post, we’re going to review their most popular portable and foldable solar panel – the SolarSaga 100W.
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You can tell by its name that it’s a 100W solar panel, but Jackery also makes a smaller SolarSaga 60W. I always recommend the largest panel possible if you need a panel to recharge a portable power station/solar generator, but it’s good to have two options to choose from.
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In this article, we’re going to take a close look at what the SolarSaga 100W is capable of, what power stations and devices it’s compatible with, and how it holds up to similar solar panels from its competitors. We’ll also do some tests to see how well it performs when paired with different popular power stations.
The Jackery SolarSaga 100W Solar Panel
The SolarSaga 100W is currently the largest solar panel made by Jackery, and it’s easy to understand why they chose to make a 100W panel. Solar panels rated at 100 watts are the most popular size when it comes to portable panels since it’s not too small and not too large. They’re also capable of recharging a 500Wh power station (like the Explorer 500) within 8 hours.
Some 100W panels are more portable than others, but Jackery has found a good balance between portability and functionality with its SolarSaga 100W. The reason I say that is because it’s lightweight, portable, and has several outputs, while also offering a built-in stand that’s sturdy enough to handle some wind. It’s not as sturdy as the much heavier Renogy 100W suitcase solar panel, but I believe the compromises are worth it to most travelers.
A solar panel only has so many features, but let’s split it up into four different topics: Design, ports, compatibility, and portability.
The SolarSaga panels are designed with portability in mind. With a slim layer of solar cells, which are covered with ETFE. ETFE is a fluorine-based plastic polymer and a great lightweight alternative to glass. This material is not only lightweight and more flexible than hard plastic but also durable.
Along the sides, you’ll find two handles, one on each side, that meet up when you fold the panel together. These handles are made out of TPE, which in this case is basically a mix of plastic and rubber. There are also two magnets on each side instead of latches that keep the panel shut when folded together.
Along the sides, the corners, and the back of the panel, canvas fabric is used instead of plastic to make the panel durable yet lightweight. It’s not a waterproof material, so it should not be left out in the rain.
The junction box and the 8mm cable are hidden within the large pocket on the back of the panel that has its own zipper. It’s a relatively large pocket that can hold not only phones and small tablets but also portable power banks. Just be aware that it can get hot behind the panel.
There are two built-in legs that function as a stand. These are held in place with velcro when folded, and with two straps when extended. It appears that the legs have a piece of thick plastic covered by fabric to make them more sturdy.
One of the straps is an elastic band connected to the second strap to make it easier to fold the leg in without the main strap getting in the way. It’s a genius design and something I haven’t seen (and been bothered by) on other similar panels.
Last but not least, there are four holes, one in each corner, which make it easy to hang the panel up with rope or carabiners.
The SolarSaga 100W has a junction box with a non-removable 10ft 8mm cable. That’s the input plug you’ll find on the Explorer power stations. The panel can output up to 100W with a 23% cell efficiency.
But there is more to the junction box than the 8mm cable, there are also two USB ports. One USB A, and one USB C. The USB A port can output up to 12W, and the USB C 15W. Note that the USB C port is not a PD port.
Between the USB ports, there is a small LED light that indicates whether the solar panel is generating electricity or not.
The output ratings and specifications of the panel and its ports are printed near the handle on the panel itself.
Since there is not only an 8mm plug but also two USB ports on the SolarSaga 100W, it’s compatible with a lot of different devices.
With USB A and USB C ports, you can charge phones, tablets, speakers, cameras, lights, headlamps, etc. You can use both ports at the same time while also charging a power station.
Note that the USB C port is not a USB C PD port.
The SolarSaga 100W measures 24 x 21 x 1.4 inches when folded, and 48 x 21 x 0.2 inches when unfolded. It weighs 9.1 pounds.
What makes the panel so portable is the weight combined with its thin design. Since there are no latches, metal legs, or heavy plastics, it’s easy to set up and pack away within seconds, and easy to carry due to the built-in handle.
It’s not the most portable 100W panel on the market since it only folds in half, but it’s the balance between portability and ease of use that make it stand out.
What I Like
I think Jackery has done an excellent job when designing the SolarSaga 100W panel. I have no big complaints that would stop me from buying this panel.
First, the kickstand design is genius with the strap that holds the second strap up to make it easier to fold the leg in.
Second, magnets! The panel folds together and holds itself together with magnets. No latches, no extra metal, just magnets doing its thing. It’s so easy to bring out and put away.
Third, the large pocket. This is the first solar panel I have tested that actually has a pocket large enough to be useful. Even if you don’t want to leave your device in it while it’s charging, you can keep adapters, batteries, and whatever you choose to store in it.
How Well It Performs
I have tested several panels like the SolarSaga made by other manufacturers, and not a lot of them perform very well or even come close to the output they claim to be able to output. This panel surprised me and performs well.
The Long 8mm Cable
The 8mm cable is about 10 feet long, and that’s longer than what most similar panels include. My only wish is that the 8mm cord could be disconnected from the junction box.
It’s The Complete Package
While I point at its different pros above, what I like the most is what the end product ends up being. A reliable, portable, lightweight solar panel that is easy to use.
Products can have a lot of features and bling, but what it comes down to is – which one do you end up using? And I have found myself using the SolarSaga panels instead of my more portable Rockpals panel and the more sturdy Renogy panels. Simply because of how easy they are to set up and put away.
What I Don’t Like
Fabric Picks Up Dirt And Dust
While the fabric helps keep the panel portable, it’s also really good at picking up dust and dirt. Since it’s not a waterproof panel, you can’t spray it down, so you have to take a damp wipe and wipe the fabric down to clean it. If it had a thin plastic frame on the bottom it would be easier to wipe it down each time you put the panel away.
Cable Can’t Be Disconnected
It can be seen as both a pro and a con depending on who you ask, but it would be nice to be able to disconnect the 8mm cable.
It doesn’t have a waterproof design. I believe it would be able to handle some light rain, but I wouldn’t leave it out in it for very long. Most portable and foldable panels like this aren’t waterproof, so it makes sense.
I understand why the Jackery SolarSaga 100W is so popular, and I recommend it as a portable solar panel. Paired with one of the Explorer power stations, it performs extremely well and is very straightforward and easy to use.
I see the SolarSaga panels as a challenge to other manufacturers to innovate their products. Even though they might not be able to drastically improve the efficiency of the solar panels themselves every year, there are a lot of things they can do to improve the ease of use and other functionalities.
Each time I use it, I appreciate the small details and the thought the designers have put into it. It’s designed with the user in mind, and it shows.
Our Tests: Charging Popular Power Stations With The Jackery SolarSaga 100W
I connected the solar panel to all of the power stations I own to see how well it performs. This was done in Arizona near the end of October on a sunny afternoon (2 pm).
Here are the results:
Frequently Asked Questions
Is The SolarSaga 100W Waterproof?
It’s not waterproof since there are open ports and connectors.
How Do You Connect Two SolarSaga 100W Panels Together?
To combine two SolarSaga 100W panels you need an 8mm Y branch. Jackery includes an 8mm to Anderson Y branch adapter with the Explorer 1000 power station. If you don’t have the Explorer 1000, you might have to make your own.
Can I Use A SolarSaga 100W With A Goal Zero Yeti?
Yes, since it uses the 8mm connector it’s compatible with the Goal Zero Yeti power stations that have an 8mm input.
Does It Work When It’s Cloudy?
Based on my tests, it can output from 5-50W depending on how cloudy it is and what time of the day it is. A solar panel performs the best during peak sun hours, which is around noon, so if it’s a very cloudy morning or evening it will struggle to generate electricity.
Does The SolarSaga 100W Store Power?
No, the SolarSaga is only a solar panel. It doesn’t have a battery that stores the power. To use the electricity that the panel generates, you must connect the 8mm plug to an external battery or a USB A/C cable to one of the ports and to a separate device.
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Is There An 8mm Extension Cable I Can Extend The Cable With?
I have a pair of Graybull 8mm extension cables that work with the SolarSaga panels. It doesn’t fit quite as snug as I would like, and a small pull on the cable disconnects it, but it works.
If you have any questions about the SolarSaga 100W solar panel, please leave a comment down below.