How many times have you been on an awesome, yet underpowered adventure? Chances are it’s more than you’d like to admit. For myself, and many others, that is definitely the case.
It’s easy to feel like just because you live off-grid, you too, should be disconnected. And while I am all for flipping my phone onto airplane mode once in a while. I also see the value in having well-charged devices and a system to power whatever I want, whenever I want.
In comes Jackery…
Jackery is an innovative California-based company dedicated to providing outdoor green power solutions to explorers and adventurers alike. They specialize in green portable power which translates into a range of solar-powered generators that many living on the road now live and swear by.
Now I know what you’re thinking, A generator?…those things are loud! Well, not the Jackery.
This portable power station is quite compact and since it charges off of electric and solar power, it is completely silent. No constant humming in the background. No need to carry spare gasoline. And, no need to worry about mechanical issues. Simply silent and low maintenance.
Jackery Portable Power Station — Overview
Since we personally have experience with the Explorer 1000, Jackery’s largest model, we will be sharing that with you. However, Jackery also has smaller models depending on your power needs. Their whole range includes 5 different models, each with more power and capabilities than the one before.
Jackery also has brief-case style solar panels that can be simply folded in half and brought on any adventure. These solar panels plug directly into the unit and depending on how much sun is on them, they can charge the power station fully in as little as 8 hours.
Explorer 1000 Experience (FULL REVIEW)
The Jackery Explorer 1000 is quite impressive. We have been using it for nearly a month now and have been amazed by its capability. It charges quickly and holds that charge for much longer than I had expected it to, an important factor when adding any electronic into a vanlifers home.
It’s also extremely compact. Fitting perfectly into our space, the Explorer 1000 has squeezed its way into our tiny-home-on-wheels and won’t be leaving anytime soon.
How long does it take to charge?
This depends on what way you are charging the unit!
Personally, we have ended up primarily charging the Explorer 1000 off of 120v. What this looks like is, whenever we are somewhere that has a 120v outlet, the Jackery gets plugged in and topped off.
This usually takes 2ish hours to top it off from 50% battery level.
The unit can also be charged off of 12v. This is best done when on a long stretch of driving. Simply plug it into your car’s cigarette outlet and drive on.
Another way that the unit can be charged is from the SolarSaga panels that Jackery carries. These brief-case style panels pack quite the punch. Coming in 2 sizes, 60w or 100w, they fold up flat and are easy to store. When you need them, simply unfold and prop up with the velcro stands attached to the back. From there all you need to do is plug the panel into your unit and let the sun do its magic!
The beauty of these panels is also in their ability to charge any USB device straight from the solar panel itself – a small touch that comes in handy when you’d least expect it. From empty to full, expect 8 hours of charge time using 2 SolarSaga 100w panels. This charge time changes depending on the model of Jackery and the size of the panel of course.
The unit can also be charged via an electric generator.Personally, we don’t have any experience charging this way. However, Jackery’s website states that it takes 7.5 hours to charge using this method.
The Explorer 1000’s Features
What can it power?
The real question is, what can’t it power?
Want to make a smoothie? You’re in luck, you have 13 hours of blender run time! That is a whole lot of smoothies.
Need to charge your camera? Well, you can do that 50 times with one charge!
Your phone dying? You can recharge it 100 times over – literally.
Planning on watching some TV? You’ve got 14 long hours to binge your new favourite series!
My point being, the Explorer 1000 has you covered. With a built-in pure-sine wave inverter rated up to 1000w (2000w surge max), you’ll be surprised by what this portable power station is capable of.
What’s The Battery Life Like?
After a month of use, we’ve been amazed by how well the battery has held up. Currently, we have deep cycle AGM’s as house batteries powering the electrical of the van that are reaching the end of their lifespan. Pair that with a very cloudy winter season and suddenly, the Jackery is our new best friend.
Jackery’s Explorer 1000 has a digital display that tells you the exact percentage of battery life left. This is quite an advantage to other similar products that judge battery life by increments instead of an exact percentage. Think of it like a car that tells you how many miles you have left in your gas tank instead of a gauge that tells you there is 1/8th of fuel left.
On that same digital screen, there is also an ‘input’ and ‘output’ section that shares how many watts are being pulled from devices plugged in and how much power is being fed back to it through the charging ports.
Not only is this handy to have when gauging how long the Jackery can power a device. But, we have used it to ‘test’ how much power a device is drawing and then take a mental jot of that wattage pull so that we know for future reference how much it is pulling from our house batteries. That’s what I call hitting two birds with one stone!
The Lithium Advantage
Lithium is all the rage in the outdoor world. Many people are trading in those gel batteries and switching for the more efficient alternative, lithium. As you probably guessed, yes, Jackery only uses lithium in all of their portable power stations.
Some of the benefits of having a lithium battery versus alkaline include:
- lighter battery weight
- longer battery life (the Explorer 1000 has around 500-lifetime cycles up to 80%)
- lower self-discharge rate
How Portable Is It?
Weighing in at 22 pounds, this unit is more than easy to move around. Would it be ideal to lug around on an 8-hour hike? Probably not, but it’s more than possible!
There is a handle seamlessly integrated into the unit that makes it pick up and move around without hassle.
Its 22.04lb (10kg) weight makes it super portable and easy for almost anyone to pick up. It weighs as much as a car tire (no rim), or as much as a duffel bag filled with 1 million dollars worth $100 bills. A very helpful touchstone, I know.
What Else Does It Have?
There is one more feature on the Explorer 1000 that might seem small at first but, in the right circumstances will come in handy. On the left side of the unit, Jackery has integrated a built-in flashlight.
It turns on simply by clicking a button. It may not be the brightest light around however we can see how useful this will be in the summertime during late-night bonfires or camping in general.
I’ll let David talk about the nitty-gritty details
Specs & Usage
If you’re a technical geek like me, you would be just as excited as I was to receive the Jackery. Running through my mind were all the times that I had wished we had a portable unit like this. To be able to watch movies, play games, and blast music under the stars in the middle of nowhere.
But then I wondered – hmmm – how will I use this on a daily basis. Well, that was extremely simple because with the ease of this technology, came a natural habit for its uses.
First Use: Movie Night
The first day we got it, we had both planned on watching a Movie on our small projector as we sometimes do. Although as of late our onboard batteries have become quite depleted and we were managing our power with caution. But wait, we’ll use the Jackery!
We plugged in a Macbook Pro and a Projector to watch a movie and being the spec-geek I am, I monitored the Jackery throughout the whole movie. And to my surprise, we only used about 20% of the battery out of the box in the first 3 hours. Ranging from 50-80 watts of draw the whole time the unit’s A/C inverter managed our needs exceptionally well.
Daily Use: Charging
Over the course of the next couple of weeks, we found ourselves using the Jackery more often than the dedicated onboard batteries in the Van. Charging our cellphones 1-2 times a day, charging camera batteries, drone batteries, and running our laptops.
Over two weeks of this extensive charging we used only 30% more battery, bringing us down to a manageable 50% of battery life. I was extremely impressed by the life of this unit, and happy to know that we could get another 500 fully depleted charges before we expect to encounter Battery life problems.
Design: Making Complex, Simple
Coming from a design background, I find myself criticizing the form and functions of many of the products we own. The Explorer 1000 would of course be under the scrutiny of my judgment.
At first glance, it is a very simple design and does an excellent job at hiding all of the things going on behind the scenes. There are really only two sides to the cube that you will ever interact with, the top handle, and the front face. There is nothing visually-extra – everything has a purpose – and using the charging functions for D/C and A/C are very simple and intuitive. Plugging in and pressing a button is as much work as you need to do.
The Display screen is probably the most impressive part in my opinion – although simple at that – an exact percentage of battery-life-left is shown as well as the wattage of incoming and outgoing charge. For geeks like me, seeing these numbers are a fantastic addition to the power station.
My Only Concern: Weight
The Jackery 1000 is the largest of the power station line-ups, and with that, it is the heaviest at 22lbs. It must be noted that any battery bank is going to be heavy, as they all use rare-earth metals to hold charge. The lithium-ion technology offers a slight weight reduction for batteries which is a good plus to the fully discharging function.
If you are looking for something more portable than the 1000 there are lots of other Jackery options that will suit your lifestyle. You wouldn’t want to take a 1000 on a hike, but the 160 would make a great companion for advanced charging, weighing in at 3.97 lbs.
That being said, the Explorer 1000 fits perfectly into our lifestyle. Spending 90% of its time on the Van shelf charging phones and batteries, and the other 10% being temporarily moved to outside the Van for movie nights and remote charging.
Our Verdict on Jackery’s Portable Power Station
Overall, we were thoroughly impressed by what the Explorer 1000 and SolarSaga 100 panels offer. Their durability is a perfect match for life on the road. Pair that with how user-friendly the portable power station is, and you have an excellent power back up.
It’s a decent-sized unit however if you have hopes of tucking it away into a drawer, prepare to do some rearranging. We were lucky to have a perfectly sized shelf that the Explorer 1000 tucked into.
If you are someone who is living and working from the road, the Explorer 1000 is for you. Its ability to power multiple devices at once and keep up with the expectations we threw at it have left us as big fans of the innovative products Jackery is producing for an ever-evolving community.
If you are someone who is just looking for an extra boost and is happy with your current set up, any of the models from Jackery’s range would be a great fit for what you’re after.
Where Can I Find Jackery’s Range?
You can find Jackery’s full range on their website
If you’re more of an Amazon shopper, you can find their products on Amazon US and Amazon Canada
As of January 18th, 2021 Jackery has decided to lower the prices on the Explorer 240 and Explorer 300 power stations by $50USD in an effort to provide the best value possible.