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Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer Review

Best Solar Generator Lithium-Ion Battery Backup Power Supply

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We review the Jackery portable solar generator Li-Ion battery backup power units, with 167Wh and 240Wh. The Jackery power supplies typically top the lists in customer satisfaction and value, which is just part of the reason we like these. In general, you can expect to pay about $1 / Wh (Watt-Hour) of battery storage for portable devices that can recharge with solar. These are 110V output, with additional 5V USB ports to cover basic emergency needs or for camping / fishing / outdoor activities.

Jackery Explorer 160

Well start with the smaller unit, the Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 160 (about $150).

Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 160

Jackery uses model numbers which closely match the battery size. The “Explorer 160” is 167Wh Power Supply with 110V/100W (Peak 150W) output. This is done with a 46,400 mAh Lithium-ion Battery

In addition to the standard AC output, it has a USB-C port (5V @ 3A), two USB-A ports (5V @ 2.4A) and one standard DC 12V port (12V @ 7A). These options should cover you for all types of laptops, tablets, smartphones, cameras, drones, lights, fans, etc.

To understand how much battery storage this has, you can expect the following single devices charges:

  • Laptop – 2 recharges
  • iPad – 5 recharges
  • iPhone – 12 recharges
  • GoPro Digital Camera- 20 recharges
  • Camping Light (5W LED) – 26 hours
  • Quadcopter Drone – 2 recharges

Of course, you can plug in multiple devices at the same time for recharging. The total can’t exceed the 100W continuous output / 150W peak, or the battery management system will shut down. Keep in mind that powering / charging multiple devices will run down the battery faster though.

Some other nice features we like are with the intelligent LCD screen. The center shows a battery icon with 5 level bars in it so you know just how much juice is left in the unit. The is also a numerical percentage readout. It also shows on the left how much electricity in coming in during charging, and on the right how much electricity you are using. This is really helpful to give you an idea of how quickly you’ll either run down or charge up, depending on what you are doing at the time.

Like almost anything that has a battery, this also has a built-in LED flashlight. Which is great if you need a camp light, and didn’t pack any extra gadgets with you. And if you press and hold the light button, the LED goes into SOS mode to hopefully summon aid if you ever need it.

The “160” is nicely compact, measuring just 7.4 x 4.59 x 6.73 inches and only 3.84 lbs. We find this is light enough to actually hike into places for overnight power.

Jackery Explorer 240

The features and construction of the “240” are very similar to the “160” except that you get a larger battery. It delivers 110V/200W continuous power from its 67,000 mAh Li-Ion Battery.

Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 240

One major advantage is that the AC output is a “Pure Sinewave”, which is important for some electronics operations. This means the electricity from the Jackery is similar to what you would get from your electric company. In general, equipment will run more efficiently, with little or no humming, and less heating.

With this size battery,  you can expect to get single devices charges like:

  • Laptop – 4 recharges
  • iPad – 10+ recharges
  • iPhone – 25+ recharges
  • GoPro Digital Camera- 40 recharges
  • Camping Light (10W LED) – 20+ hours
  • Quadcopter Drone – 5 recharges
  • Mini-Fridge – 5 hours
  • Mini-Projector – 5 hours
  • Air-pump – 6 hours

The only major drawback to a larger battery is that it weighs more. The Explorer 240 (5.19 x 9.05 x 7.67 inches) is about 3 inches wider than the 160 , but nearly 3 pounds heavier at 6.6 pounds.

For more information, or to order through Amazon, please use: Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 240 (about $250)

Jackery Explorer 440 / 500

If you need even more power – for example to run a CPAP, TV or refrigerator – here are two options:

Jackery Explorer 440 (about $500) – This provides 440Wh Backup Power Supply with 110V/300W (500W Peak) AC Pure Sine output. It’s 11.8 x 9.5 x 7.6 inches and 12.5 lbs. Also, this unit doesn’t work with the DC plug in a car, since it requires more charging current than cars typically provide.

Jackery Power Pro 500 (about $400) – this 500Wh Portable Generator Lithium Battery Pack with 110V/300W (500W Peak). The Pro 500, 11.8 x 9.8 x 6.5 inches, has similar dimensions and weight (12.45 lbs) as the “440” but in a slightly different housing.

Charging  The Power Station

Which brings us to how to charge the Power Station. Again, there are a few options.

Jackery SolarSaga Solar Panel

What we like best about these is that Jackery has a 60W Solar Panel (“SolarSaga”) which can fully charge the Explorer 160 in about 8 to 10 hours of full sun, and about an hour more for the Explorer 240. The SolarSaga is a compact 35.2 x 16.8 inches when the three panels are opened, and just 11.40 x 16.8 inches when folded down. And it weighs in at easy-to-carry 3.3 pounds.

There is also a slightly larger 100W 2-panel version that weighs 5.5 pounds, and charges up the Explorer in about half the time.

Here are links for more details and pricing through Amazon:

Jackery SolarSaga 60W Solar Panel – about $190

Jackery SolarSaga 100W Solar Panel – about $350

Home Charge

We recommend that before taking the portable power into the wilds that you give it a full charge from your standard home outlet. This is the fastest method and will take about  4 to 5 hours to get to 100% for the “160”, about 7 to 8 hours for the “240”. You get an included 9.5-foot charger / adapter cord to charge up from the wall.

Car Charge

If you are on the go, or just car-camping, you can use the 12V adapter (e.g., the “cigarette lighter”) plug in your vehicle. Depending on how many Amps your car port is rated for, it can take 5 to 6 hours for a full charge on the “160” and 7 to 8 hours on the “240”. Jackery includes the 3.3-foot adapter cable for the car port to the power unit.

One great thing about Jackery is that you can use the unit to power devices while it is being charged. This effectively gives you a DC to AC inverter for your car, so no need to carry around another gadget.

Note that the “440” and “500” don’t offer recharging from a car adapter plug.

Generator Charge

Some folks like to bring a portable gas generator when they head to the great outdoors. But many sites only allow these to operate for certain times of the day (usually never past sunset) due to the noise. In this case, you can use the generator to recharge the Jackery so that you can have quiet energy when you have to shut down the gas unit. It’ll take up to 5 hours to get to a full battery charge.

Final Thoughts

One of the few complaints about the Jackery is that there is a built-in cooling fan which comes on automatically whenever the AC outlet is used. This is most likely part of the battery management system to make sure the unit doesn’t overheat. It’s not loud or whining, but some people would like to absolute silence. We didn’t find a way to shut it off, other than to not use the AC. So wasn’t a real issue for charging phones / tablets with the USB ports, nor for running some lamps at night.

The other issue for some people with sensitive electronics is that the smaller “160” is not a pure sine wave for the AC output, while the slightly larger “240” is pure sine wave. Please keep that in mind when deciding which unit is best for your applications.

Also, none of these are designed to jump-start a car when you have a dead battery. Basically, they don’t have the initial cranking amps needed for that application. The Jump-N-Carry JNC660 1700 Peak Amp Jump Starter (about $140) is what I use and can recommend.

My nit-pick gripe is that the included zippered pouch for all the included cables / accessories is the minimum size to cram everything into. I’d like it a little bigger, so I often end up using mesh bag or small travel cubes for this instead.

In case you are thinking about taking one of these on a plane – the Power Stations are not TSA approved. So don’t pack this into your carry-on bag.

Overall, it’s great to have one of these emergency battery / portable power stations on hand for around the house and outdoor adventures. The prices are very reasonable for the amount of storage, and we like the features. These are easy to operate and hold up well.

Ordering Links:

Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 160 – about $150

Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 240 – about $250

Jackery Explorer 440 – about $500

Jackery Power Pro 500 – about $400

Jackery SolarSaga 60W Solar Panel – about $190

Jackery SolarSaga 100W Solar Panel – about $350

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