Power stations imbue flexibility and security into our electricity-driven modern world. Traditional gas-powered generators have done their duty, but the portability and convenience of the rechargeable power station goes unmatched. Additionally, solar panels have become easier and more available to add into the mix and provide a very accessible source of power: the sun. A power station, combined with a solar panel or two and the right weather, can provide seemingly endless power.
Jackery is always a name that comes up when talking about portable power stations. They claim they’re “the number one producer of portable power, and one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of outdoor solar utilities", which is a hefty title to carry in a space that is growing faster than the weeds in my backyard. Its products, including the Explorer line, cater to the needs of the overlanding crowd, vanlifers and family campers with a variety of power options and price points available.
I tested the Jackery Explorer 1000 Portable Power Station in conjunction with the SolarSaga 100 Solar Panels. This set together is sold as the Jackery Solar Generator 1000, but if you already own either of the pieces separately, you can add the other to complete the setup. Here's what I liked (and didn't) about the Jackery Solar Generator 1000 system.
What's Good About the Jackery Solar Generator 1000
After unboxing the Jackery, you are instructed to fully charge the device before using it. Although it’s faster to plug it into the wall, I decided to dive headfirst with the solar panels. Connecting to the panels was super easy, as the proper cords were included and well labeled in the instructions. This first charge test was conducted in my backyard as it provided a controlled environment. The Texas skies were blue and the UV index was at an 11 according to the ol’ reliable Weather Channel app.
My biggest concern initially was the battery overheating. There are obviously ways to set up your solar panels while still keeping the power station out of the sun, but the number on the thermometer gave me some daring ideas when I initially charged up. It was a searing 107º Fahrenheit outside, and the recommended charging temperature on the Jackery is 104º F. It has a fan that kicks on when the unit reaches 131º F, so you most likely won't have an issue as long as it's not sitting in direct sunlight for hours on end. While it is not good for the battery long term (or really any amount of time), I can confirm that there are no immediate malfunctions at the top end of this limit.
The screen is easy to read and the glare from the sun is no match for the LCD illumination. It provides all the valuable information you need, including real-time input and output power numbers, charge level and a variety of other warnings that come in handy.
The solar panels fold up and are easy to store. They have a 23.7 percent max efficiency, which tops the competition. The panels seem highly responsive, and properly setting them definitely provides the best results. Even if a small shadow from the branch of a tree shades a part of the panel, you will see the input number affected immediately. The fold-out kickstands are easy to pull out and make adjusting to the sun effortless.
If you are car camping with a long drive ahead, you can also charge the unit in your car while traveling to your destination. Remembering to charge up could become one of those forgotten checklist items when packing the car, so this is a convenient alternative.
When taking the power station out for a real spin, I went to a lakeside campsite that didn’t have any power hookups, but I was still able to live a bit on the luxurious side as I powered all my modern amenities. The unit is almost completely silent, so it was quickly forgotten once hooked up. We were able to charge devices easily and connect small appliances that were not battery-powered. I even chose to work remotely for a day with my laptop plugged in. Once it was time to pack up, this model only weighs 22 pounds, so it feels solid, but moving it is no issue, especially with the carrying handle.
The unit is equipped with various output sources, including three AC outlets, two USB-C, two USBs and one DC car port. These cover pretty much any typical item that needs to be plugged in. Additionally, the solar panels have a USB-C output port and a USB-A output port, so you can hook up directly for some power if need be.
What's Not Ideal About the Jackery Solar Generator 1000
Confusing Charge Times
The recharge times listed are calculated for the time it takes to get to 80 percent charged. Granted, this is specified in the fine print, but if you are not looking close enough, you may just assume your battery is taking longer than it should. I admit that I was initially worried about the pace of the charge time but soon realized my mistake when I took a closer look.
Solar Panel Stability
When using the kickstands on the solar panels, I found them to be a bit flimsy. They got the job done just fine, and allow for the panels to be light for carrying, but I was hoping to have a bit more of a stable base. With an expectation that the solar panels will last for years to come, I think my only worry would be the kickstands getting worn out and becoming unsupportive over time.
This is not necessarily an issue I have run into, but something to think about depending on your use. The power station will turn off automatically in 12 hours if under 10W of power is drawn from the device. Not many devices I use run on such a low power pull for that amount of time, but this is definitely something to keep in mind.
Whether you are out on an overlanding trip and need your fridge powered, or working remotely out of your van, I think it is safe to say that you will be pleased with your experience with the Jackery Explorer 1000 Portable Power Station. The SolarSaga 100 Solar Panels do sweeten the deal, and I think they are worth the additional investment. Knowing the battery's capacity is ready to take on what I plug into it provides great peace of mind.
Additionally, I could see the unit coming in handy during emergency situations involving power outages. If you see the unit as a backup for emergencies, Jackery says you can always keep it plugged in with no damage to the battery, so it's always charged and ready for use.