Jackery Explorer Portable Power Station and SolarSaga Solar Panel Review

Jackery Explorer Power Station and SolarSaga Solar Panel

Late last summer, a tremendous afternoon storm blew through our property. As we watched the incredible blowing rain density combine with wind that bent trees to approaching horizontal positions, my wife suggested that we consider going to the basement. My first verbally expressed thought was, "And miss this?!", but the wind subsided modestly in the short time before I gained the full wisdom of the suggestion.

The disbelief was in part because tornados are rare in central Pennsylvania. However, the National Weather Service later determined that two tornados, an EF0 and an EF1, hit our property within the intense storm. While physical structures were spared, it was sad to see a significant number (perhaps 100?) of our large trees blown over. Locally, some of the trees took out power lines on their way down, and utility power was not restored until over a day later.

The laptop and accessory devices are plugged into a UPS in the studio, so the momentary related issue was inconsequential. However, the UPS is sized to ride out only short outages, and the lack of power became a work issue within a few hours.

As the storm was localized, few outside of our neighborhood became aware of it. Thus, it was ironic to receive a portable Power Station and solar panel review invite from Jackery a short time later. Their timing was perfect for generating an affirmative reply.

Jackery Explorer Portable Power Station Box

Who is Jackery?

As many of us photographers are not familiar with the Jackery brand, I'll start this review with a short background of the company.

"Jackery was founded by a former Apple battery engineer in Silicon Valley in 2012. With state-of-the-art R&D and manufacturing expertise, Jackery launched the world's first Lithium Portable Power Station in 2015."

The SolarSaga series solar panel was released in 2018, and the combination of Power Station and solar panel created the solar generator.

"Jackery is now a global energy leader, the number one producer of portable power, and one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of outdoor solar utilities." With only one product on Jackery's site having a star rating below 4.9 (it is 4.8), people obviously love these products, and that strong customer satisfaction is certainly responsible for Jackery's popularity.

Who Needs a Portable Power Station and Solar Panel?

Those experiencing the effects of a tornado are not likely to fund the portable Power Station industry, but there are many additional reasons for power failure. When the power goes out, the portable Power Station becomes invaluable.

Perhaps even more attractive is the ability to power devices and charge batteries when off the grid, including during remote adventuring and exploration by vehicle or simply camping. While there is no reason that a Jackery Power Station could not be used for remote hiking, its size and weight are not optimal for such use.

Use a Power Station to charge cordless tool batteries on the job site.

Even around home and work, the Power Station invites use at locations where running power and extension cords would be annoying and inconvenient (or a tripping hazard).

Get creative. With a Jackery Power Station in the kit, nearly everything in your house that plugs into the wall (that draws the maximum load or less) suddenly becomes portable. Your computer workstation? Portable. Your studio strobes and LED lights? Portable. Your TV? Portable (perhaps with the help of a friend). Consider powering your backyard movie night with a Jackery. With a Jackery, your inflator works wherever you go.

The Jackery Portable Power Station Meets Needs That Gas-Powered Alternatives Cannot

With no gasoline or exhaust, battery power can be used indoors or in tents. The silent operation (thermostat-controlled cooling fan aside) enables audio recordings on set and does not keep you or the neighbors awake at night.

The Power Station requires no maintenance (aside from charging the battery periodically while not in active use), and it offers instant startup and higher startup reliability vs. a gas generator.

What is the Source of Power?

The Power Station's stored power must come from somewhere, and Jackery includes AC and 12v car adapters in the box. Simply plug the Power Station into a receptacle before taking it off the grid, or charge it while driving to that location. Additionally, USB PD (Power Delivery) can be used to charge the Power Station's batteries.

When the Power Station cannot be charged via those methods (or you want free electricity), the SolarSaga Solar Panel gets this job done (when bright sunlight is available)

The Jackery Portable Power Station and Solar Panel are Simple to Use

I opened the boxes, carried the Power Station and solar panel outside, opened the solar panel and its built-in stands, and plugged the solar panel power cord into the Power Station input port. I know, I should have read the manual first, but reading the manual while charging the Power Station seemed more expedient. Fortunately, reading the manual proved the setup to be as simple as it appeared.

The Power Station's LCD showed the charge percentage increasing from the 44% starting charge until 100% when I checked a few hours later.

Jackery Explorer Portable Power Station

A Closer Look at the Jackery Explorer Portable Power Station

Jackery Power Station models offer a range of capacities from 167W to 1500W, but the Explorer 300 is an ideal option for many photographers, so that is the specific model shown here.

Starting at the top, Power Stations have a robust plastic exterior construction with a substantial handle for comfortable and convenient carrying.

An LCD displays input and output watts and the Power Station's charge level.

Jackery Explorer Portable Power Station Power Adapters

A single input port accepts output cords from the AC and 12v adapters and the solar panel, with an LED indicating power flow. The charging feature is plug-and-play simple. Just plug it in.

Jackery Explorer Portable Power Station with SolarSaga Solar Panel Plugged In

Next to the input port is the USB in and out panel. The top port is USB-C PD 60w, supporting power in and out. A pair of USB-A output-only ports are provided, with one supporting the Qualcomm QuickCharge 3.0 standard.

The right-side panel includes a pair of standard 110v household receptacles, and a 12v port is provided on the upper-right.

Each output panel is enabled by a switch with an LED indicator.

The Jackery Power Station model rule of thumb is that higher storage capacity means more ports are also available. For example, the 60w model has no 110v receptacles, while the 1500w model has three (and two input ports).

Jackery Explorer Portable Power Station Side

Vents on the two sides facilitate cooling from the thermostat-controlled cooling fan.

Jackery Explorer Portable Power Station Back

The back of the Power Station is nondescript, with ribbing used to strengthen (and avoid strong scratching of) the plastic case.

Jackery Explorer Portable Power Station Bottom

The bottom of the Power Station features four substantial, cushioned, non-slip feet in the fun Jackery brand color.

Overall, the quality of this unit seems very good.

Technical Specifications for the Jackery Explorer 300 Portable Power Station

As mentioned, a range of Power Station models offer a range of capacities, but here are the specs for the 300.

Battery Info

Capacity: 293Wh (14.4V, 20.4Ah)
Cell Chemistry: Li-ion NMC [array of cylindrical 18650 lithium-ion battery cells with high energy density]
Lifecycle: 500 cycles to 80%+ capacity
Management System: BMS, Over Voltage Protection, Short Circuit Protection

Ports

AC Output: 110VAC, 60Hz, 300W (500W Surge)
USB-A Output: 5V, 2.4A
Quick Charge 3.0 Output: 5-6.5V, 3A / 6.5-9V, 2A / 9-12V, 1.5A
USB-C PD Output: 5V, 9V, 15V, 20V, 3A
Car Output: 12V, 10A
DC Input: 12V-30V (90W Max)

0-100% Recharge Times (0-80%)

AC Adapter + USB-C PD: 2.5 Hours (2 Hours)
AC Adapter: 4.5 Hours (3.5 Hours)
12V Car Adaptor: 5 Hours (3.7 Hours)
SolarSaga 100W Solar Panel: 5 Hours (3.5 Hours)
USB-C PD: 5.5 Hours
[the % charge rate decreases as the battery approaches full charge]

General

Weight: 7.1 lbs (3.2 kg)
Dimensions (LxWxD): 9.1 x 5.2 x 7.8 in (23 x 13.3 x 19.9 cm)
Operating Usage Temperature: 14-104F (-10-40℃)
Certification CEC, DOE, FCC, QC3.0, ROHS, CA Prop 65
Warranty: 24 Months
Optional Accessory: Jackery SolarSaga 100W Solar Panel

Jackery SolarSaga Solar Panel

A Closer Look at the Jackery SolarSaga Solar Panel

The addition of a Jackery SolarSaga Solar Panel turns an Explorer Power Station into a solar generator, with 60w, 100w, and 200w models available, potentially enabling indefinite off-the-grid device powering. The 100 (100w) size is matched to and appropriate for the Explorer 300 (300w).

It takes a lot of light to create electricity. Despite the SolarSaga's high conversion efficiency (up to 23%) monocrystalline silicon solar cells, this relatively compact solar panel is still relatively large. The SolarSaga's smart and logical folding design improves storage and carry convenience by reducing the primary dimensions by 50%. In addition, folding adds significant protection to the panels.

When folded, an ingenious magnetic closure features two raised and recessed circular areas that hold the two sides in proper alignment. The orange handles are rigid, providing stability to the moderately flexible panels sewn into a durable nylon fabric. A pair of grommets on each panel align when folded.

Jackery SolarSaga Solar Panel Stand

A pair of fabric-covered kickstands hook-and-loop release from the panels to support an angled position. Webbing prevents the kickstand from over-opening, with elastic reducing stress on the stitched connections.

Jackery SolarSaga Solar Panel Cables

A zippered pocket holds the power cords and covers the power port. With USB-A 5V, 2.4A and USB-C 5V, 3A ports, the solar panel can directly charge small devices.

Jackery solar panels are IP65 water-resistant rated. While not designed to withstand submersion, the panels are protected from dust and splashing water ingress. If it is raining, you likely do not have adequate sunlight to generate electricity.

Technical Specifications for the Jackery SolarSaga 100 Solar Panel

Solar

Peak Power: 100W
Cell Efficiency: 23%
Power Voltage: 18V
Power Current: 5.55A
Open Circuit Voltage: 21.6V
Short Circuit Current: 6A

Ports

USB-A Output: 5V, 2.4A
USB-C Output: 5V, 3A

General

Weight: 10.33 lbs (4.69 kg)
Dimensions (folded): 24 x 21 x 1.4 in (610 x 535 x 35 mm)
Dimensions (unfolded): 48 x 21 x 0.2 in (1220 x 535 x 5 mm)
Operating Usage Temperature: 14-149F (-10-65℃)
Warranty: 24 Months

Jackery Explorer 300 Portable Power Station Capacity

What Can the Jackery Explorer Portable Power Station and Solar Panel Power?

That answer depends on the model selected. Jackery Power Station capacities range from the 167Wh Explorer 160 up to the 1800w, 1534Wh Explorer 1500 model ready for a large photo shoot set. The size, weight, and cost increase with the Power Station's capabilities.

Keep in mind that some devices, particularly motors, pull considerably more power during startup than after running (inductive loads). The Power Stations support a higher surge wattage (500w for the Explorer 300) to account for some of this draw.

Again, the Explorer 300 is among the most popular models, sized ideally for photographers powering devices and camera batteries. The Jackery graphic shown above illustrates typical uses for this model.

Essentially, as long as the device does not require more than 300w (or 500w startup load), the Explorer 300 will power it.

Jackery Explorer Portable Power Station Capacity

Again, other models accommodate different capacities.

For additional information, visit Jackery.com and the Jackery Explorer 300 Portable Power Station + SolarSaga 100W Solar Panel product page.

Jackery Explorer Portable Power Station and SolarSaga Solar Panel Outdoors

Summary

Powering devices and charging batteries is critically important to much of what I do. When those needs take me away from the studio, I usually need to be focusing on details other than where I'm going to find a power source. The simplicity and functionality of the Jackery Explorer Portable Power Station and SolarSaga Solar Panel fit ideally into that requirement. Take your power with you, and generate more power while there!

Bringing you this site is my full-time job (typically 60-80 hours per week). Thus, I depend solely on the commissions received from you using the links on this site to make any purchase. I am grateful for your support! - Bryan

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