By Michael Fuehrer

October 6, 2020

As you are researching about how to travel or live on the road you have probably come across various solar power options on the market and even felt lost or confused on what might be the best option for you. In this article, we will look at some of the key features of the Jackery Explorer 100 and how it might be just what you are looking for. 

Over the past few weeks, I have had the opportunity to build out a friends FJ Cruiser into a full-time camper. This project took many long days of designing and building but in the end it came out exactly how we had hoped. While designing the FJ build, my friend and I were trying to figure out a power solution to provide on the go electricity while, at the same time, not needing to install a complete solar system. The solution we found was the Jackery Explorer 1000 and now that we have been using the Jackery for the past few weeks, I decided it was time to write up a personal review.

The Jackery Explorer Series

Jackery is an American-owned brand focused on providing outdoor green power solutions for everyday and full-time adventurers. Whether you need power in your van conversion or in the back of your SUV for weekend camping, Jackery strives to produce eco-friendly, outdoor portable power solutions suited for every adventure. 

Jackery makes various sized power units for different situations and personal needs. Depending on how much power you want the Jackery Explorer power station comes in 160 to 1000 size models. For reference, the 160 portable power station can charge a cell phone twelve times and a laptop twice. While the 1000 power station can charge a cell phone 100 times and a laptop 8. This type of power in a small portable unit is a game changer for many adventurers and vanlifers.

In a world dependent on power, the Explorer series gives you the opportunity to stay connected to power while remaining independent and off grid. For use in the FJ Cruiser build, we decided to opt for the Jackery Explorer 1000 unit because it provided the largest power and battery storage for its size. Though Jackery has many different sized power station models, in this review, I will be specifically looking at the Jackery Explorer 1000.

Jackery Explorer 1000

There are a lot of different ways to get power on the road, from a fully wired solar system to a traditional generator. I think that the Explorer 1000 fits somewhere in between these two options. This is because, unlike a wired solar system, the Jackery is a complete all in one solar power station with zero wiring needed. Since it is powered by a large 46.4 amp hour lithium-ion battery it does not have any of the noise, the harmful fumes, or the hassle of fueling up like a generator. It keeps your phones, laptops, tablets, small appliances—virtually all your battery powered gear—charged and ready to use even in the most remote locations. 

One of the nicest things that I noticed about the Jackery Explorer 1000 was the fact that it is a complete all in one unit. For me, this is what I liked most about the unit; not needing to wire or have any special knowledge to install and use is a game changer for many people who find solar systems are overly complicated, or possibly unnecessary for their build. The only requirement we had was to build a space and box that was big enough to store and secure the portable unit while traveling. Once the FJ Cruiser build was complete, when the Jackery was used, it was removed from its ‘home’ and carried to any location we needed power. 

The dimensions of the Explorer 1000 are 13.1 in. by 9.17 in. by 11.14 in., making it perfectly compact for portability and tiny living. Its compact and small size is what makes it fairly lightweight at 22lbs. This makes it very easy to carry and move around any campsite. Even though I did not test its durability, I can say, I would not be worried about it taking a fall off the table and immediately breaking. The overall unit feels sturdy and with its built-in handle it definitely makes for easy transportation.

For ease of access when stored or in use, I noticed that all the input and output ports are located on the front. This makes it very easy to design a location for the unit to sit inside the FJ because we only needed to allow access from a single side. The front of the unit also has an LCD screen that displays the input and output watt reading, the battery percentage, and capacity of the battery. One thing that I noticed about the unit after some time, was that inside the side of the power station has a built-in flashlight perfect in emergency situations, or when you need to navigate in the dark. I do not think that a 22 pound flashlight is going to replace my handheld flashlight anytime soon but the side light is bright enough to light up a campsite at night to clean up or light your tent at night before you go to bed. 

Output Options

I have personally lived in various converted vehicles over the past few years and one thing that I have learned is that it is important to have diverse power options. It can be very helpful to have different outputs from a USB-C to a residential outlet because you never know what you might need in any given situation. One thing that I really like about the Jackery unit is that it has multiple AC and DC output ports built into the face of the unit. 

On the face of the unit you have  a 12V carport, a 5V 2.4A USB, a Quick Charge 3.0 USB port, and two USB-C outputs. With these various DC output options you are not stuck needing adapters or dongles to meet your power needs you can plug your USB-C or standard USB right into the unit.  

In the AC section, you have three 100V, pure sine wave AC outlets. With 1000W (2000W surge power) and 1002Wh capabilities; you have the extra capacity to power many AC appliances at once. This is perfect for charging your camera battery, laptop, using a hair dryer, mini fridge, and other small appliances. During the FJ Cruiser build, the Explorer 1000 was able to recharge all my camera batteries, bluetooth speaker, cell phone, and computer on the job site. The Jackery Unit definitely has ample output ports but, when you are using all that power the unit will eventually need to be recharged. Luckily it has as many charging options as outputs. 

Charging Capabilities

The AC output ports on the Explorer 1000 can charge and consistently power devices that operate at less than 1000 Watts. In a single charge of your Explorer 1000, it can provide your smartphone with over one hundred charges, your camera almost two hundred charges, your laptop more than ten, or your drone almost twenty charges times. Since I work completely online, the ability to hold so many charges in a single unit is priceless. It allows me to take work anywhere I need. One of my favorite features is the surge protection and automatic shut off, so I never have to worry about power surges or draining the battery too low. A lot of times I find that DIY and less expensive solar systems do not integrate a battery protect or built-in surge protector. This is a really nice feature that will save a lot of headaches and burned out appliances. 

Recharging the Explorer 1000

Every good thing has to come to an end eventually and when it comes to the Jackery 1000 even its 1002 watt hour capacity needs to recharge eventually. The awesome thing about the power station is that it already has all the necessary components to charge from various options. There are three ways you can charge your Explorer 1000, solar, shore power, or potentially your built in car inverter. Each of these options come with their own advantages and charging time but with multiple charging methods, your Jackery can be ready at a moment’s notice for any and every adventure. 

  1. Solar Panel

The power station has MPPT technology built-in, enabling fast charging.

The most common method to charge the Jackery is with solar panels. If you purchase the unit from the company website (Hyperlink to affiliate) you have the option to get two 100W SolarSaga Panels, which on a typical day can fully charge the unit in 8 hours and about 17 hours with one Panel. Charging off of solar power gives you full autonomy and is the most eco-friendly and sustainable method of charging for the Jackery 1000. When I find beautiful places to enjoy, I just whip out my panels, hook them up to the Explorer 1000, and enjoy the environment and people around me while my power station soaks up the sun. As long as it is sunny, I never have to worry about power. A bonus feature of the SolarSaga Solar panel is the built-in USB port on the back. So, if you want to conserve your Explorer’s power, you can plug your phone right into the panels.

  1. AC Outlet

The fastest way to charge up your Explorer 1000 is through an AC wall outlet. This method of charging can take around 7 hours from completely empty to full. The positive to this method of charging is obviously the speed but, for many off grid or traveling full timers this might be the least helpful option because it is seldom that you will come in contact with a grid power source for 7 hours. Either way, it is a nice option to have if you are visiting family and friends for a long weekend or the Jackery unit is your weekend camping power source. This way it can easily be charged at home during the week and ready every friday when you are off on the next adventure. 

  1. CarPort

Another option for charging your Explorer 1000 is your car battery! This is not an option for every vehicle on the road but while I was building the FJ Cruiser with my friend, we realized that his FJ cruiser had a built in 480w inverter. This inverter powered a 120v outlet in the rear of the vehicle. Despite the slower charge time, this is especially convenient when I am in my car driving for ten or more hours toward my next destination. Despite the slow charge time, this is optimal if you are a nomad who spends extensive time in your car/rig driving to new destinations.

Who is this Unit for?

After reading through all the specs and fancy ports and components the Jackery offers at the end of the day should you consider buying one yourself? In my opinion, if you are planning on building out a full time rig with a 1kwh system and estimating you will need 800-100 amp hours in lithium batteries, the Jackery is not the unit for you. This unit was not designed or made to replace larger traditional solar systems or houses power needs. The Jackery is a great unit for those who are looking for smaller full-time power needs, extra power source on a camping trip, as an off grid power supply in remote cabins, or emergency situations. 

Another possible use for the Jackery Power Station is if you already have an onboard solar system but are looking for a unit that can be taken with you out the campfire and away from your RV. The most important thing you can do when considering what power system is best for your needs or what size Jackery Power Station is to figure out your electrical needs first then find the unit that will match. 

After using the Jackery 1000 Power Station for the past few weeks, I think that it is the real deal package. The unit performs on its advertised specs and can really be a great option for many different types of people. This unit is for you if you are looking for smaller full-time power needs, extra power source on a camping trip, as an off grid power supply in remote cabins, or emergency situations. The lightweight and compact size makes it easy to store in your rig and easy to bring with you on almost any adventure. Plus, there are multiple charging options, so you never have to worry about being without power. Overall, the Jackery Explorer Series and specifically the Jackery Explorer 1000 really impressed me with its small package but large power delivery.

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