Review of the Jackery Explorer 1000 Solar Generator

There’s no doubt about it, when it comes to the gasoline generator, recreational vehicle owners either love it or hate it. Yes, everyone loves the power that the traditional generator provides, yet nearly everyone loathes the noise and noxious fumes that it creates. Fortunately, lithium batteries combined with an inverter and a decent solar power system is a great alternative for RV owners. Yet, the big problem with this greener alternative is the cost. Buying everything you need for a comparable system in an RV can cost thousands. The other problem, of course, is space. Many truck campers and vans simply lack it and have room for only one group-27 battery not to mention the limited amount of space needed for a large, roof-mounted solar power system. In this article, we review the Jackery Explorer 100 Solar Generator.

Jackery Explorer 1000 Specs

Enter the Jackery Explorer 1000 Solar Generator. Consisting of a portable power station and two portable 100 watt solar panels, the Explorer 1000 comes with everything you need to power off-grid essentials such as induction cooktops, coffee makers, portable refrigerators, ham radios, and laptops, without taking up a lot of space. You can even use the Explorer 1000 to recharge electronic favorites like cell phones, camera batteries, laptops, hand-held radios, and drone batteries. Better yet, you can buy the Jackery solar generator without breaking the bank. The cost for the Jackery 1000 Solar Generator is only $1,549 on Amazon.com.

The heart of the solar generator is the Jackery Explorer 1000 Portable Power Station. The unit weighs 22 pounds and consists of a 46 amp hour, lithium battery with built-in AC and DC battery chargers, an MPPT solar charge controller, a battery monitoring system (BMS) with over voltage and short-circuit protection, a 1,000 watt pure sine wave inverter with a 2,000 watt surge capacity, and a battery meter that displays the station’s state of charge (if you need more power, Jackery also sells an Explorer 1500). The unit features two USB-C ports, two standard USB ports including a quick charge port, one standard 12 volt “cigarette style DC port, and three standard 120 volt AC outlets. The AC and DC outputs are activated on the power station’s face with the simple push of a button. Charging is primarily accomplished using the two 100 watt solar panels, of course, but standard 120 volt AC, and 12 volt DC power sources can be used to charge the unit as well. The internal circuitry allows the unit to be used simultaneously while charging.

The charging times are acceptable for a 1,000 watt solar generator. Jackery claims that you can fully charge the power generator in eight hours using the SolarSaga solar panels, while seven hours are needed to recharge the unit using household AC and 14 hours to fully recharge it using a standard the 12 volt “cigarette style” DC plug. Based upon our experience, Jackery’s charging times appear to be pretty accurate.

The recent advances in lithium ion (LiFePO4) battery technology is what makes a power station like the Jackery Explorer 1000 possible. Unlike the standard lead-acid battery, which offers only 50 percent usable capacity, the lithium ion battery offers an impressive 95 percent. But that’s not all. Lithium weighs half as much as a lead-acid battery, produces a higher output current, charges faster because it can be bulked charged to nearly 100 percent, and will not suffer from voltage sag. Not only that, but the lithium ion battery doesn’t require a full charge, doesn’t require equalizing like a lead-acid battery, and lasts longer than a lead-acid battery—Jackery claims that the Explorer 1000 can be cycled up to 1,000 times to 80 percent capacity. The only negative with lithium, of course, is the cost, which is why the Explorer 1000 is so expensive.

A good solar generator needs a good solar power system and the two SolarSaga 100 watt portables will not disappoint. The panels plug-in easily to the power center using the parallel adapter which is included. To say we are impressed with these portable panels would be an understatement. Constructed using monocrystalline silicon cells with a 23 percent efficiency, each 18 volt panel weighs only 9.1 pounds, comes with its own kickstand, and can generate up to 5.5 amps each using the Explorer 1000’s built-in MPPT charge controller. Latching of the foldable panel is accomplished quickly and easily using a pair of magnets which are built-in to the orange handle at the top. Those who have owned portable solar panels in the past can appreciate how quick and easy the magnetic latching system truly is to say nothing of the panel’s surprisingly low weight. Look for a complete review on this portable solar panel soon.

Unfortunately, Jackery has made using the SolarSaga with your RV difficult. The vast majority of portable solar panels are equipped with a universal SAE plug, but not Jackery’s. The company opted to use an 8mm barrel connector for use with their portable power stations instead. The barrel connector works well in that regard, but Jackery should have included either an 8mm adapter with an 8mm female connector on one end and an SAE plug on the other or another parallel adapter with an SAE plug on the end. This was and continues to be a source of real annoyance for not only us, but for others who bought this portable panel or use with their RV. We realize that these portable panels were made to be used with Jackery’s power stations, but RV owners will want to use these with their RV as well since so many use portable solar panels as part of their solar power setup. Fortunately, getting the right adapter or making what you need isn’t that hard. We simply made our own parallel adapter by calling Jackery’s customer service hotline at 888-502-2236 and ordering another adapter and replacing the Anderson plug on the end with an SAE plug.

SAE portable solar power port on the back of our camper.

Solar Generator Benefits

The big benefit of the Jackery Explorer 1000 Solar Generator, of course, is that it’s green and quiet. Unlike the standard RV generator that requires a fossil fuel to operate, the Explorer 1000 uses the sun using state-of-the-art MPPT solar technology. It does this without generating any noxious fumes and is practically silent when in operation. Compare that to the noise and smell of a generator—to say nothing of the need to carry a gas can or two—and you can already see the advantages of owning a solar-powered generator. Yes, it’s true that you still need to store the generator’s two solar panels, but they’re incredibly thin and light and are much easier to store than the heavy Zamp 160 watt suitcase that we used to haul around. Plus there’s no gasoline smell to deal with.

While the Jackery Explorer 1000 Solar Generator offers numerous benefits, the biggest pro, by far, is its portability and where it can be used. Unlike the traditional generator, you can use the Jackery portable power station practically anywhere, including in your car or truck, in your home during a power outage, and in the great outdoors. Moreover, those who own small truck campers, vans, camper shells, and truck toppers like the AT Overland Atlas and Four Wheel Camper Project M will benefit the most from this unit since many of these basic rigs have no power sources at all. Of course, many will want to use it to supplement the power in their truck campers, since many campers lack an inverter and lithium battery and the special charging devices that lithium batteries require. And if more power is needed, Jackery also offers an Explorer 2000 Pro model with a 2,200 watt inverter.

The Verdict

Overall, we’re impressed with the Jackery Explorer 1000 Solar Generator. The unit is attractive, easy to carry, and easy to operate and provides loads of power for extended off-grid use. We’ve used the generator at home during power outages, in our truck while on the road, and, of course, while camping. Indeed, truck camper and van owners will love this solar generator because it supplements existing 12 volt power systems so well as either a standalone unit or with the portable panels connected to your camper’s primary lithium battery bank. As a standalone unit, we plan on using the solar generator as a remote power station at future Truck Camper Adventure rallies.

So is the $1,500 cost for the Jackery Explorer 1000 Solar Generator worth it when you can buy a comparable, gasoline-powered Honda EU1000i for $300 less? That’s up to you to decide. Jackery’s power center weighs 6 pounds less than the Honda, yet when you factor-in the weight of a 5 gallon can of gasoline and the two solar panels, the weights of the two units are basically a wash. What it really comes down to is whether you prefer the noise and noxious fumes generated by the traditional gasoline-powered generator or the tranquility and clean air using a solar generator. When you factor in these benefits with the ability to use the Jackery indoors, it’s an obvious choice. What would we rate the Jackery Explorer 1000 Solar Generator, on a scale of 1 to 5 with one being the lowest and 5 the highest, we enthusiastically give the unit a rating of 5 stars. It’s a great product.

About Mello Mike 731 Articles
Mello Mike is an Arizona native, author, and the founder of Truck Camper Adventure. He's been RV'ing since 2002, is a certified RVIA Level 1 RV Technician, and has restored several Airstream travel trailers. A communications expert and licensed ham radio operator, he retired from the U.S. Navy in 2004 as a CWO3 after 24 years, worked in project management, and now runs Truck Camper Adventure full-time. He also does some RV consulting, repairs, and inspections on the side. He currently rolls in a 4WD Ram 3500 outfitted with a SherpTek truck bed with a Bundutec Roadrunner mounted on top. - KK7TCA

17 Comments

  1. Long before the Jackery, I’ve been using the Goal Zero Yeti1400 to power my camper (Bundutec Free) exclusively. It runs everything very well. Without any solar or charge, I can run for about 4-5 days before I need a full recharge. But, I have it connected to the camper solar to continuously charge it. Last trip out, we never dropped below 90%. Connections are all done via Andersen PowerPole (APP), except the 110 AC to charge it via shore power. I do have an A/B switch to my house battery if the GZ Yeti1400 is removed and when powering my roof jacks or jack stands – the Yeti1400 doesn’t have the “oomph” to run those high wattage motors.

    We really enjoy our Yeti1400. Having the AC power available let’s us charge our eBikes and run a few AC devices if needed. It was a great investment for us and has powered our camper for the last 3 years & 187 nights in it.

    Oh, if the power at the house goes out… the Yeti1400 will power our house refrigerator/freezer for 22-27 hrs depending on settings.

  2. I bought mine through costco. If you are a member it was a pretty good price. I am in the process of adding more solar to my camper, so I also used the current 100 watt panel and removed it from the charge controller and added a sae female plug and purchased a sae male to 8mm to charge the jackery, works great. I also purchased a 20′ anderson and 30′ 8mm cable to be able to leave the Jackery in the camper if I use the jackery solar panels. Costco comes with 2 jackery’s the 880 and 290. I haven’t dug too deep but the 880 as the same specs as the 1000. I may have found a site that said the batteries were different. The faceplate of the 880 even says 1000.

    Costco Price1,349.99$
    Shipping & Handling Included*
    Features:
    Jackery Explorer 880 Power Station – 1000-Watt Continuous
    Jackery Explorer 290 Power Station – 200-Watt Continuous
    2 Jackery SolarSaga 100W Solar Panels
    Quiet and Portable
    Charge up to 12 Different Devices Simultaneously with Both Power Stations

  3. I don’t think advertising such a tiny power supply for home power outages is accurate. With refrigerators, freezers, water well pumps, and induction cooktops of which the later are 240 volt. Then the fact that power outages typically occur when the sun doesn’t shine. My backup unit at home is a Kohler 50 KW 3 phase.

    • I absolutely agree, John. I said we used at home during a power outage to power some devices (in our case the refrigerator). I didn’t say it ran everything in the house.

  4. Wondering if this generator can power an 1100 W mini Nespresso machine. I know there are many ways to make coffee but this machine is fabulous and it would be great to use it off grid

  5. mike
    have you tried running your fridge on the jackery? and if so how long did it run for

    • Not the one in our camper, but we did just get portable 12 volt refrigerator that we will be running with it. Stay tuned for the results of our testing.

  6. That’s a pretty cool unit. And the price is getting attractive. I’m curious what loads you tested the unit with. How many amps does an induction cooktop or the coffee maker take? I would think they would be close to or in excess of the 1000 watt continuous rating. Not that I use either. I have a propane stove and use a french press for coffee.

    I almost bought a similar unit (no panels) that the Depot had on the one day deal last month. The lack of voltage droop from the Lithium battery is very attractive for operating the ham radio. Radio output power is rated at 13.5 volts, so when the input voltage drops, so does the output power. I’ve seen a couple different brands that are similar, and will eventually get one for portable radio operations.

    I did get the Nature Power 100 watt portable solar panel and used it with a small UPS AGM battery to operate the radio. In full sun I had no problems running full power and made several contacts. Maybe I should do a write up on that system 🙂 The 5 panel folding solar panel was $188 and I think I got the battery for 15 bucks on clearance at Tractor Supply. Apples and oranges compared to the Lithium thing, but its a fun addition for setting up on the picnic table or supplementing camper solar when parked in the shade.

    • Joel, if you want a nice battery for running amateur radio I’d take a look at Bioenno Power LFP batteries. I’m using a 12Ah that comes with Anderson and SAE plugs. Weighs a couple of pounds about $150. It’s rated for over 2000 recharges to 80%, then a couple more thousand after that.

  7. I have the Jackery 1000 as a back-up for power outage at home and have brought it on a couple of longer camping trips. For the above comments regarding duplicate solar panels, keep in mind that the Jackery — with its own controller — can not be charged directly from a portable or installed solar panel if that system has a controller. In my case it can’t work, or will possibly be damaged using my Renogy 100 watt suitcase panel.
    So, what’s the fix? Don’t buy the complete system, just get the Jackery 1000 — or 500 without the panels. If you already have solar panels simply charge the Jackery from your 12v DC power supply. The charge time of 14 hours for the 12v CD plug are based on a completely discharged unit. There is no need for this to happen with lithium batteries. You can plug it in every day and recharge while you drive or when your house battery is soaking up all that sun. It doesn’t take near as long to go from 80% to full than from 20%.
    A full timing friend has been doing this for the past 3 years and uses the Jackery for their laptops and lights.

    • You can charge a Jackery from portable panels you just have to bypass the panels’ built in solar charge controller. On my Renogy Solar Suitcase this is simple as it has connectors between the panel and controller. Disconnect and then connect the cables (purchased separately) to the panel and the Jackery.

        • No instructions but the connectors are pretty self explanatory. Bypassing the charge controller just turns the suitcase into a passive solar panel, much like you would put on the roof. As long as the panel’s voltage output is 18v, it works fine and is even approved by Jackery. The cable needed has the regular solar connectors on one end and the 8mm for connecting to the Jackery, easily located on Amazon. I also use vehicle charging, but this just gives the solar suitcase and the Jackery a bit more versatility. I also use the Suitcase for supplemental charging of my trailer’s batteries when the sun isn’t shining on the rooftop panels.

  8. I’m not sure I’m seeing the value of this setup for most TC owners. I think many TC owners already have a solar setup. If you want a portable power source to use away from the camper, why not buy just a rechargeable power station that can be charged with 110V or 12V from your camper outlets & then be available when you want it for remote use or when your house batteries drain. Space & weight are at a premium for TC owners, so trying to store those extra panels seems a hassle. I would think most TC owners would be better off with a permanent rooftop solar setup & then a portable, rechargeable power station for remote use.

    • Sure! If you already have a decent solar setup then buying the power station only is a great option. But I can tell you that not every truck camper owner has a decent solar power system. Many have just a tiny system to trickle charge AGM/Lead Acid batteries.

  9. This was a timely article for me. I had been toying with the idea of buying only the Jackery power station, either the 1000 or the 500, without the solar panels, since both my Northern Lite camper and my boat (C-Dory 25 Cruiser) have 200 watts of solar on their roofs, so I don’t need the Jackery solar panels. The camper has AGM batteries and the boat has flooded cell, and I use a Resmed Aircurve 10 ASV (a more advance sleep therapy than a CPAP), and I would rather not chance running my batteries down overnight. If course there would be other uses as well. Looking at the 500, which has more than adequate power for my use, Amazon sells it for $529 and Walmart sells it for $399 (but is “out of stock”). I will keep my eye on the Walmart site to see when it comes back into stock, since I don’t need overnight shipping for this!

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