Jackery 240 Solar Generator: A Must-Have Car Camping Gadget
Portable solar generators have been around for a while, but they’re becoming increasingly popular. Campers and outdoor enthusiasts can now use them to power up their devices when they need an extra boost during camping trips!
There are a lot of different opinions when it comes to portable solar generators. Some people think they’re a great idea because they can give you power anywhere. Others, however, are not so sure. They worry that the generators might not work well or might not last very long.
We’ve reviewed the Jackery 240 Solar Generator in detail and gave it a thorough workout to find its limitations. Here’s how it went.
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Jackery 240 Solar Generator Overview
The Jackery 240 Solar Generator is an innovative, multi-function device that can be used as a portable energy source for your home, car, or tent. It comes equipped with a solar panel and a few output ports so you can charge multiple appliances simultaneously.
The solar generator is a good option for those who camp in cars or tents. It’s eco-friendly, low on noise, and has an easy-to-use interface. In addition, it has a robust and well-built design with the power necessary to charge essential gadgets while you’re out on your next adventure!
On the flip side, it doesn’t have a single Type-C USB port, and that’s a total letdown. Sort it out, Jackery. Other than that, we’re fair impressed with the Jackery 240.
Disclaimer: Jackery was kind enough to send us an Explorer 240 and a 100W SolarSaga foldable panel for this review. However, the content of this post is not sponsored by Jackery and all opinions are our own.
Jackery 240 Solar Generator Spec Summary
The Jackery 240 Solar Generator consists of 2 products: the Jackery Explorer 240 portable power station and a SolarSaga 100W solar panel (SolarSaga 60W solar panel in the US). You can either buy them separately or choose to buy them as a bundle. The bundle is known as the solar generator.
- Output Rating: 240W
- Output Surge Rating: 400W
- Battery Type: Li-ion NMC
- Battery Ah: 16.8Ah
- Battery Life: 500 cycles to 80% capacity
- Recharge Time: 5.5 – 7 hours (depending on charging method)
- Inverter: 240w Pure sine wave (400w surge)
- Charging Methods: Solar panel, main supply wall socket, vehicle’s 12V output, electric generator
- AC Output: 1 x 110 VAC, 60Hz, 200W (400W Surge) (UK version has 1 x 230 VAC)
- DC Outlets: 2 x USB Type-A (5V, 2.4A), 1 x DC Ports (12V, 10A), 1x Car output (12V, 10A)
- Display: LCD screen
- Weight: 6.6 lbs / 3Kg
- Dimensions: 9.05 x 5.24 x 7.87 inches (23 x 13.32 x 20 cm)
- Warranty: 2 years
- Peak Power: 100W with 23.7% efficiency
- Power Voltage/Current: 18V/5.55A
- Open Circuit Voltage: 21.6V
- Short Circuit Current: 6.1A
- 1 x USB-C Output 5V, 3A
- 1 x USB-A Output 5V, 2.4A
- Operating Temperature Range: 14 to 159° Fahrenheit (-10 to 65° Celsius)
- Dimensions (Unfolded): 48 x 21 x 0.2 inches (1220 x 535 x 5 mm)
- Dimensions (Folded): 24 x 21 x 1.4 inches (610 x 535 x 35 mm)
- Weight: 10.33 lb
- Warranty: 2 years
- 1 x Jackery Explorer 240 Power Station
- 1 x SolarSaga 100w Solar Panels (1 x SolarSaga 60w Solar Panels in US)
What’s In The Box?
This is what you will find inside the box:
- 1 x Jackery 240 Power Station with manual
- 1 x SolarSaga 60W Panel with manual
- 1 x AC Adapter
- 1 x Car Charger Cable
- 1 x User Manual – Jackery Explorer 240
- 1 x User Manual – SolarSaga
Jackery 240 Features
With a power output rating of 200W, the Jackery 240 Solar Power Generator can surge to 400W if you need it for a short time. The product can generate 240 Watts of energy per hour.
One nice feature about this unit is that it will automatically shut off if you draw more than 200W output for a few seconds.
The Jackery Solar 240 has a capacity of 240Wh at 14.4V. That’s almost 17Ah, nearly the same as a typical 12V deep cycle battery with 35Ah.
The battery life is about 500 cycles until its capacity reduces to around 80% charge capacity and further performance degradation, which should last you for close to 2-3 years on regular usage.
Battery Power Output Ports
The unit has four output ports:
- DC Output
- 2 x USB-A
- 12V Car Charger
- 1 x AC outlets
- Sine Wave 240W
The number of output ports is disappointing, even though this is a very small portable power generator. It might have been better to have at least one more AC outlet, and one of the USB Type-A chargers could have been a Type-C charger for fast charging.
We tested the UK model, which has a few minor differences from the USA models:
- The inverter is 240v rather than 110v, and
- It has a 3-pin UK plug on the power pack and a 3-pin UK socket on the front of the Jackery power station.
Pure Sine Wave Inverter
Sine wave inverters convert DC to AC (the same type of power that you get at home), making it compatible with delicate electronic equipment.
You can charge the Jackery 240 using solar, AC wall outlets, or your car charger. Jackery puts the most FOCUS on solar, especially for those trips when you want to get away from the grid and be close to nature.
With the 60W SolarSage panels included in this unit, Jackery has provided a complete rechargeable unit that you can set up anywhere.
|1 x SolarSaga Solar Cells (100W)||MPPT solar charge controller Anderson Powerpole inputs||30V / 163W maximum input||~9.5 hours|
|AC (Wall Outlet)||8mm AC adapter||24V max input||~3.5 hours|
|DC (Car Charger)||8mm DC adapter||12V~30V, 100W max input||~5 hours|
The Jackery Solar Generator is the combined bundle of the Jackery Explorer 240 and 1 SolarSaga 100w Solar Panel (or 1 SolarSaga 100w Solar Panel in the US). If you already have a solar panel, you can connect it to the Explorer 240. It must be a 12-30V panel with no more than 5.4A current.
You’ll need an adaptor to connect third-party panels to the Explorer 240.
Build Quality Design
The Jackery 240 is a reasonably solid unit. The outer casing is made using ABS plastic which is quite hardy, even though you wouldn’t want it to fall.
The unit weighs 6.6 pounds, which means it is relatively easy to carry it in your hands when you want to move away from the main camping area. It also has a nice handy flashlight built-in on the side if you want to stroll to a nearby spot in the evening.
There is a nice handle at the top of the unit for you to hold and carry the Jackery Explorer 240. At the bottom, four rubber pads give it a bit of traction and keep the Explorer 240 protected from scratches and dents.
The SolarSaga solar panel is monocrystalline. These solar cells better absorb the sun’s rays than other solar cell assemblies such as polycrystalline solar cells and thin-film solar cells.
The solar panel has a Type-A and Type-C USB output, which gives you some extra charging options for your devices.
Jackery 240 Solar Generator Benefits
It’s a small device that does not create a lot of noise at any point in time. When you extract maximum power from the Jackery 240, the fans will come on to keep the battery unit cool. The fans used are also low noise, so this unit scores very high on the quiet running parameter.
Doesn’t Heat Up
The Jackery 240 uses a 14.4V battery rather than a regular 12V battery. Higher the voltage, lower the current and lower the heat generated in the unit’s wiring. The Jackery 240 remains super cool even when all ports are in use and maximum Watt hours are drawn.
Built-in LED Flashlight
The flashlight and compact size make the Jackery 240 a perfect off-grid battery. You can carry it outside the van and do your work, laze around, trek to a nearby lake, and have a beer from the cooler in the evening with your friends without worrying about electricity.
Most other portable generators have red/green indicators that show how much battery is remaining. However, the Jackery 240 has a large LCD screen to tell you exactly how much juice is left and how much you extract from the unit.
Gas and diesel backups generate a lot of fumes and toxic gasses. The Jackery 240 with solar panels unit produces zero carbon emissions. Good for you, great for the planet!
Multiple Charging Methods
With its three charging methods, you can charge up the unit anywhere you like – you are not dependent on being near a wall outlet.
Solar power is the cleanest fuel on the planet. With the Jackery 240, you can avoid burning gasoline or propane, reducing your carbon footprint significantly.
This is a standout feature for Jackery since their customer service is excellent. Just drop a word on [email protected] or call their phone lines at 1-888-502-2236, and you will get customer support to solve your issue.
Service, Warranty Manual
You not only get a 24-month warranty with this unit, but you also get lifetime customer support. This means that you never have to worry about technical issues. The warranty even covers shipping, so if your unit is acting up, just put it in a box and ship it to Jackery. They will send you a new one.
The Jackery 240 Solar Generator comes with manuals for the Jackery Explorer 240 unit (the battery) and the SolarSaga panels. The manuals are well designed and are pretty easy to use.
How We Tested The Jackery 240
Jackery sent us the 240 portable power station with a 100w Solar Saga Solar Panel. UK spec model to review, along with the 100 SolarSaga panel.
Note: if you buy the 240 Solar Generator in the US, it includes a 60w SolarSaga panel. In the UK, it includes a 100w panel.
However, don’t feel short-changed. The 240 power station can only cope with a maximum input of 62w, so a 100w SolarSaga panel won’t charge the unit any quicker than the 60w panel.
We previously spent a couple of camping weekends testing out the Jackery 1000 and the Jackery 500 solar generators. However, the Jackery 240 is a far more compact device and best suited for smaller demands.
So rather than throwing more at the Jackery 240 than it’s designed for, we opted for a sensible approach. We only needed it to keep our phones charged and a tablet.
But we used the phones heavily for mapping and hiking apps, so they needed charging a couple of times each.
On a low-demand weekend, this solar generator is amazing. It didn’t falter and never needed charging, not even from the car.
We came away feeling we’d underestimated its capability, so we stress-tested at home, too.
Our Experience of The Jackery 240
The Jackery 240 can be set up in a couple of minutes. The suitcase-style portable solar panel unfolds quickly. The solar cables are stored in a on the back of the panel for easy access, and connecting them to the power station is straightforward.
Jackery power stations and solar panels aren’t waterproof, so we had to be careful of the weather. We were apprehensive about the rain since it could have easily damaged the equipment.
When you’re camping, it’s always best to keep the power station sheltered if at all possible. We liked to set ours up just inside the tent, which works well with the solar panel positioned outside and facing the sun. That way, we could get the most power possible while still staying protected from the elements.
The Jackery 240 was 38% charged right out of the box. So, before we set off on our weekend camping trip, we fully charged it from our household mains supply. There’s no point in starting a camping trip off on the wrong foot! By having the Jackery 240 fully charged, we could enjoy our weekend worry-free.
It took just over 3 hours to get to a full charge. We didn’t charge it again from an AC power outlet during the weekend we were away, which was great.
If we had been camping for longer or needed to recharge it in poor weather conditions, we could have hooked it up to the campground’s AC supply and expected it to fully charge in around 5 1/2 hours from flat.
If you’re using a Jackery 240 in the UK, you’ll need an adapter to plug into the campsite pedestal. Most US pedestals use the same socket connectors as a household mains supply, so the US models will work without an adapter. However, if you’re in the UK, you’ll need an adaptor to make it work. Luckily, you can grab one here so you’ll be all set for your next camping adventure!
If you plan to take your Jackery 240 power station camping with you, be aware that the charging cable is only 2 meters long. This can be inconvenient if your campground’s charging points are far away or not close to your site.
An extension cord will solve this problem and make it easy for you to charge your power bank. Simply plug in the extension cord, and you’ll be all set!
We only tested the Jackery 240 with the SolarSaga 100 solar panel in our garden. When we were camping, we just didn’t need to recharge it.
That said, we previously tested the Jackery 1000 with two solar panels in wet and blustery conditions.
The integrated support on the back of the panel isn’t efficient when it’s so windy, but it’s probably unreasonable to expect so much from it in those conditions.
We recommend packing a few robust tent pegs so you can secure it to the ground flat if it’s too windy.
We were really impressed with how much charging power the Jackery Explorer 240 could handle from the SolarSaga 100 solar panel. In optimum conditions, the Jackery Explorer 240 can absorb a maximum of 65W of energy. We tested it on a typical British late Spring day – bit of sun, an occasional shower, and a little overcast at times.
During overcast conditions, we saw around 32W on the single SolarSaga 100 panel. When the sun came out, we saw it increase to 60W.
With a 60W panel, you might expect a little less during less than optimum conditions, but once the sun is out, the Jackery 240 can’t absorb more than 65w, so it doesn’t make much difference.
We have a 12v socket in the boot (trunk) of the car, and by organizing our gear, we found a small space where we could easily charge it while on the move.
When we were camping, we didn’t need to recharge the portable power station, but we know from testing the Jackery 500 and 1000 that it would recharge in around 6 ½ hours.
It’s also worth reminding yourself to unplug it when the engine isn’t running. It will flatten your starter battery. And yes, that is the voice of experience you can hear!
Again, this charging cable is quite short – only about 2 meters. For our setup, that was ok, but if you don’t have a 12v socket in your trunk, that could be pretty inconvenient.
It’s a nice bonus to be able to charge from the engine while you drive, but we don’t suggest relying on this as your only mode. It gives an extra boost and can come in handy if you run low on juice!
Is The Jackery 240 Solar Generator Any Good?
We’ve been testing the Jackery 240 Solar Generator for a while now, and we really like it. It is a great, high-quality product and great value compared to portable battery banks that only last a few charges.
That said, it might not be suitable for everyone. If you plan to be off-grid for longer than a weekend or if you need to power high-draw devices, then the Jackery 240 might not be enough. But if you are looking for a portable power solution for occasional use, this is a good option.
Great for a tent car camping
It’s not powerful enough to replace your main RV electricals, but if you are on a short weekend camping trip, it has enough juice to power most of your devices, including your lights, fans, phones, and laptops, etc.
A great secondary unit
You can use this generator as a secondary unit when heading out from the mothership – it’s a good power source to carry on that nearby trek or just chill outside the van.
Supplemental power backup for smaller batteries
You can also use it to charge smaller battery packs that you can carry around in your hand when you want to go out. Instead of using your RV’s deep cycle batteries, use the Jackery 240 to charge them up quickly.
A weekend trip is about all that the Jackery 240 will handle on its own. If you are going for the summer, get bigger battery packs.
The unit is not rain-proof, and neither does the solar charging work well if the conditions are overcast. If you are going RVing in a place where the weather will be cloudy, the Jackery 240 is not a good option.
Is The Jackery 240 Solar Generator Worth The Price?
Yes, the Jackery 240 solar generator is worth the price for what it does. It’s a compact unit that can light up almost all your equipment for a short weekend trip or as a secondary power source on your RV. You can just set it up to charge and use it whenever you need extra juice outside the camper.
But if you are expecting this to solve all your van lifer needs, then this unit will not be enough.
How To Use The Jackery 240 Solar Generator
Before starting, you need to be able to recharge the Jackery 240 solar generator. There are three ways to do this: a wall socket, your car charger, or the SolarSaga solar panels that come as part of the unit. In either case, you just need to plug in one end of the enclosed wiring into the input port at the front left of the Jackery 240 with solar panels.
Jackery 240 is a small and compact device. You can set it up on almost any surface; it has rubber feet at the bottom that provide a bit of traction and keep the generator safe from an uneven base. Just put it in a safe spot and plug in your charger cable.
If you are charging through the solar panel, you need to find a good spot where you can get the maximum amount of direct sunlight. Just unfold the panel and open the stands behind it.
One drawback of the unit is that the charging cable is only about 10 feet long, so you sometimes have to keep the generator unit in the sunlight if you are charging with the solar panel. Also, remember that the unit will automatically shut off if the temperature is too high, so you have to be “innovative” with the placement.
Charging devices with the Jackery 240
There are four charging ports – 2 USB, 1 AC out, and one car charger 12V DC out. You can also set up some of your devices to charge directly from the solar panel, with two USB ports built-in.
One good thing is that you can individually turn off the AC outlet and USB outlets to conserve power on the device.
One of the most considerable shortcomings of this unit is the number of output ports, especially if you have a bigger family camping together where each member is carrying their cellphones and laptops.
Optimizing The Solar Panels
Keep the solar panels pointed towards the sun at all times – this looks easier than it is. Even on a sunny day, the sun’s path across the horizon will cause the solar panels to fall in the shade every few hours, so you need to keep adjusting them to face the sun directly.
It supports pass-through charging, but remember that charging your devices while simultaneously charging the Jackery 240 with the solar panels will probably take a lot longer for the unit to charge up. So you have to be vigilant about the solar panels throughout the day.
If the weather is cloudy, charging with solar panels can take quite a while. In poor weather, expect 8-9 hours of charging time with solar panels when you are not using the Jackery 240 to charge your own devices.
Keeping It Dry
Rainwater is kryptonite for the Jackery 240 and SolarSaga solar panels. The power station is not waterproof, so keep it out of the rain.
The Jackery Solar Generator 240 weighs just under 7 pounds. Jackery claims that it is small enough for a child to lift it comfortably. The 60W SolarSaga panels are about 3.3 pounds, so about 10 pounds get added to your RV, and that’s not too bad.
Allwei and Flashfish have similar 300W products on Amazon. Both of them weigh between 6.5 to 7 pounds, which means that the Jackery explorer 240 is par for the course when it comes to weight.
One of the things that Jackery excels in is the quality of the materials that it uses. The external ABS plastic on the Jacker 240 looks very rugged and can easily take a few knocks when you are out camping.
With its built-in flashlight and handle on the top, Jackery has designed this product for carrying it around with you to wherever you want to explore.
The Explorer unit is relatively compact regarding the space it takes up in your van. At just ~9 x 5 x 8 inches, it’s slightly bigger than its competitors, such as AllFish (8.26 x 4.33 x 6.3 inches), and about the same size as the Allwei unit (9.12 x 4.5 x 7.3 inches)
Neither of these two comes with included solar panels, but if you look at other solar panels on the market, the SolarSaga 60W is standard-sized.
How To Recharge The Jackery Solar Generator 240
You can recharge the Jackery Solar Generator 240 in three ways:
AC input (Using a wall charger)
This is the fastest and the best way to charge, and I would always suggest you precharge your Explorer 240 unit before heading out. If you plug it into a wall socket, it will take about 3.5 hours for the unit to completely charge.
DC input (Car charger)
If you are on the road for a long trip and want your Jackery 240 charged up before you reach camp, you can charge it using a standard 12V car charger. It will take about 5-6 hours to fully charge the 240W generator.
This is, of course, what Jackery markets these units as – solar-powered generators. In the US, the Jackery 240 solar generator comes with a 60W solar panel; the UK version with the 100w SolarSaga panel.
Both need a perfect spot in the sunshine and good weather all day to get your Jackery 240 from 0 to 100%. It can take up to 5.5 hours with the 100w panel and 7.5 hours with the 60w panel to charge under perfect conditions.
However, suppose the weather is not so good. In that case, the solar panels may take 8-9 hours or longer to fully charge your solar generator. The good thing about Jackery is that it has pass-through charging. You can keep charging your devices while simultaneously charging the Jackery 240 itself.
How Many Times Can You Recharge A Jackery 240?
The rated capacity of the Li-ion batteries on the Jackery 240 is 500 cycles with 80% capacity, which means that you can recharge it 500 times before the battery charge drops to a point where it should be discarded for a new one. Depending on your usage, this might take you anywhere between two to three years.
What Can You Run With A Jackery 240?
With its 240W battery, the Jackery Explorer 240 portable power station is not built to replace your RV’s deep cycle batteries. Still, it can supplement those and become a great portable power source for when you are outside your camper. Here is what you can run on the Jackery 240:
- A laptop from 0-100% about three times
- A smartphone about 6-8 times, depending on how old your phone battery is
- Your camp lights and portable fans for around a week (if you are using nothing else)
- A small 60W TV for a day (assuming 2-3 hours of usage)
- A mini-fridge for 4-5 hours
- A CPAP unit overnight
The surge power on this unit is only 400W, so do not expect to use it for anything that requires instant heating, like a coffee pot or an induction stove.
Jackery Solar Generator 1500 Pro Review: Power To The People
The Jackery booth at the Consumer Electronics Show was attention-grabbing, with solar panels and battery power systems laid out in various outdoor dioramas. Each setup was designed to highlight Jackery’s Portable Power System and its Solar Generator line.
A Jeep topped with solar panels and a glistening silver Airstream brought back memories of my camping trips to mountain bike and how I could have used a zero-emission power supply to recharge devices.
Even before COVID, people worked remotely, using technology to get work done from anywhere. Several of the creators I know had already begun living and working in converted Sprinter vans and other vehicles, and COVID only increased the scope of remote work acceptance.
Sure, you can power your gear off your vehicle’s battery, but then you need to run the engine to recharge the battery, which is a non-eco-friendly system.
But YouTubers living in a van down by the river aren’t the only ones that can benefit from a sustainable power supply. I have assisted on many commercial shoots that used gas-powered generators to recharge batteries and power some lights. A solar-based power system would have been better for the environment but easier to use, eliminating the need to carry gasoline or diesel, and could operate entirely silently.
For wedding photographers and videographers, wildlife and landscape photographers, sports shooters, and anyone else who needs to work far from an outlet, a solar-driven power system is an expense that will pay for itself immediately.
Design and Build Quality
Jackery started selling solar panels and battery backup systems nine years ago, and it has since sold more than two million units (according to its public sales data.) The lineup has grown to include nine power stations (the battery system by itself) of various capacities and nine configurations of Solar Generators, which is a power station plus one of the solar panels.
I tested the Jackery Solar Generator 1500 Pro, a combination of its 1500W power system, the Explorer 1500 Pro, and a 200W solar panel. The solar panels can be daisy-chained, providing additional input power. When access is available to a power supply, the unit can be plugged in and recharged via AC power.
All of Jackery’s systems feature fast charging and the 1500 Pro charges from empty to full in under 10 hours from the 200W SolarSaga panel alone. Of course, this charging speed requires a fully-sunny day (and 10 hours of sun at that), but that’s still an incredibly short recharge period.
The SolarSaga panels are segmented and can be arrayed in several ways to maximize access to the sun best. A single weather-proof cable connects to the SolarSaga and plugs into the back of the Jackery Explorer Pro 1500 Pro. The rear also has a jack for AC power input.
The 1500 Pro weighs just under 38 pounds, but the attached carry handle makes it feel lighter since it’s unnecessary to grab it by the bottom and hold it in front of you. Jackery claims this unit is 20% lighter than competing systems with the same capacity.
Much of the portability comes down to size. The Jackery Explorer Pro 1500 Pro is only 15.2 inches wide, 10.58 inches deep, and 12.11 inches tall. Back in the 1980s, I had a boom box that was bigger than this.
The front of the unit has an impressive selection of power jacks. There are Dual PD100W jacks, three 1800W AC outlets, two USB-C charging ports, and a 12V car “cigarette lighter” jack.
There’s also a very bright LED light set into the face of the unit, which was helpful but tended to point at my eyes in the dark since it’s on the front of the device.
During the testing of the unit, we had an unexpected blackout, so we had a spontaneous real-world experience of the system. We connected all of our devices to the Jackery Explorer Pro 1500 Pro, our Wi-Fi router, and several lights, and we kept everything charged and working overnight.
Jackery also boasts about its safety (important when transporting a high-power battery around you), and the unit has an outer casing of “the highest UL requirements” and fireproof material.
The front of the unit is where the connectors are found, but the highlight of the unit’s design is the bright, clear display that shows both input and output power, charging times, and remaining battery life (at the current usage).
The display is bright enough to be seen in sunlight, and it’s the best interface I’ve seen on a power system. There’s no guessing about how long you’ll have juice or how long it will take to charge back up.
Keeps On Keeping On
One of the things I’ve been doing with the system between outdoor shoots is using the Jackery Explorer Pro 1500 Pro as a battery backup system for several 3D printers I’m testing. While the printers take very little power if the power goes out, a job can be ruined, so it’s nice to have a secondary use for the kit.
This weekend my town had a street fair that featured a lot of arts and crafts vendors, and it amused me to think that I could bring 3D printers to a street fair and create output with nothing but the sun.
In addition to our sudden blackout, I’ve used the Jackery Explorer Pro 1500 Pro during a video camera test, leaving the unit in the back of my car and powering my laptop and battery chargers. It would be a perfect solution for location shooters.
I also connected the Jackery to my dryer (gas heat, but electricity for the drum and operation) and a fully charged Jackery Explorer Pro 1500 Pro. It would have gotten nearly six hours of runtime from the system.
Jackery provides some other power use estimates on their site, including running a hand drill for three hours, powering a mini-fridge for 10.5 hours, charging an iPhone 63 times, and running a microwave for 70 minutes.
Here Comes The Sun
The Jackery Solar Generator would be an excellent portable-power solution, but coupling it with high-capacity solar panels makes the unit ideal for backup power and power on the go.
The Jackery Solar Generator 1500 Pro costs 2,699 for the power unit and the 200W solar panel. This isn’t inexpensive, but to put it in context, a Honda 1800W gas-powered generator costs 1,200 and spews fumes.
Are There Alternatives?
Jackery isn’t the only company making solar-driven generators. Electronics maker Anker, for instance, has several systems at a lower price: the Anker 767 system is a 2048Wh generator with two 200W solar panels and costs 2,899. Its closest matching unit to the 1500W Jackery is Anker’s 1229 Wh model, which comes with three 100W solar panels and is 2,000.
I can’t compare the build of the Anker system to that of Jackery since I’ve never used the former, though the company is known for its high-quality accessories.
Should You Buy It?
Yes. While I can’t make a decision of every customer, the Jackery Solar Generator delivers on all of it promises.
The Ultimate Guide To Van Solar Panels
Powering camper vans and recreational vehicles (RVs) has become easier by using clean and renewable energy. Enthusiasts looking to convert their van to a mobile home can invest in solar power panels. Portable van solar panels can efficiently convert solar energy to electricity, reducing your outdoor living costs.
Jackery SolarSaga 100W Solar Panels are designed to power small appliances like smartphones, tablets, etc. For more power, you can connect the solar panels to the Jackery Explorer Portable Power Station. This will help you charge all small and large devices in your van for long hours.
Below is a quick overview of three different sizes of van solar panels.
Jackery SolarSaga 200W Solar Panels
Jackery SolarSaga 100W Solar Panels
Jackery SolarSaga 80W Solar Panels
Solar Panels For Van
Installing solar panels in your van can help reduce your carbon footprint, eliminate high electricity bills, and recharge appliances during outdoor adventures. As long as you have decent sunshine, you can keep on getting enough solar power.
However, it’s worth noting that the best solar panels for vans produce electricity when sunlight is available. Once the sun sets, solar panels will stop producing electricity. Therefore, the best way to generate power 247 is by connecting solar panels with portable power stations.
Jackery is the top solar brand that offers robust and portable solar generators available in different sizes and capacities. A solar generator combines highly-efficient solar panels to convert solar energy into electricity and portable power stations to store the generated energy.
How Van Solar Panels Work?
Each solar panel comprises photovoltaic cells (or PV cells) that convert the sun’s rays into electricity. It consists of two layers made up of semiconductor material called silicon. The top silicon is mixed with phosphorus to give a negative charge to the layer, while the bottom layer has boron to build a positive charge.
When one sunlight photon hits the electrons, the electric field pushes the electron out of silicon. Then, the metal plates on the side of PV cells collect the released electrons and transfer them to the wires. You can connect the solar power panels to a battery station to produce free power all day.
Preparation For Van Solar Panels
Before choosing any type or capacity of solar panels, you’ll need to calculate the power usage of your campervan.
Calculating the power usage of your van
Here are the simple steps to calculate how much electricity you require per day.
- List all the electrical appliances and devices you will use in your van.
- Calculate the amps required by each device and the hours you’ll use them.
- Multiply amps by hours for each appliance and add all the amp hours required for one day.
This way, you can calculate the power in amps required for your off-grid adventure.
Match power usage to solar panel
As the capacity of solar panels is measured in watts, you have to calculate the watts you require per day.
Formula: Amps × Volts = Watts
For instance, if the amps required are 50 and the battery voltage is 12V, the watts will be:
Watts = 50A × 12V = 600 watts.
If a 200-watt panel provides 200 watts of power, you’ll have to connect three panels to produce 600 watts. However, that’s not the case if you choose power stations and solar panels.
With one power station and fewer solar panels, you can charge appliances for long hours and produce more than 600 watts. Besides, always understand your budget preferences before you choose any capacity of solar panels.
One of the other crucial factors to check out while choosing solar panels is the type of van you have. The larger the van size, the higher the battery capacity of the solar generator you will require. Below are a few common types of vans preferred by outdoor enthusiasts.
- Dropside van
- Tipper van
- Box van
- Luton van
- 4×4 van
- Pickup vans
- Car-derived van
- Electric van
Depending on the size of your camping vehicle, you can choose the best solar panels’ size and capacity. For instance, if your van consumes more power, the combination of Jackery SolarSaga 200W Solar Panels and Explorer 3000 Pro Portable Power Stations would work well.
How To Choose The Van Solar Panels?
The ultimate choice of van solar panels will depend on the specific needs of the users. However, it’s important to understand which types of solar panels are better — flexible, fixed, or portable solar panels.
Fixed Vs. Flexible Vs. Portable Solar Panels
Fixed solar panels are installed on the van’s roof but have lower quality. You cannot alter their positions or use them for other purposes as they are fixed. Due to their fixed nature, they are popularly installed on a home’s roof.
Flexible solar panels are ideal for campers, vans, and RVs, as they can be easily angled or curved. However, they are typically less durable and have less lifespan.
That’s why it’s ideal to choose portable solar panels. They are easy to set up and can be a great power source for outdoor adventures and even power outages. You can fold them and store them in your van when not required.
Monocrystalline Vs. Polycrystalline Solar Panels
The next thing you’ll encounter while choosing the best solar panels for vans is whether they are monocrystalline or polycrystalline. The main difference between mono and poly panels is in their manufacturing process.
For instance, monocrystalline panels are made with a single crystal silicon structure, while polycrystalline have multiple. As mono panels are made with single silicon crystals, they are more efficient than poly panels.
Top Considerations When Choosing Van Solar Panels
Now let us reveal the main things to consider when choosing solar panels for vans.
Efficiency: The more efficient the van solar panels are, the high power they can produce.
Voc or Open Circuit Voltage: Voc is the maximum voltage your solar panels can produce. For effective and safe charging, make sure the Voc is less than the acceptable voltage of a charge controller.
Dimensions: The next factor you must analyze is the dimensions of the solar panels. Prefer portable and foldable solar panels that can fit in small spaces like vans.
Warranty: Choose solar panels from reputable brands to ensure they will last long. You can consider investing in Jackery Solar Generators for vans with a solid warranty period.
How To Install The Van Solar Panels?
The most crucial thing in installing a van solar system is wiring solar panels with a charge controller.
Series: When solar panels are wired in series, the voltage gets added while the amps remain the same. However, one important thing to note is that if one panel becomes faulty, the whole circuit stops working.
Parallel: During parallel connection, the amps get added while the voltage remains unchanged. Unlike series connection, van solar panels in parallel continue to supply power even if one panel experiences a fault.
Installing solar panels for a van is relatively easy if you have portable solar panels. You can unfold the panels and connect them to a power station to start charging your devices. However, if you want to install solar panels on your van roof, you have to follow some general steps to complete the installation.
- Place solar panels on the van roof and install brackets.
- Using cables or wires, you can attach multiple solar panels together.
- For permanent installation, you have to drill the hole in the roof.
- Attach all the interior components and connect the battery to the panels.
- Verify the connections, and that’s it. You have successfully installed the solar panels.
100W Solar Wiring
A solar panel with a watt capacity of 100 watts is capable of supplying power to small appliances like cell phones. You can choose the portable and lightest Jackery 100W SolarSaga Solar Panels. They can be directly connected to portable power stations using solar cables.
200W Solar Wiring
Unlike solar panels that produce 100 watts of power, 200 watts solar panels can produce more electricity. Jackery offers portable and highly-efficient SolarSaga 200W Solar Panels. Connecting them with the Jackery Explorer Portable Power Station allows you to charge multiple devices in your van.
The Best Van Solar Panels With Jackery
In order to enjoy outdoor adventures to the fullest, choosing the right type and size of van solar panels is vital. Compared to flexible solar panels that are less durable, high-quality portable panels are ideal for off-grid power during camping, hiking, etc.
Jackery is the leading solar system manufacturer offering foldable and portable solar panels. They are highly efficient, meaning you can convert more sunlight into electricity. Below are the three popular solar panels you can choose for your van life.
Jackery SolarSaga 200W Solar Panels
The advanced solar cells on Jackery SolarSaga 200W Solar Panels make it highly efficient, with a conversion rate of 24.3%. In addition, the IP67 waterproof rating and the ETFE-laminated case improve durability and help panels withstand harsh conditions.
Jackery SolarSaga 100W Solar Panels
Best known for a conversion efficiency of 23.7%, Jackery SolarSaga 100W Solar Panels are ideally suited for unexpected power outages and outdoor activities. In addition, the solar panels feature two output ports, helping you directly power two small appliances.
Input Output Ports
Jackery SolarSaga 200W Solar Panels
Jackery Explorer 1000 Pro, 1500 Pro, 2000 Pro, and 3000 Pro power stations.
Jackery SolarSaga 100W Solar Panels
Jackery Explorer 240, 300, 500, 1000, and 1500 power stations.
Van Solar Power Options
Jackery Solar Generator is one of the most efficient ways to power appliances used in vans. Not only can it run all small and large appliances for hours, but it is also an affordable and great option for vans.
Jackery Solar Generator 3000 Pro is the ideal solution for those needing a lot of power. Equipped with a battery capacity of 3024Wh, it can provide steady power to run multiple appliances.
On the other hand, Jackery Solar Generator 2000 Pro can power 96% of outdoor appliances with a 2160Wh battery capacity.
Finally, the Jackery Solar Generator 1500 Pro is a reliable charging solution featuring a 1512Wh battery. Using 6Jackery SolarSaga 200W Solar Panels, you can recharge the generator in just 2 hours.
Van Solar Panels FAQs
How many solar panels do I need for my van?
You’ll need to understand how much power your van uses to calculate the number of solar panels. For instance, if your van requires 800 or 1000 watts of power, you’ll need 4-5 solar panels of 200 watts.
However, adding multiple panels is cumbersome, especially in a van. Therefore, you can combine Jackery Explorer 1000 Pro Portable Power Station (or higher capacity product) with 1 or 2 SolarSaga 200W Solar Panels to produce the same power.
How to make my van solar panels more efficient?
Some simple ways to improve the efficiency of solar panels include:
- Regularly cleaning the upper surface of solar panels to ensure they convert maximum sunlight.
- Adjust the face of solar panels towards the direct sunlight.
- Place the solar panels away from the shade to produce more energy.
Is solar worth it in a van?
In short, yes. Converting your van into a solar-powered van will help you enjoy your outdoor adventures with peace of mind. Jackery Solar Generators are powerful, robust solutions that provide clean and renewable energy. You can calculate the right size of the solar generator according to your power needs.
Van solar panels and power stations are ideal for keeping your gear charged during outdoor activities. If you want to choose high-quality solar panels for vans, RVs, and campers, consider Jackery SolarSaga Solar Panels. You can connect the portable solar panels to the power station to charge devices using steady and continuous electricity.
For instance, you can invest in Jackery Solar Generator 1500 Pro if you have low power requirements. On the other hand, Jackery Solar Generator 3000 Pro is the ultimate power solution for those looking to power a large vehicle. Sign up for the Jackery newsletter to get exclusive deals and promotional offers and learn more about our products.
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What Size Solar Generator Do I Need? (Power Station Tips)
A solar generator is a highly convenient and versatile power source. You can use one to access power while on the go or as a backup source of energy for your home. Before buying one, you might be asking yourself, what size solar generator do I need?
This is certainly an important question. Buying the right size solar generator will ensure that you have an optimal source of power without paying more for one than you have to.
But perhaps the real question you should be asking is, what size power station do I need for my solar generator?
This is because a “solar generator” can technically refer to a solar solution that combines two (or more) components. A Jackery Solar Generator consists of:
The solar panels – which collect the solar energy from direct sunlight.
The power station – which stores the electrical power converted by the solar panels.
In this article, we will help you figure out what size power station is most suitable for your solar generator goals. Keep reading to learn how to calculate the right power station size, along with other information about solar generators, so that you make the best choice.
How Power Stations Are Sized
Power stations are typically sized in watts (W). This is a measure of power that’s used to calculate the rate of energy transfer. But what you really need to know is that the greater watts a power station has, the more power it can provide you in a single charge. That being said, there are different watt measurements to pay attention to when deciding on a power station.
The first measurement is usually called continuous power. This is the amount of power that a power station can provide consistently.
The second measurement is usually called peak power. This is the maximum amount of power that a power station can provide in a short burst.
Continuous Power vs. Peak Power (An Example)
Here’s an example. Think of when you turn on your air conditioner. It needs a quick burst of power to get started. That’s peak power. But the amount of power needed to continuously run the AC unit is generally lower. That’s continuous power.
Some appliances, such as refrigerators, need a burst of 3-7 times their normal power needs to get started. Keep in mind, your power station needs to be able to accommodate this peak power requirement to run the appliance. So, if you are looking for a solar generator to run a refrigerator, simply meeting the continuous power requirements won’t be enough.
Continuous power will likely be the more impactful number for you to think about. It’s what tells you how much power you will get from a single charge of your power station under normal conditions.
How to Calculate Your Optimal Power Station Capacity in 4 Steps
Jackery sells power stations to meet a wide variety of power consumption needs. Our products range from 167Wh of capacity to as high as 2,060Wh of capacity.
How Many Watts Do I Need in a Solar Generator’s Power Station?
To figure out which Jackery product offers the right power capabilities for you, you’ll need to perform the following calculations:
Step 1: Select What You Want to Power With Your Power Station and For How Long
The first part of picking the right power station for your needs is understanding what those needs are. This means selecting the specific devices that you want to power with your solar generator, and setting a rough estimation of how long you’d like for its power station to provide that power.
Tip: Be sure to only pick devices that you can plug into your Jackery Power Station. For example, things like water heaters are often hardwired into your home. So, the chances are you wouldn’t be able to power one with a power station. (Unless you also hardwire that device to your home.)
Here are some common devices that people power with solar generators:
- Laptops and PCs
- Phone chargers
- Kitchen appliances
- Air conditioners
- Video game systems
Step 2: Find Out How Much Energy Each of Your Selections Uses
Once you know what you want to power, it’s time to figure out how much energy you need to do so.
The starting point towards calculating this is finding out how many watts your devices need to run. This number is often listed somewhere on the device itself. But if you only see a measurement for amps, you can multiply that number by the item’s voltage to convert into watts.
Next, you need to pick how many hours you want to be able to use each of your devices. Then, multiply the number of hours that you’ve selected by the watts of each item. This will give you the total watt-hours you require to be able to power each device.
You want to power two 60 watt lightbulbs for two hours each. To find the total amount of watt-hours of power you need:
- Get the total hours: Multiply 2 hours of power by 2 light bulbs. (2 x 2) = 4
- Get the total wattage: Multiply 2 light bulbs by their 60 watts. (2 x 60) = 120
- Multiply them together to calculate the total watt-hours. (4 x 120) = 480
Then, divide your answer by 0.85 to account for a constant energy consumption rate of 85% when the device is in charge.
This results, in you needing a power station that can provide at least approximately 564 watt-hours to meet your goal of being able to power two 60 watt lightbulbs for 2 hours each.
Step 3: Add All Of Your Watt-Hour Answers Together
You need to perform the calculation shown in the previous step for each item you want to power with your Jackery Solar Generator.
Then, simply add all of the answers together to get the total amount of watt-hours that you need the power station to provide and reach the goals you have for it.
For example, let’s say you need 400 watt-hours to power your lights, 300 to charge your phone, and 300 to charge your laptop. Your total watt-hour requirement would be 1,000 (400 300 300).
Step 4: Determine the Watt-Hours of the Power Station You Want
At this stage, you have all the information that you need to pick the right portable power station.
Simply take your answer from Step 3 and compare it to the wattage offered by each power station that you look at. Just make sure that you pick a power station that has a higher wattage than your total watt-hour requirement calculated in Step 3.
Can a Solar Generator Power a House?
Note that unless you purchase a large Jackery Solar Generator (such as Solar Generator 1500 with an portable power station with 1,534Wh capacity), you likely won’t be able to power everything in your house for multiple hours with a solar powered generator.
If you find that the answer you got in Step 3 is higher than almost every power station you look at, then you may need to go back and reassess what you really need to power with it. If you can lower yourself down to just the essentials, then you will find a solar generator that works for you without having to break your budget to buy it.
The Benefits of Buying a Portable Solar Generator
Portable solar generators are a dynamic backup power option. You can use them both in your home and when you’re on the go. They’re purposefully made smaller than dedicated home backup solar generators to offer this flexibility.
As they feature a power station that you charge with portable solar panels, you essentially plug the portable solar panels into the power station until it’s charged. Then you can use the power that you’ve created on almost any appliance or electronic device that you want.
Many people purchase portable solar generators to get access to clean power while enjoying the outdoors. Then, as an added benefit, they can use the generator as a backup source of energy for their homes whenever they need one. It’s this versatility that’s made portable solar generators so popular.
Power Station Sizing FAQs
Can You Charge Any Device with a Jackery Power Station?
Jackery Power Stations can power a wide variety of consumer devices since they feature USB ports, a DC carport, and pure sine wave AC outlets.
Your device will need to be powered with one of these methods and use a level of power that is compatible with the Jackery Power Station you select.
Can a Jackery Power Station Jumpstart My Car?
No, you cannot jumpstart a car with a Jackery Power Station. But you can charge a car’s battery with a power station. So you can use your Jackery product to get the battery charged enough so that you don’t need to jumpstart it.
How Long Can a Jackery Power Station Power My Device?
This is entirely dependent on the amount of power that your device uses. You need to perform the watt-hour calculation (shown above) and compare that figure to the wattage of the Jackery Power Station model you select. Doing this will give you the answer you are looking for.
What Size Jackery Power Station Is Best for Me?
This will depend on how much power you want to get out of your portable solar generator. If you want to maximize the amount of power you get, then you should consider either our Explorer 1,500 Portable Power Station or our Explorer 1,000 Portable Power Station.
Jackery Power Station Size Options
Jackery provides a wide variety of power stations to make it easier for you to find one that fits your needs. We’ve put together a chart to help you figure out which is right for you.
Check out this table to get a better sense of the type of power you can expect to get from several popular Jackery Power Stations:
Solar generators provide clean, renewable energy as a low-maintenance power source for wherever you need it. Whether that’s in the home, the outdoors, or both. They can be a very worthwhile investment. However, it makes sense to buy the right size for your energy needs.
That’s why Jackery offers solar generators equipped with power stations of various sizes to ensure you find the one that suits your goals and budget. Always keep in mind what devices you are looking to power and for how long.
If you are unsure how much power you need, we hope this article helps you to calculate the right size power station, and consequently, the right size solar generator for you.
For more information on Jackery Solar Generators and the various size power stations they come with, take a look at our solar generators page.
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