AutoGuide Tests: Jackery Explorer 1500 Portable Power Station
After a four-season test, we think the Jackery is a great portable power station—with some stiff competition.
Jackey pioneered the modern lithium-ion portable battery power station back in 2015, launching an entire category of portable power that just didn’t exist before then. Now they’re everywhere, in sizes from convenient jump starters that double as high-powered phone chargers, up to 6.0kWh home backups that cost used car money.
In such a competitive field, deciding which portable power station to get comes down to features, usability, and reputation—there are a lot of unknown brands we’d have a hard time trusting. Jackery is one of the OG brands, and with a great warranty and customer service, the company has no trouble in the last category.
When you’re looking for a portable power station, the most important thing to think about is what you’re going to use it for. If you want to have one on hand to keep a phone and maybe a laptop charged, you want something small and convenient. If you’re putting together a backup solar power array or want a generator alternative, you’re looking at one of the big boys on wheels. And if you’re thinking about tailgating, beach parties, extended blackouts, or charging multiple devices, then devices like this 1,500 watt-hour Jackery portable power station should be on your list.
The Jackery Explorer we tested stands out for ease of use and thoughtful design, as well as a track record for reliability. We found it light on features compared to competitors we tested, especially input options, and there are pros and cons of its older lithium-ion technology versus newer LiFePO4 batteries.
After testing five different portable power stations at the AutoGuide Garage in the last 10 months, we’ve got a good handle on what makes one easy to use (including literally the handle), what to look for, and what to avoid.
For our test results and conclusions on the Jackery portable power station, see the Table of Contents.
Jackery Portable Power Station Features
The Jackery comes securely packed, with the base unit and a nice hard-sided, fitted accessories case. The zippered pouch holds a 12.5A, 300W power brick approximately the size and weight of a bar of gold, a car charger, and a pair of solar panel parallel adaptors.
If you spent as much time looking for lost cables as we do, you’d love the case, too. Photo credit: David Traver Adolphus / AutoGuide.com Size
It’s in a compact chassis, essentially a 12 x 10 x 14-inch brick, with another couple of inches of handle on top. The case is made from heat- and shock-insulating polycarbonate and ABS plastic (the same thing Legos are made from). Those materials can crack in low temperatures, but Legos seem to be indistructable and we don’t have any worry about it standing up to being knocked around. The Jackery is listed at 35 pounds, but weighed 33 pounds on our digital scale and falls into the upper end of what we’d call convenient. It’s lighter than a comparable 1,500wH Bluetti EB150 (38 pounds) or Goal Zero 1500X (46 pounds). Most power stations in this range are fairly tall and narrow, which makes them easy to store, but also easy to knock over expensively. The squat profile and large, slip-resistant polyurethane feet mean you’re not likely to tip over the Jackery.
Not everyone is going to be able to pick up 33 pounds easily with one hand, but it has the best handle of any large power station that we’ve tested. With 8.5 inches of grab area, there’s lots of room for a two-handed carry; and nice little details like rounded-off screw holes that won’t give you blisters. Goal Zero has a folding handle about the same width, and the Asian market version of the Jackery 1500 has a folding handle, but we think there’s a lot to be said for having no moving parts to break.
Jackery 1500 Charging Ports and Specifications
This is the only larger power station with all the ports on the front, where it has three household grounded outlets, a two-way 12V car charger port, USB 3.0 quick charge, USB-A 5.0V, and a USB-C port. That’s a perfectly adequate feature set, but it lags behind competitors in USB, some of which have twice as many ports. Realistically, though, this size power station isn’t big enough to need a bunch of ports, and are you really going to charge more than three phones at once? We’ve never used it and wished for more.
The batteries are rated at 1,534 watt-hours, producing 1,800 watts/110 volts of pure sine AC power. Peak wattage, which you need to start up something like a circular saw, is 3,600 watts.
We went full Inception and plugged all our photography lights into the Jackery, and quick charged a phone, too. Photo credit: David Traver Adolphus / AutoGuide.com.
Amperage isn’t listed for AC, but a quick calculation says it should be about 16 amps. It’s 10 amps on the included 12-volt car accessory port. The three-prong plugs are grounded at 110 volts, one of the USB type A ports has 18-watt quick charging, and the USB-C port is full power. There’s also a bright built-in LED emergency light which is rated at 5.0 watts but doesn’t even register on the display. It should stay on for more than 10 days straight in an emergency.
This is where we have an issue with the Jackery. Every other power station we’ve tested has some way of getting power from the wall or a solar panel without an adaptor, whether over USB-C or with a standard C13/C15 computer power cord. But the Jackey Explorer only charges through its 8mm ports or 12V car charger, so you’d better keep track of the accessories. It also doesn’t have a common XT60 solar input, so you’ll either need to stay in the 8mm ecosystem or get a 5.5 x 2.1mm adaptor. However, you can charge from two sources at the same time, and there’s hardly a universal standard.
The included power brick charges it at about 260 watts, and there’s a car charger included. Photo credit: David Traver Adolphus / AutoGuide.com
A lack of standardization is a problem across all portable power stations, at least outside of high-capacity units with lots of options, and the 8mm charge port is found in a lot of solar panels. But the Jackery is the only power station of any size we’ve ever tested with a one-way USB-C port.
Jackery Solar Generator 1500 Pro
To clarify, the Jackery Solar Generator 1500 Pro combines a Jackery Explorer Pro 1500 portable power station with up to six SolarSaga 200W solar panels. The Explorer remains the powerhouse of the combo, while the panels provide the power source.
If you already own the brand’s SolarSaga 200W solar panels, you can upgrade with just the Jackery Explorer 1500 Pro portable power station and still use it with your existing panels.
With a full array of six SolarSaga solar panels, the Jackery Explorer 1500 Pro can fully charge via sunlight in 2 hours. That’s how long it takes when it’s plugged into a standard wall outlet.
The Jackery Explorer 1500 Pro has enough output to run appliances like electric stoves, air conditioners, and small refrigerators. It can run power tools for remote projects as well.
As noted, the Jackery Explorer 1500 Pro can run 8 things at once. Of course, that doesn’t mean eight microwaves simultaneously, but a mix of household appliances and smaller gadgets.
First off, four ports support the relatively low demand for USB devices. There are two USB-C ports and two USB-A ports fast-charging ports.
Then there’s one 12v outlet like you’d find in a car. This can recharge camera batteries, drones, or even a small electric refrigerator.
Lastly, there are three 1,800W AC ports, like wall outlets, to power the larger appliances.
Getting the most from a Jackery Explorer 1500 Pro portable power station means hooking it up to one to six SolarSaga 200W solar panels. The Explorer power station can handle up to 1,400W solar power input while charging, which is how it gets down to a 2-hour charge time with all panels connected.
These Jackery solar panels can convert up to 25% of solar rays into energy. If that doesn’t sound like a lot, you’ll find that sits among performers in the portable power space. The brand claims these panels also perform above average in cloudy conditions and extreme heat.
The Explorer 1500 Pro portable power station weighs just over 37 pounds. That probably weighs less than the cooler you’d pack for a weekend trip, and take up less room, too. The brand estimates it weighs 20% lighter than comparable power stations. The station includes a foldable handle, to make it more compact when packed away.
One concern with batteries includes getting too much juice at once. Power surges can damage charging devices or the battery itself.
Jackery generators have a Battery Management System to help them balance demand from multiple devices without getting overpowered. The system includes a dozen forms of protection, including against over-voltage and short circuits. Its cooling system runs two chips and eight temperature sensors to monitor output.
Jackery says the Explorer 1500 Pro portable power station will fully charge for 2,000 cycles and then drop to roughly 70% capacity, and dwindle down from there. It backs its portable power stations with a 5-Year warranty.
The station’s shell is made from fireproof material and passes safety drop standards.
Is It a Fit?
Ultimately it’s your call whether the Jackery Solar Generator 1500 Pro is the portable power is the right mix of power and portability for your specific adventures. It’s certainly one that offers a lot of outputs without the heft of a home backup setup.
Campers and road-trippers can make use of solar panels for recharging most Jackery power stations. Closer to home, the unit can act as a standby battery for working outside or inside, during a power outage.
You can also check out the rest of Jackery’s lineup of portable power that may suit your needs.
With much of the U.S. hit by winter storms and extreme cold, Jackery is offering deals on new and old solar generator products. It’s the brand’s way of helping you warm up to the idea of portable power in your life.
Beyond the new Solar Generator 1500 Pro, the deals include smaller models like the Solar Generator 1500, Solar Generator 1000, Solar Generator 1000 Pro, and Solar Generator 2000 Pro.
Jackery’s 30% sale runs through Feb. 15.
See at Jackery
Jackery Solar Generator 1000 Pro Supplies Outdoor Fun, Home Backup Power
This Jackery generator charges as fast from four solar panels as it does when plugged into an outlet. It can power your cabin or campsite’s lights, electric cooler, smartphone, and other gadgets. Read more…
Do You Need a Jackery Solar Generator Explorer 1500?
Before you decide you want a Jackery solar generator, you should first decide what you need it for.
Jackery has nine different Explorer power stations to choose from; each with varying capacity. The higher the number equals more capacity, meaning you can power larger appliances such as a microwave or mini cooler, while also getting in more charges for phones, computers, and other gear.
The Jackery 1500 features 1534Wh (watt-hour) capacity and 1800 running wattage (3600 surge power). It includes:
- 3x AC outlets
- 1x 60W USB-C Port
- 1x Quick Charge 3.0 Port
- 1x USB-A Port
- 1x 12V car port
- Built-in flashlight (button on the side)
- Accessory storage box for cables and chargers
- 4x SolarSaga 100W solar panels (Jackery Solar Generator combo package, otherwise sold separately)
The 4x SolarSaga panels are lightweight, foldable, and easy to carry with an integrated handle (ours sit behind the driver’s seat!). The 1500 Power Station is portable, too, but is quite hefty at 30 pounds.
To connect the solar panels to the Jackery is super straightforward as well. You can just unzip the cord behind the solar panel and insert it into Jackery’s input plug.
On the Smart LCD screen, you will be able to see how many watts the sun is feeding Jackery! Likewise, whenever you charge your devices or plug in an appliance for power, you will be able to see the consumption right on the screen.
With all this in mind, the Jackery 1500 can power:
- Mini Cooler
- Coffee Maker
- Pressure Cooker
- Electric Grill
- And more!
Is Jackery Explorer 1500 Good for RV’ing Traveling?
If you are planning on traveling full-time in a van or RV, then having Jackery by your side will simplify life and be there for you in case of power outages!
Even if you are a weekend warrior adventuring or camping after 9–5 and on weekends, then you could do with a Jackery to make sure you stay charged on the go.
Below are ways you can use Jackery based on your lifestyle.
Tent campers, RV’ers/overlanders, weekend warriors, nomadic families:
- Power coffee makers, mini stoves, mini grills, blenders, lights, mini-fridges, TVs, and more!
- Charge all your gear off-grid — phones, laptops, cameras, plus all your adventure gear.
FAQ of the Jackery Solar Generator 150
Although I have yet to charge my own phone this many times, you can supposedly charge your phone up to 130 times and your laptop over twenty times. In other words, if you’re camping for multiple days off-grid, the Jackery 1500 will keep you charged and connected.
Splash-proof yes, left-out-in-the-rain-proof? No.
There are three ways you can charge your Jackery Power Station.
- 4 hours by Solar Input (4x SolarSaga 100 panels)
- 4 hours by AC Outlet (wall outlet in your home or plug at a serviced campsite)
- 13 hours by car outlet
Top Uses For An Emergency Power Generator
The uses for a power generator will vary from person to person. In this modern economy, many people work from home or run their own businesses. It can be devastating when power outages happen, as it can result in lost business or missed deadlines. We have covered ways to achieve off grid power in the past, and solar generators fit really well into these schemes.
With an emergency power generator, these kinds of workers can continue as normal and not have their work impacted. However, they can be useful for less vital reasons as well. When the power goes out, things can get really boring and inconvenient. That’s why we always advocate for preparation by choosing the right products that can have you ready for anything.
With a power generator, you will have access to entertainment devices and the internet to make sure the time won’t drag as much. When a power outage lasts days, food spoilage can also be a massive problem. A power generator will ensure that refrigerators and freezers remain operational and that food won’t be wasted.
These are just a few usage scenarios, but all you have to do is think of which electrical devices you use the most and imagine being without them unexpectedly. Then think about how great it would be to be able to keep using these devices indefinitely even during the worst power outages.
The first test: Home appliance
I didn’t spend a whole lot of time putting this through the paces at home because I don’t think of this power station as something that would save the day during a power outage. This is not a replacement for a more powerful backup or portable generator, and you’ll have to be choosy about what you use it for in the event of an outage.
Need to keep the fridge cold? Great. Power a lamp, too, but keep an eye on the battery percentage on the display. While you can simultaneously charge the power station with the solar panels while using it to power other equipment, it’s not advised and could affect the overall life of the battery.
Now that that’s out of the way, I wanted to see how it would handle a full-size microwave oven. It was as described by Jackery, losing about 1% for each of the five minutes I ran it.
The bigger test: Camping
Now it’s time to take the Jackery Solar Generator 1500 set on the road to my family’s favorite camping spot at the Grand Canyon. Packing the SUV took a little more careful thought this time around when you factor in the size of the power station and four solar panels, but we got it all to fit.
Instead of bringing our portable Weber grill, this time, we opted to bring our more compact George Foreman Grill. Once set up, we plugged the grill into the power station and pushed the button to activate the power outlets. The display on the grill lit up immediately.
Cooking burgers at 400 degrees for 15 minutes drained about 25% of the Jackery’s battery. Then using it to charge our phones and a Bluetooth speaker, we eventually got the power station’s battery to around 50%. Time to break out the solar panels …
I spread out all four panels, pointing them directly at the sun (using the built-in stands), then connected them to the power station using two included Y adapters. It started charging back up immediately.
While the specs say the station can be fully charged with four solar panels in about five hours, that has to be in absolutely ideal conditions. Pointing straight toward the sun, with no shadows, clouds or other obstacles, it still took more than four hours to get from 52% to 99%. By then, it was too dark to finish out the charge.
The biggest test: Phoenix Suns
I understand that many people consider tent camping as a way to get off the grid — disconnect for a little while. I agree and typically only try to keep my iPhone charged up so I can still be reached. This camping trip had extenuating circumstances.
A little backstory: I’ve been a huge fan of the Phoenix Suns going on three decades. My wife and I planned this camping trip a couple of months ago before we had any idea the Suns would make it back to the NBA Finals for the first time in 28 years.
I wasn’t going to adjust our plans, but I also did not want to miss the first game in the series. So I added a little home theater next to our tent. Here’s all it took:
- 10’x10′ canopy
- 100″ projector screen
- Mini projector
- Apple TV
- iPhone (as the hotspot)
- Jackery 1500 Explorer to power it all
It was a pretty easy setup, and my only concern was having enough cellular service to stream the game live. Somehow, the 3G signal at the campsite was good enough.
This was definitely a unique situation, but the setup would not have been possible without the Jackery power station. It worked out so well that we also brought along a Blu-ray player and watched “Avatar” later that night.
Speaking of night, there’s a handy flashlight built into the side of the power station that works very well in the dark.
Verdict: Is this solar generator set worth the price?
Like anything else, the necessity of something like this will depend on the person. As I mentioned, the Jackery Solar Generator set isn’t made to keep your whole house up and running during a power outage — just a few select appliances and gadgets in case of emergency. On the other hand, it’s actually very useful if you go on road trips and would even be a nice addition to anyone with an RV.
What I like
- Plug-and-play ease of use
- Freedom provided by the solar panels
- Multiple charging/power ports for simultaneous use
- Quiet, with the occasional sound of the internal fan
- Informative LCD display with battery percentage, power input/output, time to recharge, etc.
- Bonus USB-C and USB-A ports on the back of each SolarSaga panel
What I don’t like
- Portable, but still relatively heavy
- Factor in the solar panels and it takes up a lot of room in the car
The price of the Jackery Explorer 1500 Portable Power Station alone is 450,599. Each SolarSaga 100W Solar Panel bought separately costs 299.99. Do the math for the power station and four solar panels, and that comes out to just under 5000,800 before tax.
Or, save 100 and buy the Jackery Solar Generator 1500 as a set for 5000,699. Yeah, it’s expensive, but that’s not even the top-of-the-line unit Jackery offers (which costs 4,299).
If within your means, yes, this is a product I recommend along with the solar panels. I don’t plan on using the power station regularly for a home theater in the woods, but it’s nice to know that’s an option. Next time, I’ll be bringing along a coffee maker.