A Review Of The Jackery Explorer 240 Power Center and 50 Watt Portable Solar Panel

The Jackery 240 watt hour power center has a lot to offer those looking for a source of reliable, lightweight, portable power at home or on the road.

There are a lot of different brands of power centers available and the price; well let’s just say it can be higher than you might want to pay or if it is too good to be true, it is hard not to wonder what level of quality you are getting.

I was surprised to find the Jackery line of products a bit more affordable than a lot of power centers out there, especially when you consider how lightweight and easy to transport the unit is.

240 Wh of power

This is not a big power supply, but it is large enough to make camping a lot nicer or keep a laptop and other small devices going strong. I plan on utilizing this for working outside more when I have writing to do.

The Jackery 240 when fully charged will charge a smartphone 18 times, a laptop up to 4 times, and a GoPro up to 40 times. Jackery says that it will also recharge drones and run mini fridges. Of course, a fridge or any high drain device is going to

All the plugin options you need no matter what device you are using

Although the Jackery is small and lightweight, it is not lacking in features such as including three different plugins to meet all your needs. I love that there are two USB ports since many small devices use this method.

Remember that you could change the 13.3 V or 12volt car style plug into an addition 2 USB charging outlets if you purchase an inexpensive plug-in adaptor like many people use in their cars. Here is a link to the adaptor we use at our house in the built-in 12-volt system.

  • 2 Fast-charging USB-A ports(5V 2.4A)
  • A standard DC 13.3V port(13.3V/10A)
  • AC inverter(110V 60Hz 200W 400W max);

Lightweight and small enough to store practically anywhere

At a mere 6.6 lbs, it feels like you are carrying nothing! The Jackery Explorer 240 only measures 9.0  x 7.8 x 5.2 in!

This is the first time I have had the privilege of owning a lithium power center. Since acquiring my lead acid based Goal Zero, the cost of lithium versus lead-acid has decreased making it easier to go lighter and more efficient with the lithium option.

If you have a hard time lifting heavy things or are looking for some backup power for an elderly person, lithium-based power centers are what you need to be looking at no matter what size you settle on.

Affordable

The Jackery has an MSRP of $299.99, but it usually is on sale for a mere $249.99. While that is not the smallest investment in preps, it is a good deal for those that want some reliable and lightweight backup power or power that they can take with them wherever they may roam.

50 Watt Portable Solar Panel

Features a USB A output and one USB C output in addition to 16.2V DC port, charging multiple portable devices at a time. You don’t need a power center to use this panel. It charges small devices on its own so there may be times when you want to just bring the panel with you can leave the power center in your car or at home.

I was excited to finally own a very lightweight and rugged portable panel. This is a pleasure to use compared to lugging around a large and heavy traditional panel that lacks strength. It was another bonus to discover that there are direct USB plugins so even if you just have the panel and not the power center, you can keep a small device or two going when you are exploring the great outdoors. There is also the option of using the inputs to keep lights charged when out in the bush. The magnets in the case make it easy to close the panel and ensures that it doesn’t come open if it gets jarred when out on the trail.

This gives some perspective of how big the Jackery is. Leroy is a 60 lb dog. You can also see my medium sized backpack on the other side of the bench.

The solar panel in full sun can completely charge the Jackery in 7.2 hours. I would like to point out that it takes the same amount of time to charge it fully from a standard 110V power outlet in your home. 

So theoretically as long as you have this panel with you and the Jackery power station, you can keep it topped off during the day and ready to rock at night when the sun is down.

Good back up power to keep in the vehicle you use to get to work or travel

Those that have long commutes or live in areas where the weather can turn quickly may very well have given some thought to what they would do if they got stuck on the side of the road. The Jackery doesn’t take up much space, and you can keep it topped off when driving around via the included 12-volt plugin and your car’s outlet. This means you have some extra power no matter where you are.

The Jackery could be used for portable power when out and about in a utility vehicle or for keeping the battery charged. If your battery died and you were out, you may be able to charge it up enough to get home depending on charging conditions.

One of Leroy’s favorite places is in the Mule. Strangely enough, he hates riding in cars in the cab or leaving the farm. When at home though he loves to go!

Jackery also makes larger power centers for those that want something that offers more for a bug out camp or backup power at home.

This smaller power center and panel is light enough where I can just carry it anywhere on my place. This means for a day camping or overnight excursion, I might be able to feasibly bring this along. Yes, I know that disconnecting and getting by without modern means is invaluable but there are times when it might be good to have a little power. If it encourages you to get outside to work or exercise more, then that is positive even if you are still using technology. In the spring and summer, I often work on my writing out on the patio or I drag my word processor out to the woods and sit. It is a great cure for writer’s block. Yes, I meant word processor too. I enjoy using some old technology to increase productivity and eliminate distractions.

Barkley likes to sit on the highest points of our property with his sister and guard. You can see for miles up there on the fence line.

Just for reference, the steam and smoke to the left are about a 4-mile drive away. It may be a little closer as the crow flies. My husband spent a lot of time cutting an insane amount of junk trees and garbage away from the fence, and this is the resulting view at about 3000 ft elevation. We had some help burning and raking the brush last summer courtesy of Tagir Kabirov who recently did a guest post for Backdoor Survival, and his wife, Irina.

A photo took with a cell phone back in the summer from close to the same spot. I used to wonder what it would look like from here with this space cleared of junk.

Charging power tools

While a cordless drill doesn’t offer the power of a plugin, you can do a lot with them. Power tools that take lithium rechargeable battery packs are great for off-grid use if you can keep them charged.

During a SHTF situation or long term emergency being able to fix things on your own and even build things is a big advantage. Sometimes being the person with the right tool for the job is what actually gets you one. If you have tools and skills during a major situation, you can use them to get things that you need. Toolmakers like Dewalt actually sell a ton of different tools and devices that run on their 20-volt battery system.

The Jackery 160

This is the smallest power station that Jackery makes. If you have very minimal needs, then it is worth looking at. It retails for $199.99 but is available on Amazon for $169.99. The Jackery weighs an amazing 3.84 lbs and will keep some small things going for you.

It doesn’t take a lot of extra electricity to make a substantial difference in your situation. Communications, entertainment, and lighting are all very important and easier to have with just a small amount of USB charging capability and some forethought when it comes to loading SD cards or an e-reader. It is worth it to consider either the panel or the power supply separately because they are both solid and highly functional units but together they are a winning combination of lightweight versatility for when you want some added convenience wherever your wanderings may take you in life’s journey.

No replaceable battery that I know of

Some of you may have read my review of the Goal Zero Yeti 400. While it is a lead-acid battery based power center, it does have an easy to buy replaceable battery as a component. This means if the power center stops holding a charge that is sufficient to be useful, I can spend $100 and get a new one rather than buying a whole new power center. The Jackery does not appear to have the option of replacing the battery. At the same time, the cost is lower and it is lighter weight.

It appears that you can get inside the Jackery if you want to just use a screwdriver, but it is clear there is a seal that I would imagine if broken, means the end of your warranty. Of course, after two years it is done anyway so years down the road if it seems to have reached the end of its life it will be tempting to open it up regardless and see if a replacement battery can be managed. My husband brought this up when we were reviewing. He thought it was likely a series of lithium batteries similar to what is in my Kaito KA900 emergency radio. On further research, I discovered that he is right. The Jackery is powered by a series of 28 lithium ion BAK 2400mAh batteries. You can buy these many places online.

Jackery does not appear to sell these batteries. When comparing to the lithium battery power stations offered by Goal Zero, it should be said that they sell lithium power packs so you can easily refurbish your unit.

Battery charge cycles

To get an accurate picture of the lifespan of the Jackery versus the replaceable battery style of the Goal Zero Yeti, I had to compare how many charge cycles that each is rated to. This can give you a better idea of what you can expect. It appears the lithium batteries of Jackery products have a similar life span to Goal Zero lithium products

Jackery Explorer 240 Charge Cycles=≥500 cycles to 80%

Goal Zero Yeti 400 Lead Acid Version Charge Cycles= Goal Zero just says the lead acid version is good for hundreds of cycles with no specifics

Goal Zero Yeti 400 Lithium Version: ≥500 cycles to 80%

The handle is more comfortable and seems sturdier than on the Goal Zero. It is all a matter of preference when it comes to handles, but I like the feel of the Jakery handle. It is comfortable because it is rounded. The Goal Zero has a square bail style handle that just doesn’t feel as comfortable, especially when lifting a heavier lead acid style power center.

Note: I did not compare smaller Goal Zero power stations because there is no station in the 240 Wh range. You can get a Goal Zero Yeti 150 or a 400.

Jackery is a good choice for students or those that travel a lot for work

I remember a time back in college when I was working on my senior thesis. It was supposed to be the capstone of my entire four years of school. Well around the time I needed to be finishing up, Hurricane Ivan dumped 2 feet of rain on us and flooded the area around Warren Wilson College.

This resulted in power and water outages. It was pretty difficult to do anything. A small power center back then would have been wonderful. I was rescued by my future husband and taken to his parents where I stayed during the emergency and worked on my paper.

Me working on some writing while using the Jackery to power the floor lamp and a full-size desktop replacement style laptop with a 17-inch screen and an external mouse. All of the light in this picture is courtesy of the two 60 watt equivalent LED bulbs the Jackery is powering.  Since the Jackery has a single 110-volt outlet we used a powerstrip.

Conclusion:

The Jackery is an affordable energy solution for those that want some backup power that they can use with practically any device. The lightweight nature of the power center and panel means that the power centers are excellent choices for older people or those that have a hard time lifting heavy objects. I am nearly 36, and I would not want to carry the lead acid style Goal Zero up the mountain or out to our fishing spot but I would carry the 240 or 160-watt Jackery and 50-watt panel and not think much about it if I was just going out for a few days.

I think I will be using this lightweight power center often in the spring and summer. It is just so lightweight, and it offers just the right amount of power for smaller tasks which is all that is needed for those of us that just want to run a small laptop, keep a phone charged, listen to some music, or have some extra light at times.

 

At the moment we have the Goal Zero Yeti 400 positioned so that my father has some backup power in case of an outage at his house. He is not going to be carrying anything like that around so we can just set it up and leave it. If he needed something portable, then we would leave the Jackery.

Those that want portability should go with a lightweight power center. The major advantage of the Jackery is the weight and the variety of charging options it offers for the price paid.

Do you have small or mid-sized power centers for regular and emergency use? Do you plan on adding one to your preps in the future? What features do you like the most about the newer models of power centers and where do you think there is a need for improvement?

Samantha Biggers can be reached at [email protected].

 

  1. Hi Gaye, Nice review of the Jackery power centers. If someone doesn’t have anything for backup power or have a need for portable power this is a decent light weight options. I personally have a larger battery bank hooked up to 4oo watts of solar panels here at the home. I also reused my neighbors auto jump start that he was throwing out because it didn’t work. I took it apart and replaced the 18AH battery for $41.32 with a replacement battery and it works like new.

    Just so you know, I’m not an electrical engineer or rocket scientist. Getting back to the Jackery power stations. I went to their website and couldn’t access the site. I did find their item’s on Amazon thou. One thing I noticed was that it talks a lot about recharging cellphones, laptops and so on. I found that it states it’s not recommended for CPAP machines. Nowhere in the wording could I find if the inverter was Pure Sine Wave or if it was a Modified Sine Wave inverter. All sensitive electronics should be used with a pure sine wave power sources to prevent premature failure. The power that comes from the electric company is pure sine wave with the exceptions of possible spikes. That’s why they make surge protectors and power conditioners.

    With that said, I would still use these types of power sources to run non sensitive power devices such as cell phones, lights, radios and so on. But personally, I would use these devices to only recharge laptops to prevent premature failure to it’s components. If you need portable pure sine wave inverters to run electrical sensitive devices they are available. Just make sure you purchase what you need to prevent disappointment later on down the road.

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