Jackery Explorer 1500 Portable Power Station Review: The Solar Generator For You?
(Camp Addict does NOT accept payment from any company to review or endorse their products.)
By Kelly Beasley
Welcome to the wonderful world of portable power stations (also known as an RV solar generator)!
Here are our findings from putting one to the test. Specifically, we tested the Jackery Explorer 1500 portable power station.
A power station is (in simple terms) a big battery used for powering and charging electronic devices.
Depending on how large it is, a portable power supply lets you run many different types of electronics and re-charge devices.
The Jackery portable power station is great for camping and other outdoor recreation activities.
In the RV world, this rings especially true for underpowered or un-powered recreational vehicles and vans.
It is also super handy for fishing trips, car camping, road trips, tent camping, home use, and more.
Let's dive in.
Full Disclosure: Jackery sent us an Explorer 1500 to test and evaluate. As with all products we agree to test, we are under no obligation to write a glowing review for a product just because it was given to us. If we like a product and think it's a good fit for our audience, we will discuss it on Camp Addict. If we don't like the product, you will never hear about it from us.
Benefits of A Jackery Portable Power Station
Many off-grid RV users use onboard batteries with solar power or generators for their electrical needs. But sometimes there are drawbacks to using those over using a portable power solution.
If your RV doesn't have a way to produce 110-volt power while off-grid (an inverter hardwired into your rig's electrical system), you are often looking at having to use a portable gas generator.
Or you may have a recreational vehicle that is setup to go off-grid with a complete solar system, but it may not have a built-in inverter (as was the case with both of our travel trailers and now with our vans).
Benefits Over Using A Portable Gas Generator:
Benefits Over Portable Or Installed Solar:
No, we aren't saying that a Jackery portable power station is going to power your entire 35-foot giant RV. Not at all, it's not made for that and doesn't work that way.
But it's still good for supplemental and portable power in ANY RVing situation.
For total power needs, it's suitable for smaller and simpler setups such as very small trailers, cars, and vans.
Even so, with a fully set-up fifth wheel or Class A motorhome, there are good uses for a portable power station like the Jackery.
First, Do You Need A Portable Power Station?
If you never EVER dry camp, you probably don't need a power station.
But, if any of the below applies to you, you could possibly benefit from one:
Any of those you? Then let's review the Jackery!
Jackery 1500 Solar Generator Review
Overall, I really like the Jackery. It is a high-quality product that is useful for more than just camping.
With it you have power anywhere you want it. Be it outside at home or a picnic, in your car, in your RV, or while tent camping.
You can run a few things while dry camping that you (maybe) ordinarily cannot if you have a limited setup.
My Setup (For Your Comparison)
I live alone in my camper van.
I have 2 lithium batteries (approximately 200 useable amp-hours) and 400 watts of solar on my roof. It's overkill for my power usage.
My average daily electricity usage looks like this:
Though I bought a Watt-hour meter (Kill-a-watt) early on, I NEVER added up how many Watt-hours I used in a day.
I just have zero interest (eew, math!), so I just made sure I had more than enough juice for my simple needs.
However, I started RVing in May of 2015 (pictured above is me just before hitting the road) with just a generator and 2 AGM batteries, which was NOT convenient.
About a year and a half in, I graduated to two portable panels, so I had 200 watts (better, but still not enough for when I had a couple of cloudy days).
After years of that, I got tired of packing and unpacking them with every move and so I upgraded to 600 watts of rooftop solar.
Then, I added the 2 lithium batteries which, as a full-time RVer, was life-changing.
Great as that was, I was still missing a whole-house inverter. I have a small 450-watt plug-in inverter that I used whenever I need a 110-volt power supply, but it was severely limited as far as what I could use it for.
When I purchased my camper van at the end of 2022, I learned from my past experience with my trailer and installed 400 watts of solar on the roof and 2 lithium batteries to replace the AGM batteries it came with.
I still don't have a whole-house inverter so having a portable power solution that lets me use 110-volt power when I need it is still important.
My Solar Setup Beef (Lacking A Whole House Inverter)
There are things I could not use with my tiny plug-in inverter, never mind my robust (for me) solar array. Namely, my hair dryer and flat iron (not super important, but annoying that I couldn't use it at all).
Also, I could not use an Instant Pot nor anything else that commanded a high wattage draw. On top of THAT, I only had 2 110-volt plugs from the inverter, so I was limited in what I could use at one time (not to mention the overall load I could have on this power source).
That said, I did have 2 portable generators when I had my trailer. Isn't that adequate? Yes, BUT...
They were, stinky, messy, HEAVY, required gas, maintenance, and were simply a pain to get in and out of my 4Runner again and again (couldn't leave them out all the time when boondocking, which I did full-time, because if I left camp I might come back to 0 generators).
Therefore, I don't pull one out and connect it just for one little need, such as using my hair tools. Instead, I learned to live without (until now!).
Now with my camper van, I don't have the space (or desire) to haul around a generator, so this is no longer an option for me.
The Jackery 1500 weighs only 35.2 pounds. Only the larger Explorer 2000 weighs more, coming in at 43.2 pounds.
All of their other models weigh less.
The 1500 is WAY easier for me to maneuver compared to my 2000 watt generators. Those each weigh about 54 pounds when loaded with gas and oil.
The lightness is a huge benefit. The Jackery 1500 is likely manageable for most anyone to move around.
Ease Of Use
Is the Jackery easy to use and understand out-of-the-box? Yep.
The face of the Jackery 1500 power station has familiar outlets. It has 110-volt AC outlets (like in your home), USB DC ports, and a 12-volt cigarette-style outlet.
It also has input ports for charging your unit. (The Jackery Explorer 1500 has 2 input ports, whereas other models will have more or less.)
So, since you are already familiar with the outlets that come with the unit, it's as simple as plug your devices into a charged Jackery, turn on the power to the type of output you want to use (each type is separately switched on/off so that you are only powering the outlets you need) and start charging your stuff.
There are no hoops to jump through. Nice.
Jackery Portable Power Station Affordability
A Jackery power power solution isn't the cheapest option out there. You are paying a bit for the name and the sexy styling that comes along with it.
Keep in mind that the base price only includes the power station itself. You may also want solar panels to handle charging while off grid.
This substantially increases the cost.
Jackery offers 7 different models/sizes online ranging from $139.99 to $2,099.00. The Explorer 1500 is priced at $1,699.00 and is the second most expensive option (as of February 2023).
If you want solar panels for charging, the price jumps significantly. The four 100-watt solar panels we tested cost $300 each.
MAJOR OUCH. But these types of portable solar options tend to be extremely pricey.
Jackery also offer a 60-watt panel and a 200-watt panel.
That said, you may not NEED the solar panels if you have access to 110-volt outlets or if you can charge it with your vehicle.
Or, you may already have some panels that you can use.
Keep in mind Jackery uses a non-standard round electrical input for solar charging, so you'll have to figure out how to use third party panels with this input connector.
Charging Your Jackery Explorer 1500
There are three ways to charge the Jackery:
Obviously, having access to AC outlets means you are camping near civilization.
You might have access to a friend's house where they let you charge your Jackery from a wall outlet.
And as we all know, most vehicles come with a DC power port (cigarette lighter port) so there's another way to charge.
The Jackery comes with a charging cord for this type of charging, as well as a charge cord for 110-volt outlet charging.
If you order solar panels, they come with the proper charge cord.
The fastest way to charge a Jackery power station is via a 110-volt AC outlet. Solar panels are the second fastest option, with 12-volt car charging the slowest.
Here is a comparison of the different charging methods for the Jackery 1500, including maximum charge input:
Please note that the Jackery solar panels use a type of round power connector that isn't commonly found with third-party panels, so if you want to use another brand (potentially cheaper) panel, you will have to figure out how to connect it to the Jackery power supply.
More On Affordability
All in all, the Jackery 1500 is pricey. ESPECIALLY when you consider the cost of the solar panels (And of course, there are cheaper models than the 1500). Shop all Jackery models.
Is it worth it? It depends on your situation and needs. Ultimately, as with any portable power solution, you are paying for convenience.
Any of their units will likely be cheaper than hiring someone to install full solar with an inverter and batteries into your RV or van.
But if you're familiar with electricity and installing solar CORRECTLY, and, say you want to full-time, a full solar install may better take care of all of your power needs.
But if you just have a small setup, say a van, and only need to charge and power a few things, the Jackery is easier and more affordable than going the solar install route.
You do get great quality for the price.
Jackery Explorer 1500 Portable Power Station Build
The unit and the accessories are impressive. There are no parts that feel flimsy, cheap, or inadequate.
It boasts a hefty weight for its size (though very manageable), the display is bright and clear, and the handle makes it comfortable to carry. The overall design is well executed and is one of the better looking portable power solutions (if style is important to you).
The solar panels are also very well made. They fold and open easily with a magnetic locking mechanism when they close.
The zipper on the back looks to be of the waterproof kind, holding the wires that you use to connect to the portable power station.
The 'legs' of the solar panels are my only concern. They are material-covered, mmm, what feels like some kind of cardboard as the leg. It's likely not cardboard, but the leg is a little flimsy.
Only long-term testing (years) can prove if the legs will hold up over the test of time.
The zipper on the case that holds the charging cords also has a high-quality zipper and materials that are rated as IP65 which are considered 'water resistant plus'.
So far, I've found nothing lacking in the build quality department.
The only concern is using the solar panels in a breezy environment. They will be prone to being blown over as they are light and don't have an easy way to secure then in windy conditions.
Jackery Solar Panels
Jackery VS Gas Portable Generators
If you ever used a gas portable generator, you know they're a pain. Especially for women.
Women typically just aren't as strong as most men, unless they're a power lifter in the gym (of course there are exceptions to the rule... I can hear the comments now. Please try to refrain, LOL).
So, lugging around a generator, at least for ME, is no fun. It's also no fun for anyone who has arthritis, back problems, etc.
Starting one requires a decent amount of strength and zero back problems.
The weight of the Jackery was a pleasant surprise. We received the Explorer 1500 to review, and it's an ample but manageable 35.2 pounds.
It's small enough (and safe) to store INSIDE your RV, and you can easily carry it around when needed.
The smallest gas generators weigh around 50 pounds.
50 pounds is a lot (and is awkward) to carry. But I can EASILY move (and store) the Jackery as opposed to the bulky 2000 watt generators I used when I had my travel trailer.
The Jackery doesn't require ongoing maintenance. Nor does it require oil and gas.
It can also be kept inside your RV. It's very quiet. It's light. These things are VERY appealing compared to a gas generator.
Jackery 1500 Specification:
- Battery capacity: 1534Wh (25.2V 60.9Ah)
- Battery type: Lithium-ion
- Battery life: 500 cycles to 80%+ capacity
- Dimensions: 14" Long x 10.4" Wide x 12.7" Deep
- Weight: 35.2 pounds
- Warranty: 2 years
- Built-in MPPT solar charge controller
- AC output (3 outlets): 110VAC, 60Hz, 1800W Continuous (3600W Peak)
- USB output: 1 USB-C PD60W, 1 USB-A 5V, 2.4A, 1 USB-A Quickcharge 3.0A
- 12-volt outlet (cigarette-style): 10 amp
- LED flashlight at one end of the case
- Operating temperature: 14-104 ºF
- Charging temperature: 32-104 ºF
- Battery management system with under/over voltage protection, short circuit protection, over temperature protection
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the Jackery as a product, and it is something that makes my life a little better/easier.
I imagine it best for those newbie vanlifers who don't want to deal with the cost of a solar/battery install or don't have the time to learn it all and try to implement one for themselves.
The Jackery is quite capable of fulfilling van life needs, depending on amp-hour (overall power) usage.
All in all, it's like a little miracle to have a 'generator' that isn't loud, heavy, can be inside the RV, and doesn't require maintenance.
It's a tiny miraculous power pack if you ask me! If you can afford the one you need, I highly recommend getting a lithium power station.
Just keep in mind that there may be a better RV solar power generator option for you.
Shop All Jackery Power Stations
Author: Kelly Beasley
As a seasoned and passionate RVing expert, I have dedicated myself to living the full-time RV life for over 5.5 years, immersing myself in the unique quirks and joys of the boondocking lifestyle and gaining a wealth of knowledge and experience along the way. In December 2020, my business partner and I made the transition to part-time RVing, but in January 2023, we hit the road once again, this time in our trusty vans. My mission is to help others embrace the RVing lifestyle with confidence and excitement, armed with the knowledge and resources needed to make the most of their adventures. I believe that the more you know, the more you can truly appreciate and enjoy the freedom and flexibility of the open road. Join me on this journey and let's make some unforgettable memories.