Over the year we’ve built a few adventure rigs for ourselves and one of the most daunting parts has always been setting up the electrical system. And I know we’re not alone – we constantly get messages from people looking for some help in setting up their systems as well.
Luckily, there’s a simple solution – The Jackery Explorer 1000.
The Jackery Explorer 1000 is a portable power station that’s perfectly built for outdoor adventures: a large battery, a variety of AC and DC power ports, and a solar generator all in a compact and lightweight package that’s easy to take along on any trip.
We tested the Jackery Explorer 1000 solar generator over the past few weeks and found that it’s the perfect solution for weekend warriors who need to easily convert a commuter car to an adventure mobile and quickly get on to enjoying the outdoors.
Jackery Explorer 1000 Key Product Specs
- 1002 watt-hour battery
- 1000-watt power inverter
- (5) 12V DC outlets and (3) 110V AC outlets
- MPPT Solar charge controller
- 22 lbs weight
- $1,000 price
It’s Easy To Use
The Jackery Explorer 1000 powered just about everything we threw at it, from a mini-fridge for the car to air pumps for air mattresses and inflatable paddleboards.
One of our favorite parts about the Jackery Explorer 1000 is that it includes at least one plug of each type: A typical 12V car plug, two regular USB and two USB-C plugins, and three 110V AC outlets.
As a test, we plugged things into every single outlet at once to see if it would struggle with the charge and it didn’t skip a beat. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as the inverter is rated for 1000 watts continuous which is way more than we would ever need to plug into it while being on the road.
Things like cameras, drones, phones, and laptops had no problem charging off the Explorer 1000 on either the DC or AC plugs.
After deflating our tires to go through some off-roading trails a little more comfortably, we tried to air the tires back up by plugging a small tire inflator into the Explorer 1000’s 12V carport and nothing happened. After inspecting the tire inflator and realizing it required 15 amps DC to run, we plugged the tire inflator into the 110V AC side and it worked perfectly fine.
A nice feature of the Jackery’s front panel is the ability to selectively turn off the power to some plugs without having to disconnect everything. The AC and DC plugs can each be turned on and off by pressing the buttons above the plugs. When pressed on, a small green button indicates that this section is ready for use.
The LCD screen on the front panel is easy to read and includes everything we need to know like the battery charge, how much power is being put in while charging, and how much power is being drawn. A button next to the screen turns on the bright backlight so we could easily see the battery charge at night.
How Long Does It Last?
At 1002 watt-hours, the battery inside the Jackery Explorer 1000 had no problem keeping up with our electronics between charges. It easily kept our 12V fridge powered through the nights, only dropping about 25% of its battery level overnight.
Powering small things like phones and LED lights for the campground makes a tiny dent on a battery this big. For reference, iPhones have batteries with about 10 watt-hours and our Sony A7 camera battery is about 7 watt-hours, so we could charge over 100 of those batteries on a fully-charged Jackery 1000.
The Jackery Explorer 1000 uses a modern lithium-ion battery which is a huge upgrade from traditional lead-acid batteries that are typically used in RV’s, campers, and van conversions. The lithium-ion battery inside the Jackery 1000 can safely be discharged from 100% to 20% thousands of times which would typically render a traditional lead-acid battery useless after just a few hundred uses.
The Jackery 1000 is also small and ultra-light compared to other options. With 1002 Wh of lithium battery, it is comparable to a 125 Ah deep-cycle lead-acid battery that would weigh 75 lbs on its own plus another 10-15 lbs for a power inverter and a solar charger that’s included inside the Explorer 1000.
Charging The Jackery 1000
The Jackery Explorer 1000 power station can be charged with either the 12V car plug or the 120V AC wall plug, both of which are included in the box. We like to charge it with the 120V AC wall plug at home before a trip, then plug it into the 12V car plug when driving so it stays fully charged.
We also have two Jackery SolarSaga 100 watt solar panels which we use while staying at campgrounds.
This setup is pretty useful when parked stationary for a couple of days at a campsite because the 200 watts of solar are more than capable of recharging the Jackery portable power station throughout the day without having to worry about running out of battery or having to charge it from the car.
One of the cool things about the Jackery Explorer 1000 is that it has a built-in MPPT solar charge controller instead of the cheaper PWM solar charge controllers that the competition like Goal Zero use.
MPPT controllers can use all 100% of the wattage that the solar panels put out, whereas the PWM controllers can only use about 70% of the solar panel output. On sunny days, the two solar panels charges our Explorer 1000 in about 4-5 hours.
Installation of the SolarSaga panels is super easy, no additional adapters of any kind are needed. It’s just plug-and-go. The Jackery Explorer 1000 includes an adapter in the box to plug in two of these panels.
The panels also fold flat and have a built-in pouch to store the attached wire. They have a nice magnet that holds them closed and they seem to be pretty sturdy so storing them in the car was easy without worrying about breaking them during the drive.
Things To Keep In Mind
The Jackery Explorer 1000 is nicely built and feels sturdy yet light so it’s easy to throw in the back of our car and bring along anywhere. We do wish that the top handle wasn’t so big because it’s just wasted space. A handle that folds flush would be nice.
We also wish it included a couple of other outputs, like a DC Power Pole output so it can be used as a permanent power station in camper van builds or a 60-90 watt USB-C output that most modern laptops use to charge.
On top of that keep in mind that the SolarSaga solar panels are not waterproof. Ideally it would be nice to be able to leave the solar panels outside or on top of the car and charge the Explorer 1000 all day without having to worry whether it’s going to rain or not.
Jackery Explorer 1000 vs Goal Zero Yeti 1000
Choosing the best portable power station depends on what you want to use it for because both the Jackery Explorer 1000 and the Goal Zero Yeti 1000 are great products but designed for a different audience.
For portability and bang for your buck, the Jackery Explorer 1000 is a winner.
It’s super lightweight, really small, easy to carry, has a better solar charge controller, and is about $200 less than a comparable Goal Zero. If you’re looking for something to easily throw in the car for a week-long trip, it’s a great choice!
For permanent, built-in setups, the Goal Zero Yeti 1000 has a few features that might make it a better choice as long as you’re willing to spend the extra bucks. The squared shape is easy to build into a cabinet, it has a few more DC outputs to plug in the permanent wiring, and has a compartment at the top that hides wires and has plugs to expand the system.
Both include very similar batteries 1002Wh for the Jackery vs 1045Wh for the Goal Zero. The Yeti 1000 has a 1500W inverter which is bigger than Jackery’s 1000W inverter, but we don’t use hot plates or hair dryers on the road so the larger inverter is not really useful for us.
The solar charge controller is a big difference between the two.
Jackery uses an MPPT solar charge controller in the Explorer 1000 while Goal Zero uses a PWM controller in the Yeti 1000.
Since we like to charge off the solar panels while we’re camping, having the MPPT means we can recharge the battery way quicker with the Jackery which is great when we’re in places surrounded by trees where we only get a few hours of direct sunlight. Yea, an MPPT controller could be added to the Yeti 1000 but that’s an extra $100 on a package that already costs $200 more, to begin with.
Goal Zero does shine in one area, and that’s in the expandability of the system. Looking through the Goal Zero website shows dozens of add-ons and expansion packs that can easily be plugged into the Yeti 1000, from seven different types of solar panels to AC fast chargers and extra AGM batteries. If I were looking for a battery system to build a camper van around, a Goal Zero Yeti 1000 with an MPPT solar charge controller, two boulder 100 panels, a car charging kit, and an extra AGM battery would be a great start… if I wanted to spend over $2600.
If money is no object and you’re looking for future expandability, the Goal Zero system is the way to go.
For the rest of us just want something that works (and works really well) and is easy to bring along any trip at a modest price, the Jackery Explorer 1000 is the way to go.
Interested in how I capture photos on my trips? Here is my suggested camera gear that I use to create my images:
- Main camera: Sony a7II Camera With 28-70 mm Standard Lens
- Polarizer Filter for the standard lens (helps eliminate reflection and enhance color especially on super bright days): Amazon Basics 55 mm
- Wide Lens (great for nature shots): Sony 16-35 mm F4
- Polarizer Filter for the wide lens: Amazon Basics 72 mm
- Small Tripod (to stabilize photos and eliminate blur): JOBY Gorrilapod
- Memory Cards: SanDisk 32 GB
- Batteries: Sony Camera Charger Set
- Camera Bag: Lowepro weather-resistant bag
Some of the links used in this blog may be affiliate links, which means that if you place an order through one of those links, we may get a small percentage of the order amount at no extra cost to you. The Jackery Explorer 1000 product for this post was graciously provided by Jackery but the review and all opinions expressed are entirely our own. Thank you for reading and supporting our blog! Please see the full disclosure here.