Table of Contents
- What is a Portable Power Station and How Does It Work?
- How Much Power Can a Portable Generator Store?
- Portable Power Station Buying Guide
- The Top 5 Jackery Portable Power Stations
- Final Word
A Jackery portable power station will keep the lights on and your key appliances and devices running after an unexpected power outage. It is great for remote job sites, camping trips, and just about any situation where you have no access to an AC outlet.
Imagine losing power in the middle of the night. Forget that you have just been plunged into darkness. You have just restocked the fridge with lots of perishable food that will spoil if you don’t keep the fridge running. And not having your usual late-night cup of coffee could mess up your usual routine.
Somehow you just don’t feel good about wheeling out the gasoline generator in the middle of the night, with all that noise it makes. It’s a dilemma. But not unless you have a portable power station at hand.
So, if you are considering options for off-grid, backup, or emergency power supply, a Jackery portable power station is worth looking into. As you consider those options, it’s a sure bet you are going to run into the Jackery name a lot of times. The reason is simple — Jackery is the leading, most trusted portable power station brand.
We have a whole section that will review the Jackery power stations we think you should consider. Before then, it is proper that we discuss what portable power stations are, how they work, and what you should consider when buying one.
Let’s get straight into that!
What is a Portable Power Station and How Does It Work?
Portable power stations are rechargeable battery packs that store electrical current for later use. They are like the power bank you use to charge your smartphone when travelling, only this time bigger and capable of keeping your fridge and CPAP machine running, phones charged, and modem powered after a power outage.
Of course, a power station isn’t simply a large battery with terminals. It has a motherboard that runs the digital controls and the whole battery management system that manages the charging and conversion of DC to AC power. A fan also pulls cold air from outside and circulates it through the mesh of wiring and components to prevent overheating.
Though it will not give you as much power as a gasoline generator, a fully charged portable power station guarantees you power wherever you are, whatever time it is. Because they only store energy and don’t generate it, these oversized battery packs run quietly and don’t produce any emissions.
For the above reasons, portable power stations are safe to use indoors, which makes them a great fit for small apartments where you would not be able to operate a gasoline generator. You can just have it sitting there in your sitting room, ready to go when a power emergency hits.
The most common way to charge a power station is by plugging into an AC wall outlet at home. Some models come with or are ready for a solar panel that you can use to top up. The more expensive ones are gasoline-powered.
Once fully charged, your Jackery power station can charge and power multiple devices and appliances simultaneously. Most have AC outlets, a DC charger, and USB ports, which means you can power all your critical devices and appliances from one central power supply. If you live a nomad lifestyle, a solar-powered power station of the right size can run your whole RV.
While power stations from back in the day were cumbersome and could only give you the energy to run a few small appliances for a short time, modern ones use more efficient tech and lithium-ion batteries that are smaller, lighter, and store a lot more energy.
With no motor since they don’t generate the power themselves, power stations can run pretty much maintenance-free. They also hardly ever break down, which saves you from repair costs. As long as you remember to keep the power station charged, it is ready when you need it. You don’t have to worry about late-night drives to the gas station.
How Much Power Can a Portable Generator Store?
Jackery portable power stations can supply power outputs of between 160 to 2,000 watts. That gives you enough power to charge small electronics like phones and laptops and such power guzzlers like space heaters.
To gauge a power station’s ability to meet your power needs, you have to review it in terms of its battery capacity, which is measured in watts per hour. For example, a power station that is rated at 600 Wh can run one 600-watt device for one hour, three 200-watt devices for the same one hour, or one 200-watt appliance for three hours.
Portable Power Station Buying Guide
When buying any electrical device or appliance that costs a considerable amount of money, it is important to consider your options against your needs to ensure you get the best value. This applies to portable power stations too. First, you need to know what types of portable power stations are available.
Types of Portable Power Stations
There are three types of portable power stations, with not much separating them except for how they are charged. Most people will be familiar with electric portable power stations that you charge by simply plugging into your AC outlet at home. This is the standard, common type that can also be charged using a suitable car adapter.
The standard type suits people who will mostly use their power station for backup power at home. If you camp out a lot or you often spend extended periods working away from the power grid, a solar-powered power station will be a game-changer for you.
Solar power stations can be charged or topped off by connecting a solar panel. Jackery sells its own line of solar panels, by the way. Detachable, the solar panel may come with the power station, otherwise, you have to buy it separately.
Solar-powered power stations come with an AC inlet and a car charging outlet, with the solar panel being an extra charging option. But with the ever-advancing battery technology, we are seeing more portable power stations that can run exclusively on solar and which allow you to live and work completely off-grid.
A third type is gas-powered power stations — another hybrid emergency power solution that uses a gasoline-powered motor to recharge the battery. Though the noise will make you question whether buying a gasoline generator is more prudent, these power stations offer great convenience for off-grid excursions.
Solar and gas-powered portable power stations give you the benefit of extending runtime and the reassurance that you will always have a way to charge your devices even when the battery runs out or is somehow unable to hold a charge. Even at home, that extra option makes you feel a little bit better knowing there is a way of charging the power station in the event of an extended power outage.
The beauty of solar charging in particular is you can operate your small remote office rig and charge your phones and GoPro while the power station is charging. In effect, you can end up with a net power gain after your workday. For campers, that leaves you with enough energy in the power station to brew a cup of coffee and watch a movie or two before you turn in for the night.
What to Look For In a Portable Power Station?
Whatever type of portable power station you choose, there are specific features and qualities you must look for to get one that fully meets your portable power supply needs. We have already touched on power output, so let’s take a minute or two to talk about the other factors you must consider:
For something that you may have to lug around, your power station has to be portable. Portability means it is lightweight and small in terms of bulk. If not, all that heavy lifting will give you a back problem.
The smaller capacity power stations are quite portable, with weights as low as 6 lbs. On the other hand, more powerful models, like the Jackery 2000, can exceed 40 lbs in weight, which is stretching the limit of what can be termed portable. To make them easier to lug around, Jackery power stations use an ergonomic handle design that has become one of their standout features.
A portable power station gives you the flexibility to use both indoors and outdoors. For campers, this means you can use the power station right inside your truck or camper and in the tent. You simply place it some place safe and connect whatever devices and appliances you need to use.
If your portable power station is mostly going to be consigned to your apartment, you can get away with choosing a model with less rugged build quality. But if you are the kind that likes to go camping and regularly works off-grid, you will need a power station that can take a beating.
The power station’s external features like the plastic covering and handles have to be made from strong materials that will not break easily because you are likely going to be lifting and pushing it about quite a lot. The plastic covering should also have some kind of UV protection.
The available number of power outlets determines how many appliances and devices you can connect to the power station at the same time. For example, you may want to watch some TV while your modem is connected and both the laptop and smartphone are charging.
For the above setup to be possible, your power station must have at least two AC outlets, one DC charger, and at leat two USD ports. The more powerful models will have more than one AC outlet and a USB-C port on top of the regular one. A car power socket will also be convenient.
To get the right power station for your needs, consider what appliances and devices you may have to connect simultaneously and find one that offers you that many outlets. Also important, choose a model that charges from a wall socket instead of one that charges via USB only as those tend to charge very slowly.
To protect your sensitive electronics when charging, opt for a power station that has a pure sine wave AC inverter that produces cleaner, stable power. A solar charging option is a great plus, but even better is a power station with an MPPT controller built-in. The controller enables faster solar charging, which is handy for when you go full off-grid for an extended time.
Portable power stations require little, if any, maintenance and rarely need any repairs. While that’s reassuring, you will still feel better knowing that should the power station ever fail you will be covered by warranty.
A one-year warranty is the bare minimum for power stations. Jackery power stations, which are among the most reliable and are guaranteed to give you a good few years of unfailing service, come with a warranty of 24 months. The battery will start to degrade at some point and will eventually be unable to hold a charge, but you will want to be protected if that ever happens too soon.
Gasoline generators are notorious for their noise. You won’t have to worry about with power stations. The absence of a motor means power stations operate quietly, don’t generate any fumes, and are therefore suitable for indoor use.
You will hear the fan turn when you connect an appliance that uses power a fair amount of power. But for the small appliances that sip energy, the power station runs quietly and shouldn’t be any distraction.
When you summarize the above factors and compare them against the price you should have a good idea of the level of value the models you are considering offer. As a general guide, prices for portable power stations start at around $130 for the small, basic models.
Around $500, you can get a good solar-powered model with enough capacity and outlets to run a few appliances while charging your laptop and phone. Features and available input and output options improve as you go up the price scale.
How to Use a Portable Power Station Safely
As we have discussed earlier, power stations are mere battery packs with outlets that you plug into the wall outlet to charge. They don’t have any exposed moving parts or motors that could cause physical injury or pollute the air you breathe with carbon monoxide.
Even with their relative safety, power stations still store electrical current, which is never without danger. The power station itself needs mechanisms to protect it from damage caused by overload and improper operation.
Jackery power stations have a button that activates the output outlets, meaning your connected devices will not power up unless you press that switch. That’s a practical design choice because those outlets use energy that will drain the battery even when nothing is connected.
Charging is a matter of connecting the charger, with no need to turn on any switch. An overload protection mechanism disengages charging mode if the current coming in exceeds safe charging levels. Jackery power stations are also designed to automatically shut off if you connect anything that operates at anything above the power station’s maximum capacity.
In the event that the power station fails or breaks down, avoid opening the unit yourself? This is potentially dangerous and will most likely void the manufacturer’s warranty. Take the unit to an authorized repair center.
The Top 5 Jackery Portable Power Stations
Ready to shop for a portable power station? The Jackery Explorer series has some great options. Here are our top picks that we believe will make excellent choices depending on your needs!
At less than 4 pounds, the Jackery Explorer 160 is portable enough to throw in your backpack and have power at the ready as you hike. The build quality is tough enough for the outdoors while the compact design and orange and black color scheme is cool and fashionable enough for city sleekers.
So how much power does the Jackery 160 store at its maximum capacity? Well, not nearly enough to be a viable power backup for your main fridge at home. So you will need another plan for that. But that’s not what the power station is designed for anyway, as the available outlets show.
For a power station with only enough power to charge your essential devices and small electronics, the one AC outlet is adequate. Instead of more AC outlets you get one USB-C port, two USB-A ports, and one standard DC 12V port. The display has a battery level indicator and shows the input and out wattage. We also love the option to light up the display if it’s dark, which saves power when it’s not too dark to read the display.
Given how compact the Jackery 160 is and the design and positioning of the handle, it is appropriate that they added a flashlight. They even added an SOS mode for the flashlight, which is convenient for camping and disaster emergency purposes.
By the way, the Jackery 160 is ready for solar charging, so it should never completely drain out whether or not you are off-grid. For faster charging, though, the wall socket works best. In a pinch or driving somewhere far, the car charger works great.
A wildly popular choice for buyers on Amazon where it has sold over 8,500 units, the Jackery Explorer 240 is well adapted for both home and outdoor use. It works just as well for camping, with enough power for a 12V fridge. During a hurricane power emergency, it will keep your key electronics and devices charged and the lights on until power is restored.
If grid power is out for extended periods or you are camping or overlanding for a stretch of time, you can connect a Jackery SolarSaga solar panel and top off the battery. The built-in MPPT controller also makes solar charging snappy and efficient. If both AC and solar charging are not possible, there is the option of car charging.
We wish there was more than one AC outlet, but the 1 USB-A and the 12V car charging port expand your options. All in all, you can charge four devices simultaneously. In terms of build quality, the Jackery 240 has a body that is robust and casing that’s as tough as you can expect plastic to be while remaining remarkably light.
Starting January 2021 the Jackery Explorer 300 is now available with a USB charging inlet. Even better, the unit can be charged using a 90W wall charger and 60W USB-C PD charger simultaneously. Besides the added convenience, this also improves charging speed, with a full charge now achievable in just 2.5 hours.
Remember too that the Jackery 300 can be solar-charged. Thanks to the professional MPPT technology, the battery can fully charge in as little as 5,5 hours when using solar power.
When you combine the charging options with Jackery Explorer 300’s ergonomic handle and lightweight design, and robust build, what you get is a stylishly reliable and eco-friendly portable power supply.
The Jackery Explorer 500 spots the same look and has a build quality just as impressive as the more powerful Jakery 1000. With a capacity of 518Wh, The Wirecutter has said this portable power station has the highest capacity per dollar among all the power stations they tested.
If you are an avid camper and outdoorsman, the Jackery Explorer 500 is as green as you go in terms of energy. As solar charging rates differ with weather conditions, the power station doesn’t charge as fast as the AC inlet. But thanks to Professional MPPT technology, the power station can be fully charged in as little as 9.5 hours in full sun.
So as long as your total power needs do not exceed its rated capacity, you can be confident your camping trip should be fairly comfortable. As small as a basketball, we also love that the design is so portable and that besides solar and AC the power station can be charged using your car’s 12V output port and electric generator. It is a versatile power station that’s great for camping, over-landing, and as is perfect for a mobile office setup. An Amazon Choice, the Jackery 500 is immensely popular with buyers.
The Wirecutter, CNet, ZDNet, and a whole host of leading websites all rate the Jackery Explorer 1000 as one of the top portable power stations. Some of them reckon it is the best. It also says a lot about its quality that the power station has a near-perfect average star rating of 4.9 stars out of almost 2,900 ratings at present.
If you are going to be stuck in the middle of nowhere , you will want to have a Jackery Explorer 1000 in your gear. Because it can be car or solar-charged and has enough capacity to power your automatic coffee maker, small space heater, CPAP machine, a small fridge, and all your personal devices, this power station can enhance your life. More than that, for outdoor explorers and overlanders, it can save your life.
Sufficiently portable for its capacity, the Jackery 1000 is lighter than the Goal Zero 1000. We love that it has a USB-C outlet as that means you can use that to charge your iPad and save your AC outlets for your appliances. In total, two USB-C, three PURE SINE WAVE AC, two standard USB, and one DC carport outlets. Whether you are off-grid or grid power is down, the Jackery Explorer 1000 is more than capable.
Absolutely. Jackery portable power stations, for example, don’t just store energy. By connecting a solar panel, they can generate power as well, which extends runtime and makes it a sustainable and convenient power solution for off-grid use.
Depending on load, a portable power station can last between a few hours to a few days. The good news is portable power stations are available in different capacities. Leading brand Jackery has options ranging from the modest- size Jackery 160 to the powerful Jackery 2000. So there is a portable power station for every need.
As long as you don’t mess with the internal electrical wiring and battery cells, portable power stations are very safe. Because they barely make any noise and don’t produce any fumes, power stations are also safe to use indoors, which you can’t say about gasoline generators.
Scientifically, you can charge your portable power station while using it. But while that sounds convenient you want to avoid it as it can reduce the battery’s lifespan. However, with models that have a pass-through charging feature, you can charge your power station while connecting an output device.
It is perfectly safe to leave your power station plugged into the wall socket, but you should make sure the battery discharges once every few months to keep it in the best shape. By leaving it plugged in, you can make sure the power station remains fully charged for whenever a power emergency may hit.
Jackery power stations are wildly popular for their competitive pricing, reliability, and convenient charging options. Built tough, they will give you years of service, whether you are an avid camper or you just want to be fully prepared for hurricane season. Rather than recommend a specific model, our advice is to pick one that meets your portable power needs.