Jackery 500 Review: Stay Charged Anywhere

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The Jackery Explorer 500 is a lightweight portable power station for camping and van life, coming in at just 13 pounds.

You get 500 watts with 1,000 watts surge with the Jackery 500 solar generator, which offers a pure sine wave AC port. This is enough to charge your small electronics and laptop computer multiple times. It can also keep a portable fridge cold and a CPAP running for hours.

Jackery sent me their Jackery 500 Explorer to test out for this piece, and all opinions and experiences expressed here are my own.

So far, I’ve been impressed with the Jackery Explorer 500. I’ve used to charge my laptop and even run a Nutribullet blender.

In this Jackery Explorer 500 review, I’m going to tell you all about this portable power station and why you might (or might not) want one.

First, here’s a quick look at the Jackery Explorer 500.

Jackery Explorer 500

Our Top Pick
9.5/10 Our Score
  • Watts: 500 Rated Power, 1000 Surge
  • Battery: Lithium
  • Weight: 13.3 pounds
  • Output Ports: Three USB, one 110-V, one 12-V
  • Charging: AC, DC, Solar

Jackery Explorer 500: What does it charge?

The Jackery 500 portable power station is a workhorse of a solar generator. With 500 amps of power, it can charge quite a lot when you’re out in your campervan far from a power supply.

Here’s some of what you can expect to charge with the Jackery portable power station:

Jackery 500 Explorer portable power station and big camping grill
  • Computers (7 times)
  • Smartphones (34 times)
  • Cameras (60 times)
  • Mini fridge (8 hours)
  • Drones (6 times)
  • USB fan (40 hours)
  • Small power tools
  • Cpap (13+ hours)
  • Television (7.5 hours)

For this Jackery Explorer 500 review, I wanted to test the device’s charging capabilities for myself.

On a trip to Sequoia National Park, I hauled my ARB 37-quart portable fridge out of my van and set it on the ground. Then I plugged it into the Jackery Explorer 500.

Jackery 500 Explorer Portable Power Station connected to an ARB portable fridge
The Jackery portable power station did a great job charging my ARB 37-quart fridge.

My fridge pulls about 5 amps on a cooling cycle and started right up when connected to the Jackery Explorer 500. The unit only dropped a few percentage points in battery power to cool my fridge down to 31 degrees.

After that, my fridge sucked power for about 10 minutes per hour to maintain its temperature. The Jackery worked wonderfully keeping my fridge nice and cold in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

I’ve also tested the Jackery 500 on my sailboat, where I used it to charge my laptop, camera, smartphone and run a Nutribullet blender. It seems to hold its charge well, but we did notice it takes a long time to charge back up via solar.

The Jackery Explorer 500 comes with one AC outlet, one DC outlet and three USB outlets. That means you can charge a variety of devices at the same time.

The Jackery Explorer 500 does have its limitations.

Here’s a sampling of what the Jackery Explorer 500 won’t charge:

  • Blenders (although it did work with my Nutribullet blender!)
  • Air conditioners
  • Space Heaters
  • Vacuum cleaner

How to charge a Jackery Explorer 500 portable power station

Person using a computer connected to a Jackery Explorer 500 for camping
Photo: The solar panels work great for charging the Jackery portable power station. See the Jackery 500 on Amazon now

There are three ways to charge the Jackery Explorer 500. You can either connect it to a solar panel, plug it into your household power outlet, or use your car’s 12-volt cigarette lighter.

The fastest way to charge the Jackery Explorer 500 is with your household outlet. That AC outlet will charge your portable power station for camping in about 7.5 hours.

Right now, we have the Jackery connected to Jackery’s 100-watt Solar Saga solar panel. Since its partly cloudy out, the solar panel is only taking in about 40 watts, which means a long time until a full battery.

The next day in full sun, the solar panel still brought in about 45 amps – we never saw it get up to 100.

The company claims the Solar Saga can charge the Jackery fully in 9 hours, but we’re not able to verify that.

However, we love that we can both charge the Jackery 500 and use it simultaneously. 

While slow, charging the Jackery Explorer 500 with solar panels is free and easy, and works when you’re in the great outdoors far from a household outlet.

Some people who live in campervans install permanent solar panels on their van’s roof, which provide constant charging for a portable power station inside the van.

Don’t want to use the Jackery 100-watt Solar Saga?

Check out these solar panel alternatives to power your Jackery. You will need an M4 connector to use any other solar panels. Buy that connector here: https://amzn.to/2ZIcgwJ

Here are a couple of other solar panels that work well with the Jackery Explorer 500:

Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Off Grid Portable Foldable 2Pcs 50W Solar Panel Suitcase Built-in Kickstand with Waterproof 20A Charger Controller
  • Adjustable, Corrosion-Resistant aluminum stand as well as a heavy duty handle and latches for longevity. Folded size: 19. 9 x 27. 2 x 2. 8 inches. Ideal output: 500 Watt hours per day (depends on sunlight availability)
  • Compatible with gel, sealed, Lithium, and flooded batteries. Charge controller with LCD display for displaying operating Information and data
  • 20A built-in 5-stage Solar charge controller provides overcharge protection, reducing Fire risk.Operating Temperature: -40°F to +185°F
Sale
Newpowa 100 Watt Monocrystalline 100W 12V Solar Panel High Efficiency Mono Module RV Marine Boat Off Grid
  • 【New Design】Smaller in Size, Same Output, Higher Cells Effciency Compare to Most Other Brands
  • Dimension:44.49*19.88*1.18Inch High winds (2400PA) and snow loads (5400PA)
  • Maximum power (Pmax): 100W Voltage at Pmax (Vmp):17.0V Current at Pmax (Imp): 5.89A

The pros and cons of using the Jackery Explorer 500

So, is the Jackery Explorer 500 the right device for you? 

Here, we’ll go over the pros and cons of using a Jackery 500 portable power station.

The Jackery Explorer 500 charging a laptop on a sailboat
The Jackery Explorer 500 does a great job charging my computer on the sailboat.

Jackery Explorer 500 Pros

Here are the reasons why we love the Jackery Explorer 500.

Lightweight

The Jackery Explorer 500 weighs a little over 13 pounds, meaning anyone can carry it around.

Portable

Unlike a traditional solar setup, you can take the Jackery 500 anywhere. Want to work on your computer by that gorgeous lake? Carry the Jackery down there. Want to play your electric guitar on the beach? The Jackery can handle your amp.

The Jackery Explorer 500 portable power station for camping can go anywhere you need power.

Easy to Use

A solar setup for a campervan can take hours to install and a lot of know-how. Using a portable power station like the Jackery Explorer 500 is easy as pie. Just charge it up and you’re good to go.

Powerful Enough

We love that the Jackery Explorer 500 can take 500-watts of continuous power with a 1,000-watt surge. That’s plenty of power for most of our needs.

LCD Display

It’s really easy to see what’s going on with the Jackery Explorer 500 by taking a quick glance at the LCD display. This tells you the battery percentage, and how many watts the device is taking in and out.

Pure Sine Wave

The Jackery 500 portable power station has a pure sine wave inverter. That means it gives your electronic devices the same pure current they’d get from a household wall outlet. 

Environmentally-Friendly & Quiet

A solar generator like the Jackery Explorer 500 is much more environmentally friendly than using a typical gas generator. Plus it’s super quiet! You can’t beat that. 

Good Warranty

We love that the Jackery Explorer 500 portable power station comes with a 2-year warranty.

Jackery Explorer 500 Cons

Here’s what’s not so great about the Jackery 500.

Takes a long time to charge via solar

Don’t expect to plug your Jackery into a solar panel and have it fully-charged in a few hours. It takes many hours – even a full day – to reach a full battery with only power from the sun. And if it’s cloudy, you’ll hardly pull in any amps at all.

Won’t charge power tools or kitchen gear

If you’re looking for a portable power station for your power tools, air conditioning units or an induction cooktop for a campervan, the Jackery Explorer 500 isn’t for you. You’ll need a more powerful solar generator like the Inergy Flex.

Limited Life Cycle

The Jackery Explorer 500 runs really well up to 500 times, then you’ll notice the battery life diminishing.

Click here to see the Jackery Explorer 500 on Amazon.

Who might want a Jackery Explorer 500?

A portable power station like the Jackery 500 is great for people who don’t want to install a complete solar system in a campervan or an RV.

With the Jackery Explorer 500, you don’t have to deal with separate house batteries, an inverter and a solar controller. This portable power station for camping has it all in one portable, lightweight package.

The Jackery portable power station isn’t good for people who need a large amount of power.

With 500-watts continuous power, the Jackery won’t charge larger electronic appliances like blenders, space heaters, air conditioners or vacuums.

For those things, you’ll want a larger solar generator like the Inergy Flex or a complete solar setup with multiple 6-amp batteries.

Final thoughts on the Jackery Explorer 500

The Jackery 500 portable power station is a handy device for weekend warriors or full-time travelers who don’t need a lot of extra power. 

The device is great for charging smaller electronics like laptops, portable refrigerators, CPAP devices, cameras and smartphones.

The Jackery 500 is not good for people who need to power a variety of electronics like blenders, induction cooktops, air conditioners, vacuums or power tools.

We love that the Jackery Explorer 500 is lightweight, super easy to use, and portable.

I know we’ll use it as a backup system when we’re on the sailboat or in our Chevy Astro van.

The Jackery 500 is easy to carry to a more remote location, or you can bring it into your tent. This can have a lot of handy uses like running your CPAP when camping or powering up your laptop to watch a show.

If you’re thinking about buying the Jackery 500 portable power station, it’s a good idea to assess your needs.

Which devices will you have to charge? How many watts do they need? Once you determine your power usage, you’ll know if the Jackery is right for you.

Happy camping!

Sale
Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 500, 518Wh Outdoor Solar Generator Mobile Lithium Battery Pack with 110V/500W AC Outlet (Solar Panel Optional) for Road Trip Camping, Outdoor Adventure
  • Founded in California in 2012, Jackery specializes in providing solar generators for the explorers. As an industry leader in eco-friendly portable power, Jackery aims to developing green, quiet and convenient energy solutions that provide off-grid power. Wish everyone enjoys the outdoor life.
  • [MASSIVE CAPACITY 518Wh]: Jackery Explorer 500 is equipped with a 518 watt-hour (24Ah, 21.6V) lithium-ion battery pack. It features 1* AC outlet (110V 500W 1000W Peak), 3*USB-A ports, 2* DC ports and 1*car port to power many aplliances including mini fridge, air pump and TV from low power to high power with pure sine wave inverter.
  • [POWER STATION DESIGNED FOR PORTABILITY]: The Jackery portable power station Explorer 500 is about the size of a basketball and has a solid handle. It's easy to carry, and its compact design makes the Jakery Explorer 500 perfect for enjoying RV camping and road trips.

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6 thoughts on “Jackery 500 Review: Stay Charged Anywhere”

  1. Something bigger, that’s capable of keeping the lights on, fans running and small appliances going to make life a little less miserable if the power goes out. Jackery has a pretty compelling option in the Explorer 500. This is a portable power bank with AC power output, 518Wh/144,400mAh battery capacity

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