Last Monday I did a video review of the Jackery Explorer 1500 and 300 Power Stations. I’m continuing to experiment with this technology, and finding all kinds of new uses for a 1500 watt-hr. lithium battery pack with an 1,800-watt pure sine inverter which includes 400 watts of portable solar panels.
Oh, yes. There are also a lot of things you can do with a 300 watt-hr. lithium battery pack that has a 300-watt pure sine inverter.
While lithium battery technology will not replace portable generators in the foreseeable future, they do offer a lot of powering options for anyone who wants to camp off-grid, or even crank up their band and play some tunes for a beach wedding.
What can you do with a Jackery Explorer 1500?
Well, it snowed last month, and instead of dragging out a 100-foot extension cord to start my snowblower, I simply carried the Jackery Explorer 1500 out to my mower shed and plugged in my starter power cord. This style of snow blower doesn’t have a 12-volt starter battery. It requires that you plug it into 120-volt AC power for starting or use the pull rope starter. I’m not a fan of trying to start a gasoline engine at 0 degrees with a pull rope, so 120-volt AC power works much better for me. In a few seconds it was up and running using the Jackery for AC power.
What about a Danfoss 12-volt DC compressor refrigerator?
I have a large portable fridge/freezer from Vitrifrigo with a Danfoss 12-volt DC compressor, so I plugged it into the 12-volt DC outlet on the Explorer 1500. I set the temp for a frosty -7 degrees F and placed the portable fridge next to my steam radiator in the 70-degree room.
As you can see from the picture, the Explorer 1500 powered this portable fridge at an average of -5 degrees F for 53 hours continuously. So, if you wanted to go camping without ice, this is a combination that could keep things cool or frozen for 2 or 3 days.
I will note that when I tried this same test using the 120-volt AC inverter from the Jackery Explorer powering a PWM 12-volt DC power supply, which then powered the refrigerator, that the run time went down to 32 hours on a single charge. That suggests you want to use 12-volt DC power whenever possible to avoid conversion losses when stepping voltages up to 120-volts AC and down to 12-volts DC.
Can I solar power it?
Well, yes you can. In fact, I have four of the portable 100-watt panels that plug into the Explorer 1500. I did a few charging experiments while the sun was shining, and it appears that 400 watts of these panels oriented correctly can completely recharge the Explorer 1500 in a day.
So you can extend you portable refrigerator time forever (or at least if the sun keeps shining every other day). Here’s me with two of the 100-watt panels (200 watts total). The Explorer 1500 will accept up to four of these panels, and the Explorer 300 will accept a single 100-watt panel.
Powering a pellet smoker grill from an Explorer 300
As you should know by now, I really like to eat. And my family bought me a Z Grills® Wood Pellet Grill Smoker for Christmas. It does need 120-volts AC to ignite the pellets and run the auger and fan, but once it’s up and running it doesn’t use as much actual power as you might think.
So I hooked up the Explorer 300 to my 600 Series smoker and metered everything. I was able to smoke chicken wings in around 3 hours of run time, and there was still enough power left in the Explorer 300 for another 3 hours if I wanted to smoke a brisket.
And if I added one 100-watt solar panel to the Explorer 300 it would have increased the smoking time up to 10 hours or more (if the sun was shining). Of course, the Jackery Explorer 1500 would run a Pellet Smoker for days.
What does it all mean?
As much as I like a hot dog or hamburger cooked on an open fire or charcoal grill, the ability to smoke meat for hours or bake a casserole without using propane from your camper really extends your boondocking possibilites by days. Note that several pellet smoker manufacturers are building “suitcase” portable grills specifically for camping. But they still need 120-volts AC power, so you need to BYOP (Bring Your Own Power).
More to consider, but I think that solar battery power (either built-in your RV or portable like a Jackery Explorer) is the future of camping off-grid. Campgrounds are indeed getting more overcrowded all the time, so boondocking is getting more popular all the time.
Join me next week when I look at options for connecting a CarGenerator (or any portable generator) into your home electrical system using a generator transfer switch. More power options = more fun and safety.
In the meantime, here’s a video from CarGenerator showing how their Home Integration Kit can be used to provide up to 1,000 watts or more of 120-volt AC backup power to your house. Click HERE to watch.
Let’s play safe out there….
Send your questions to me at my new RVelectricity forum here.
Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.
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