Wednesday, December 8, 2021

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RVelectricity™ – Do “Solar Generators” really work?

Dear Readers,
As you may know, I wasn’t enamored with the marketing hype of the so called “Solar Generators” last year. In fact, I was worried that readers would confuse them with actual gasoline or propane generators, which they definitely are not.

Enter the Portable Power Station

But since I like to test everything, and Jackery now has a 1500-watt Portable Power Station with up to four 100-watt solar panels in a kit, I thought this was a good time to jump in with both feet and see if they live up to the hype. I also want to find out if this technology could be useful for boondocking or even during a home power outage situation.

Watts in…

I finally got my wife to take a picture of me with the Jackery Explorer 1500 Portable Power Station. (I’m still having trouble calling these types of battery/inverters a “generator”.) You can see in the above picture that I’ve deployed all four solar panels for a total of 400 watts of solar charging.

However, since this is now November and the solar panels were in the afternoon sun, I couldn’t quite get up to the full 400 watts of power as advertised. But 328 watts of solar charging is quite acceptable considering the angle of the sun and slightly overcast skies. Solar power is anything but constant, so you have to take whatever Mother Natures hands out.

Watts out…

I also did a quick test using a 1200/600-watt portable electric heater as a load, and the Jackery 1500 ran it on both power settings without any issues at all.

According to documentation, the Jackery 1500 can store 1,534 watt-hrs of energy. That suggests you could run a 1,500-watt heater for 1 hour, or a 750-watt heater for 2 hours, or a 100-watt load (like a 100-watt light bulb) for up to 15 hours. That’s what I really want to know.

Can a portable inverter power an air conditioner?

The Jackery 1500 Explorer also includes an 1,800-watt pure-sine inverter that produces 120 volts AC. So it’s entirely possible that this portable battery pack could power a rooftop air conditioner for an hour, as long as you installed a SoftStartRV controller on the air conditioner compressor.

Without a SoftStartRV controller it’s doubtful that the 1,800-watt inverter could produce the 54 amperes of surge starting current needed for a stock starting capacitor on an air conditioner compressor.

Of course, the total running time with this 1,500 watt-hrs of battery might be only an hour, so this is just a proof of concept test, not something to actually run your RV air conditioner all night long. But as battery technology continues to get smaller and cheaper, I foresee the day when you could actually run an air conditioner all night long from only batteries.

Just getting started

Now realize these are all just quickie field measurements along with my own mind experiments to determine what type of further testing I might be able to perform. So in the next few weeks I’ll have more data that I can use for calculations and post about. It’s getting interesting…

New RVelectricity Forum trial run

Speaking of experiments, we’re trying out our own non-Facebook forum this week. So if you want me to do a specific test or answer a question about the Jackery 1500 Explorer Portable Power Station and Solar Panels, please click on the link below and post your questions and comments there.

And if there are any other experiments you would like me to work on, you can start your own thread on this forum and I’ll do my best to set up an experiment. That is, as long as the manufacturers keep sending me test samples to experiment on.

NEW: Mikes new RVelectricity Forum: Jackery Solar Power Station Testing

Let’s play safe out there….

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.

##RVT1026

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Joe
22 days ago

Hey Mike, what do you think would be the best way to charge my Lithium batteries in my RV while on the road? I think I may need to install a specific converter to charge them while driving as from what I understand my current one is not optimal for Lithium batteries. Let me know what you think. Thanks

cee
25 days ago

Forgot to mention your “cheesy beefcake” picture. You need to show a little skin!

cee
25 days ago

I don’t have anything as big as the 1500w but I do have a Jackery 300w. It has become my best friend when I need to power my 12v heated blanket, recharge electronics, usb fans, all those things I would have to start my on-board generator for or have a shoreline hookup. I am amazed at how long it lasts before needing a recharge. I don’t have the Jackery solar panel which I think is very expensive. I can recharge it while driving to my next location.

Gary
25 days ago

I bought a 330W power station and a 100W portable solar panel to run my CPAP machine. It was primarily for power outages at home but I plan to take it as a back up for our long RV trip this winter. The “generator” can run my CPAP for 3 nights when it has a full charge and it’s also good for charging small items like my LED lantern and electronic devices.

June
24 days ago
Reply to  Gary

Hi Gary.
What system can run a CPAP for three nights? That’s quite a remarkable I would love to know the name.
Also do you use a solar panel?

John
25 days ago

Thanks for the included shot of the slide rule. Brought many memories (good & bad).

Mike Sokol
25 days ago
Reply to  John

I used a slide rule back in the mid ‘70s to build packaging robotics for Corning Glass. Good times…

chris
25 days ago
Reply to  John

Took a slide rule class in 1967 in college.