Welcome to my J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session, a weekly column where I answer your basic electrical questions. If you’re a newbie who’s never plugged in a shore power cord (or ask – what’s a shore power cord?), or wonder why your daughter’s hair dryer keeps tripping the circuit breaker, this column is for you. Send your questions to Mike Sokol at mike (at) noshockzone.org with the subject line – JAM. Today I discuss the Jackery Explorer 2000 Pro solar power station.
As many of you know, I was not happy with the state of the art for the original “solar generators.” They had sealed lead-acid batteries, an under-powered 120-volt inverter, and not enough solar panel power to do anything significant. But battery, inverter and solar technology marches on. The latest generation of solar power stations (or solar generators, if you prefer) has the ability to help power a lot of your boondocking adventures.
I’ve been testing a number of portable power stations over the last year, and have accumulated a lot of data on various products with energy storage ranges of 300, 500, 600, 1,000 and 1,500 watt-hrs. I even did calculations on the amount of battery storage need for sewing quilts, and created the idea of SPEUs (Sock Puppet Energy Units).
I thought we had reached the limit of portable power with the Jackery Explorer 1500. I’ve used it to do tests such as make an espresso in my Nespresso coffee maker, power a Presto 8-quart slow cooker for hours, and even run a Z Grills pellet smoker for all day (and then some).
I’ve also used portable 100-watt panels, with up to 400 watts of solar on the Jackery 1500. And as long as you keep the power usage below the limits of the 120-volt AC inverter output, and understand just how many watt-hours of energy you were using, then you can power a lot of different appliances while boondocking. But there’s been a real game changer in the amount of battery power you can take with you on a boondocking trip.
Enter the Jackery Explorer 2000 Pro
So, a few weeks ago my long-suffering UPS driver delivered a Jackery Explorer 2000 Pro along with a pile of 200-watt portable solar panels. That’s right, Jackery now has portable 200-watt solar panels! That’s just one 200-watt panel in the picture, but you can plug in up to six of them for 1,200 watts of solar power.
How long does it take to charge from the sun?
Well, since you can connect the Jackery Explorer 2000 Pro up to 1,200 watts of solar panels, and if you’re sitting in full sunlight, it should be able to completely recharge the 2,000-watt-hr lithium battery in around 2.5 hours. And, indeed, my casual testing demonstrates a complete solar recharge in just shy of 3 hours. WOW!
What about recharging from an electrical outlet?
Interestingly, the Explorer 2000 Pro has a built-in battery charger than can supply up to 1,500 watts of charging power. So no power supply brick is required. You just plug a standard Euro power cable into any 15-amp outlet. I was able to get a full recharge of the 2,000-watt-hr battery from a 120-volt outlet in under 2 hours.
What can you power from a Jackery 2,000-watt-hr Solar Generator?
For example, I have a Presto slow cooker which pulls around 290 watts while warming up, and then drops back to an average usage of around 100 watts when the thermostat kicks in. Warming mode is only 50 watts, so you could easily power it for at least 10 hours.
You can make dozens of cups of espresso with a Nespresso coffee maker with the Explorer 2000 on a single charge. And you can easily run your CPAP machine or electric blanket overnight. Yes, the Explorer 2000 Pro makes a real 120-volts of pure sine wave power, so you don’t have worry about blowing up your appliances.
What about powering an air conditioner?
I also tried the Jackery Explorer 2000 Pro on a 15,000 BTU RV air conditioner with a SoftStartRV controller for grins. It easily started and would have powered the Penguin II for around 2 hours or more.
Now, I don’t think that’s the intended application. But the Jackery is certainly heavy-duty enough to supply 1,500 watts of continuous power for more than an hour.
What’s the weight?
Lithium batteries and a 2,000-watt pure sine inverter and 1,200 watts of solar panels are getting lighter all the time. But there is some pretty serious weight involved in that much battery and inverter. The Explorer 2000 Pro itself weighs around 42 pounds. That’s not much more than a 2,000-watt generator full of gasoline, but certainly enough weight to be careful with. And each of the 200-watt, fully weatherproof solar panels weigh around 22 pounds in their protective zippered pouch. But they’re built to last, with a 3-year warranty.
What’s the cost?
The cost of this technology is still out of reach for many RV owners, but steadily coming down. The Jackery Explorer 2000 Pro by itself lists at $2,299, plus the cost of the solar panels. If you get the full 6-panel kit with 1,200 watts of panels and the Explorer 2000 Pro, it will set you back $6,199. So many of us cannot afford to buy into this just yet. However, as all of us who started with early computers and cell phones know, the price of Solar Generators will rapidly drop as their performance increases. I’m just amazed at how well the Jackery Explorer 2000 Pro works right now.
OK, everyone. Remember that electricity is a useful and powerful force, so we all need to pay attention to safety precautions while using
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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