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
When I got an email last month from my Jackery contact telling me about their latest product with 2,000 watt-hrs of battery storage, I was interested in trying one out.
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?
The Explorer 2000 Pro has a 2200-watt pure sine wave inverter rated for 4,400 watts of peak power. So you can run a lot with it.
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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Well, if it’s SHTF time, I would buy 2 on my credit card and bug out. Just try to find me! 😉😎🚌
Well, what if it is “that time” and you ordered them and needed to bug out right away, but they couldn’t deliver them to you fast enough? Maybe you should order them ahead of time and, uhh, actually pay for them, like a responsible human being. If you’re being facetious (which I think you are), Dennis, then I’m being facetious. If not, then I’m not. Have a good night. 🙂 –Diane
So we now have a price for a practical & useful system. The next question becomes “so what else can we buy for that same amount?” My wife & I learned to always ask that question when we built our loghouse in Tennessee.
$2400 for 3200 watts (270 AHr) for GC3 by Dragonfly designed for RV’s & built in Reno NV. $1400 for 5 ea. Newpowa 240 watt solar panels. $540 for a 100 amp MPPT controller from Renogy. That’s $4340. Add a few hundred for connectors, wire, etc.
So $6200 for a turnkey system versus $4500-4800 for DIY rooftop panels, 270 AHr lithium battery & MPPT controller.
Either way it seems too expensive until you consider rising campground fees, and offset the system cost by boondocking a lot. At $50/nite it only takes 100 nights to save $5000. For fulltimers, even at $6200 it becomes a bargain.
I can understand your enthusiasm for this equipment, Mike. But what I don’t understand is using watt-hours to rate this rig, while we have always used amp-hours to rate batteries. After all this is just a battery & inverter in a box. It would be so much easier to understand what you’re really getting if you stated that it provides 200 amp-hours of 12v power. That would allow simple comparison to power-equivalent alternatives – like adding 2, 100ah lithium cells to your rig.
Actually, watt-hrs are a universal measurement of energy, while amp-hrs also depend on the voltage. For example, in an electric vehicle the battery capacity is rated in kWh (killo-watt hours). That is, how many kilowatts can it provide for how many hours. So a typical EV could have a 75 kWh (75,000 watt-hr) battery that can drive 3 miles per kWh. So that’s 3 x 75 = 225 miles or range. Now, we don’t care if the EV battery is made up of 7.5-volt, 75-volt or 750-volt batteries. It doesn’t matter if there’s 10,000 7.5-volt batteries, 1,000 75-volt batteries, or 100 750-volt batteries. The only thing that counts if the total killo-watt hours.
Consider that some RVs are going to 48-volt systems for power. In that case you need to multiply the voltage times the total amp-hrs to find out just how much energy you have.
This is also how your house electricity bill works. You pay in kilo-watt hours of electricity use, not amp-hours of use.