Last summer, my wife, kids and I were in a very fortunate situation to finally do the American Road Trip we had been dreaming about. The four of us visited 22 National Parks in about 6 weeks time. Expect for only a few nights we camped out every night. Apart from the beauty of the National Parks, one thing that struck me was how disconnected you are from day to day life once you are in a park like for instance Yellow Stone NP. The little campsite we stayed at had no power, no running water, and only a port-o-potty. No problem at all. We did not mind being disconnected. Live without internet, email, social media was very easy to get accustomed to. A blessing really. However, not being able to charge a flashlight, camera, drone, phone, or even a laptop, that got old really fast. Had we had something like the portable Jackery Explorer 240 battery charger and the Jackery 50W Explorer solar panel, that would have gone a long way in making our camping experience more convenient.
Back up power to charge your drone
This is not the first time we review products from Jackery, you can read our review of the Jackery 200 here. Especially the 50W solar panel is a welcome addition. In the image, above I’m using it to charge the Explorer 240 so that it can provide power for my Skydio R1 drone.
Let’s start with the Jackery Explorer 240. This is the battery charger that works with or without the solar panel. When you charge it with a regular outlet or while driving it will take roughly 7 hours to achieve a full charge. When you use the solar panel, it would require 9-10 hours. Keep in mind that you would need full sunlight. Early morning or late afternoon, evening sun is less optimal. Also, cloudy days will negatively impact the power generating ability of your solar panel.
The Jackery Explorer 240 offers various ports to charge pretty much any device with its AC, DC and 2x USB power connections as well as a 12V car charger connection. Each power outlet can be turned on individually and a small LED screen informs you about the charge the battery is holding and/or the power that is going into or out of the Explorer 240. A fully charged one should be sufficient to charge your MacBook Pro up to four times, your iPhone up to 20 times, or your GoPro for more than 35 times.
Specifications of the Jackery Explorer 240
- Model: Jackery Explorer 240
- Capacity: Lithium-ion 16.8Ah @ 14.4V (240Wh)
- DC input: DC 12V-30V 42W Max
- DC output: AC 110V, 1,81A, 60Hz, 200W
- Car Cigarette Port: DC 13V=10A(130W Max)
- USB Output: DC 5V=2.4Ax2
- Operating Temperature: 0-40 degrees Celsius
Solar power to charge your devices
The Jackery 50W Solar Panel is foldable, portable and comes with a nice protective cover and a cable to connect it to the Jackery Explorer 240. The panel is lightweight and folds up, locking itself with magnets. It is a sturdy and easy-to-pack panel that you can take with you on any camping trip without to much hassle. When connected to the Explorer 240, it will provide a full charge in about 9-10 hours in full sunlight.
The Jackery Solar Panel is outfitted with a USB 3, and a USB-C connection as well as an LED light that indicates the panel is operating the way it is supposed to. It also has a convenient lid behind which the connection cable is stored.
Specifications of the Jackery 50W Solar Panel
- Model: SP050BKH
- Peak Power: 50W
- Cell Efficiency: 19%-21%
- Power Voltage: 16.2V
- Power Current: 3.15A
- Open Circuit Voltage: 19V
- Short Circuit Current: 3.4A
- USB A Output: 5V-2.4A
- USB C Output: 5V-3A
- Operating Temperature Range -10-40 degrees Celsius
- Dimensions: 565x395x10mm folded
- Dimensions: 565x790x5mm unfolded
- Made in China
How practical are these devices in real life? Well, that very much depends on your mode of travel. The battery charger is not super heavy but somewhat bulky. The solar panel is very light but although thin cover quite some surface. Based on your mode of transportation your view may differ dramatically. Hiking the Appalachian Trail? This may be too much for you. Are you out and about with a car or camper. The Jackery Explorer 240 and Jackery 50W solar panel might just be the right fit for you.
Personally, I really like both products. They are very easy to use. Very strong and sturdy in the way that they are built. They are priced competitively and would have worked really really well during our road trip last year. Would I bring these guys along on our next vacation, you bet!
If you do want to shop around, something that I recommend, check out Anker as they have a whole variety of competing products, both at higher as well as lower price points.
Note: One thing to keep in mind is that you cannot charge the Jackery Explorer 240 at the same time as you are using it to charge your drone for instance.
Pricing and availability
The Jackery Explorer 240 ($299.99) and the foldable Explorer Solar Panel ($199.99, used to be $399.99) are available at Amazon, Jackery.com, and select channel partners. Jackery offers free shipping and a two-year warranty on these two products.
Jackery, established in 2012, develops and manufactures portable power and energy solutions. Jackery is headquartered in Milpitas, CA and was co-founded by a former Apple senior quality engineer and CEO Mr. Sun, a pioneer in the design and development of Li-battery technology. Jackery has earned the trust of millions of customers that rely on the company’s mobile chargers for both work and play. Jackery’s mission is to develop energy solutions to power life experiences.
Full disclosure: Jackery provided us with the Explorer 240 and the Explorer 50W solar panels to use for our review. We do not get paid to write the review and our opinions are strictly ours. If we do not like something, we will say so. If we do like it, we will tell you.
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