Unbiased Review – Jackery Explorer 1500 Portable Solar Generator Power Station
To be upfront and 100% transparent, I have received zero benefits from Jackery in any way. I did not receive my Jackery Explorer 1500 for free or at special pricing, I have not received money from them, they haven’t even reached out to me to review this unit. With all of that said, should you even consider the Jackery Explorer 1500 solar generator a contender in the power station world?
The short answer is, maybe. But probably not. It doesn’t come close to the Titan. Are other smaller solar generators like the AC200P and Delta better suited for people than the Explorer 1500?
The Jackery 1500 is a decent unit. It’s not very heavy, has a pretty strong inverter for powering anything that uses 120v power. It has a decent-sized battery and supposedly can charge pretty quickly. Should it be used for emergency backup power, RVing, VanLife, camping, and so on? That’s what we’ll find out.
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The Jackery Explorer 1500 is truly capable of pretty much running anything under 1,800w of power. Remember that watts are simply the result of volts and amps multiplied together. Common household voltage is 110v or 120v. They’re essentially the same thing but to keep the math simple I’ll just use 120v since that is what’s most commonly used today.
1,800w ÷ 120v = 15a. A typical outlet in the wall at home is rated up to 15amps of output. Meaning that if you can run the device out of an outlet at home, you can run it off of the Jackery 1500 as well. This is why reviewing this unit can be helpful to see if this is actually true. I have found in my testing that this is true.
Its peak or surge rating is 3,600w which is double the running wattage which is definitely adequate for most appliances.
Jackery has always put really good inverters into their systems. I have never had an issue with the Jackery 2000, Jackery 1000, or the Jackery 500 units which I have also reviewed. If it says it is capable of pushing out 1,800w then it really can. But not all things on paper for the Jackery systems have been accurate, as will be shown shortly.
All of the outlets on the Jackery 1500 are regulated which makes it very safe to use because it will keep the proper voltage and amperage going to whatever device is being run all the way down to the battery hits 0%.
It has a pure sine wave inverter which is very common in solar generators and power stations today but is not 100% guaranteed. Jackery makes sure to use top-notch quality in the inverter so they only go with pure sine wave which means you can safely run anything that would plug into a normal house outlet.
A modified sine wave is the other option and that has limitations as to what it can run and is often called “dirty electricity.” You won’t have to worry about any dirty electricity coming off of the Jackery 1500 or any of the Jackery units. That’s one thing that Jackery has always done very well.
Battery Size and Capability
The Jackery Explorer 1500 has a 1,534wh battery which is why it’s called the Jackery Explorer 1500. They rounded the number down from the battery capacity to 1,500 so they could give it that name. The 1,534wh battery is a 24v battery that is rated to 25.2v and 60.9a. It’s confusing but that’s just how solar and electronics are. The bottom line is it’s a 24v system that has 12v and 120v outlets on the front of the unit.
Using a Lithium NMC battery, or most commonly referred to as Lithium-ion, the Jackery 1500 will push power out constantly with no problem either at the max load of 1,800w or it can be trickling out power to your device at very low loads. The big advantage of using Lithium NMC is that it is much lighter than Lithium-Iron-Phosphate batteries or what is most commonly called LiFePo4.
The battery is the heaviest part of the Jackery 1500, and many other reviews have said that the weight is very manageable and easy to move around. I find in my testing and reviewing that it is indeed easy enough and portable enough to move around and use pretty easily. The total weight is 33lbs for the whole unit and I find that anything under 35lbs is not too bad for anyone to use.
The draw capacity of the Jackery 1500 is what is most impressive. Typically, it is difficult for batteries to push out more power than their own capacity and often times will not push that amount of power out until 0%. For example, the Inergy Apex solar generator has a battery capacity of 1,100wh and an inverter size of 1,500w but cannot push 1,500w out of the inverter for more than 5 minutes max. The Apex cannot draw more than 800w and run to 0%. If it’s running 900w it will quit working after a short while.
The Jackery 1500 on the other hand with its battery capacity at 1,534wh and the inverter at 1,800w is capable of running a 1,800w load all the way until the battery hits 0% which takes about 44mins. That is quite impressive that the battery has only 1,534wh but can run 1,800w continuously without interruption. The Titan solar generator is one of the only other units I have found that can do this as well. The Titan has a 2,000wh battery and a 3,000w inverter but it can run the higher loads until empty.
Many people dislike that Jackery hasn’t gotten into LiFePo4 batteries yet but it’s really a tossup between the two battery types and it all depends on what you need the system for. Lithium-Ion is good for portability since it’s lighter, but the Jackery batteries are only rated to 500 cycles which is considered low.
Keep in mind that a cycle means you have the solar generator at 100%, then discharge it to 0%, then recharge it back up to 100%. That is one full cycle. Once you’ve done that 500 times then the battery will only have 80% of its original capacity. That doesn’t mean it’s a dead unit. It just means that instead of a 1,534wh battery it would be the equivalent of a 1,227wh battery.
A LiFePo4 battery will commonly have 3,000 cycles or more, but it is much heavier. Therefore, it makes it much harder to be mobile and portable. Some other reviews like the lighter more portable option and other reviews prefer the heavier longer-lasting option. Again, it all depends on your own preference and needs.
That is one of the reasons why the Titan is so well-liked and has been the leader in solar generators for over 2 years. It uses Lithium NMC batteries which are lighter but have 2,000 cycles in them because of how they are designed. In that case, you get the best of both worlds where they’re lighter and have a lot of cycles.
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Charging the Jackery 1500 is where the most issues arise. It can be charged in many different ways including from a wall outlet at home, solar panels while camping, RVing, or during a blackout, or while on the road through the DC car charger.
The solar charging capability on the Jackery 1500 is where this whole unit begins to fall apart. It may have a good inverter and battery, but the MPPT solar charge controller is a problem. Jackery advertises that it can charge up to 500w of solar power at once which means it could recharge the battery in about 3 hours.
3 hours or less is the preferred amount of time for solar recharge. That is because there are only about 5 or 6 hours a day in the USA where you can get maximum output from solar panels.
To clarify, a 100-watt solar panel will generate 100 watt-hours of battery capacity in one hour of charging. Watt-hours is the unit of measurement for showing stored energy in a battery.
If the Jackery 1500 could put in 500w that would be great, but it can’t. Its max input rating is actually only 400w according to the user manual. But wait, Jackery also says 500w is the max input? So how does that work? It doesn’t. This is where the advertised specs are a big problem. It is simply impossible to get 500w of power into the Jackery 1500.
But 400w of solar power is still pretty good, right? Well, sort of. A 1,534wh battery will take about 4 hours to charge up from 0% if you put 400w into it from the solar panels. The way Jackery likes to accomplish this is with their SolarSaga 100w solar panels. The SolarSaga 100w solar panels are portable folding panels that can be taken anywhere and used with ease.
But, I have yet to personally see a SolarSaga 100w solar panel generate more than 67 watts. I have that panel and have watched and read many other reviews of that solar panel and 67 watts seems to be the max that anyone can get out of it. I have heard rumors that Jackery has made some upgrades to their most recent generation of SolarSaga 100 panels and that some people have gotten upwards of 80w per panel, but I haven’t seen that repeatedly in any other reviews. Hopefully, it’s true though.
The Jackery SolarSaga 200 solar panels were made to work with the Jackery 1500 and Jackery 2000 units, but Jackery exclusively shows that the Jackery 1500 should only be used with the SolarSaga 100 panels. That is, again, very confusing.
One of the biggest difficulties of using the SolarSaga panels is that they need to be near the unit to charge because there is no long charging cable. Since they use proprietary 8mm connectors as well it’s basically impossible to get a longer cable to be between the panels and the Explorer 1500. That makes it really hard to charge the unit while using the unit at the same time without long extension cords to the fridge or whatever device.
In addition to that, they claim that in just four hours the Jackery can be charged from 0% all the way up to 80%. Let’s break down the math: 1,534wh is the total battery capacity. 80% of that would be 1,227wh. If we take 1,227wh and divide that by four hours (1,227wh ÷ 4hrs) we get 306 watts of solar charge coming in.
The claim was 500w solar input, but that wasn’t true so it got dropped to 400w absolute maximum input, but then at its very best, they’re saying 306 watts is what it will do with four SolarSaga 100 panels? That is beyond misleading. Reading the fine print is an absolute “must” for this solar generator power station.
The user manual also says that it is necessary to use at least two SolarSaga 100 panels to charge the Jackery 1500. But then why do they say the SolarSaga 200 panels are best for it if they also say only use the 100w version. Again, more confusion, that’s not okay.
The charge controller has an input rating from 12-30v and up to 10.5a. That means panels have to be connected in parallel, not series, in order for it to work. And there are two charge controllers so each one will have two panels connected to the 2 to 1 adapters that come with the system.
FYI, you cannot use your own solar panels. I’ll go over that in a minute down below.
Hopefully, you can see why this is such a problem. People will spend $1,600 on a solar power station thinking they will be able to recharge it in 3 hours, but in reality, it takes over 5 hours in ideal conditions to get it fully charged, that’s not good at all. In fact, that puts in the category of “not good enough” solar generators.
But don’t worry, the solar charging may be completely incorrect and hard to follow the but charging from AC power off of a wall outlet is all good, right? Wrong. Jackery clearly says that the Explorer 1500 will charge at 500w from a wall outlet using the AC power brick charger and I have yet to see it charge above 261 wats. That’s effectively half of what is advertised.
Either there is some serious miscommunication between the technical department and the sales department at Jackery or they’re intentionally trying to trick people into thinking they’re getting something that it’s not.
That is wrong. Period.
It has a car charger and that’s all great, but it is rare that anyone will use a car charger with any solar generator system. It simply takes too long because you can’t draw a lot of power from a cigarette lighter port in a vehicle. Jackery says it takes nearly 16 hours to charge it from a car charging port in a vehicle.
On a good note, the Explorer 1500 is capable of charging while it is running other equipment. Just as long as you have extension cords running to those devices since the Explorer 1500 has to be near the solar panels outside.
By the way, the Jackery 1500 is not waterproof. Not that you’d get much power from solar panels if it’s raining but, what if you left it outside charging and then forgot about it at night, and the sprinklers came on or it rained. That could be catastrophic to the system. Really the point isn’t it needs to be waterproof or resistant, the point is that it should be possible and easy to put a long distance between the panels and the unit like the Titan has so it can be kept safe.
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Outlets and Connectors
It has three 120v 15a rated outlets. Jackery calls it 110v at 16.4a but they’re essentially the same thing. It has two USB A type outlets for smartphones, tablets, and charging cables. Then a single USB C plug that is rated up to 60w output. It would’ve made sense and been preferable to have a 100w USB C outlet, but it’s not a deal-breaker.
No solar generator or power station is complete without at least one 12v DC cigarette lighter port. The Jackery 1500’s DC port is rated at 12v and up to 10a. Meaning that it can run up to 120w of power out of that single port.
Jackery has used the 8mm barrel connector for a very long time. But there’s an issue with it. There are two types of 8mm barrel connectors. One has a small inner pin and the other has a larger inner pin. The Jackery comes with a travel box for all of its accessories and includes two 8mm adapters that can be used with the SolarSaga solar panels.
But what this means, is you cannot use your own solar panels with a typical 8mm to PV Connector adapter. This is my number one complaint with any solar generator, compatibility. Many people already have their own solar panels.
For almost all of my solar generators, I use the Rigid 100 panels because they are the highest wattage producing 100w solar panels we have tested at Powered Portable Solar. If I am not using the Rigid 100 panels I am using the Flexx 100 panels. Why would I want to spend $300 for a single SolarSaga 100 solar panel that only makes about 67w when I can get a Rigid 100 solar panel that has multiple reports of getting 85-95w power output for about half of the price? I wouldn’t.
Jackery does have, in secret, an 8mm small pin to large pin adapter but you have to ask for it. They do not advertise or have it for sale anywhere. I also have been unsuccessful in finding that same connector anywhere else on the internet which makes me feel like Jackery knows what they’ve done and wants to require people to use their panels, or it won’t work. Not cool.
Warranty and Customer Service
Jackery provides a 2-year warranty for the Explorer 1500 which is great. 1-year warranties used to be the norm and then when the Titan came out a 2-year warranty was provided so now many other companies provide at least 2 years. This is great for us consumers and users so we have more coverage.
I have called and emailed Jackery many times and have always received a response to my emails and had my phone calls answered. When I would speak with someone, they were competent and knew how solar works, and were very helpful. In regard to their customer service, I personally have zero issues with it and have found it to be very good.
Expandability, X-Factor, and Weaknesses
The Explorer 1500 has zero expandability. You cannot add more batteries, charge controllers, link two systems together, or even connect to an RV with a 30amp RV plug since one isn’t built into the system. What you get is what you get, nothing more.
Expandability is important and oftentimes underappreciated because people often do not think about how their situations will change over the years. Some people will get a freezer and now need to run both their fridge and freeze during a blackout but cannot increase their solar input or battery capacity to be enough to fully do that. Or some will just want to use it for basic camping needs one weekend and then there’s a power outage the next and they have different needs.
That is why the Titan has been the reigning king of solar generators because it can expand up to any size of battery with the Titan batteries or other batteries. It also has 2,000w of solar input, the highest of any portable solar generator system, and can be “over-paneled” (connect more than 2,000w of solar panels) in order to get more power output longer each day.
As far as anything for the Explorer 1500 that makes it stand apart from the rest of the power stations and solar generators out there, I could only come up with one. It does have the ability to run a higher number of watts than what the battery capacity wattage is. That’s not specific only to the Jackery 1500 but it is not always common so it’s a good extra feature.
It does however do a very good job of not charging below freezing. A lot of systems will still charge below 32-degree Fahrenheit and that can damage lithium cells. Jackery put in a good level of protection there. So it’s not specific to the 1500 but is a very key feature in safety.
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Weaknesses, there are many. Obviously, solar charging and wall charging is completely misrepresented and make this system not a good choice because it cannot be charged in a single day. It takes longer than 5 hours to recharge with solar panels, and that’s if you’re not running anything off of it while charging. Most people need to run a fridge, lights, fans, chargers, or something off of the Explorer 1500 while it’s charging, which will increase the charge time. It cannot be charged in a day is indeed a deal-breaker.
Another weakness is being required to use the SolarSaga solar panels which are very expensive at $300 each, and not the highest output. The SolarSaga 200 is $600, very pricey. That’s not fair to us consumers and people who need to use this for emergency power, RVing, camping, or just portable power.
The screen will not stay on. After 10 to 15 seconds, it will turn off which is really annoying when I just want to see the state of charge from a distance or when I am walking by it. And the AC outlets are really close together making it hard to charge camera batteries, radio batteries, and other things at the same time because those have large plugs.
Those things along with only having 500 cycles make it hard to be a top choice, especially for $1,599.
The EcoFlow Delta is most similar to the Jackery 1500 in terms of specs. The Delta has a 1,800w pure sine wave inverter. It has a 1,260wh battery which is smaller than the Explorer 1500’s but not by much. But the Delta can input the full 400w that it’s rated to and can use any solar panels that you want. Plus, the Delta is quite a bit more affordable.
Price vs Value
I have come up with a way to calculate the true value of a solar generator. It includes comparing the total battery capacity, inverter output capacity, and solar input capacity vs how much it costs.
This unit of measurement I refer to as “Price per Unit Wattage” since it includes all watts and watt-hours compared to the price.
The Explorer 1500 has a Price per Unit Wattage of $1.71 which is definitely not bad at all. For comparison, the EcoFlow Delta has a price per unit wattage of $1.54. That means that you’ll get more value of the EcoFlow Delta than you would the Jackery 1500 for their current prices.
The Jackery Explorer 1500 is also very similar to the Goal Zero Yeti 1500x and the GZ 1500x has a price per unit wattage of $2.76 which is much higher than the Explorer 1500. The Titan once again has the best rating with a price per unit wattage lower than any other system on the market at $1.42!
What’s It Good For?
The Jackery 1500 I think will work well for car camping and VanLife. It’s not ideal to use Jackery solar panels but for what most power needs are for car camping and VanLife, it should get the job done.
I do not recommend it at all for emergency backup power or for RVing. It simply does not have enough battery capacity or solar recharge capability to run a fridge nonstop for days or run real RV power needs.
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The Bottom Line
In conclusion, I do not recommend the Jackery 1500. If I had to go with something of a similar size, keeping in mind that it would still be very limited, I would go with the EcoFlow Delta. But truly, I would rather save my pennies and get the Titan solar generator because it will allow me to run my house, power my RV, or run a full VanLife setup. Car camping will work too but is probably overkill for car camping unless you have lots of e-bikes that need to be charged up or something.
Jackery needs to step up their game and their honesty. Don’t tell people it can charge 500w but can only realistically do 306w, that’s just not right to do to people. Honestly, if Jackery had an MPPT charge controller that would do 500w of real-world input and could use any solar panel, this would be a pretty decent unit even with a $1,599 price tag. But it doesn’t, so I’ll pass on recommending this unit.