Jackery has made a name selling high quality power generators, energy storage solutions and solar panels. Their Explorer series is a best seller with the right amount of features, battery autonomy and inverter power.
Jackery was founded by an ex-Apple engineer in 2012 and was the first to introduce a portable lithium-based power generator in 2015. Having reviewed the Explorer 1000 here on TechRadar Pro, we had some expectations of what their next product would deliver in terms of reliability and workmanship.
A portable generator can be a real life savior during a power outage. The ability to replace three power outlets in addition to having USB ports for charging smartphones and tablets, it is quickly becoming a must-have for many homes.
The Explorer line of products has gone through many iterations and the Explorer 1500 represents the best that Jackery has to offer. It is an evolution from the previous 1000 series, with 50% more battery capacity, 80% more inverter power and a redesigned user interface. It also addresses drawbacks of previous versions by providing quicker charge time and supporting higher input voltage.
Price and availability
Jackery generators are priced at around one watt per dollar and are available directly from the vendor. The Explorer 1500 has a recommended retail price of $1,599 with a $150 early-bird discount available right now using the code JACKERYE1500.
The Explorer 1500 keeps the same design as other models in the series. The black and orange enclosure has a matt finish while rubber feet located on the bottom securely hold the 15kg generator onto any surface. A handle moulded in the plastic case provides a means to carry the generator around. Air vents located on both sides of the generator help to regulate the internal temperature. A bright 5W SOS LED flashlight is located on the left side while all the action takes place on the front panel.
A big high-contrast LCD is the centerpiece of the Explorer 1500 and gives a quick overview of the generator’s state. It is turned on whenever a power connection is done or the Display button pressed. The display will then be active for 10 seconds, showing information such as charging and output power, inverter voltage and frequency and battery charge in terms of percent. Other details include the estimated charging time and battery left. The bottom row groups icons that give the overall health of the generator.
Still keeping with the same logical arrangement as in previous models, each functionality of the generator is grouped according to DC inputs, AC and DC outputs, a car port and the display. These are enabled through push buttons which help to save energy while not in use.
The user has a choice of charging the generator either through the AC adapter or the car charger cable. The distinction between the Explorer 1000 is that the Anderson connector has been dropped in favor of a second DC input jack. This gives a combined power of 500W for charging the unit hence dropping the charging time considerably. Since the Anderson was for connecting solar panels, the generator can still be solar charged thanks to the provided solar power cable.
Three USB outputs allow quick-charging of connected devices at up to 60W through the Type-C. A single 12V DC car outlet provides up to 10A and is regulated, thus avoiding any voltage drop when the Jackery battery runs low. Three 110V AC outputs are available in the Explorer 1500, with a combined maximum continuous power of 1800W and reaching 3600W for a very short period of time.
The Jackery Explorer 1500 comes with a small accessory bag, a 300W AC power brick, a car adapter and a solar power cable that allows connecting solar panels such as the Solar Saga to the generator.
The generator is ready to be used out of the box. Even though the test unit was charged to 80%, it is recommended to do a complete charge before connecting any device. Thanks to a simple but intuitive user interface, the generator can be operated without reading the manual.
Functionalities such as the AC inverter or the USB ports are enabled using push buttons located next to the outputs. All generator functions can be activated at the same time. The DC sections won’t eat in the 1800W AC power budget of the generator. Any overload where the AC power exceeds 1800W results in a generator shut-down.
The Explorer 1500 is kept at a safe temperature with its built-in fan that starts operating whenever a temperature threshold is reached. Vents located on the side provide adequate internal air circulation. It is therefore recommended to leave some space around the generator to prevent any heat build-up when it is in use.
The LCD has been revamped and data points such as charging time left have been added. This let the user know the overall state of the generator quickly. The refresh rate has also been improved compared to the Explorer 1000. It used to be 15 seconds and now has been cut to three seconds. The LCD automatically turns off after 10 seconds while the dedicated display button can be pressed to turn it on again.
Without the dedicated Anderson input, the generator no longer favors one type of charging like in the previous version. It will combine both power inputs resulting in shorter charging time, the fastest being three hours with two 300W AC adapters (Max input of 500W). Another improvement over the Explorer 1000 is the Solarpeak Technology. This upgraded MTTP feature has an improved efficiency when charging with solar panels and can reach up to 30%, hence lowering the charging time to four hours under straight full sunlight.
The combination of a high power inverter and large battery capacity creates some interesting use cases for the Explorer 1500. On top of regular consumer appliances, some people will find it useful as a high power portable source for heavy machinery such as an electric table saw or a welding machine.
Along with the supplied 300W AC adapter, the Jackery Explorer 1500 can also be used as an uninterrupted power supply for a small office. It has enough output power and battery capacity to keep all equipment alive for hours during a blackout. The pure sine-wave technology guarantees that the output is at least as good as that obtained from the power grid. The only inconvenience is that the fan can become loud as the unit does not support a proportional fan speed.
With the pandemic becoming a mainstay in people’s lives, investing in a reliable secondary power source makes economic sense. There are nowadays many portable generators offering over 1kW of power for both inverter and battery capacity.
The GoalZero Yeti1500X is in the same class as the Explorer 1500. It offers the same charging time but is heavier and costs more. The battery lifetime is also different with less charge cycles provided by the Yeti1500X.
The EF ECOFLOW Portable Power Station Delta offers better charging time and has more AC outlets but has less battery capacity while the system efficiency isn’t on par with the Explorer at less than 80%. It is also heavier while faster charging puts more strain on the batteries and decreases their lifetime.
Finally, the MAXOAK BLUETTI EB240 is another generator comparable to the Explorer 1500 but being pricier, heavier and offering less power for the inverter, it comes second best.
The Explorer 1500 from Jackery is a sizable upgrade to the Explorer 1000 as the bigger battery capacity and higher inverter power will increase its usefulness. The price ratio is also unchanged keeping the one dollar per battery watt. Moreover, the redesigned display gives more information about the battery monitoring system.
Drawbacks of the Explorer 1000 such as a quirky power measurement and input switch-over have been addressed. The Explorer 1500 comes close to being perfect. The fan speed could be better controlled instead of being always on. This generator will pay for itself over time and remains a very good investment.
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