This is a review of the Jackery Explorer 240, a product that until recently I didn’t even know existed. In fact, not only did I not know this exact product existed, I wasn’t even aware of the concept of a “portable power station”. Since having this one in my possession though, I’m now not quite sure how we got along without such a thing.
That might sound like quite a bit statement, but actually it’s more just a matter of discovering a new convenience. I could probably say the same about a kitchen blender or toaster or whatever. Prior to having any of these products, I’m sure people got along just fine. We – as in me and my family – got along just fine before we had a Jackery Explorer 240 portable power station, but now we have one it just feels like a convenience I wouldn’t want to live without. And actually, I’m not sure I’ve fully appreciated its potential use yet…
What is a Portable Power Station?
Ok, so let’s assume you are as uninformed as me. A portable power station is essentially a big battery in a box with power sockets on the front. This battery is charged via various means, and then it provides power to what’s plugged into it via either a standard wall socket, in car power socket, or usb. It’s portable, so can provide power where power might not ordinarily be available such as whilst travelling, in a vehicle, camping, in the middle of nowhere, etc.
What is a Jackery Explorer 240?
A Jackery Explorer 240 is seemingly quite a small portable power station – at least relative to some of its siblings. It provides 240 watt hours via a single mains socket (in my case UK, but other versions are available), a single in-car power socket and a pair of USB ports. Each socket is powered on or off via a button next to it.
There is also a small screen that gives information about the level of charge remaining, as well as the watts in and output when charging and in use respectively.
The Jackery Explorer 240 can be charged one of three ways. It can be plugged into the mains via an included power supply, it can be plugged into a in-car power socket also via an included cable, or it can be powered via separately purchased solar panel.
The Solarsaga 100 watt Solar Panel
With this Jackery explorer 240 also came a Jackery Solarsaga 100 watt Solar Panel. The panel can be plugged into the power station to charge it, but it also has a USB socket for putting power into smaller devices directly. Seeing as it’s January/February and I live in England, I haven’t had the best opportunity to test the Solarsaga 100 yet, though it does seem to be quite effective at charging. I’ll perhaps come back to this in a later article in the summer.
A New Convenience
So in simple terms, what I now have to hand is mains power on go. As a family of two adults and two children we have quite quickly found this to be very useful. In the few of weeks I’ve had it, I have found myself charging camera batteries on the way to places after forgetting to charge them the night before. I’ve also been able to give the girls mains power for running and their devices in the back of my wife’s 1980s day van.
For work, it’s also come in handy through allowing me to give my laptop some charge whilst on a location shoot. We were also able to recharge one of our portable screen batteries and have a shoot coming up in a week-or-so where we have realised we can use it to power one of our small cameras to record an entire day long event from a vantage point without the need for a nearby mains connection.
But whilst all this new convenience is great, I have also begun to realise the potential of the Jackery Explorer 240 when it comes to our family outings and holidays this summer. We’re planning on touring in the day van for a week or so at some point when it will definitely come in handy for keeping the kids devices charged for longer parts of the travelling around. I’m also planning to buy a drone at some point and being able to charge drone batteries on the go would be very useful! Not to mention of course charging my Sony/Leica batteries!
With the fact that it can be charged off the van’s battery and solar panel when we stop should mean we don’t need access to mains for potentially days on end. How fast the van can charge it remains to be seen – but I have high hopes having experimented charging it with the car power supply in the back of our family car. I’ve also read elsewhere that the solar panels can charge it very quickly.
We have also dreamed up a few fun things we could do with the Jackery Explorer 240. So for eg, the girls got a small low-cost cinema projector for Christmas that’s surprisingly good. We’re thinking we might be able to power that to watch a film on a big screen somewhere remote. Admittedly, as adults, some of the fun of getting away from it all is also the getting away from technology. But this idea sounds like a lot of fun, not to mention something exciting for the girls to do. I’ll update this article with photos at some point later in the year if we do this.
Testing the Jackery Explorer 240
Of course, much of this is a little hypothetical at the moment. Beyond the few little outings it’s had that I have outlined, I haven’t had a chance to test the Jackery to its limits much. That said I have done a few tests to see how it would. The first test I did was to run my MBP off it for a day. That was no issue – I managed to get a full charge as well as a ~75% charge out of it. That might not sound much, but the MBP chargers are really quite power hungry. It’s also not far off the 2 charges claimed by Jackery – I’d imagine it would fully charger a smaller laptop twice without issue.
Something else I wanted to test was to see if it would boil a kettle and if so what sort of drain this would have. The short answer is that it can’t boil a kettle. I don’t suppose this is any surprise really. Actually, Jackery have information about the sorts of appliances their various Explorer and Compact Explorer range can power on their website here. I could have looked that up first – but what can I say, I like experimenting.
Again, I shall report back at a later date with any further tests once I’ve had the Jackery Explorer 240 for a little longer.
Obviously, I don’t really have anything to compare the Jackery Explorer 240 to, but it feels very solid to me. It’s made out of solid slightly textured black and orange plastic. There is absolutely no flex at all in the handle, so I expect it’s reinforced somehow – the whole unit feels very hard wearing. For a relatively small box, it is quite heavy though. I imagine the bigger versions must really weigh a fair bit.
Being new to the world of portable power stations, it is hard to find that many faults – the novelty and inexperience are quite overpowering factors when it comes to my feelings towards this fancy box of power. That said, I did feel the Jackery Explorer 240 fell short on two counts.
The first is that it doesn’t have a USB-C output. This annoyed me for two reasons. The first is that I had to plug my MBP charger into it which is a big thing and so meant the Jackery didn’t sit flat on the table. Secondly… why no USB-C? The standard is becoming increasingly ubiquitous for charging devices – especially cameras. That being said, a few of my charger cables have a standard USB connector on the other end, so perhaps I’m worrying about nothing…?
The second thing that bothered me is the viewing angle of the LCD screen. Look at it straight on and it fades to invisible. Look at it at an angle and it works perfectly.
I get all sorts of random companies asking me to review their stuff for 35mmc. I must admit, I ignore a significantly larger amount than I even bother replying too. The Jackery Explorer 240 is arguably not the sort of product you would normally find being reviewed on this website either. Yet, as soon as I received the email from them, I was intrigued…
There is simply no doubt that the Jackery Explorer 240 is a potentially useful product for essentially any photographer who uses a camera, drone or any sort of other gear that takes rechargeable batteries. That’s why Jackery got in touch with me – they are clearly trying to promote this gear to more photographers.
I will definitely be making use use of this portable power station for work. Bring able to charge my laptop or spare batteries when on a shoot will undoubtedly come in handy. Not to mention being able to power cameras for long term video shoots where there’s no mains power. I suspect it would even power my LED panel lights too – though I haven’t tried yet.
In fact, for work, I suspect the only limitation would be the power output and capacity. But now I know there things exist, I will be seeing how we get on with it at work and would be very open to buying one of the bigger units if we find we need one.
Outside of my work, Jackery had no idea I have two kids and a wife that owns a 1980s day van. They had no idea how much this convenience would be useful to us. As it turns out, what they have managed to unwittingly do is introduce us to a new type of convenience that has already started having a small but undeniably positive impact on our lives. I’m now genuinely looking forward to watching a film on a big screen in the middle of nowhere with my kids in the summer. And if we get to power that bit of late evening fun with some light from the sun from that day, all the better.
One way or another, there’s no going back for me now. I’m a portable power station convert. And until I find it’s limits, I am very happy with this Jackery 240!